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.



Knowledge is Power

I just had my final exam in my Geology class and considering that I thought the final was next Saturday, I think I passed, at least. Now I have next Saturday off and I can’t begin to decide what to do with that free day.

When I started this program, I thought I was doing it to just prove to myself that I could actually finish something I’d started (haven’t had much luck in that particular area in a long time) but as I celebrated my first year, I realized I was learning more about me, my relationship with my “cohorts”, how I work with other people in a group setting and how I handle time management, stress, deadlines and difficult content. The second year of the program I lost my focus, started feeling like I just couldn’t do it, it was too much, etc. You know, those negative thoughts and irrational fears that strike when you are least prepared to fight it off. I am now looking back to find where I went off track and regroup to meet the challenge of my third year. I love learning, I love meeting new people and I love finding out that I am smarter than I give myself credit for, more dedicated and willing to do the hard work to get the reward.

As I look beyond this program and into what I will do with all of this knowledge, I see endless possibilities of travel, teaching and trying to realize my potential. I believe that the greatest reward one can have is to serve others; not just in the personal service of say, a waitress or butler; but to help someone learn, grow and be relieved of their burdens, to educate themselves about their demons (everyone has them, be it mental health issues, gambling, depression, alcohol and drug abuse, physical/emotional abuse and neglect). In this regard, I feel that I have much to offer, simply from my personal experiences. I am eager to proceed into the next year of my education, with a renewed sense of purpose and much gratitude for my cohorts who have helped me, encouraged me, given me a hug when I was close to tears and above all else, believed in me.

There’s No Place Like Home

I’ve enjoyed my time in Scotland very much and have met some very kind people who were strangers when we met and friends by the time we parted. The one thing about leaving home and going out into the world is that it provides a different view of life, of how one views oneself. Away from the comfort and familiar of home, we tend to find out not only what we are capable of when we break away and stretch our proverbial wings, but we also realize what means the most to us and it usually ends up being something other than our big screen TV or California King bed or even favorite restaurant; it’s the people that make our lives richer, more meaningful and give us a reason to believe that we are important, relevant and cherished. That is why I believe Dorothy had it right when she said, “There’s no place like home”.
On the last night of my first visit to Scotland I want to thank all of the people I’ve met on this trip for their kindness, their willingness to open their hearts to me and give me that feeling of home as well as my friends and family who encouraged me to take this trip and discover myself. I treasure and value you all.


Wanderlust Unleashed


I’ve always loved trains. Ever since I can remember trains have held a special place in my heart. Mysterious ladies with “a story to tell” meet up with tall, dark and handsome men; murder happens on trains, as well as fantastic fights on top of trains with the inevitable tunnel that takes out at least one inattentive bad guy. On a lighter note, trains allow for dining and drinking, sightseeing and socializing, as well. Where the train is going is always the best part because I would imagine places that I had read of in books, seen in pictures and been told of in stories. Ireland, home of part of my ancestry, along with Scotland and bits of France and other assorted lands. Growing up in California, I lived where other girls dreamed about and dreamed about living somewhere cloudy and cool with an ocean between us. I love to travel and although I haven’t journeyed often overseas, I am beyond excited to have booked a trip to Edinburgh this December for my birthday.
Yes, I said December. In Scotland. Crazy? Sure. Do I mind? Not at all.
It will be a quick trip, but as I’m hoping it will only be the first of many trips there, it’s a good start. I’ll spend a Wednesday and Thursday getting there and fly back out on a Sunday (my birthday!) arriving home on Monday. I’ll be home for Christmas, our first since Mom passed, which will be good.
To Mr. Liam Neeson (if you happen upon this post by some cosmic turn of the Universe) I will be in Scotland for 4 days and even if you could just meet me at the airport for a quick hug and a photo, that would be the most treasured birthday gift I can think of. No pressure, though. I know you are a busy man and it is during the insanity that is the Holiday Season.
Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled post.
I have always had this wanderlust and believe it is one of the reasons I used to move every 6 months. Not to a new city or anything, just to a different apartment. They were all perfectly decent places, I would just get anxious and feeling trapped or like I had been there too long and I needed to Get Moving. Ever time I travel, whether by train, plane or automobile I feel better. I love meeting new people, hearing their stories of where they’re going and where they’ve been. I love waking up and seeing a different ceiling, hearing new sounds and seeing new sights. It opens a door for me, allowing me to peek into a different world, culture and energy. Even if I’m going to Jackson, Minnesota I know it will be a different world than the one I left. It helps me to reevaluate what my beliefs are when I see them in a different setting. I guess it’s like the Big Fish in a Small Pond/Small Fish in a Big Pond kind of thing. Lastly, when I do return home, I am thankful to be back to the familiar and the routine, at least until the wanderlust strikes again.