Days on the Croft: Heights of Bens & Depths of Glens
Days On The Croft
Travel Days 309 - 322
25.10. - 7.11.2021
Have you ever felt like you are exactly where you are supposed to be, and then again question yourself and your decisions anyway?
That is where I am at right now. Over the last two weeks I had so many ups and downs, question and exclamation marks, highs and lows- like a rollercoaster. Which makes me wonder. This island does things to you, shows you your unfiltered self, like a mirror eager to reveal even the very tiniest of things that remained unnoticed in the shadows before. I am not quite sure yet about all of these shadows, what I know though is that I have a lot of work still to do on myself, for myself.
My last update has been about the lush and exciting comeback to what I have been missing since I’ve been gone, sparking nothing else but joy and ecstasy. I was in a rush to see everybody, visit all of my beloved spots, take in the detail and marvel at the views, dive headfirst into the spirituality of it all.
Then my hosts left for their own adventures on the mainland. After a very long B’n’B season of six months this marked their first of three upcoming time outs as a family. And suddenly the rhythm of it all changed drastically. I found myself in a position where I had the responsibility for it all, I found myself alone once more.
The Depths of Glens
What was not planned was the utterly unexpected change of mental health that followed. From day one I struggled. Every daily task was the same, exactly like I did before the family had left. To this day, even while writing this, I do not fully comprehend what happened within me. Although it was profound. And it frightened me to see the signs of depression so clearly within my everyday struggle to complete the tasks ahead of me.
Binge eating, a habit that accompanied me for the majority of my adult life as an extension of my lifelong struggle to have a healthy relationship with food, started in week two of the family's departure. I had only two days when I did not mindlessly stuff myself with anything that was not hidden or yet found by me. Even non-vegan treats were not secure. The chimp in my head took over and part of me resigned and gave up by day four of this week. Was it even worth the try?
The tasks that sparked delight in me, suddenly felt like hard chores and drained me from energy instead of energising me like they did just two weeks before. Instead of being in the present I mostly ran on auto pilot, having an inner critic about everything I did, how I did it and with how much effort, dedication and motivation I completed it. The majority of my time outside was spent not in the present moment. My focus lay on the time, the sets of dogs, the places to go and drive to, the sensibility of arranging the feeding of the livestock accordingly, cooking for myself and organising my own side projects like online courses or freelancing. I pretty much spent my days in my head. Most of the questions orbited around the next task ahead or how to plan the next entire day. ’When do I need to get up to have daylight while completing two sets of two hour walks plus one half hour walk in the afternoon. Or should I take all five on one walk instead? And where should I go and how much driving time do I need for there and back again. What is next on my To Do list. I cannot possibly motivate myself for writing a part of the business plan today, but I feel like a failure if I do nothing instead. When is it getting dark, how many hours does all of this take so when do I need to get up.’ - emphasis on need and not want to get up.
Filled from dusk till dawn with the abstract notion of having to live up to my high standards. Expectations of being able to fulfil all requirements set by myself for all of the animals, run the household, keep up with my school work, my two personal long-term and four personal continuous short-term projects, staying in touch with family and friends, finding time for myself.
Through a delayed arrival from a payment I also found myself suddenly faced with a financial shortage, the first time in nearly four years. That triggered a lot of anxiety, ultimately contributing to the power of the chimp inside my head, urging, nay demanding, sugar in order for us to stay sane and fill the holes of fatigue. What more, Marjorie decided to pick this specific week to run away four times in a row, two of those times within one day. One of these times circling one single sheep, without a flock in tow, for almost an hour by barking frantically, jumping and running back and forth and all around it to intimidate. It took me nearly forty minutes to catch up with her (the distances dogs can run!), and another forty minutes with two failed attempts to finally get her to the car and back home. My success in doing so was more due to the fact that she herself was rather exhausted from doing such horrific work, rather than me being able to tame her instincts. A chicken died because I watered the plants in the polytunnel and left the two working dogs Wisp and Glen unsupervised, unknowingly allowing them to harass it to death. It fell into a ditch, suffocating to death, slowly and mercilessly, by the mud in its throat and the inability to drag herself out of the muck.
Disappointment, discouragement, discontentment. Restlessness, vulnerability, fear, stress, pressure. A feast for doubts, the kind that go as deep as your own purpose of existence. I kid you not.
On top of that, whenever those kind of overwhelming shadows erupt and entangle me within their darkness -additionally, as though it were not enough already- two very intense emotions emerge from them as well: Shame and guilt. Shame because I should by now be in a place were those kind of feelings should not be able to drag me down like this. After all, I am living my dream, right?! Which neatly builds a bridge to the second one, guilt. Since I am so fortunate to travel and have all of these experiences, I should be grateful rather than depressed. Here I am, in this warm and comfortable home, given to me by the most generous and amiable people, entrusting me with only one thing to do- care for their beloved animals and house. And yet all my disgrace of a mind does, is fall back into old behavioural patterns and complain. Consequently, more enraging self-hatred is added to the pot, already full to the brim with disgust about me not being able to be 'normal', whatever that is.
Such a strange thing, life. When you start to feel confident as though you have it all figured out, it humbles you and reminds you that you never stop learning.
All of this might sound a little too dramatic though.
Bear with me, this is where it gets lighter, I promise.
The Heights of Bens
Because from a pure objective point of view (as far as I am able to have that, though kindly assisted through a nice conversation with a very kind woman from this island, over a cup of tea or two), really it is not that tragic. Most of it plays itself out in my head, accumulated by the fact that there is no one else on a daily basis to share the work, the meals and the thoughts with. Which is probably why my perception on things, articulated in the first part of this blog entry, sounds like an abyss back into depression.
Which is also the reason why I decided to visualise this inner duality through the division of this blog entry into two parts. Minds can imprison us to take what we experience through our feelings and thoughts for the ultimate, only reality. And in a way this is true for it is our very own truth we are living.
Also, it is a lie.
An interpretation made by our brain, filtered through the total of all our past experiences. Which in essence means that there might as well be a thousand, or more precisely 7.9 billion different, perceptions on each and every single moment of life itself.
So from this philosophical standpoint, I hereby chose to take on another approach on these last few weeks.
Here I start to reflect on those experiences from a point of view outside my headspace.
I acknowledge that I have work still to do on myself, yet I also appreciate the duality of all things as a universal law. The Principle of Duality from a spiritual way of looking at it, teaches me to be kind to myself and listen to the parts in me that scream out discontentment, or more general all of the emotions deemed ‘negative’. Without them I could not even differentiate from my experiences the so-called 'positive' ones. I want to listen closely, take them seriously as they act on my behalf and will not suppress them. I will express them, feel them and let them be heard. At the same time, I chose to shine a light on what easily is forgotten when my mindset shifts towards one of these two sides too much.
The side that makes me feel exhilarated.
I succeeded in quite a few things as well these past few weeks and I am proud of all of it.
For one I kept all of the promises I made to myself. All of my coursework is up to date. Especially my course in ‘Creative Writing’ leaves me stoked every time, eager to implement the gained knowledge and learn more. Furthermore I finished another two books that read themselves like an engaging TV series. ‘The Painter’ by Will Davenport and ‘The Mageborn Traitor” by Melanie Rawn. I have not yet watched TV (apart from one or two exceptions with my hostess Sarah), although I have one hanging directly opposite of my bed and a huge one in the cosy living room, quite the accomplishment for the binge watcher that I used to be. Then there is my Yoga practice which I kept up for two weeks straight, missing not one single day. Not even when I had a binge eating attack and had a food-baby-belly the size of a football coming in the way of my half-pigeon pose. My business plan for the intentional community slowly takes on form, section by section, and my book gradually grows into one, weekly chapter by weekly chapter. On the side I held up the consistency of blogging and vlogging (with a sly side note here: link to my latest creation, Vlog #11: Days On The Croft)
Lastly my bedtime routine seems to be etched into my being by now, that I could not NOT do it. Without my journaling (or writing something of some sort like a thematic writing prompt or the beginnings of a blog article) and my meditation, I almost seem to not be able to go to sleep. It would be to abrupt and sudden without closing the operation system in an orderly fashion, meaning my body, mind and soul.
Above all of this I had my moments in the present. I had my moments of screaming against the winds, up to 90km/h, in sheer and absolute bliss. I had the moments of taking off my Wellie Boots without thinking twice about getting cold feet or sick, to walk in the freezing cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean. I had my fair share of ‘What the actual f-udge!’ -moments because of the views on top of mountains, the colours of the sunsets or sunrises or rainbows, the patterns the light makes on the moving water or the contrast the shadow creates in the clouds above. I had the glistening of tears when the beauty and grace was overwhelming. I had the wet snouts of various animals on my hands, my arms and all over my face, reminding me of what it means to unconditionally accept and love. I had inspirational talks, invigorating accompanied dog walks, intriguing exchanges of thoughts over a lot of tea with (oat)milk. I had peaceful evenings in front of the fire, disappearing into a world of fiction while reading fantastical fiction novels. I lived in freedom and joy and creative expression through my art.
We learn through reflecting on our experiences. This is my reflection on the last two weeks, alone at the farm, on this island. My struggles, challenges, drawbacks, getting ups, falling downs, breaking throughs. My perceptions. My reflections. All of it opened the door I had closed on self-empowerment and self-growth.
I decide. And I decide to share all of it, with the moral of the story being this:
Who is to say what is truth and what a lie?!
We have both of it in us, around us, all day every day. No two perceptions are the same, ever. Fortunately we are the one’s that decide what we want our reality to be. I lived within one perception for the past two weeks and yet came to make peace with it. As my lovely hosts would say 'Build a bridge - and get over it.' So I did. And the other side presented me with a new perception. It provided me with a lesson. It made me stronger.
There is so much good and so little time to breathe it all in. Who cares about the days when old behavioural patterns took over as long as I do not give in and stay where I do not want to be anymore. Self induced pressure draws the curtains on life itself.
Sometimes that is exactly what one needs. But I have had my curtains drawn on life for much too long.
I prefer for the majority of my time on this Earth to take curtain calls instead.
Or be at the front row, with legroom.
From my heart to yours- love and light, beloved souls