the evolution of a self image

As I've been recovering from my nasty cold I've been mulling over themes and ideas for my "trip to France" post.  What's different, how influential was the trip, was it just for fun, is there a 'bigger picture' message to decipher, what were my favorite things, what sort of new jewelry will emerge, etc etc etc.  So I've brewed a lovely cup of thé coquelicot, black tea with poppy flowers, from the Lourmarin Friday market, served it up on our hand sewn Provençal table linens from the Saint Rémy de Provence market and am sitting down to make a first attempt at sorting it all out.

I guess the most obvious thing I've noticed is a need to make changes in my outward appearance - little things really, but as I sit here in my observer mode, interesting changes.  Firstly the silliest one ... I've always been one for the understated.  Most of my clothes, shoes and bags are black, brown and charcoal gray - yeah I know - pretty boring, but it makes packing so much easier.  In the summer I do varnish my toenails, but stick to browns, taupe, maybe a deep plum if I'm feeling extravagant.  So when I bought emerald and dark charcoal nail polish the other day, it marked a shift.  Behold, my new sparklie toes....

I hate for this to seem like it's just about shopping, but one of my big purchases was a pair of shoes that I've been lusting after for years.  The shop was in Bonnieux and I felt like I'd landed in heaven.  An important side note ... One thing I felt the whole time in Provence - like I had found my tribe.  I was surrounded by a landscape that felt right.  Being a jewelry designer, clothing and fabric and colors are an important part of my awareness.  Everywhere I went, the village markets to the boutiques to the people on the street, I encountered heavenly linens in delicious, rich colors set against the backdrop of  a spectacular rugged landscape with ancient stone walls.  It was my palette, my landscape.

Here's the shop ... stepping into La Cambuse was breathtaking.  All the clothing was by a French designer whose name I cannot for the life of me remember.  I could have spent a fortune on those clothes.  She also carried Trippen shoes, seriously comfortable in some of the most outrageous designs you'll ever see, along with an exquisite selection of handcrafted jewelry.   Trippen first hit my radar when one of my students at ArtFest 2003 was wearing a pair.  I've been lusting after those shoes ever since.  I bought a pair of Trippen classics, still sort of funky, but not too crazy.  My sort of understated pair ...

I'll be trying to compose an email in French to the owner of La Cambuse to inquire about the clothing designer's name and also do some plugging for my own jewels.  There's a Google gadget that I think will work - that's how I've been plugging in French words and phrases with the correct accents and punctuation.

More on the outward appearance theme ... On Tuesday I had to run some errands and as I was driving into town I had the thought to go by the spiffy eye glasses shop downtown.  You might remember a while back I posted a picture of some frames I was thinking about.  Those frames were very retro, inexpensive and probably not the most flattering - just a fun pair of frames.  So it was a surprise to find myself being drawn back to this shop and even more of a surprise to find a spiffy pair of frames and plunk down a deposit.  The evolution of my self image continues and in honor of Self-Portrait-Friday  - Kathy in her new frames  (they still need a bit of leveling)  ...

As I ponder the trip and it's residual effects, one thing that has stuck with me is that long distance travel is a particularly surreal undertaking.  Remember, this was my first trip abroad.  To start in familiar surroundings on one day and be transported into a completely different world the next - well, it's confusing and exhilarating and wonderful and exhausting and stressful and amazingly wonderful.  It has actually helped me feel more settled here in Asheville.  Relatively low cost of living and good geographic location ... I can see that this is a good base for future travels - and yes, there will absolutely be more future travels. 

I'm on a bit of a roll now and listening closely to my inner guidance system.  I just revamped my Talisman - I took off a PT pebble and one piece of beach glass, added a pebble from that Mediterranean beach, a small faceted nugget of ruby tourmaline and a large faceted nugget of Vesuvianite and changed my silk message to no limits, no fear.  Here's an excerpt of some of the stone's properties from That Crystal Site:
Vesuvianite provides a link to the higher self and the information it offers to the soul in incarnation. Psychologically, it releases feelings of imprisonment and restraint ... it gently dissolves anger and alleviates fear, creating inner security. Vesuvianite (Idocrase) has powerful mental connections. It opens the mind and clears negative thought patterns so that the mind can function more clearly. It stimulates inventiveness and the urge to discover, linking this into creativity.

Oh!  I almost forgot, another splurge ... We bought a photographic collage from Kamil Vojnar at his Atelier in Saint Rémy.  We were captivated by his imagery and had a hard time choosing, but kept coming back to this one.
It's an original on canvas, 30cm x 30cm - The Arrival.

It seems this wonderful, virtually perfect vacation is helping me to become more me - that can only be a good thing.  As for pictures from the trip, I'm still plowing through them, rotating and cropping and naming and getting them ready to upload to either Flickr or Picasa.  Until that's done, here's a few that I've spiffed up ...

 And last but not least ... after a long day of perusing markets or Roman ruins or the mountain roads of the Luberon, each night we'd come back to our village grocer to pick up a baguette, some local cheese and pate and a different bottle of inexpensive local wine and some little decadent sweets from the boulangerie or La Place Delices.  We'd finish the evening with a stroll along the alleys and side streets of Lourmarin.

So that's it for now.  I'm heading to Nashville on Monday to hook up with my brother and then driving all the way to Dallas on Tuesday for a week-long family gathering.  Dave will be stuck at home, back in school and at work.  For someone who doesn't get out much, I'm turning into quite the traveler.  I need to have the photos organized before I leave so's I can do show and tell for my family.  That means photos will be uploaded somewhere before I leave.

the journey continues - ain't it grand!
blessings - kvk