Here is a brief selection of photos from our trip, while I have some wifi.
Here is a brief selection of photos from our trip, while I have some wifi.
Wow. What a day. Today we went back thousands (and thousands) of years on our guided tour. We had the added bonus (I’m sticking to that) of experiencing authentic Orkney weather. Cold, crazy winds, rain, and I’m not positive there wasn’t a little sleet as well. Our guide called it liquid sunshine (excuse the lack of grammar marks here and there, this keyboard is wacky). With that said we still had a phenomenal day!!!
We managed to book the tour today last night about 10:30 pm which was brilliant. The Universe has really been doing great things for us when we let it. We met our guide Clive at 9am (we were waiting at the wrong place and he almost left without us!). First stop we went to Kirkwall to pick up the other passengers, along the way he gave us a ton of history and pointed out cool things. After we picked up the other family we headed out on our Megalithic Masterpieces tour. There are 4 sites that make up the Heart of Neolithic Orkney UNESCO world site – these are the Ring of Brodgar, Stones of Stenness, Maeshowe and Skara Brae. We visited all of those today plus Skaill House, Unstan Tomb, Scapa Flow, and inumerable other things as we drove by them. Despite the weather the sites were incredible. The weather was the worst while we were at Skara Brae, but it didn’t take away from the fact that we were looking at the remains of a community that predates what historians have thou
ght was the earliest settlements. The coast was my favorite part, and while it felt like the wind and rain/sleet would wipe us off the ground it also had a wild free-ness to it. The smell of the salty air, and the wind, and the incredible view, mixed with knowledge of how incredibly lucky I am to be on this trip made me want to dance and whirl. I think that moment was one of my favorite of the trip. We also got to pet a barn owl, and meet some other birds used for falconry.
After we dried off a little in the Visitor’s Center while we ate lunch we donned our much debated rain pants, and enjoyed the rest of the day more comfortably. For lunch I was proud of myself for trying local fare. Sara and I both had Cullen’s Skink with Baer Bannoch. Which is smoked herring soup with potato and leeks, and Baer Bannoch is bread make from Barley flower. It was very tasty – and warm!
My next favorite site was the Ring of Brodgar which is part of a number of pagan sites that sit over a power line. Between the wind, the Loch behind and in front, and the earthiness emanating from the stones I suspect I would have liked to stay there a long time… were the weather more tenable. It quickly became apparent that Orcadians are MUCH stiffer stock than I!
By the time we got back around 4 we were happy, but frozen to the core, soggy, hungry, and exhausted. We also were VERY VERY VERY tired of smelling all the time, so we ventured to the Ferry terminal to do laundry. The Universe smiled down on us once again when the Dockmaster let us stay after closing so we could dry our clothes. I don’t think either of us have ever been so ecstatic about warm, dry clothes. Sara was nice enough to throw me my fleece (black cloud of warm pillowy softness!) then proceeded to huge the laundry herself. It was a very special moment.
This evening we made plans for tomorrow, assuming the weather is better, went to dinner, and I had some lovely chats with the other hostel members. I am truly enjoying hostel life. If you are friendly and engage people they are almost always happy to talk and I have learned a lot about where we are going, where I might go, and just generally enjoyed connecting with other people. With that said, having a private room with just Sara and I to sleep in is fantastic compared to the dorms. Much easier to sleep!
Now with my brain overfull of incredible experiences, my belly full of a meal that did NOT include potatoes (they are everywhere, I’m not kidding. The look on the waitresses face when I asked her for extra broccoli instead of potatoes or chips was priceless. She admitted no one had every asked her for that!), and my heart and soul feeling joyful at being heard and acted upon… I think its time for bed. This just covers the surface, but I’m excited I could figure out how to get even this up! Good Wifi is not an easy thing to find.
Wish us luck, tomorrow we hope to find Puffins!
It has been a rough couple of weeks for me. Due to no specific life event my brain flipped and I got really depressed for a few days, and fell off the wagon on a number of habits and projects I was working on. That in and of itself is not the end of the world, and despite how miserable I felt, wasn’t a big problem. I’m diving deep on some things that the experience brought up, shadowy corners of how I think that I don’t really want to face, so the experience was a teacher. The real problem has been making the choice to get back in the game. To choose to step purposely, to live the big life, to not shrink into the mundane, to not hide behind the things that insulate me from the vast unknown of the life of a true Impeccable Warrior.
And that has been hard.
Really, really, hard.
Even though philosophically it is one of my basic tenets.
Did I mention its been hard?
Sometimes it is easier to do things the first time, before I truly understand what it will take, and the all of the different pieces. I find this can be quite true when hiking too. The adventure of finding out what is behind the next hill, or around the next bend can overcome a lot of screaming legs, and aching feet. Do the trail again later though, and it can feel daunting, and like too much, because you know what to expect, and it is almost always worse in my memory than it really was.
The same thing happens to me in life. The second (or third, 4th, etc) time I understand more, and tend to get caught up in the details, and nuances. I also almost always have to face more of the inner dialogues and attachments I am somewhat embarrassed or ashamed by. Now step one is always to witness but not judge our reactions to things (truth not stories!)… but I’m definitely still working on that step. So committing to choices I have explored in the path feels like it has twice the perils. The unknowns of moving forward along the path, but also knowledge of the perils of the past, and even more daunting the guilt/shame/judgement around the realization of what makes up many of the “hurdles” I place in my own way.
Take for instance my recent bout with depression. In the moment it felt like I made the “best” choices I could, but in retrospect I still had all of the usual choices available to me on some level. I could have chosen to not eat, or eat in ways I know would nourish my body, instead of giving in to the bodily cry for sugar. I could have chosen to rest, and listen to what my body was screaming at me – that I had been pushing too hard, for too long – but instead I jumped straight into the mindset of, “What if this is the time I don’t get out of this. What if this is the rest of my life?” A thought cycle that set up judgement, anxiety, more stress, feeling even less capable of making good choices and a lot more like I didn’t deserve to make good choices. In essence I panicked, instead of listening, and choosing optimal actions based on my personal philosophies, I made decisions based on how I felt in the moment. Of course in this scenario this is complicated by the fact that I didn’t feel capable of making those choices at all in the moment, but that is something that I can change as time goes on.
So now I’ve got a week of eating quite sub-optimally on the books, and of not building desired habits, and of reinforcing habits that have kept me down. So how do I re-capture the warrior feeling? The desire is still there, but the feeling that I can embrace that desire is missing, as well as the feeling that I even deserve to claim the title of Warrior. Surely a Warrior would have handled that situation better!
I think it comes down to what it always comes down to. Am I willing to learn from my experience? Will I be brave enough to face the truths that were uncovered? Can I accept that I am enough, no matter what I do, but that in order to be even more “me” I need to work through these things? Most of all, am I willing to face the vast, and amazing beauty of a life well led? Because that is what I am hiding from. That is what the sugar dulls – the desire for that life, and the fears of striving for it, and of not striving for it. I am hiding in no man’s land, afraid of what I want, terrified of returning to what I had – which turns the landscape into one of fear and desolation, when in reality it is of the utmost beauty – if only I would choose to enter it freely, and drop my attachments at the door.
So how do I step back into the life I know I can have, and the one my soul cries for? An act of will, and of faith, and of choice.
I choose to embrace the fear, hurt, and exhausted feelings as teachers, and take them with me if I must until the lessons are learned, but I am not meant for hiding in the shadows of those emotions. I am meant for dancing in the sun, calling out the beauty, and rejoicing in the light and the dark as part of the wholeness of existence. In order to heal, I cannot hide.
So choices must be made, once, twice, a thousand times, and rest taken when needed, and judgement set aside.
So how do I begin? I step into the light and make true choices, no matter how difficult they feel. Then I do it again, and again. Rest when necessary, and do it again.