Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wednesday on Iona

Today I had the pleasure of walking around with my camera...I photographed the cows grazing outside of my hotel and sat in the little chapel next to the Abbey...sang with some fellow group members in the ruins of the nunnery and did Tai Chi outside...

It's been a very contemplative, reflective sort of not much more to share on here :) Instead, I will post a few photos. (I took the Staffa photos on Monday)...



Fingal's Cave, Staffa

Nunnery, Iona

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Iona, in the Beginning...

Trust and Love in a Basket :)

I was completely delusional in thinking I'd have the energy to write and post a blog a day here on they are going to be on a sort of tape delay :)

I had a hard time falling asleep the first night here because I'd had tea after dinner and small computer issues...but no worries...all is well.

View from my Window the first Morning

Iona is already the exact experience I need at this exact moment. Last time I was in Scotland I felt like I was looking really hard to find my experience and afraid it wouldn't happen...I realized later that it was all part of the journey as a whole...the difficulty and almost desperate energy to recognize the moment.

On my first Iona morning, I woke up and delighted in seeing sheep grazing across the road!

Later I went to Sunday morning service at the Abbey and was really struck by the simpleness and humanity of it all.

Afterwards...I ended up drifting in and out of different groups of people...and I find that extraordinary since I can be very anti-social in certain situations when new people are introduced. I am very much at ease and much more open here with an attitude of, "What ever happens happens and it's all okay."

In that spirit...I've had constant, wonderful, companionship without even trying.

In that spirit of new friendship...a group of ladies and I went to the pub after evening prayers and had a whisky then walked arm and arm back to the hotel through the dark, spotting shooting stars and the big dipper!

Time expands here...I can feel it and am filling it with so much love and meaningful energy.

Yesterday we had our sessions, went out to the AMAZING island of Staffa and checked out Fingal's Cave, did Tai Chi under the moon went to evening service at the Abbey...followed by a whisky at the pub and then a few quick dances at the Ceilidh.

Today I started the rainy day by taking a very quick dip in the Sound of Iona with two Scottish men! Who'd have ever thought I'd do that!!! I'd like to think that I am at least an honorary Scot now :) We did a "Life Run" later in the day (sort of a Spiritual Amazing Race). At the end of the run I took another dip with a wonderful group of women from the workshop...the energy was completely different from the morning. I'm definitely delighting in balancing out my masculine and feminine energies here! Scotch, name it. And it's only Tuesday.

Two announcements before I take a nap on this fine Scottish afternoon...

#1 I am now supplying the "New York Optimist" with a special Lion's Share blog every week (the first one is something I wrote while preparing for my Scotland Flight)
It can be found HERE

#2 I will do my best to post more photos of Iona and Staffa before the week is out. I'm not making any promises :) 8 is calling me!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Back in Scotland! October 25th, 2009

Scotland welcomed me with bigger, outstretched arms than I could have even hoped for.

My flight out was delayed by about an hour...but no worries. I wrote a bit on a blog while waiting at the airport...although I couldn't post it because I couldn't get on to a network! Much like right now, actually. I'm writing this from my Iona hotel room on Saturday the 24th of October...about to go to sleep. I was hopeful that I'd be able to connect via wireless from my room...but Chelsea isn't picking up anything. No worries though, I'm still going to write!

I got into Edinburgh at a little past 11:00am Friday the 23rd of October. I was on a plane dominated by that was a nice intro to returning. My friend, Christina was waiting for me with tea at Waverly Station so I hopped on a bus into town. As we drove along I thought, "this looks different" and after asking a couple very nice locals, I figured out that the bus was not going to let me off across from I got off and onto another. That one didn't either, but it did leave me off in familiar I walked the rest of the way.

Princes street is all torn up due to the building of a new tram, but otherwise Edinburgh is just as I left her...though dressed in Fall colors.

I met Christina and got my train ticket for Oban and then we were off to her flat. I relaxed with a bit of tea and a chat...then thankfully showered and was off into town! I walked along Regent road so I could pass my beloved Arthur's seat...and was struck with such a sense of was superb. The past two times I was in Scotland I kept thinking, "I can't believe I'm here!" and this time...all I can think, with peace in my heart, is "How can I not be here..." It's simple. I am reminded of a phrase from the books that brought me here the first time...(The "Outlander" Series by Diana Gabaldon)...I'm paraphrasing since I don't have the books beside me...but it's something to the effect reach a moment when you realize that everything is possible...and therefore, nothing is necessary.

I have had a lot of moments like that in this country. It is exactly where I want to be.

So...back to my first day...

I wandered past Arthur's and Holyrood...and got my cell phone set up...then I decided to stroll over to the Royal mile in search of a half pint. I found it at The "Toll Booth Tavern" ...a place I went last time, near the bottom of the mile. I actually sat at the friend Kim would be proud, and ordered a Caledonian 80...followed by a Deuchars IPA. Now, keep in mind I hadn't eaten anything since breakfast. I chatted with the bartender a bit, then was off down towards Arthur's seat. Something, however, told me to go over to my other favorite spot...Calton Hill....which is near the restaurant I dined at for my 30th birthday in August 2008. I was taking photos of the sun setting on the buildings of Princes street making them glow...and when I turned around...there was a giant rainbow arching from Arthur's Seat over Calton Hill.

It was the most magical moment I have experienced as of yet. I am on Iona right now, listening to the ocean right outside, after all.

I walked up Calton Hill and followed that rainbow....and took my hood down to let the Scottish rain Christen me. I was home. trip out to Iona was quite lovely! The landscape is so amazing. I saw ruined boats resting in a harbor, gorgeous mountain and streams, highland cows, sheep and reindeer. I was seated across from a Dutch Woman on the train from Glasgow who was also travelling alone to Iona. We boarded the Ferry to Mull as soon as we got to Oban and the trip across was extraordinary. We were treated to the site of 2 castles, the gorgeous ever changing sky, and can you guess what else? Multiple rainbows. They seem to want to greet me me here.

We ended up having a two hour wait for the bus to Fionphort, which is where we needed to be to get the ferry to Iona, so we sat in a little pub and chatted was exactly where the two of us needed to be.

Then the bus to Fionphort...a short Ferry Ride to Iona....and I was met by the Man running the workshop! What a lovely surprise! We walked by the ruins of a close I could have walked through them....and then onto the hotel for a quick intro and lovely dinner and then more of an assembly.

I am now completely knackered :) and the waves are calling me to sleep.


*As I post this...I am fresh off of my first morning service at the Iona Abbey...and am preparing to go for a walk with my camera...check back for more!!!*

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sunday Afternoon Forest Walk

Bridle Trail, Forest Park

Fall is just crazy awesome!

I spent a wonderful Sunday afternoon ambling around Forest Park.

I seized the day and conquered my fear of digging up plants by gathering some dandelion root for tincture! Don't worry, the greens won't go to waste... I'm going to use them in salad. I also picked some Lady's Thumb (for salad) , Mugwort, Violet leaves...and some assorted cool stuff that I couldn't name.

There were chipmunks, horses, dogs, and birds fluttering in the bushes.

I reveled in the coolness of the air, the lovely greens and yellows of the foliage, the coziness of my new walking shoes...and the quiet as I wandered around the bridle paths. It was just what I needed. Bliss.

Poke Berry Stems

Dandelion Roots

Lady's Thumb

Sweet Gum Seed Pods???

Hickory Nuts???

Happy Sunday, Everyone! I think I'm going to go do some yoga and then have a beer later...LOL Odd combo, I know...


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

31 Going on 13

My dorm room of a cubicle wall at TV Guide Magazine

At the risk of looking like a total loon...I thought it would be fun to recount all the things that make me feel silly (in the best possible sense) these days.

~True Blood/Stephen Moyer/Alexander Skarsgard. Ah all brings me back to the days I'd go to the pharmacy in town to check out Bop! Magazine. The equivalent these days would be trips to the HBO store. Most recently it was when the Tru Blood soda came out. AWESOME.

~Our office's little girlie book club...mostly Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse series...feeding into all things True Blood.

~My Black & Tan, this would be wrong if I was actually 13...thank goodness I'm not! Black & Tan's are so pretty!

~The Office's John Krasinski...Jim! And of course, "JAM"

~"The Silly Hour" at work. We inevitably crack up about something at around 4pm...give or take. One of my favorites was Sara saying she was "racist against Werewolves..." It set off a string of hilarity that we still pull from. Priceless.

~Paul McCartney in concert = Giggles and smiles all around

~David Tennant as Dr. Who...oh boy. To be honest though, it gets worse when he speaks in his normal (Scottish) voice that I basically jump up and down on the inside all a-twitter :)

~The Waterboys!!! Being introduced to their music has caused me to embark on an album buying spree the likes of which haven't been seen since I "discovered" Terrence Mann when I was 15 and then The Beatles shortly thereafter. Terrence Mann inspired my friend Melodie and I to save up for a bus trip into NYC to see "Beauty and the Beast" and The Waterboys have inspired me to buy tickets for a concert in Dublin in the Spring. Being 31 certainly expands your ability to travel for your fandom.

~The Outlander series, by Diana Gabaldon, which inspired me to visit...


This started out as a funny little whim of a blog...but I realized through writing out all my little "silly" interests that they have shaped me more or less. Even going back to when I was 15 or so because I was following my joy and in doing so found other things that kept me going in a certain direction.

I think we all need to keep a bit of 13 inside of us :)


Friday, October 2, 2009

Preparing to Ship Out...


Sorry to have been absent from the blogging world for a while, but I've been under the weather. After rest, no caffeine, and acupuncture...I'm feeling much better!

Maybe it's the start of a new month or my flow-y new shirt, but I feel a new sense of self and purpose today. I am fully realizing how stressful and draining restructuring your life and priorities can be...probably why I became rundown and sick to begin with!

I leave for Scotland soon (as my cheerful widget keeps reminding me...although it's off by a few days) and I've started all the pre-trip stuff (including freaking out slightly). Every time I complete a task I feel a little less stressed out.

  • Bought my train ticket to Oban
  • Arranged my ride to the Airport (I am less concerned about getting to the airport on time when returning to New York ;)
  • Got a haircut
  • Filled out the "Hold Mail" form at the Post Office
  • Received info from the hotel on Iona about the workshop (excellent!)
  • Bought some books to prepare
  • Got a big, weatherproof backpack and waterproof clothing

I'm also in the process of figuring out my herbal medicine travel kit...that will be a new experience. How wonderful to have some natural medicine on hand while away! A real comfort, for sure.

I am feeling slightly out of shape I want to get back into an (enjoyable) exercise routine in preparation for all the activities I'll be participating in. I have gone back to doing my AM and PM yoga...which has shown me how out of shape I really am!

The logistics about getting to where I need to be have always worried me. This time I intend on changing my outlook...see the journey as a whole. Instead of just getting from gorgeous point A to Stunning point B, I will view it as one long magic strand of loveliness from beginning to end. I cannot begin to express my glee at being surrounded by space and the Scottish air once again.

And now, inspired by "Five on Friday" here are five things I always travel with:

  1. Camera
  2. Yoga pants
  3. Journal
  4. Cardigan or Hoodie
  5. Wonder

By the month's end, I will be back in Scotland. Sigh.