Scotland -Part III

The day after Christmas 2015 found me at the airport, excited, tired and ready to be on my way back to Scotland. I had arrived at the airport at an unreasonably early hour (per my request) and had thoughts of my previous two visits and wondered what this visit would bring. I’d been there all alone, with eyes wide and full of wonderment for my birthday in December 2014, met someone in July that multiplied the happiness, the pleasure of traveling and exploring, not only Scotland, but our personalities, our experiences, hopes and dreams, fears and flights of fancy. I didn’t think I could be happier than I was on my first visit, but the second visit changed all that. What would the third visit bring? Would it be even better or would I have raised my expectations so high that they couldn’t help but fall short? These questions swirled around in my mind as I walked the airport, burning nervous energy and trying to fill my mind with something other than those unanswerable questions.

Well, it’s now almost the end of January and I’ve been back about 3 weeks and I have to say, this time was such an incredible experience. I couldn’t have scripted a better visit, traveling and exploring again, but this time, with hours in the car, talking about nothing and everything at once; taking photos like a mad tourist while speeding down the highways and two-lane roads. Sometimes the only car as far as the eye could see, with endless stretches of gorgeous landscapes, skies full of strange clouds I’d never seen back at home; sunsets and sunrises so beautiful, it takes my breath away each and every day. Being so far away from everything and everyone I know, I found myself. I found the calm I’d always prayed for, the serenity I didn’t think existed and the ability to live fully in the moment, not looking back in regret and not looking forward with fear and anxiety. This couldn’t have been possible without the company I was keeping; I have been a solitary creature by choice most of my life but this was comfortable, effortless and I had the feeling that all was right with the world.

That being said, returning to reality is rarely effortless or comfortable and this time was no exception; the higher you are, the harder you fall. The dizzying heights I had occupied while in Scotland gave way to the deepest depths and dark days (and nights) while my spirit tried to break free of the shackles of everyday life and return to the freedom and wide-open spaces I’d flown; now seemingly a dream I had dreamt. Remembering the calm and trying to get that thought to translate to feeling isn’t the easiest or most natural thing for me to do; I am more prone to go worst case scenario and lock the memory away, for the pain of being away from such bliss is too much to delve into. But this is a new year and the time for change is always, so I am embracing my pain, along with the pleasure the memory holds. Bittersweet is a flavor we’re all familiar with and while it’s not something I’d want to taste at every meal, it’s one of the flavors of life, so it will make an appearance from time to time. Every piece of pain contains a lesson, something learned or experienced that will last far longer than the original discomfort that bore it. It’s easy to say and hard to remember when it happens, but it is a choice. I choose to take the bitter with the sweet, the pain with the pleasure and the heart break with the bliss.

I choose to get up and try again. I choose to belief this, too shall pass. I choose to believe that I will return to Scotland, hopefully again and again, until I am an old lady tottering along with a cane, telling my grandchildren about my time in Scotland over and over again, until they can tell the stories themselves, word for word.



Giving Thanks

Gratitude is the memory of the heart.  ~Jean Baptiste Massieu, translated from French

Happy Thanksgiving to you all. I hope you will have a day filled with not only food and thanks, but family, friends and community. It’s very easy to let this day be the only day to reflect on our lives, the blessings and bounty that we have. Just as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day shouldn’t be the only day we let our parents know how much they mean to us, giving thanks should not happen only once a year. I have gotten in the habit lately of running through all the things I am thankful for each morning before I get out of bed. The simplest things we tend to take for granted are the often the things that mean the most. Our health, our home, family, faith and of course, our means of making a living. Material things often are represented as the most treasured, when in reality, they mean nothing if you have no one to share them with or if you are sick or dying.

I feel that it’s very important to not just run through the list of things I’m thankful for, but to actually give thanks to those who I’m grateful to have in my life. All too often, people are starving for words of encouragement, gratitude and just to know that they matter. So, first and foremost, thank you to those who have served in the Armed Forces, their families who all too often have lost their loved one, not only to death, but to the trauma of war and the devastation upon their psyche. Without them, we would not have the luxury of freedom to speak, to live, practice our faith or to even have a choice. Thanks to the teachers who accomplish the impossible on a daily basis; educate and encourage young minds. Often, they are the role models who make the most difference. The rebels who refuse to settle for mediocrity and dare to be different, to challenge what defines them; they keep us from growing complacent. Thanks to those who have had the courage to share their stories of struggle with mental illness, who have faced discrimination and ridicule, yet still found the strength to speak up and demand to be heard. Thanks to those who have fought for equality, who cast a light on the oppressed and downtrodden. Thanks to the dreamers who shared their vision of the future and thanks to those who see the good in all mankind and refuse to believe that all is lost. Thanks to you, my dear readers, for your encouragement and your continuing support of me and my writing. I couldn’t do this without you.

Take a minute today to share with someone how thankful you are to have them in your life and what they mean to you; it could make a world of difference to you both.