The Next Adventure Begins

The last day before my next adventure was full of real estate related work, which was fine. I am grateful for amazing clients and a bustling business. And…everywhere I went today, the question I was asked was “Are you packed yet?”

The simple answer was…no!

I started packing about 8:00 this evening as work wound down and fresh clean clothes began coming out of the dryer. As I rolled clothes and tucked them into my carry on, the excitement that has been building for the last week bubbled up. It is almost adventure time!

My post is brief tonight, as I still have a couple of real estate emails to send and a few things yet to cross off my “to do before I go” list before I sleep. However, I am smiling as I write this post. I can’t help it. My wandering heart gets to venture forth, starting tomorrow.

The beginning of the packing process…piles of clean laundry and an empty suitcase.

Keeping an eye on the final work for the day.

Tomorrow’s simple travel clothes laid out and ready to wear. I’m excited to carry the plaid poncho onto the plane and let it double as a blanket.

Young Living Essential Tangerine Oil in the diffuser keeps my energy up.

All packed, in a carry on: one pair of jeans, two jackets, pjs, a pair of walking shoes, a dozen pairs of socks, a dozen undies, two bras, thirteen shirts, supplements, a clear makeup case with my BOOMstick trio and essentials such as a toothbrush and comb, and my quart sized zip lock bag with travel sized liquids such as shower gel, lotion and toothpaste. There is room yet for a few more items after my morning shower.

I have several new shirts from Solgave that I look forward to wearing on the trip. This one expresses well where I am in my life journey: having fun and following my heart and living with No Regrets. I am doing what I want to do, and living large, so that at the end of my journey those words will be my epitaph.

Fifteen hours and counting. The next adventure begins!

Investing in Myself

Before I called it an early night, I spent a few minutes starting a list. It is five days, in the countdown, until my next travel adventure begins. I’m a list maker, and this evening I made a Packing List and a Need to Do Before I Go List. I began gathering. My travel documents, my passport, and my maps have started the “to pack” pile.

I have always loved anticipation. So these next five days will fill me with delightful tingles of keen anticipation and excitement as my preparations to leave begin in earnest.

Tonight, because it has been a very full week and I am weary, I have one predominant thought to share.

Yes, traveling is fun. It is an opportunity to see enchanted places and experience different cultures and meet new people. It is the fulfillment of a desire that I released to the Divine 10 years ago. Traveling strengthens connection with the family members I travel with as we share the adventure. It broadens my perspectives, deepens my trust, expands my mind, ignites my soul.

Matthew Karston writes, “Investment in travel is an investment in yourself.”

That resonates with me so much. Travel is all the things I listed above…and more. And most importantly, travel is an investment in myself. It feeds my gypsy heart and my old soul. Traveling allows me to honor who I am and my desires to explore and go on adventures and see the sun set and the moon rise on the other side of the world. It touches something at my core that nothing else can.

Ireland, Scotland, and England are calling to me. I’ll be there soon. I don’t know where the next journey will lead me. I just know that every trip I take and every country I visit has a profound effect on me. And ultimately, that is not only good for my soul, it is good for the world.

Seven Day Countdown

One week from today, I will be flying over the Atlantic, destination – Dublin, Ireland. My traveling companions will be my mom, my sisters, Linda and Debbie, and my niece Ashley. We will visit Scotland and England as well.

I learned during my Italy trip earlier in the year that it is possible to pack for a twelve day trip in a carry on suitcase. Tonight I spent a few minutes with Mom and Linda, demonstrating just how doable it is.

Mom was a good sport, laying out her clothes and toiletries so she and Linda could practice rolling each article of clothing tightly. Shoes were added first, then pants and a jacket rolled to start the foundational layer. Heavier shirts were rolled and completed the first layer.

Linda practicing her packing skills.

The cutest pic ever…my mom making decisions about which toiletries to pack. A quart sized plastic bag isn’t very big!

I rolled pajamas and shirts and started the second layer. There is plenty of room left to tuck in socks, underwear and supplements or meds. And there is yet more empty space to fill with purchases made during the trip.

The trick is to roll tightly. And fill every space by packing the rolled clothes snugly together.

Mom and Linda got the hang of it and discovered that you truly can pack for twelve days in a carry on. With that detail out of the way, we can focus on the growing excitement of discovering new places and experiencing different cultures.

Seven days and counting! The next adventure is about to begin.

National Tartan Day 2017

I am grateful once again for the Facebook Memories notification that I get each day. In the midst of a busy day, I quickly scanned through my newsfeed and notifications while eating lunch, and realized today is National Tartan Day. Being of Scottish descent, and a card carrying member of Clan Maitland, this is a holiday I must celebrate.

National Tartan Day 2017
Not only do I embrace this national day, I have an annual tradition of taking a selfie while wearing my plaid. After only a slight hestitation, as I thought about all that I still needed to accomplish during the afternoon, I wholeheartedly entered into the spirit of the day and grabbed my tartan scarf.

It was chilly outdoors today, and breezy, but the sun was brilliant and out into the yard I went with my scarf around my neck. The last two years I’ve worn my silver thistle pin as well. Today, wanting to create something different, I simply wrapped my tartan scarf around my neck and clasped the ends, going for a fun and casual look. Greg graciously acted as my photographer.

National Tartan Day 2017
This evening I spent time browsing through my Clans & Tartans of Scotland & Ireland book, by James MacKay. I read that the tartan originally was a piece of woolen cloth, about 6 1/2 feet wide and up to 20 feet long, that was worn by being gathered in pleats around the waist, wound around the back and over the shoulder, and secured with a brooch.

The distinctive patterns were created by weaving the cloth and dyeing it. The pattern’s purpose was to identify the origins of the wearer by the colors of his cloth.

National Tartan Day 2017
National Tartan Day 2017
I am a member of Clan Maitland. My tartan book describes the Maitlands as a powerful Lowland family that originated in Normandy. The earliest referenced family member is Thomas de Maltalent in 1227. Later in that same century Sir Richard de Mauteland acquired the Berwickshire estate of Thirlestane, near the village of Lauder. Several members of the Maitland Clan held high offices, including William, secretary to Mary, Queen of Scots and John, who became Duke of Lauderdale in 1672.

The Lauderdales of America are all descended from James Maitland, who immigrated to the US in 1714. His grandson, William, moved to South Carolina in 1817, and the Tennessee branch of the family descended from him. That’s my branch of the Lauderdale family tree.

National Tartan Day 2017
This September, I will be returning to Scotland with my mother, sisters and niece. We will visit Lauder, in the Borders, and tour the ancestral home, Thirlestane Castle. Distant relatives still occupy the castle, although it is now part of the Scottish National Trust.

My Scottish blood is strong within me. Scotland calls to me and haunts my thoughts. I am proud to be a Scot, honored to be a member of Clan Maitland, and thrilled to be visiting my homeland once again.

This afternoon I paused long enough on this day of recognition to don my tartan scarf and strike a pose. My heart sang…and answered the invitation that continually flows to me from my beloved Scotland…


National Tartan Day 2017

Have Scottish or Irish ancestry? Find your tartan in James MacKay’s book:

I am an Amazon Affiliate and may earn a commission on purchases, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for considering making a purchase of this product, or any other items, through my Amazon link! 

Read a Road Map Day

Today, April 5, is Read a Road Map Day. The perfect way to celebrate would have been to set off on an adventure, maps in hand, to enjoy an impromptu road trip. I couldn’t do that today. However, I did the next best thing. I recently purchased four MapEasy Guidemaps at Barnes & Noble. This evening I lounged on my bed and unfolded those colorful maps, and in my mind at least, I traveled!

Read a Road Map Day
Read a Road Map Day harkens back to the days before smartphones wirh built in GPS. As a realtor, I am grateful for the time saving convenience of GPS. It makes my life easier…and safer.

However, there is something adventurous, romantic even, about navigating by a map that lies unfolded on the front seat of a car. I love maps. Although not as necessary today, they are still symbolic of travel.

Read a Road Map Day
I am charmed by these MapEasy Guidemaps. They are tear resistant and waterproof. And the bright colors have an artistic appeal. I was delighted to discover the bookstore carried precisely the maps I needed for my upcoming trips this year.

Read a Road Map Day
Read a Road Map Day
The maps are double sided. Italy has the familiar boot shaped country on one side, with the major cities and roadways marked. And on the flip side are maps of three of Italy’s favorite destinations: Rome, Venice and Florence. Those cities are on our itinerary.

Also included are boxes with important info, such as what the currency is…the euro…and how to travel across the country. The Personal Favorites box lists not-to-miss sights.

Read a Road Map Day
Read a Road Map Day
Read a Road Map Day
Since the trip to Italy, with my daughter and grandson, is about six weeks away, I spent most of my “celebration” time studying that map. However, the other three maps are excellent as well. Ireland features Dublin on the flip side, which is going to be our home base in that country.

The Scotland map has Edinburgh on the other side, which is the main city my mom, sisters, niece and I will be launching out from during our visit to that bonnie country.

And the last map is just of London. That is the only city we will be visiting in England. These maps are perfect for my upcoming trips, providing exactly what I need to familiarize myself with the countries and/or primary cities.

I intend to take my maps along on my travels. And when I return home, the colorful maps,  marked with the places we visited, will be framed as artistic keepsakes of my journeys.

Read a Road Map Day
I enjoyed celebrating Read a Road Map Day. Studying the maps ramped up my excitement about fulfilling a growing desire of mine…traveling and exploring new places. This is only the beginning of world wide adventures, I hope.

In fact, I am so thrilled about the trips this year, that as I prepared photos for tonight’s blog, I felt compelled to play with the wording of my premise for this year. For this post I couldn’t decide between the categories, “life a little more tender” or “art a little more robust”.

This is Alan Rickman’s quote that is foundational to my year, “If only life could be a little more tender and art a little more robust.” I’ve read that he loved the thrill of traveling. I switched the words around to create a new category, Life a Little More Robust. It seemed fitting for a post about travel. I think Alan would approve.

Read a Road Map Day
If you love maps like I do, you can get your MapEasy Guidemaps below:

I am an Amazon Affiliate and may earn a commission on purchases, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for considering making a purchase of these products, or any other items, through my Amazon link! 

Burns Night 2017

I celebrated this Scottish holiday for the first time last year. Scotland’s National Poet, Robert Burns, was born on January 25, 1759. Burns Night recognizes Rabbie’s birthday, and his poetic contributions to the world, through a traditional dinner, whiskey and the reciting of his poems. 

Burns Night Dinner featuring vegan haggis
A typical Burns Night Dinner starts with a potato, leek and haddock soup, and ends with shortbread and other sweets. Whether a four course meal or a simple supper, at the core is haggis, served with neeps and tatties. 

Last year, I simply drank a cup of hot Scottish tea and read Burns’ poetry. I was determined to serve haggis, neeps and tatties this year. With the change in my diet to plant based, I researched vegan options. To my delight, I found an easy to prepare vegan haggis recipe, posted by Mike Lewis. 

Burns Night Dinner featuring vegan haggis

Burns Night Dinner featuring vegan haggisBurns Night Dinner featuring vegan haggis
I enjoyed creating my first haggis tonight. I had bagpipes playing on my iPod as I worked. The dish was easy to prepare and smelled wonderful as it baked. After popping the haggis into the oven, I prepared neeps and tatties. Neeps, otherwise known as rutabagas here in the US, were another first for me. I’ve never eaten a rutabaga before. As per a recipe I found online, I peeled and cut up the rutabaga and boiled in water, along with one large cut up carrot. After draining the liquid, I added sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper, and mashed the neeps. 

Burns Night Dinner featuring vegan haggis

Tatties are simply cooked potatoes. I prepared Yukon Gold potatoes, cutting them up and boiling in water. I added sea salt and pepper after draining. Keeping to my plant based diet, I didn’t add milk or butter. 

After preparing my plate, I read Burns’ Address  to a Haggis, which begins:

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,

Great chieftain o the puddin’-race!

Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,

Painch, tripe, or thairm:

Weel are ye worthy o’ a grace

As lang’s my arm.

The line about haggis being the great chieftain o the puddin’ race makes me smile! 

Burns Night Dinner 2017 featuring vegan haggis
This was a good supper! The neeps and tatties were excellent. And the haggis? I sampled haggis when I visited Scotland in 2014. This didn’t taste like that haggis. But the vegan haggis-like dish was savory and very delicious. I will prepare it again, and not wait until the next Burns Night. 

I sipped Scottish Thistle tea as I read several more poems by Robert Burns. As an American with deep Scottish roots, participating in this beloved holiday makes me feel closer to my heritage, while creating an ache that is only eased by a visit to bonnie Scotland. 

Writing from his heart and soul, Burns was considered a people’s poet because he was most at home with the common folk, the farmers and inn keepers, pretty girls and rowdy lads, beggars and bawdy countrymen. I consider him my poet as well. 

Happy birthday, Robert Burns! 

Burns Night Dinner 2017 featuring vegan haggis

Happy St Andrews Day

Today, November 30, was Scotland’s national holiday, a recognition of their patron saint, Andrew. My Scottish blood rejoices in opportunities to celebrate my ancestral home. Far from the beauty of that amazing place, I found ways to incorporate Scottish traditions into my day. 

According to historical accounts, about 800 AD King Angus of the Picts, facing a larger army of Saxons at Athelstaneford in what is now East Lothian in Scotland, was overwhelmed by a blinding light the night before the battle. During the night, he had a dream. The message he was given was that he would see a cross in the sky and he would conquer his enemies in its name.

The following morning King Angus looked into the blue sky at sunrise and saw white clouds forming the Saltire Cross. This filled him and his men with great confidence and they were victorious. Saint Andrew and his Saltire Cross were adopted as the national symbols for an emerging Scotland.

Across Scotland today there was feasting, poetry readings and whiskey drinking to commemorate the day. I created my own special holiday that began with hanging my Saltire proudly from my front deck. I wore my SCOTLAND hoodie that I purchased in Edinburgh in 2014, which was very welcome on this chilly day. And I read through the poem “Hame”, by Scottish poet Mary Symon. 

See part of Hame printed HERE on some of Scotland’s national monuments. 

While in the car this afternoon I enjoyed songs by Red Hot Chilli Pipers, accompanied, of course, by the haunting wail of bagpipes. Hearing bagpipes instantly transported me back to the Highlands, where I stood with tears in my eyes, listening to the Lone Piper. 

In Scotland, celebrators dined on traditional fare such as haggis, neeps and tatties, leek and haddock soup, and roast lamb. I am determined to eat Scottish food, with a healthy twist, by Burns Night on January 25. To that end I looked up recipes, and found them, for vegan haggis, tattie scones and leek and potato soup. I’m excited to create new dishes that honor traditional Scottish food while also honoring my decision to eat in a healthy way. 

Tonight I did dine on tatties, roasting my potato wedges in the oven with spices. I enjoyed an after dinner tea, rather than an afternoon one. I brewed a cup of Scottish Heather Tea, pouring it into a fine china cup adorned with Scotland’s national flower, the thistle. This cup and saucer once belonged to Greg’s mother. 

Sliced apples took the place of shortbread cookies. And I tried a fresh persimmon as a special treat. Missouri persimmons are small and very bitter until they are extremely ripe. I bought this California persimmon at my local health food store. Much larger in size, it was sweet and juicy, and perfect paired with apples. 

I am returning to Scotland next fall, after a summer trip to Italy with my grandson and daughter. I’m excited about both trips, for different reasons. Scotland will always feel like a homecoming, a return to the land of my heart. When I travel there next September, it will be in the company of my mother, sisters and niece. What memories we will create. 

Until then, I will celebrate my heritage and my beloved Scotland here in Joplin, as often as I can. 

Tulsa OK Scotfest 2016

The Scottish festival, held this weekend in Tulsa, OK, just completed its 37th year. I have wanted to attend for a very long time, however September is a busy month in my family and in my business. Even during my Year of Firsts in 2014 I was unable to go, much as I wanted to. This year I set the firm intention that this time, I was going to attend this event. 

And I did! Accompanied by my sister Debbie and my niece Ashley, today the three of us experienced our first Scottish festival, immersing ourselves deeply in our heritage. It was a fun day, captured in photos and a couple of short videos. 

Although the weather was predicted to be very Scottish-like, the storms stayed to the south and we had bright blue skies and very warm temps. We planned to attend, rain or sunshine. The mild weather was a gift. 

This was exactly what we expected to see…men in kilts. The Highland Games were going on. There was a field full of kilted athletes, throwing a variety of heavy objects. 

And there were women in kilts as well, participating in the games. They were every bit as competitive as their male counterparts. I read tonight that the women’s team won the Highland Games! 

We enjoyed watching the Caber Toss, a traditional Scottish competition. The caber is a tree that has been cut and trimmed down so that one end is slightly wider than the other. It can vary in length from 16 to 22 feet and weigh between 100 and 180 pounds. The smaller end is rounded off so it will be easy to cup in the thrower’s hands. The caber is stood up for the thrower with the large end up. The thrower hoists the caber up and cups the small end in his hands. He takes a short run with the caber and then stops and tosses it so that the large end hits the ground and the small end flips over, away from the thrower. The caber is scored for accuracy as it lands. A judge behind the thrower calls how close to the 12:00 position the small end of the caber lands, 12:00 being a perfect toss.

My happy Scot face! 

We visited the clan tents, set up near the game field. Clan Maitland wasn’t represented, however, we were invited to host a Maitland/Lauderdale clan tent next year. That would be fun! 

Vendor tents offered a wide assortment of Scottish wares: tartan sashes, kilts and scarves, Celtic jewelry, T-shirts, books, food, drink, cigars, toys, tea sets and so much more. We browsed and made tough decisions as we selected merchandise. I came home with a Scotfest T-shirt and Scottish spices to cook with. 

Ashley and Debbie learning about spices. 

Authentic Scottish food was offered on site. I selected the healthiest item on the menu, Shepherd’s Pie, with a potato topping over a mix of vegetables and a small amount of ground beef. I ate meat for the first time in almost two months, and while the meal tasted great, I am waiting to see if I experience any negative effects on my health or body. I don’t intend to add meat back into my diet. I had a wonderful side dish of cooked cabbage. And I passed the shortbread cookie, included with lunch, on to my sister. 

As we dined in the large music tent, we were entertained by The Tartan Terrors, a Scottish rock band. They were awesome! Their ensemble included a piper and an Irish river dancer. There were other tents set up, featuring folk music and pipes and drums. The sound of bagpipes is a siren call to the Scottish. Everytime I heard a bagpipe, my head swiveled to find the piper. Watch The Tartan Terrors HERE and HERE

Before we left, we watched a few minutes of the rugby match that was underway. I don’t pretend to know all the rules for this fast paced game but there was a lot of activity on the field! This is a fairly recent addition to Scotfest. Teams from across the US competed. 

We had an incredibly fun day. It was interesting to people-watch and to chat with other clan members. There was an abundance of kilts and Scottish accents. The crowd was friendly and polite, the food delicious and the music turned my heart toward my beloved Scotland. 

Ashley, Debbie and I intend to return next year, with other family members in tow. We’d love to take our grandchildren to this event…they had a large children’s play area…and introduce them to the Scottish culture and teach them about their Scottish roots. 

And perhaps introduce them as well to traditional Scottish clothing. Truly, is there anything cuter than a child wearing a kilt? 

Going Where My Heart Will Take Me

I’ve been looking forward to drawing today’s creative action. Sunday was the perfect day for some concentrated effort on behalf of one of my dreams, as it is my me time, my heart, soul, mind and body care day. 

I drew:

Plan a 2 week trip to Scotland. 

I visited Scotland for the first time in August 2014. I loved the ten days that I spent there with my cousins, Mindy and William, exploring Glasgow, Edinburgh, the Highlands and our ancestral village Lauder, in the Borders. Even though I had never been in that beautiful country before, I felt like I came home. I cherished every moment, and as soon as our plane lifted into the air from Edinburgh Airport, I began thinking about going back. 

What fun then this afternoon, after a morning spent in the garden, to do more than just think about my return trip to Scotland. I spent several hours planning my trip. Ten days was a great start in getting to know the land of my ancestors.  We’ve been properly introduced, Scotland and I. Now I want to learn more, and deepen the connection. I want to see places that there just wasn’t time for on my first trip.  

Edinburgh will be my home base on this second trip. Scotland is a small enough country that I can take day trips to anywhere from this centrally located city. And I do love Edinburgh. Although I expected to be drawn to the Borders, where my clan resides, it was this ancient city with the fortified castle perched high above it that captivated me. I have never had such a strong attraction to any other location. I am haunted by Edinburgh. 

The first item on my planning list was locating budget friendly extended stay facilities in the heart of the city. My favorite find was a self catering apartment on Blackfriars Street, just off the Royal Mile, that leases for a week at a time. It is perfect for my needs. 

Places on my itinerary that I missed before include the Writer’s Museum, pictured above, the Royal Botanical Gardens, The Elephant House (the pub where JK Rowling wrote much of Harry Potter), and Dean’s Village, pictured below. I intend to have afternoon tea at The Palm Court at Balmoral Hotel, stroll through the Princes Street Gardens and enjoy fine Scottish fare at The Gardener’s Cottage and the Scran and Scallie Public House. And I’ll revisit favorite sites such as Edinburgh Castle, and walk the Royal Mile. 

During my day trips, which could occasionally turn into overnight visits, I’ll see the huge, magnificent Kelpies for the first time, shown in their glory above, go off the mainland to the Isle of Skye, and dance among the mysterious  Callanish Standing Stones. Sterling and Eilan Donan Castles are on my must see list, as are the towns of Inverness and Pitlochry. 

And I will venture into the Borders again. I look forward to another long, leisurely tour of Thirlestane Castle, eager to see how the renovations are going. And I know we missed parts of the quaint village of Lauder. I intend to see it all. 

I loved planning my trip today. To move from longing to go back to making detailed plans brought me great joy. Putting actions with my thoughts sends out a strong signal that I’m making ready. I know that the Divine comes to meet me as I move forward, arranging everything once I release the outcome and settle into the flow of life while staying open. 

As I looked up information and scribbled notes this afternoon, I heard in my heart these whispered words, “Get really specific with your desires…” I was ever so happy to comply. 

Surrender 70: International Bagpipe Day

I love these unusual holidays, especially after a long day of taking care of other matters. I was in continuing education classes all day today, as I will be tomorrow. And while our instructor, Paul, is entertaining as well as informative, I looked for something else beside real estate laws and codes to write about tonight. 

There are several bizarre holidays for March 10, including International Day of Awesomeness, World Kidney Day, Festival of Life in the Cracks Day and even Landline Telephone Day. These are all great reasons to celebrate. But then I saw the holiday that captured my heart…International Bagpipe Day. How could I not celebrate the bagpipe!

International Bagpipe Day is now a well established and popular event. Every March 10th pipers are encouraged to go out and play their pipes…anywhere, anyhow, to anyone!

Bagpipes were heard around the world today, ranging from performances in Glasgow and Stonehenge, to gatherings in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. On their International Bagpipe Day Facebook Page I saw planned events in unexpected places such as Iran, Greece, Russia, Texas, Poland, Ukraine, Bulgaria and Belgium. Men, women and youth participated. This truly was a global celebration. 

Continuing on from the success of the first International Bagpipe Day in 2012, March 10th was chosen to be a day to celebrate the world’s bagpipes and piping traditions. With over 130 different kinds of bagpipes played worldwide, pipers everywhere are invited to organize local events such as talks, lectures, school visits, museum events, pipers’ picnics, concerts, gigs, ceilidhs and folk bals.

I intend to have a bagpipe lesson someday. Until then, I enjoy listening to my collection of Celtic CDs and iPod playlists. For me, the haunting sound of the bagpipes is beautiful. My heart stirs and I feel such a deep longing for Scotland as the unique sounds touch my soul. 

I wore my Scotland hoodie today, the one I purchased in Edinburgh, in honor of International Bagpipe Day. I listened to the pipers of Red Hot Chilli Pipers in my car. I looked through the photos from around the world on IBD’s Facebook page and listened to a bagpipe playlist on YouTube. 

And when I had breaks during CE class, after checking messages and responding to clients, I sat staring out the window, dreaming of my ancestral home. I’m grateful for this special day. 

Listen to one of my favorite bagpipe songs here.