Why The Gods Gave Me A Cat And You..

carla coulson, susan papazian,

Photo Copyright the marvellous Susan Papazian

On Tuesday I had a big FAT birthday.. I will let you figure out which one but a week or two prior it was sending seismic waves through my life, loads of thoughts and emotions about life in general.

There are moments in life that make us stop, reflect on where we are, how far we have come and where we are going. I had the great fortune to celebrate with a photo shoot by photographer Susan Papazian and boy did we have fun (see image above).

So much has happened since I left my old life, dare I say it, 14 years ago. So many extraordinary moments I would never have had the chance to live if I was still sitting at a desk doing something I didn’t care about. I’m grateful for every day.

Looking back I can hardly believe it’s true, so many wonderful people have helped me, gave me a chance when they didn’t need to and supported me in what I was doing. For me I have never felt it has been a solo effort,  I have always believed that the universe and ‘you’ wanted it to work out.

When I walked into a darkroom in Florence in 2000 I had no idea I was starting the first day of a new life, if I had known all of the living that was in front of me I probably would have done it a long time ago. Don’t get me wrong there has been anxiety, tears, hardship, and fear in large doses but the love, happiness, excitement of doing something I love and personal reward and meeting you have far outweighed the rest.

I really feel as though the universe has already handed out too much to me. How come I was so lucky to have found my way to photography? You see photography for me is more than taking pictures, photography is my emotional language, the way I see the world, the way I communicate, the way I feel and interpret people and situations and it has connected me to you.

There was a time in my early forties when it hit me like a head on train crash that I had forgot to have a baby? I remember wandering around Paris hearing that clock ticking in my head and freaking me out like it has done to so many women of my generation.

franceso-and-avedon small

Women, who like me grew up in a transitional generation in the evolution of humans and relationships. The rule book went out the window and we had more options and choices thrown at us than our mothers, which sometimes added up to a very confusing situation. Or like me they didn’t find the love of their life to the dying days when their eggs were almost fried!

I tortured myself (and Francesco) for a year or two about having a baby, I asked friends with and without for their opinions and there were all sorts of great advice for and against.. but the universe was taking a break on this one. I could hear it saying ‘babe you’ve got photography and Francesco you’re sitting this one out. And BTW how would you pay to feed this baby or send it to university, ha didn’t think that one through did you’?

Then I would go out and shoot, take pics that would warm my heart and send shivers to my toes and I couldn’t wait to get home to be with my darling and my photos and the baby question just floated away.

Then came Avedon (my cat). Ok, this is the bit were you think I have lost it. But all things happen for a reason and we got this crazy, jittery cat who needs so much love for many reasons. A cat, like a garden or a baby needs unconditional love and nurturing and he knocked on the right door cause we got it in bucket loads. And that was when it all started to add up.

The God’s gave me a cat so I could have photography, Francesco and you. They are far smarter than me and for that blip when I wanted it all they already knew I couldn’t handle it all. So instead I got what I could handle (and he doesn’t need to go to university).

Francesco and I joke about how ‘our family’ feels complete with Avedon snoring away on the bed, or bounding from the bookshelf over our heads to the floor or swatting flies in the summer whilst I shoot and Francesco studies (he loves to study).

So looking back the greatest gift I have been given in life is photography, because it led me to Francesco, it led me to my creative family, led me to my tribe and you. Photography has allowed me to look inside and know and understand who I am, what I need and the evolving that stills needs to be done. It connects me to people I don’t know and allows me to inhale life like it’s the finest perfume in the world.

If I didn’t find photography I would never have found you and having you along on this journey with no fixed destination is like having your buddy with you on the good and the dark days.

So my dear friends, thanks for sharing this journey, thanks for your words, your notes, your comments, your emails and your love and thanks too to the silent ones who bob up every now and then.

It’s just me here so it’s impossible to respond to all of the notes but please know they make a difference, I read every single word and cherish the effort you go to.

A very big special thanks to Susan Papazian for her fabulous portrait of me. So very grateful for her talented work.  You can check out Susan’s work here.

So if the God’s give you a cat or a dog or a birdie embrace the little guys with all your hearts and know that love comes in many forms including photography.

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” Marcel Proust

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Christina @ Hair Romance

Beautiful post Carla. Wishing you a happy birthday and here’s to a fabulous year ahead. So glad you & photography found each other 🙂 xx

Sarah
7 years ago

Oh Carla – you are beautiful beyond words and now that I know you share a birthday with my beautiful daughter AND bestie I feel even more connected to you than ever! Cats, Franceso, photography and US – we are the lucky ones and we value and love you because you are so wonderfully YOU! I have told you before how much you have inspired me (look at me now – making jewellery, meeting so many beautiful people because of it and saying goodbye to a 37 years teaching career AND I’m now a 57 year old Grandmother!!)
Yes you would have been a great Mum ( just look at how cool you are as an auntie) but you’re right – the Universe knew what was ahead and gave you just the right amount of beings to love. Happy Birthday my friend ( I hope you don’t mind me calling you that) and thank you. Love and hugs xxx

Carolyn
Carolyn
7 years ago

You’re one in a million, gorgeous girl! C xx

Carolyn
Carolyn
7 years ago

Carla, as I say to my sons – there are lots of different measures of success but by far the greatest is to ask – Am I happy and content? Do I love and have love? If you can yes to these then you are blessed with a great life. Yours is there in abundance – enjoy!

Anya Jensen
7 years ago

Ohh Carla Happy belated Birthday lovely. You are an inspiration and an amazing person who I have never met, but it feels like I know you so well. Thanks for sharing all your thoughts and your love for photography – you make me want to get better 🙂 And lucky Avedon, Francesco and US xxx

Andria Cowling
7 years ago

I loved reading the above – it s so refreshing to hear about how someone else has approached their life and the changes that happened as they travelled their own path.
I very much hope to one day be able to do one of your photography workshops/courses.
All the very best for a wonderfully happy, creative and loved up year!

Claire Lloyd
7 years ago

Great post! Now Matthew and I have a birthday plane load of kittens and puppies to send one for every year of your life! What days good for you to take delivery…..,????? Xxx

Nancy Fenstermacher
Nancy Fenstermacher
7 years ago

Carla, Introduced to you via Lisa Chiodo and love your work and your story! Happy young birthday to you and your portrait is fabulous! I love photographs for the very same reasons you cited but never pursued it, just love taking photos and keeping anyone’s that just make me feel! Enjoy you. Francesco and your cat / life is great! cheers! (All through FB)

Margaret Hogan
7 years ago

So that’d be the big 4.0. yes? 😉 Happy to you. I love coming here.
xx

Michele
Michele
7 years ago

H A P P Y B I R T H D A Y C A R L A !

Thanks for all the inspiration you share with us- love your photography and writing 🙂

P.S. – thought you were turning 4-0 until I read through your post!

Michele
Montreal, Canada

Virginia
7 years ago

It is a fabulous portrait of you dear one but then why wouldn’t it be?? And as for that birthday…embrace it. It’s just a damn number.

Now about the other photo. Seriously? A cute kitty AND Francesco in one photo? Talk about great composition! 🙂
V

Rosa
7 years ago

Well you rock Carla! Happy belated ‘big’ birthday! Hope to see you at Positano sometime soon xx

This is Belgium
7 years ago

Great words:
“You see photography for me is more than taking pictures, photography is my emotional language, the way I see the world, the way I communicate, the way I feel and interpret people and situations”
Great post, Carla
Great tattoo too
Great photo
Great grand birthday

Felicity Menadue
Felicity Menadue
7 years ago

Carla, thank you for all the beauty, love and joy you create and thank you for sharing it so generously! I feel truly blessed to know you xoxo

Carrie
Carrie
7 years ago

Happy Birthday and thank you for your inspiring messages to all of us. It’s a privilege to get to know you through your work and I wish you all the best!

La Contessa
7 years ago

OH, good YOU GOT MY email then!!!!!I was worried I did not hear back that it did not go through!I have YOU on my calendar along with the ANNIVERSARIO which is UPON US!!!!!!!!AUGURI!!!!!!
BEAUTIFUL SHOT of YOU on YOUR BIG DAY……..I will not tell you what comes now………..but if YOU have The MARITO and AVEDON…you will sail right THROUGH!Welcome to the BIG 50’s………..I’m just a wee bit a head at 54!!
LOVE TO ALL…………XOXOX
YOUR CONTESSA

Anna de Marigny
7 years ago

Hi Carla, I love your posts and I love, LOVE your blog! Always inspired and inspiring. Happy Birthday…join the club, these are your best years!
Remember “All You Need is Love And a Cat”

Love and Hugs
Anna

Miss Pirisi
Miss Pirisi
7 years ago

Love you Carla. And you, your pictures, changed my life when I first let them grab me standing in the Norton Street bookshop all those years ago. You were talking to me and you didn’t even know it. God imagine if you hadn’t changed your life, I may not have either. That’s how much your story, your life hooked on to my soul that had long disappeared inside of me. When I was told “it’s not realistic”, I said but “carla did it!”. I’m still very much on the journey, still finding my way, still not sure but I know I’m getting warmer. I feel so incredibly fortunate to have spent a photo shoot day with you. I’m sure Mookie my cat who passed few years ago came to Avedon because Mookie knew how much I love you:-) big kiss Carla xxxx Wishing you all the fabulousness in the world!!

Lorraine
7 years ago

Happy birthday Carla!!!! I am one of the ‘silent and occasional commenters’ but I really enjoy your posts and I have all your books that I love to peruse through and re read your fabulous story. I am at a stage in my life which is a difficult one, have been for a couple of years. I hope that I can work through this and come out the other end feeling the way you do about your journey. My husband and I have our fabulous cat Sapphie, who is like our child. We made a conscious decision not to have children and it is one we have never regretted. Life will go along for all of us as it is intended, we all make conscious or unconscious decisions. It’s a good thing that we don’t all take the same journey. It would be a very boring world if we did! Congratulations gorgeous, and thank you again for the inspiration! Xx

Francesca Muir
7 years ago

Happy Birthday Dear Friend and thank you for your constant inspiration and friendship. You have made such a HUGE difference in my life and given me the courage to chase my dream… Love to you and your happy family F xxx

christiana
7 years ago

Happy Birthday Carla!
Always love your posts and of course, your amazing photography.
You look rockin’ in that photo by the way!

Adrienne Dalton
Adrienne Dalton
7 years ago

Happy Birthday Carla, what wonderful words to describe your life, have enjoyed your journey and the courage it took to start it. Good on you.
keep up the beautiful photos, it’s marvellous to see positive images, I start my day with Instagram and always look for to see what you have posted. x A

Donna Dalton
Donna Dalton
7 years ago

Hope your birthday was great – thanks for being a ‘parent’ to all us budding photographers – you continue to inspire and encourage with your sensational work and words of wisdom. Love & Light; XOD

Heather in Arles
7 years ago

Oh this was so lovely. And so like you to give us all an important gift for your bithday!! Carla, thank you so much for all of the beauty and inspiration. I am wishing you a decade ahead (since this is a big one!) filled with Health (!), Joy, Love, Fufillment and Adventure.
Gros Bisous,
Heather

Jilly Bennett
7 years ago

Dearest Carla, What a fabulous post. Aren’t they all? I wish you the happiest of birthdays – I know it would have been.

Was so looking forward to seeing Susan’s photograph of you – Adore the ‘tattoo’ – now you just need to dress up Francesco in a biker’s outfit with a kilt and you’ll be all set! Such a joyous fun photo. Bravo to Susan and you.

How I identify with your sentiments over a cat – for me dogs of course – I rather think life might have been easier had the first one been a cat! The house might have been cleaner too… same love though. Same gap was filled.

I love your life, dearest Carla – your loves, your photography and thank you every day for your inspiration. And I love my life too which got even better since Puglia and you.

Big hug and lots of love for your recent big O birthday. xxx

Jo
Jo
7 years ago

Who cares what birthday it is – you are one sexy woman Ms Carla Coulson!!

Candice
7 years ago

I married really reeeally young. I had 2 children. They do what all children do , they grew up. (sometimes they think I am their child) But I always had my husband, I adored him every day .. and he adored me.
We laughed, cried, but mostly laughed, and went on fabulous adventures. Paris, London and living in Buenos Aires, I would have only done this with him … we came back to the US last year .. this past Oct, he suddenly shockingly with no warning, died.
All I have now is my little kitten Minette and my children, who now think they are my parents. But they are loving parents so I keep quiet about that.
That kitten is a life saver, I completely relate to how you feel. In the darkest days of my grief, when I was stuck in a new place in snow storms and alone for weeks .. I thought I would go mad. But now I have this tiny crazy little needy kitten who loves only me.
She wakes me up with kitten kisses and I fall asleep at night listening the purring. Someone told me God sent angels disguised as cats .. I think I believe it.
besitos to you .. C

Candice
7 years ago

How could I leave out the most important part ?
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU !!
much love & kisses … C

Liz
Liz
7 years ago

Seriously belated birthday, but if it is the big ’50’ then make it last! You’ve only just got going a decade and a bit ago, and boy, 50 is really just a start of things, as I learnt. I just turned 51 and made 50 last a long long year of activities, with its up and a lot of downs. I have one son (late in life, at 38), and now juggling his pre-teen hormones and menopause! Argghh! I lost my beloved cat of 17 yrs last April and still can’t get over her. Each family member has a role, whether child or pet and let life take its course. You freely share your life with us all here online and we really do feel your extended family for the wonderful advice and chit-chat you share, let alone your pro photographer tips. That is such a generous act! Happy birthday gal! Sorry I am so late with my wishes.

Shell Sherree
7 years ago

Dear Carla ~ now you’ve gone and made me cry. 🙂 In a beautiful way, of course. My scrumptious cat Ella keeps me endlessly smitten and I don’t know how I could have ‘done it all’. {She’s enough of a handful !!!} You and your gorgeous family melt me whenever I see you. 🙂 I’m heading rapidly towards a big fat birthday of my own ~ have had some mixed feelings so reading this has been perfect timing for me ~ thank you!! Happy belated birthday,gorgeous girl. Shell x0

sandy
sandy
7 years ago

Happy Big Birthday for last month Carla. Here’s to a fabulous year ahead living the life you love with the ones you love. An extraordinary post, written in your fabulously humble and generous style. Thank you.