May 31st, 1946

My Darling,
Thanks darling for the life-saver (letter) I got from you this afternoon. I hope your head-aches have gone by now and that you are quite okay. I am fine in health but terribly, terribly lonely for you! To make me feel worse they even played our song to-night, as if I had to be reminded how much I miss you. Things back here were very much the same to-day. I went into the shop again this morning to give them a hand and I got two lovely presents, one was a beautiful set of fruit knives in a lovely case from Mr & Mrs Samuel’s, more knives darling, we are getting quite the collection of them aren’t we? The other present was a very nice dressing table set a customer gave me, I thought it was very sweet of her as she had made it all herself and she is about 70 years old. Now we have a home of our own darling, I am thrilled with everything I get and I try to picture it in our home, please God soon. If we get any more presents I shall soon have to get myself another trunk. I wonder if Eileen will be going on this next trip of the Queen Mary, I reckon it should be leaving again about Wednesday, I sure hope I will be going on her next trip. The Royal Canadian Navy’s show “Meet the Navy” has been made into a picture and it’s on at the Empire, I am going to try and see it, I don’t have to tell you that I sure wish you were here to take me to see it. Janey said as you have now got half a house can she come along now with Dixie or will you still have to build her a log cabin. Everybody here in London seems to be preparing for the Victory Day next Saturday (except me) they have put flags up in Trafalgar Square and they have also put a lot of stands up on Oxford St. I think I shall stay in all day on that day, crowds are dangerous and I don’t want anything to happen to us now. Well, husband of mine, I guess that’s all the news for now, it’s not what I want to write and I know not what you would like to read, but soon, please God darling it will come, I guess we just have to wait a little longer. God Bless You dearest, Good-night and have pleasant dreams. Good-luck. Au-revoir. Hope to see you soon. All my love to you forever.
Your everloving wifey,
Rene
I LOVE YOU (in x’s)

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May 31st, 2013

Dear Grama,
What you’ve said about wanting to stay away from crowds has got me thinking. The whole idea of fear has been on my mind a lot lately and I can’t help but think that this comment is out of character for you. In one hand I realize the fear you must have felt is completely unfathomable for someone of my generation. From living through the years of the war and the constant air raids, to falling in love with a soldier who was off at war…that, I cannot even begin to imagine. From what I remember of you though, from what mom tells me, and from what Papa shares, you embraced fear. You loved the adventure of it all. You even told us on many occasions, that you enjoyed the excitement of sleeping in Swiss Cottage tube station during the air raids.
The fear I have been experiencing is not even close in comparison…but it’s fear all the same. It’s fear of being here alone, fear of putting my words & dreams out there for all to see, and fear of writing a book.
Today I experienced facing a fear on an extreme level. I was invited by a dear friend to experience what feels like a hidden secret of London…the women’s pond at Hampstead Heath. After walking through the vast beauty of the park itself, the winding trails brought us to the secluded and sacred pond that women have been swimming in since the 1800’s. After passing the gate that says “No Men Beyond This Point” I knew I was going to experience something unique.
The night before my swim, I had realized that I was feeling disconnected to so many things. I felt disconnected to you, disconnected to what I was over here to do, and disconnected to the present moment. I was letting fear take over and getting caught up in the negative voices in my head. When I woke up, I couldn’t help but think of the song by Mumford & Sons “Awake my Soul.”
I knew I was in for an awakening today, on many levels…so my word for the day was Awaken. Let’s just say…the 12°/53° temperature of the water was QUITE the awakening. As well as being awakened to the notion of embracing fear, just like you always did. I realized on my walk to the park that in my excitement, I forgot about the small fact that I’m not really the best swimmer. It instantly brought a whole new level of fear into the picture. It reminded me of how the fears of not being able to write, were very similar to my fears of not being able to swim. If my life depended on it…of COURSE I would know how to swim. If I looked like a weirdo and was kicking my legs & flailing my arms…I would swim. I would get from A to B. I would somehow, someway, swim. Just like I’ve been doing here…on this blog, in my journal & in my writing. I’m writing. I’m somehow, someway, accomplishing this dream that I had NO idea how to do. Isn’t life in general like this? Marriage. Raising babies. Pursuing careers. Aren’t we all just learning as we go, embracing the fear of the unknown and awakening our souls to LOVE.
A line in “Awake my Soul” that really speaks to me is… “In this body we will live, in this body we will die….where you invest your love, you invest your life.”
Thank you for modeling embracing fear so well, Grama. If you didn’t embrace fear, you wouldn’t have asked Papa to dance the first night you met, you wouldn’t have agreed to marry him, you wouldn’t have come to Canada, and you wouldn’t have been YOU.
With a granddaughter’s love,
Carly
Xoxo

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4 thoughts on “Awakened to Embrace Fear

  1. GlenO says:

    Carly – your post today highlights the human condition we all seem to deal with – the fear of living our life when it might not be perfect, we might not be ready, we are not quite prepared, we are not sure or the water might be warmer another day. Like you are doing – we could just dive in anyway. Remember the poem by Wislawa Szymborska entitled Life While You Wait? Here it is – it seems like a great depiction of the fear we all face – and the last line is so on the mark…

    Life While You Wait
    by Wislawa Szymborska – 1976

    Life while you wait.
    Performance without rehearsal.
    Body without fitting.
    Head without reflection.

    I don’t know the role I’m playing.
    I only know it’s mine, non-convertible.

    What the play is about
    I must guess only after it’s begun.

    Poorly prepared for the dignity of life,
    I barely keep up with the pace of the action imposed.
    I improvise, though I loathe improvisation.
    At every step I stumble over my lack of expertise.
    My way of life smacks of provincialism.
    My instincts are those of a rank amateur.
    Stage fright, although an excuse, is all the more humiliating.
    Extenuating circumstances I perceive as cruel.

    Not to be retracted are words and reflexes,
    unfinished is the count of stars,
    character buttoned up on the run like an overcoat –
    these are the pitiful results of such haste.

    If only one Wednesday could be practiced ahead of time,
    or if only one Thursday could again be repeated!
    But here it is nearly Friday, with a scenario I don’t know.
    Is it fair – I ask
    (with hoarseness in my voice,
    because I wasn’t even allowed to clear my throat in the wings).

    Illusory is the thought that this is just a pop quiz
    taken on temporary premises. No.
    I stand amid the scenery and see how solid it is.
    I am struck by the accuracy of all the props.
    The revolving stage has long been in operation.
    Even the most distant nebulae have been switched on.
    Ah, I have no doubt that this is opening night.
    And whatever I may do
    will be forever changed into that which I have done.

    • Wow, Glen! Thank you so much for your kind words & for sharing this beautiful poem. It’s so freeing to approach life this way & recognize that we are in this together and along with encouraging each other to show up and DIVE in…that we need to encourage ourselves. Let’s do this! :) xo

  2. Cecile Verheyen says:

    Hi Carly, first of all I have to tell you how amazing I watch your beautiful pictures… ! You really have talent !!!

    “Fear” is not my favoured subject for the moment… And I think with all what you do, will do and did “fear” is not what you have in you! Maybe you went through some difficult moments that might have given you certain feelings …but they just must have been temporairy! You are a very stable woman who knows what she wants ..and don’t let “fear” come into your live!

    The month of June started; so just some more weeks and you are leaving London…to meet Adam and your family.. .it’s very close now….
    I’lll miss you, feeling you just over the River, closer with me then when you are in Canada. Maybe because we have the same “time” …I don’t know!

    We received the invitation for your “engagement party” … and we received it without a name: just “Aunt Cecile and Bob” ..we must be VIPersons that it arrived that way ! Very funny! Thanks anyway …and I am very sad not being able to be of the party ..I hope you understand that. But my heart will be with you both and the family !

    With all my love
    Cecile

    • Hi Aunt Cecile. I absolutely understand that your heart will be with us at the party. We will see you at the wedding ;) ! Thank you for your words about fear. Yes fear happens to all of us, and is part of life. It’s embracing it that feels so great. Yes, my time here is quickly coming to an end. I am enjoying every single day! Thanks again for the compliment about my photos. I sure do love capturing moments & beauty! LOVE to you xo

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