Welcome to Carolyn Cowan Online; Designer, photographer, teacher, mother, counsellor and bodypainter.
Archive for 2007
I must confess, and I may have already done so, but I do not like Christmas. As a retailer, that is apparently shocking, and as a human it seems to make me mean and scrooge-like.
Frankly, my Dear, etc, and yesterday we spent the afternoon changing the shop around, completely. Everything was moved, changed, turned and altered. It took all the afternoon and was made hell by the children being with us. They were bored and irritated and fought a lot. But eventually we had transformed ourselves. This morning I raced in to finish off so I could have a day off. (Something not quite right there, but I will not dwell.) For some unknown reason it was a fabulously busy day. Perhaps because it had no trace of Christmas. It is wonderfully different. Calm, spacious and as usual, I donÄôt know why I didnÄôt do it before.
Otherwise the season of enforced gorging and merriment is going well. My step father surprised no one at all, but the time away was really great. All three sisters together with five out of six kids. It was great fun and passes too fast.
Now it is New Year Resolutions. Mine is to be more organised. Not really my thing, but time to make it so. I feel as though I live in a swirling pile of papers. That and I never look in my diary. Very silly and an expensive waste of time, too. I always want an expensive diary and endlessly write on anything except the pages with in. SO my new resolution is to ONLY write in the diary. I wonder how that will go.
I have to go to Rome. I have product I want to sell there so I think I will go by train. The website for it is www.themaninseat61.com. Fabulous. Just all train journeys all over the world. I have not booked it or committed to dates, but it looks like a great way to go. (Especially first class.) One way to side step the temple of terror. Heathrow Airport. I have just booked my next trip to India and the worst part of the entire experience is the Airport part. I frequently think I have no fear of death until I am there, and then I am really uncomfortable and just expect the whole place to go up at any moment. What it must be like to work there I cannot imagine.
It is good, Christmas in Kent. Very good. A pleasure to all be together and so relaxed. We have had great games, funny times and fabulous conversations. I know it is not over, but it is good.
Otherwise I am so happy to be out of the Christmas rush. Sitting playing cards, walking with lovely nieces and children, laughing and talking is such a great break from the relentlessness of the last few weeks of retail.
I do not think that owning a shop helps my experience of Christmas. I know that is awful of me, but I have never liked this period of time, and much less so now. But I have booked my ticket to India to sort out all that is missing for the summer collection and am already planning my ValentineÄôs window. So I think I could be said to have moved on into the next season.
I wish my holiday was longer, but I could not persuade anyone to do the next few days. So It is over to me. Endless layers of taking responsibility for myself, my life, my business. Why on earth should any one else do it? I know, I know. But it does not mean that I want to be such a grown up all the time.
I crave a day in bed. Almost completely stationary, not moving, just lying totally still and silent. Then three great films, one after the other. I would like to be served my favourite thing: good tomato and watercress salad with lemon, oil and black pepper and salt,, sparkling water and then lapsang tea. No questions, no decisions, then a long, hot bath. That would be my idea of a perfect day. I am sure if my husband or children were to read this they would be horrified that perfection did not include them, but it is not out of any lack of love. It is just what I would like in my wildest dreams after the stress of the past few months. I wonder if one day would do itÄ¶..
Isadora and I went to see Matthew BourneÄôs Nutcracker. It was fab. Sparkley and fun and Isadora, on her first trip to the theatre was bright eyed and totally over-awed. By the end she was cool, calm and liked it a lot.
Otherwise, the Christmas Rush has become a peculiarly male thing. I had not seen it like that before, but there are solitary males all over the place hunting down that special thing for that person they have not really thought about until now.
How extraordinarily judgemental of me! I must apologise. They have doubtlessly been thinking of them and now want to make sure they buy the bestÄ¶Ä¶ Have I redeemed myself?
I get a break now, for a few days. Full on children, Christmas, presents, family, and sleeping til I wake up. Oh, how delightful.
It has been a full-on retail experience. Thank God, but it does mean that weblog is neglected.
I have worked relentlessly for days now and long to just sit still for a few hours, but life is not like that. Was it ever? When I could have sat still all those years ago, I could not, and now I canÄôt, I could. Am I being ironic? Asks Isadora. No. Wherever you go, there you are.
I do love the thrill of taking money. Selling clothes, doing well. I do, I do. And I wish it could be Christmas every dayÄ¶. I heard that this morning. Slade. Was life easier then? I think it must have been, for me, perhaps not for anyone my age now, then.
Convoluted thinking today. I must need a long deep breath.
The most interesting and least enjoyable part of this time is how threatened we, as woman, feel working in the shop. There are a surprisingly large number of not too well wrapped bunnies out there feeling that they are owed a thing or two and not really caring who they get it from. Several times I have had to rise to my full height and open the door for some one, and have also managed to keep my mouth firmly closed. It is a useful skill that I do wish I had developed years ago. But hey ho, or is it ho ho ho which, apparently, is sexist? Why?
I am reading the most amazing set of novels. I am on the fourth of six and am transfixed by them. The Lymond Chronicles. I want facebook to have a recommended book section rather than these idiotic films that are all the rage now, endlessly passing from one to the next. Books are so much more fab, especially good books. I would have such a long list of them.
I now dread January. The wind whistling down the street, rubbish howling around in the wind and no customers, the drug dealers busy as ever. They will all be tucked up in the warm playing with their new presents or camped outside any of the large chain stores who have not yet started their sales. It will be silent, still and excruciatingly painful and I will long for the chaos of now. The joy of life, mine at least, is always wanting to be elsewhere.
Shop keeping has itsÄô highs and lows, I must confess, just like everything else in life.
A young man with a naughty energy just came in to the shop. I discretely moved my phone and stood watch over his progress through the shop. From one end to the other he moved through. I had said hello and smiled, (all that one must do instead of having a security system. If people are seen and acknowledged they tend not to steal), but regardless of my charm and the presence of other customers, he reached out and stole a cheap mala.
Interesting moment. What to do? Scream and shout? Or think, wow, that is some karma, stealing a mala. ÄúI am so desperate to move on that I will steal to get there.Äù
My friend, in the shop at the time, was aghast. ÄúDid you see what he just did?Äù
Thank God it was not something of more physical value.
I let him go without comment. I would not like to be turning my mantra on that.
I had a complete lunatic in the other day. I know him and know his diagnosis and know full well that he is really dangerous. He started getting wild and woolly and I sat in front of the counter getting more and more uncomfortable, not knowing what to do or how to change the situation and get him out without being strangled in the process.
I finally stood up to my full height (three inches taller than him) and walked to the door and held it open, looking at him. He stopped in mid sentence and walked out.
A minor victory, I know, but a really good lesson in not inflating the sail of another.
The ship of anger that so many carry with them, the fully loaded galleon of all their depression, rage and unfulfilled longings needs no encouragement.
I am weighed down by things that cannot be discussed on the weblog. The edges have become so defined over the years of writing online and my thoughts, today, do not translate into publishable material.
So on a lighter note, an observation about Central London.
I spent the morning in town yesterday. I started with a meeting in Sloane Square. From there I walked to Egg and looked at a little, tiny knitted waistcoat. Price? ¬£750.
I walked along Knightsbridge and licked windows for a while. Prada and all the other glamorous, shiny, expensive, way out of my reach, or for that matter desires. Things that have become silly, catering to a severe financial excess.
I could envisage where this is all leading: I did not go into ANY of the shops because I know that their prices are false. They are made that high to satisfy an insane need to feel pampered and to cover insane rents. I think that little by little, people will shop more carefully and come to the niche areas like Balham because the choice, the prices and the service is totally different.
So I came away smiling and walked all the way to the shop. It was a long walk, but in the crispy cold it was good. I arrived feeling elevated. Waking up this morning I decided to cycle to the shop and now face the highly daunting task of cycling back home, up hill, in the freezing cold. How courageous am I, really?
I heard a great add on to my Now experiences. If you are new to reading my notes then the pr?©cis is that I have longed to be more present, with out fear of the future or pain from the past colouring how I experience Now. It is a long and tiresome journey that I have been on for about 16 years. Sometimes I crack it, but it is a fleeting victory.
I now work in India and it is the best experience of Now that one can ever ask for. Every moment is dicing with death; every sip of water, mouthful of food, step in the street, kilometre in a car is a brave and courageous step out of the comfort of our Health and Safety driven existence.
Until you want to do business. At that moment, always with men, the erotic charge they experience whilst taking your money is all that they live for. There is no long-term relationship. There is no idea of Sin or Punishment or needing to get it right this time, because they can all come back and do it over and over. Karma.
So the upshot of all this erotic charging is that I do not get my goods any where near the delivery date and all my desires to be here and now are basically pissed all over. Strong language, I know, but it really has made me question a lot of what I am doing.
Coming back to now, the CIA have discovered that lie detector tests do not work on Indians. Brilliant. There is no concept of sin and no pressure to do it all perfectly in this life hence no fear of giving the wrong answer! They have been madly recruiting before discovering this aspect. Who advises them, I wonder?
Isadora was getting ready for bed last night and I showed her a picture of me as a child, with my sisters, sitting in an Eames chair. It was a great picture, black and white. She looked at it for while and then turned to me a seriously asked me ÄúMummy, when did you stop being black and white?Äù
Sadly this is the reality. I can get all buzzed out about my hair, and wish I had done it sooner and feel sassy and look good, but it is so temporary.
I remember, many years ago, a male friend that I had know for years. He leaned forward over his cappuccino in some smart Chelsea bar and I saw that he had breasts! I was shocked. I was. It does not happen often, but that day I was speechless.
He went on to explain that he was in the process of a sex change. He was married and did a pretty hefty job in the film industry. My mind was expanded and I just nodded supportively. The intensity of the whole drama was pretty wild and it took about a year of drama, high energy and such excitement for him becoming her.
I remember so well the come down after. It was not enough for him. Where ever you go, there you are. As they say.
The dramas subsided and then there was still the daily reality of just being a woman instead of a man. It had not actually solved anything at all.
So, back to now and yes, a good haircut is a wonderful thing, but I can still wake up at 4am with the cold hand of fear crushing my heart. Increasingly I watch it and wander around inside myself looking at what the actual feeling is, where it comes from, where it goes, how my breath changes, where I tense my muscles and try to block it all out.
There are moments when I feel no real sense of independence or choice at all. As though we are all just ants wandering in a controlled chaos. All totally expendable to some other forcesÄô idea of what the ÄúgoodÄù is. The feeling is not great and can really invalidate the joy of a good hair day.
But I get up, do my press-ups (for will), leg raises (for projection), stretch pose (for nervous system strength) and little by little I am me, and it is all good. 11 minutes of meditation for the neutral mind and I can stand up smiling.
I think, I know, that I no longer want to be a pawn in a large game. When are we all going to look around and say ENOUGHÄ¶.? I think it could be time. The police are now looking to the dissatisfied middle classes for signs of imminent acts of terrorism. It is easy to see why.
I had an interesting day today. It was cold and crispy and I headed bravely towards a life changing experience. I talked, thought, examined and looked at my motives before I had this profound experience and having seen that I had examined every aspect and felt comfortable with the decision, I headed to the hairdresser and had a meter of length cut off my hair.
I have to confess that I have emerged triumphant. (Thank God) . Nothing worse than coming out wishing I had not taken quite such a bold step. But it is good. Why did I not do it before?
Because I was not ready.
So I am not chic and no longer witchy. An interesting change, I must say.
I went to a man that used to cut my hair ten years ago (the last time I cut it). His salon is in Bond Street and the walk down South Molton Street was a trip. I went into Browns. Nice. I saw a bag I liked and asked the price. ¬£3500. Yehaa! Really.
So now I move into my life with every single person that knows me commenting on how I look. Such fun. But it has been really a trip to look at how much I had invested in the look on so many levels. Spiritually, emotionally, motherly, age-wise and on and on. Telling people that I was doing it was great fun, too. Such mixed reactions and responses, all of them negative.
I confess that I did not really like Sundays until I was older. For years I found them boring and depressing. Probably a remnant from boarding school; that awful drive on a Sunday evening after a whole day of wishing I did not have to go back, watching the cold, icy fear spreading through me as the day lengthened, then sitting in the back of the car listening to the top 40 on Capital Radio, wishing I could wake up and find it was all a dream.
So Sunday was never a pleasure until I reached my late 30Äôs and could be still and present without responding to life from my childhood.
And then along came Margaret Thatcher and the big consumer time. Suddenly money became important, much more so than it had ever been before. Property, Yuppies and Sunday Shopping broke the calm rustling of the Sunday papers.
All these years later Sunday in London is a Mammoth. A huge beast. Traffic is a nightmare, parking worse, and there is no down time.
I know I could avoid it, but it also happens to be my only day off at the moment and I need to shop for Christmas. I thought long and hard about where to go and be ÄúgoodÄù at the same time. I came up with the V&A. Culture and Shopping.
Culture, I had no patience for. The queue for the Exhibition we wanted to see was one hour long and the shop was hideous. Mugs for ¬£55, a flowered hat for ¬£750. Otherwise, nothing under ¬£5, including an empty piece of packaging Äúfor those who have everythingÄ¶.¬£5.00 Äú
I suppose this is leading me nicely into where we are all heading: The Massive Divide between the mighty rich and the normal people.
The predictions are that this group, the Normal People, are the new terror threat. We are the ones who are now being watched for imminent signs of discontent. Apparently we are the ones who are going to rise up against the Super Rich and blow them all up in a fit of fury, helplessness and an overwhelming sense of inadequacy.
There is a club here that has invented a drink. It costs ¬£35000. A man ordered one for his girlfriend saying that it was no more than a holiday cost. Some holiday. But beyond that were the Health & Safety implications that have to be involved in this delightful beverage: It has a large diamond at the bottom of it. How does the lovely female who has been gifted this delight not choke on the stone? And who is there to say that she should not choke on the stone? Somewhere it touches on the $90,000,000 spent on a film recently. And slides along beside Lady Bamford and her zeitgeist for the moment. We went unknowingly into her womenÄôs store today. Gloves for ¬£245. Knitted gloves! Wow. You really have to have nothing to do to spend that on a pair of gloves and I wonder what the little old lady who knitted them was paid.
So it is coming out into the open, the massive divide, the gulf between money: those who do and those who donÄôt, and the idiocy of those who do and what they will spend it on. The Millionaires Show in Moscow, a car costing ¬£800,000, watches that cost tens of thousands, a drink that could change the lives of so many.