Here I was thinking that the real challenge is going to be finishing all the tasks I wanted to before leaving.
How wrong I was - again life happens in the most unusual of ways. I am getting ahead of myself. Buckle up - this is the story of how:
Life happens for you. Not to you
From the 6th of February right to the 12th, I was stationed in Great Bernera again. You might remember my adventures with Marjorie there from my September Vlog. One wall in my hosts house has been kept in the original state as a tribute to the house as it was initially: Stone. Because of a previous host of mine from Northern Ireland, I was fortunate enough to learn the skill of stone wall building, which came in handy as I was asked to restore this wall for my hosts.
With my departure planned for the 19th of February, I was getting really nervous if I would be able to accomplish this task. You never know how long it takes, how much re-pointing need be done, how the drying process goes, if the resources will suffice. Still I felt so fortunate that they would ask me to do it, present me with their trust and believe in my abilities.
For 7 days I lived and breathed this wall. If it wasn’t for my kind hosts I would have probably forgotten to eat. My days consisted of an early start of working on the wall. Usually around 2pm I’d set off to have a lovely 2-hour walk with Marjorie through the familiar hills, along bays and climbing cliffs of the island. Afterwards I’d go straight back to work and eat dinner at around 7pm, to then continue work until around 9:30. Some days I started later or ended after dinner to get some freelance work done as I had overbooked myself with another project deadline for that very Sunday.
Rinse and repeat.
Do you know those Timelapse videos of someone standing still in the middle of a road while the traffic rushes on and on? That is how I felt for the whole week. Apart from my walks I was glued to the wall, listening to music or podcasts or books, immersed in my work and mostly far detached from the hustle and bustle that was going on around me.
In total I spent nearly 40 hours on this wall - and when I was only halfway through the process my hosts already were full of approval and praise. I couldn’t have been happier to be able to contribute to this heritage. A house that has stood on this island for 100 years, stones that make walls that consist of so much history. Whenever I got tired, whenever my body started aching or my mind began to veil pure and good intentions with complaints about exhaustion, I remembered the stories, the years, the legacy of this wall and immediately felt honoured again to be able to leave my mark in this humble way.
Imagine the families, the relationships, the stories of love and loss, hate and grief, fate and destiny, weather and catastrophes, joy and happiness this stone has observed and energetically absorbed!
And then it was done.
I was back in Uig. Focusing on my imminent departure. The departure that should have been today, Sunday the 19th of February. I had planned to take the land route from Lewis to Ullapool by ferry, to Inverness for an overnight stay by train, then on to Newcastle by train where I had to bring Marjorie in to a vet to get her health certificate and worm tablet to be able to get on the ferry to Amsterdam. From there an overnight train to Vienna. And I would be able to start a new chapter: Goodbye backpacking - hello Van life!
Well, life has ways of telling us that plans can be made but are always subject for discussion.
In other words: Life happened.
You could also say I am dumb and over interpret the change of course of action because it was me not realising that Marjorie’s rabies vaccination had expired in June 2022. Yet, there is a reason for everything and because I know I am brilliant at organisation and because I know I have done a perfect job the last time Marjorie and I set out travelling, I feel like there is a deeper meaning to this.
Obviously I had not felt this way when I first acknowledged the fact that I had only three options to go from here (and I still struggle to fly out without Marjorie again):
Either I find a vet and forge the vaccination papers. Admittedly, yes, this is an illegal act and not very reasonable. Though, in retrospect, through hysterical sobs and panic overflowing my capacity for logic, it was a sensible option right then and there.
Or I would have to leave Marjorie here, do all of the legal stuff I had to do in Austria, enjoy my friends and some family visits, buy my van and convert it, visit friends in Switzerland as promised and then drive the Van all the way up to the Isle of Lewis again in order to get Marjorie. Which meant pure heartbreak because not only would I need to leave Marjorie behind as I solemnly swore I’d never do again. I also would have to cancel Iceland as the timings would not work out anymore.
Of course I could try and amend all of my bookings. But that last thought was only able to enter my head after 1.5 hours of crying into Marjorie’s fur, feeling like a total failure and unfit to live. Overly dramatic some might argue, and I would agree. Only it was absolutely and totally valid for those of us that ever have experienced an anxiety induced, self-loathing downward spiral of a panic attack.
Long story short: I did it. All my bookings amended, or refunds requested, as well as an appointment at the vet here in Stornoway to get Marjorie vaccinated. Incubation time meant I had to postpone my ferry crossing to mainland Europe back to the 11th of March. I would, at that point in time, overstay my welcome (and visa) in the UK by a week. Still I told myself that it would be fine and alright, I could explain. The additional 100 Pounds I had to pay for the amendments and any legal discussion with border control were nothing compared to the joy of being able to have Marjorie on my side.
And that night I went to sleep with a sigh of relief.
All plans intact, my vision still alive: Iceland, Marjorie and a van.
Short story long again: The next morning the universe crushed the illusion of having everything under control. The vet called and said that there had been an emergency and they have to cancel my appointment, postpone it, again. All my pleading and explanations did not enable them to reconsider or make it happen anyway.
The second anxiety induced panic attack hit, with full force in the middle of feeding the cattle. Tears mingled with poo and mud. Appetising.
Bundled up with troubled sleep, no spiritual care routines the whole week and the exhaustion I felt from yesterday’s emotional overflow, I tried to get my head straight during the dog walk. The sun came out, the wind was non existent, I was even able to hear a bird chirping. Apricity did not cure my desperation. When I returned home to Sarah she offered me the cure for everything: A cup of tea. And yes, she also offered words of comfort and wisdom: ‘Go to bed, have a snooze and all will look different afterwards! Remember: Expectations are the killer for appreciation because everything always may be a blessing in disguise.”
So I did.
And when I woke up it indeed did not seem as bad anymore.
A new plan was formed out of the shatters of the original one.
Fly out, leave Marjorie where she is love and cared for, buy the car, visit the loved ones, return with the car, postpone Iceland and enjoy some never before parts of Ireland and the Highlands. And best of all, take up a job offer to freelance and earn some money, save up, again for Iceland.
And this is where I am now.
At peace with what happened.
It is in times of trouble that we actually are able to see how far we've come. Yes, I cried and felt as though I might suffocate under the blow that hit me. It took one snooze to restore my faith. I worked hard on myself and the reward is people that love me and are there for me, no matter what. As well as resilience.
Yes, at times I do not want to be resilient, just be weak and fall, let myself succumb to the feeling of failure and loss and grief.
And sometimes that is what I do.
Very much alright to do that.
My aspirations are never far away though, they whisper, even when I drown my sorrows in unhealthy binge-behaviour. The whispers that I want to be more, do more, give more.
Fall down eight seven times, get up eight - or something like that.
And this whisper always gets me through anything, that whisper lead me to continuous perseverance on self development and achieving my dreams and goals and plans.
The top of one mountain is always the bottom of the next.
Thus, my beloved souls, I sent you love and light.
Be courageous, be kind to yourselves and others.
Shine your light, never dim it for anyone because the people that love you are the ones that encourage you to shine even brighter!
I see you and I love you.