I was sitting reading The Power Of Now, by Eckhart Tolle in a cafe in Havana when the person next to me asked what the book is about. Simon is Cuban and genuinely didn’t have a clue about what I was talking about. In fact he thought that it is was crazy to have to have this concept of now explained in a book. What kind of people are we in the developed world?
One that spends a lot of money on these books, I told him that the book is an international best seller and I first read it 18 years ago. I could see he was doing the sums and watched his jaw drop. I sort of felt a bit daft. Afterall what was I doing sitting in Havana with a stunning view, in a place full of colour and vibrancy reading how to be in the now when the now is now….know what I mean.
I said that sometimes we need to see the words that will remind us to be present and by reading we learn and we become aware of what can be a better and easier way of being. That in our busy lives we forget how to slow down, how to breathe and are so consumed with a drama in our head that we don’t know how to find ourselves in the present time, that is Now.
I was speaking a different language within a different language, talk about making a mess of the moment.
I just closed the book and made conversation instead.
Am back again with my theme of the gift of time along with doing what I enjoy and sharing my stories on collecting and where this takes me.
It’s about time.
Here I am in Havana, Cuba in February, a very welcome change to the weather at home in the UK and I am experiencing total gratitude for gifting myself with this time. “Thanks to yourself” I hear you ask. well yes, it me, my idea, my vision, my dream whatever you want to call it but I would say YES to gifting myself with time. In our world time is a currency, we either have it in abundance or not enough of it, time is measured and it is billed, it has a value that more often than not we do not connect to. We are aware of money and how long it takes us to make it without giving much thought to how long it takes to spend it. So what I am saying is this is a gift to me from an investment of time and money earned over my working life to invest in my dreams of a reality that I now want to live, experience and enjoy.
My first choice is Havana, and for me right now it was a right one to make.
Before coming here I had heard several opinions from people who don’t really know me about their experiences in Havana. I was shocked by their reactions, what I got was a projection of their experience which with some different levels of extreme was what I would call a toxic dump. Urm, I have never being one to knowingly put out someone elses fire but one persons reaction was visceral, they even used the word anger that I was staying in Havana for a month without seeing the beauty of the whole of cuba.
Hey ho, another persons visions of a dream is someone elses vision of hell, ce la vie.
I live in London, and am busy most of the time, there are things that have to be done and things that I like to do and things that must be done. Time is pretty much taken up with doing. To be honest I like doing and will be doing in Havana, in fact I am doing a lot here and I love it. The difference is ‘doing’ on my terms which by other people standards is that for me it will be a month to do what some people will do in 1 week or 4 days or less.
Which brings me back to time, in London, conversations have been reduced to text, not so much of the spoken word and text is now being replaced by imogis. All this smart phone technology and we are reduced to experiencing ourselves through a sticker designed by someone else. Oh Wow, evaluation……
Holiday time, by this I mean time at home, Christmas or whatever family time we might have. It’s a big deal because its one of the few times that everyone makes an effort to get together and talk to each other face to face, over meals that they make togther and maybe exchange a well-considered gift.
So here I am in Havana with a gift of time and what I am to do, or now after a week into my trip, what I am doing.
Well first question should really be hows it going? And I will say it is going good, thanks.
Any anxiety that I might have absorbed from others negativity was soon diminished by my own reality in feeling happy to be here. It is everything that I hoped and expected. I am comfortable and capable and time is my friend.
I am lost in wonder by the scale of urban decay, I am immersed in the layers of past revealing itself though worn out shades of colour, broken tiles, sun damage, sea damage and war damage. Buildings without roofs, people living in derelict buildings that chime with noise and vibrate with industrial labour. Peeping through the gaps in doors there are the picture post card images of what we know to be relative poverty compared to western standards, (why that is a photo opportunity I don’t know, I guess it’s a glimpse of a life been lived) old style shabby chic. Yes there are men sitting in shorts on PVC sofas eating food. Its grimy, choked up with exhaust fumes from the old cars, there is no sense of heath and safely. Behind doors I see what is left of a stair case, I see people restoring furniture, I see small factories with people at sewing machines, I see the interiors of homes with so little physical substance, I see an upholsterer at work and restoration on the scale of what looks like something from the italian renascence.
I also see colour and feel the vibrancy of the people and the sunshine bouncing off the buildings, there is music and dancing everywhere.
I see progress, it’s on a collective scale, everyone is in this together, there is something for everyone. As the historical restoration replaces what has been, and still is a demolished city, it is a city is in transition, whilst been true to its identity and community this is a time of change. The romance and the old style charm is not just been replaced but enhanced, drawn out from the rubble that has held its memories, nothing has but everything is changing.
Oh for the gift of time, to immerse myself in this vision, lost in the decorative beauty, the long conversations and laughing with exchanges in a different language, taking time to try, to be vulnerable to understand myself better through experience. taking time for change.
I love to live with pattern, print and colour. Layering patterns and textures is visually stimulating but also draws out our desire for being tactile. The love of touch and feel. The print’s that I collect are genuine vintage and most are archived in museums. For me they are an art form from the past, they are a direct link to a time and era. I rework the prints to offer clients and mid-century collectors accessories that complaint their furniture collections. The fabrics are in good condition, having not been used before. I do not rework something that has been a former curtain but do have a small stock of curtains which are often used in back drops and set designs. I have a shop on Etsy where you can see what I have in stock. https://www.etsy.com/shop/FabulousNelly
Two years ago I had the random idea to sell our family home. The idea came from nowhere but it was inspired. It was time for a change, I was approaching 50 and having created a working life based around my family needs, my family needs had changed, the kids were becoming independent and I had time on my hands. I didn’t want to change my work commitments but there was a gap of time that only so much dog walking could fill. Not quite a mid-life crisis but a need to change. I began to think about how I wanted to live and what I wanted to do and then how I could create all of this. There is a phrase ‘pre retirement’ it seemed to tick the box. People who aren’t ready to give up work but are reducing their commitment to work and making time for something new. Time I have realised is a luxury and it was the thing I had the most of. I Wanted to re connect to the passions of my younger years whilst I have the energy to be that passion. These being my former career as a designer, vintage collecting of fashion and textiles, traveling and being involved in the arts. Communicating and engaging in a world outside of school routine, work and family commitments. It’s a liberating thing to let go. When I moved from our family house of 17 years I had edited my life to a few boxes of memories, and the things that I needed. My daughter was about to leave home and my son who at 14 wasn’t ready to give up on his childhood and brought the most with him. We downsized from a Victorian London house into a 1930’s period apartment block, that bit sounds cool. Our apartment though had not been cleaned or changed since 1975 (40 years). And so the story begins.
Welcome to my blog.
Fabulous Nelly is a mid-century girl, collecting and reworking mid century textiles. Inspired by city living, fashion, interiors and the arts.
Living in London, always on the look out for new finds, from vintage to contemporary design for interiors and happy to share the experience of sourcing and re working the finds.
On the move to other European cities (and beyond) always searching and enjoying meeting new people who are doing something interesting and creative with their time.
My aim is to share my finds, sourcing and experience from trips.
Keen to collaborate with other designers or interested parties.