December 30th 2016: an email hits my inbox at 4.14pm.
It is not as delicious as a Madeleine & far less poetic, but the trigger is the same: I am transported 10 years back.
Its timing was random: the person who sent that message had no knowledge of its potential effect, therefore no agenda.
That day, 10 years ago in December 2006, had been one of an incredible violence & the start of an journey for me.
For many years after, the sheer prospect of simply having that date on the calendar once a year was enough to blur my vision, dry my throat & have cold sweat run down my spine.
That email landing in my inbox on that particular date felt like a malicious whisper: “Do you remember?”
But instead of spiraling down, that day I found myself smiling & feeling extraordinarily composed: there was no sweat & the memory it triggered with all its aftermath was sliding down my brain, my heart, my soul with absolutely nowhere to plant its claws.
At that point, I was not even owning any of what was taking place. I felt like I was floating above that past decade and I ended up that evening on my couch going through pictures.
Looking at them, I was not searching for my kids to remember their cute faces & changing bodies.
No, for once, I was looking at myself.
Or actually, I was looking for myself.
And something puzzling appeared as the years rolled on in front of my eyes:
2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012.
Not so many pictures of me during those years.
And when some would emerge, they were striking.
I looked at the texture of my hair, at the way I carried my shoulders, at my eyes, at the way my hand held a glass, at my smile.
At my gaze.
Often, I have a hard time recognizing myself:
“Is it me sitting there in the corner?”
“What year was that? I look so tired..."
And then, something snaps.
Or actually, something settles in.
And the rhythm of the years seems to shift:
2013, 2014, 2015, 2016.
I can see how the story line evolves, I see it on my face, I see it on the curve of my neck, I see it on my smile, on the way I carry my shoulder, I see it in my eyes.
It looks like a soft metamorphosis.
The thin thread of my own story, barely visible on the earlier years, gains power.
I stand again, I let my hair down, I emerge, I breath. Again.
And then I leap.
The last picture of me in 2016 comes like a seal for me a 10 year journey.
I look bolder. Taller. Much Older. And I don’t think I ever looked better.
The pictures are swirling on my iPad, in my head.
I pause to take it all in.
The email comes back to mind.
Nothing has been easy.
Yet, so much has been beautiful.
I have learnt how it can be both.
I never knew where I would land, and I did not even realize that I was even marching up until 2013, probably, and even then, I had no idea where I was going.
But now, in these pictures, I see now clearly the underlining story and somehow I can trace back the focus & purpose I had all those years.
I did not have a precise image of what it would look like, but rather a deep sense of what it should feel like, and I was guided by the values that I rooted down at every level of my life: integrity, honesty, humanity, love & respect— for myself, my children, and the people around me.
And it took me 10 years to finally own it all for myself & acknowledge my strength & power to manifest it all & the impact that I have had on people’s life.
10 years to own it all & realize how true to them I had been.
And as I am sitting retracing my steps I realize that the last piece of that 10 year initiatic puzzle fell into its place in early December.
I spent the month of November being sick.
Sicker than I had been in a decade.
Physically & emotionally I was drowning.
Very close people in my life got in jeopardy at that time: A life threatening sickness for one, and an incredibly dangerous life situation for another.
On top of the domestic & international turmoil, I collapsed.
“86”, as we say in restaurant business- I was done.
I went all the way spiraling down, until I felt numb, until tears came pouring out uncontrollably.
Theo found me on my sofa on a rainy Wednesday afternoon early December.
I was wailing.
And right then my 16 year-old son gave me an important & decisive gift.
He did not try to comfort me. He simply talked to me gently looking at me straight in the eyes, with no fear.
That day I saw in my son’s gaze the absolute certainty that his mother could handle whatever pain that was raging inside her.
His look was clean, strong & loving.
No fear, no anxiety, no pity, no judgment.
Just love & trust.
At that precise moment, Theo held for me and for a few minutes, with much humanity & compassion— a mirror so I could be reminded what I was worth,who I was & what I was able to do.
And with that, I felt that I could lean in a bit further. I could trust to spiral down a bit further to let it all out.
His gaze reminded me that I could trust myself to get back up, and most likely land a bit higher.
And it clearly showed me that I had taught him to do that, because I hold that mirror for him.
And for his brother.
And for any of my friends who dare to look into it.
And for my employees.
And for all who stand by me.
What a decade.
It has been that deep work in the end that got me here today, deep work that I now own, that have harnessed, work that now allow me to love, build, impact, grow, change, shake, reshape a business, change the rules, have integrity, go after change, not be scared.
And this deeply personal process feels incredibly relevant now in the light of this year that begins. And crucial for our common destiny.
I feel now ready, ready to accomplish collectively what I discovered & harnessed individually.
I am not wishing you a good 2017.
It is too reductive.
I want to wish you a good rest of your life:
I wish for you to find the path to tap into your own peace, respect, integrity & just pure basic humanity so then together we can love, build, impact, grow, shake & change the rules.
And march together with no fear. See you there, on that path.
With much love,
Coming up next month – how this translates in my business Maison May.
“The Story of a $6 Scone.”