Distancing from my own head

Last weekend a friend came round and we just sat out on the back deck all afternoon. Talking, watching the breezes move the trees, eating lunch, listening to music.

We were talking about things we miss, and one of my greatest ones is travel. Not the constant travel – I’m getting my eyes opened to the fact I was rushing too much, going too many places too fast, more “work travel” than I had energy for. But I do miss the freedom to be able to go somewhere when I take the notion. Particularly my favourite places, like the Isle of Mull (or any of the Scottish islands), and Glenfinnan, and Glencoe, and these remote places in the highlands and islands which never seemed that far away. (But now they seem very far.)

My friend asked, what is it which makes those places feel so restful, such a break from being where I am? What is it about them which is so appealing and so difficult to do without? (Other than the beauty and quiet.)

After all, I do have a lot of beauty here, right round the corner from my house. Those of you who follow me on Instagram will be familiar with the woodsy walking paths I take every day – the flowers, the trees, the river, the deer and squirrels and foxes, the everyday beauty that never gets old. How grateful I am for those! How much more difficult lockdown would be without them!

But even with those – even with all that beauty, the flowing river and quiet spaces and greenery –  I still feel a bit confined, a bit restless.

So when she asked what it was, I thought about it, and imagined myself sitting on the edge of the sea, with little yellow flowers all around me and the vast skies reaching out to the horizon, and the quiet and the peace – and the space. The endless space.

I thought about the traveling to get there. The preparation of snacks (every road trip must have a snack satchel, naturally), the long car ride, the changing scenery and weather all along the way. When I go to the islands, the waiting for the ferry to come in, then driving on, walking up to the top decks, watching the mainland drift away, arriving in another world.

And I realised it’s not only the distance from here to there, but the time required to get there which is part of the peace and rest. Part of helping me to break from the now, the daily, the work, everything filling my mind constantly.

It’s like the time and the movement and the distance actually physically give me a break from everything going on in my own head.

Currently in Scotland we’re not supposed to be traveling beyond locally. This means roughly 5 miles from our homes.(Everyone I talk to seems to feel that’s a “guideline” and not a hard and fast rule, but even those who have been stretching it themselves agree that 90 miles to Glenfinnan is definitely beyond the guidelines, and doesn’t honour the intention of the rules.)

I’ve kept very near home the whole lockdown time – partly because that’s how I understand the rules, but partly because I’m sort of an all-or-nothing kind of person. I could look around for places nearby to visit, but it’s actually not new, near places I want to go to. It’s the far, familiar places I want to go back to. To take my time, and drive, and see, and listen, and get space. Space for my head, space from everything swirling around in it, and distance from the daily life.

This week in Scotland we’ve got the first hints of tourism opening up in a month or so. It’s extremely exciting and for the first time in months I’m looking at places to go and things to do which are further away from my house.

There’s a little part of me which is saying “don’t get too excited” – we’ve all seen how quickly plans can change – but I’m trying now to go ahead and make some plans, and hold them with an open hand. If I get to finally go a further distance, and get some space for my head, that will be a blessing and I will enjoy it (perhaps more than I even did before!). And if we have to put it off and wait a little longer, I can do that too.

After all, “control” was always an illusion. I don’t have control over the weather, the world’s health, my own health, or even my ability to go anywhere. I do believe God’s got this – me, the world, and all these things – and there is good coming from it. I will love it when I can go a further distance than I have for months, but the distance isn’t what saves me. The distance isn’t what sorts my problems out. The distance is just a reminder of the process my mind goes through to sort through what’s going on in my head.

Hope you’re doing okay, and beginning to see hope wherever you are. 

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ON THE GRAM

Well. So. Small update.

Was out hiking on mull and slipped on a rock crossing a burn, and broke my ankle. (I remember hearing an audible “crack” as I went down.)

No signal on phone. Managed to climb down a ravine to get to a more open place and hopefully signal. At that point still convinced it “wasn’t that bad”. Tried to walk along the path and realised yes, it was that bad.

Phoned coast guard, who were utter legends. Sent a boat AND a helicopter. Sun was setting and they didn’t want me sitting in the dark. Oh my word it was cold. Helicoptered out to fort William hospital (nicest people ever), then down to airdrie where I got a cast.

Ankle broken in one place. Doctors pleased (as much as you can be!) it’s a clean break & lining up well. I’ll be down for 4-6 weeks.

I’ve repeated myself a lot over the last few days so here’s the short version to all the questions, with appreciation for the care.

Yes, I’m okay. I’m also utterly exhausted & have hit the “damn, this is going to be a long road” phase. Taking it one day, one hour at a time. 

I’m being looked after. Very kind friends and things being delivered. My amazing sister @secondsunrise2 flying in tomorrow from america to be with me for a few weeks. SO grateful.

What do I need? I’m good on the basics. There have been unexpected costs and more coming so if you want to PayPal monies for deliveries or getting my car & belongings back or all the taxis or whatever, feel free. I’m hardly destitute so only do that if you want to send something useful and aren’t sure what. PayPal username karenlreyburn. Amazon wishlist in bio. Random care packages also happily received!

My car & belongings are up on mull. I have people to help and we are working on timing. But if you’re on mull and want to return a car near Glasgow, let me know :)

Shout out to the Coast Guard for being so swift, & that beautiful combination of sympathy and practicality.

Download the @what3words app. Literal lifesaver.

That’s all for now. All the love. Oh - and no, I don’t hold this against mull at all. It’s still my happy place. Things happen & the mull community has been beautiful. Shout out to @treshnish who couldn’t have been kinder. ❤️
Morning walk. I stood and watched the ferry come in and the sun lighten this little edge of the world.
Been going through old photos and letters - the last of the boxes i had stored at my sister’s house in america. 

When I first moved to Scotland, I only planned to live here for a few years and then go back. Then after a few years I wasn’t ready yet…then I got my residency…still not quite ready….then started a business…then Scottish citizenship…bought a house …finally accepted this is my home and I wasn’t moving back. 

And with every visit back to the states I would go through more boxes, more photos and letters and memories. I’d keep some and throw others away; take photos out of frames and give away the frames; and as time went on I was able to distinguish between the ones I definitely wanted and needed to keep, and those which were lovely at the time but didn’t need to be saved anymore.

Over twenty years on and this past trip I went through the very last of the boxes. I joked to my sister that I’ve now officially settled into Scotland 😆 

This photo of me and my Gramps is a fave and definitely a keeper. Most of the photos and letters I’ve kept are those of family - parents, grandparents, sisters, nieces and nephews. And as much as I love taking landscape photos, I noticed that 20 years later it’s the people photos I am more likely to keep. Thankful for the traditions and patterns of seeing family every year or so since moving to Scotland. They’re small things - baking Christmas cookies and going for walks and going for road trips - but it’s the time together and the continuing family jokes and the memories which remain. And a few photos.

My grandfather (and all my grandparents) have now passed on, but I remember with fondness sitting around at their kitchen table, eating fresh vegetables from the garden, playing scrabble, laughing and talking and drinking coffee.

It’s the small things, and the rhythms of family, which last. ❤️ 
#family #memories #grandparents #oldphotos
Made fresh mince pies for the first time ever. Over twenty years in Scotland and I’d never tried to make them from scratch, so I figured…now is the time! I’m doing lots of thanksgiving baking (yes, we stretch it out here so I’m still prepping!) and decided to buy the ingredients. 

Dried fruit…mixed peel…lots of spices…and Venezuelan rum :) I made up the mincemeat last night, and then today put it in the little pastries and even cut out the wee stars to go on top!

I think I can safely say they’re the best mince pies I’ve ever had. Fresh out of the oven sprinkled with icing sugar and with a glass of said rum alongside :) 

Now we are curled up with a Harry Potter marathon, with plenty of mince pies AND a thanksgiving feast still to come. Happiness! 

#mincepies #homebaking #maryberry #maryberryrecipe #happythanksgiving #happychristmas #harrypotter #hpmarathon