A Million Dreams

I woke up this morning, just before dawn, from the most amazing dream. It was the type that stays with me, makes me smile and causes deeper reflection. My Morning Pages were devoted to exploring my thoughts around the dream, through writing.

Coupled with the vivid dream I had is the fact that the song A Million Dreams, from The Greatest Showman film, has been on repeat in my brain for at least a week. I wake up singing it, I belt out the chorus while in the shower, I break into spontaneous song with those lyrics multiple times a day.

There is a connection.

A Million Dreams

In the dream, I was in Africa. A family consisting of a dad, mom and seven year old daughter had asked me to accompany them on this trip. The opportunity came out of the blue. I didn’t know this family, yet I said yes. I was going along to help out with the little girl, who was delightful, while her parents took care of some business.

We were bicycling down a dusty road, toward a small community of simply built houses. The air was shimmering with golden heat. And a herd of zebras was running alongside the road. I laughed from the sheer pleasure of the magical experience. When we arrived at the house we were staying in, I realized that I had left on this trip so quickly that I had not told my family where I was. I began sending text messages to my kids and my sisters and my mom, marveling that I was here in Africa and enjoying these beautiful experiences.

A Million Dreams

This is the part of the dream that I loved. In the messages I was sending, I explained how I had been open to more travel opportunities and had released expectations, trusting the Divine to provide…and then this grab-your-passport-let’s-go invitation arrived. I felt such joy, such gratitude, which was perhaps more significant than anything else in the dream.

Do you know what woke me up, pulling me out of that gorgeous dream? My practical brain inserted itself as I hit “send” on the group messages. I realized with a pang that I had not notified my cell phone provider that I was leaving the country!

I appreciate that my dreams seem to indicate how my life is shifting and changing, from my heart and soul outward. As I learn and grow, my vivid dreams reflect that. I realized this truth a few years ago when the nightmares I had had all my life began to change. As I faced my fears and embraced myself completely, I took control of my night terrors, saying “No!” or “Stop!” during the dreams. And the scary stuff did stop. I quit having nightmares completely.

A Million Dreams

Instead, tracking slightly ahead of reality, I began to dream of wonderful adventures, abundance, writing, and more recently, of travel. I am shifting, I am reaching out, I am handing all my hopes and dreams over to the Divine, to the Dream Giver, and my dreams are exploding outward into the manifestations of those heart desires.

My dream last night shows me I’m in an excellent place in my life journey. I am open to receive, without making demands or setting up expectations. The words from The Greatest Showman’s A Million Dreams came to mind, as I wrote about the dream.

I close my eyes and I can see/ The world that’s waiting up for me/ That I call my own./ Through the dark, through the door/ Through where no one’s gone before/ But it feels like home.

They can say, they can say it all sounds crazy/ They can say, they can say I’ve lost my mind./ I don’t care, I don’t care, so call me crazy./ We can live in a world that we design.

Cause every night I lie in bed/ The brightest colors fill my head/ A million dreams are keeping me awake./ I think of what the world could be/ A vision of the one I see/ A million dreams is all it’s gonna take/ A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make.

A Million Dreams

That song represents my life, from earliest childhood until now. To combat the fears I had as a child, I learned to create vivid dreams in my mind, to escape into. Every night I lie in bed, the brightest colors fill my head. That was true as a child and still true as an adult. I created with the brightest lights and colors that I could conjure. I totally understand the thinking of what the world could be, a vision of the one I see part of the song. I create a vision, in my heart and mind. And amazingly, that dream often becomes reality.

I am grateful for my ability to cast visions and create worlds. I appreciate that my dreams give me a glimpse into my deepest heart and that my subconscious provides this feedback about where I am on my journey. I am ever changing, ever growing, and my dreams show me I am on the right path.

I’m excited that I am dreaming about traveling. I know that means that travel is going to be a key part of my near future. I don’t think it’s going to take a million dreams for the world I’m gonna make to appear. But if it does, that’s okay. I’ll keep dreaming…of the world I see when I close my eyes…and of the world I see when I’m dreaming with my eyes wide open.

A Million Dreams

Showcasing My Vision

On January 1, I began a new journey into a year of stories. As it happened, Mike Dooley, author, speaker and founder of The Notes from the Universe, offered a fun 30 day course called Love Your Life. Each day he sends a short video and an exercise to do, with the purpose of helping the participants create the life of their dreams.

I’ve been a follower of Mike’s for many years. I was intrigued by the timing of my new adventure and his course. I love these types of playful activities that get beneath the surface chatter and open up new spaces within and bring fresh insights. I signed up.

On Day 1 the exercise was to write out five areas of my life that I would like to experience change or continued growth in. I only needed to list the areas, without overthinking about the “hows” and “whens”.

I listed these five areas:

1) Blogging/Writing

2) Travel

3) Continued Optimal Health

4) Abundance

5) Creativity

Each day I have had assignments regarding those areas of my life. Day Four, Showcase Your Inspiration, encouraged me to create a vision board, or other visual representation, of each of my five dreams. I am in the process of creating a vision board for 2018 and I will certainly include these areas. However, the assignment sparked a new idea. Tonight, I had the opportunity to play with Travel.

My idea was to create a vignette for each of the five areas that I am envisioning growth in. I am in the process of resetting my house, as I pack away Christmas d├ęcor. The timing is perfect. I began with the area of travel.

I enjoy creating vignettes, using materials and items I already possess. So the challenge tonight was pulling together enough travel related items to successfully capture that idea. A vignette tells a story. I wanted this particular tale to be a travel adventure.

My battered vintage suitcase in my bedroom immediately came to mind. It seemed perfect for a story about traveling. I wandered about my house, deep in thought, gathering items that could work. Slowly, the vignette came together.

This print inspired my theme, and the predominant colors for the vignette. Put down that map and get wonderfully lost is such an inviting prospect. It became my equivalent to Once upon a time…

I used my Scottish tartan from Lauder as the foundational piece. It provides a beautiful blue, green, red, yellow and black backdrop. I added a metal globe, a gift to Greg from our grandson Dayan, a green candle left over from Christmas, and stacks of books ranging from travel guides to vintage books about Scotland and Ireland, to an Italian phrase book. My actual passport is present as well. I tucked a postcard I bought in Scotland into a simple black frame. And the little painting of Paris was a gift from a French friend, years ago.

I love how this travel vignette turned out. It fits well in that corner. Nearby are framed Middle Earth maps, a sepia print of a pathway curving off into the unknown, and a painted sign that reads, Wild Heart, Gypsy Soul.

The story unfolding here is one of adventure, mystery, and fun. It is my story. And the passport indicates my readiness to go.

What I most appreciate about this 3D vision board is that as I sit here on my bed, I can see it. And believe me, I have already looked at the vignette many times in the last hour. It calls to me. It excites me. And that is its purpose. These story vignettes that are showcasing my visions are evoking strong feelings of anticipation, joy and gratitude, which is exactly what the Love Your Life assignment was all about. Intention…realized. Outcome…released. I am ready. And the Divine knows.

In place soon…four more vignettes, telling stories about writing, creativity, abundance and health.

Touching Heaven

With this being Thanksgiving week, I have decided to very mindfully celebrate a week of expressing gratitude.

Gratitude is the quality of being thankful, of showing appreciation for gifts, large and small, especially those freely given. I have a choice. I can feel and express gratitude or I can choose to be ungrateful. Living a life of gratitude means I notice the gifts I’ve been given, from flowers and sunsets, to real estate closings and a grandchild’s hug. Nothing is taken for granted and life itself is a gift. I can feel gratitude even for the challenges during the journey, seeing them as opportunities to grow and shift.

Johannes A. Gaertner said “To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven.”

Day 1 I felt gratitude for my family, all of my family. I am blessed to have mother, stepdad, stepmom, sisters, brother, daughters and daughter-in-law, son and sons-in-laws, grandchildren, nieces and nephews all living within an hour and a half of Joplin. I get to spend time with them and be a witness to their lives.

Today I considered what I wanted to express gratitude for. There are so many things that I am grateful for. Without overthinking it I opened my heart and went with the first image that popped up.

For Day 2 I am grateful for the opportunities to travel this year.

The travels this year were so much more than planning a trip and then hopping on a plane. I have wanted to explore the world for a long time. Nine years ago, on Mike Dooley’s TUT website, I wrote out my desire and expressed it this way:

Rome, Italy

I gave my heart’s desire to the Divine…and let go of the outcome. It’s not that I sat back and did nothing. I dreamed. I looked through travel brochures. Five years ago, when my grandson expressed a desire to go to Italy after graduation, we dreamed together and released that shared goal to the Divine. Last January we met with a travel agent and the dream began to become a reality. Amazingly, the funds poured in as needed, to meet the expenses for the trip.

What a beautiful lesson for me in dreaming, trusting, letting go and receiving.

Taxis to Venice

Orvieto, Italy

A year ago, my sister Debbie asked me about going on a trip to Scotland and England. We decided to include Ireland as well, and our group grew to include our mom, sister Linda and Ashley, Debbie’s daughter. If I had wanted to play it safe, I would not have agreed to two major trips, three months apart. I am so grateful I said yes. And there they were, the three countries I wrote about visiting, with Ireland thrown in, all in one glorious summer.

Dublin, Ireland

Eilean Donan Castle, Highlands, Scotland

London, England

Again, the funds arrived for the UK trip, exactly on time. And for the second time this year I boarded a plane and followed my heart. There were other elements that came together, to express gratitude about, connected to these travels. Six family members were able to journey with me. My health improved dramatically, by way of Anthony William and a plant based diet, so that I could walk freely and enjoy these trips. My mother experienced improved health as well. Little and not so little details fell into place. Protection was given for all travelers.

And my wanderlust was truly born, set free. I have other places I hope to visit. More corners of the world to explore. The Divine knows the desires of my heart. I am grateful for that as well.

I recognize that this year of travels, these adventures, are representations of my life journey. The dreaming, the playing, the letting go and trusting, and the birthing of dreams into reality…my life is shaped by these components as well. And I am full of gratitude that traveling deepens my awareness of these connections between my wanderings around the globe and my journey through life.

Perhaps most of all, I don’t want regrets. I don’t want to be sorry that I balked at an opportunity to travel or hesitated when I could have grown. I am grateful that traveling enlarges my soul and exposes me to other people and other cultures and teaches me important truths about who I am.

Dr. Steve Maraboli sums it up well.

“Your ability to see beauty and opportunity is proportionate to the level at which you embrace gratitude.”

I am embracing gratitude.

Memories on the Wall

I’m sharing a pictorial blog post tonight, as a follow up to creating travel art a few days ago. Using postcards and miniature watercolor prints from the countries I have visited this year, I captured memories within frames.

This evening, those memories went onto the walls.

If you can’t live longer, live deeper. Italian proverb

Italy…the first country I visited this year, accompanied by my daughter Elissa and my grandson Dayan. Or rather, Elissa and I accompanied Dayan, for this was his dream trip and his chosen destination. Italy was my graduation gift to Dayan, and how wonderful it was for his mom and I to experience it with him.

I love the vintage-look postcards from four of the cities we visited. What memories we collected in each place. The colorful square postcard is from Cinque Terre and reminds of the day the three of us stood with bare feet in the Mediterranean Sea. I made the framed print with a favorite Italian expression that we embraced…cogli l’attimo…pick up the moment…hold the moment. And the little ceramic bowl from San Gimignano was a gift from our fun and cheerful tour guide, Fabiola. I will always remember her graciousness and the joy she expressed as she lives her life.

Your feet will bring you where your heart is. Irish proverb

I failed, big time, in not bringing home postcards or art from Ireland. My kids and grandkids got souvenirs from the Emerald Isle. I returned with a silver Celtic knot ring, a scarf, a scarf pin…and a heart full of memories. My traveling companions for countries two, three and four were my mom, two sisters and niece. Rather than continue to beat myself up for my postcard oversight, I have instead remained open to creative ideas to remedy the situation.

I am excited to report that I’ve had a brilliant idea, a clever way to create art from something I did bring back from Ireland…photos. My idea involves a non traditional way to display them. Stay tuned for that creative project.

Listen to the silence. Be still and let your soul catch up. Scottish proverb

I’m quite pleased with my Scottish display. The vintage looking postcards hang above a teal table holding my wee collection of Scottish treasures. I picked up the Thirlestane Castle postcard on this trip. The Lauder tartan was a gift from my mom years ago. I purchased the silver heart-shaped votive holder on my first trip to Scotland, in 2014. And the small Scottish dirk, called a sgian dubh, was bought at a Renaissance Fair I attended.

The lion represents the one on the Clan Maitland crest with the Latin phrase Consilio Et Animis – by wisdom and courage. It reminds me that I have a “tribe”, a clan, that I am a card carrying member of. My clan, with its Scottish roots, is scattered around the globe. I just today connected with a woman via Facebook, who has Lauderdales in her family tree. She visited Thirlestane Castle in Lauder three weeks before I did. How wonderful to find each other and compare genealogies.

A joy that’s shared is a joy made double. English proverb

The watercolor miniatures from London, England found a place in the living room, near shadow boxes containing mementos from musicals I have attended. These iconic images remind me of the amazing energy and diversity we encountered in London. I hope to return someday, and experience this grand city’s artistic and theatrical side.

Looking at the watercolors transports me back to those days of wandering the city and hopping on and off the Tube, sharing in the adventure of it all with my mom, sisters and niece.

The last framed art piece that went up on the wall tonight did not travel back with me from abroad. It arrived this weekend, as a gift from my sister Debbie and niece Ashley. They had sent me a pic of the artwork and I was excited to receive their generous gift. What I didn’t realize was how big the art piece was!

It was difficult to tell from the photo they sent, however I was estimating something about 12″x14″, or even a bit smaller. It is huge…and gorgeous…this framed painting of Venice. I love it. That’s how Venice is…larger than life. And that’s what travel does for me, it enlarges my life, it makes me grow, it opens my heart so that I can receive more.

I am grateful for this reminder, this travel art, that triggers memories as surely as my photos and mementos do. I don’t know who said it, but I read a quote that captures my heart.

We take photos as a return ticket to a moment otherwise gone.

That’s what my travel art is. Return tickets…time portals…to beautiful memories of beautiful experiences. I want to collect memories from all over the world. I don’t want my home to look like a museum. I want it to look like the home of a woman with an expansive soul and a wanderer’s heart.

I have a good start.

Postcard Art

I’m back in creative mode today, and just in time. Fall is here, and with the changing of the seasons, my house and front porch get a reset. The summer items will be packed away and fall decor unboxed.

Tonight’s artistic project was not seasonal, however. During my travels this year, I picked up postcards, not with the intention of mailing them, but for the purpose of creating art to hang in my home.

Thanks to a great sale at Michael’s and a couple of discount coupons that I had, it was the perfect time to purchase a variety of frames and get creative.

The postcards from Italy and Scotland have a vintage look. From Italy, those mementos have the names of four of the cities that we visited, printed in their Italian equivalent. The Scottish cards are adorable, with illustrations of things that are considered representative of that bonnie country. I also bought a postcard at Thirlestane Castle that features that gorgeous fortress.

And in England I purchased three small watercolor prints of iconic landmarks. I took all of the cards/prints with me to Michael’s, an arts and crafts type store that never fails to inspire my creativity. I spent a pleasant hour sorting through frames and shadow boxes, considering how best to display my miniature works of art.

Although the styles are different, the unifying theme among my purchases is the use of black frames. Here is how the collection turned out:

The Italian postcards.

The Scottish postcards. I really like this display, with the cards mounted between panes of glass.

The Thirlestane Castle postcard, with a lot of reflection caught in the glass. This one is a stand alone tabletop frame that will become part of a larger display.

The London watercolors.

In the next few days, I’ll figure out where to hang these works of art. I like using the postcards. They are typically sent to friends and family from far off lands, with a Wish you were here type message scrawled on the backs.

My postcards are reminders that I was there, and that my wishes, my desires, to visit those countries were fulfilled. I will enjoy pausing to study these works of art, these travel reminders, as I walk by. And, they will fuel my future dreams.

You may have noticed that one of the countries that I visited this year is not represented. I didn’t realize, until after I got home, that I never purchased postcards in Ireland. I meant to! I planned to. I was looking for vintage postcards or some other artistic style to grab my attention. Somehow we moved on to Scotland without me finding the right cards.

I can probably find Irish postcards to purchase online. But I have a better idea. I simply must go back. I must return to that emerald island to complete my mission of finding the perfect set of postcards.

What a great excuse for another grand adventure!

London Town

I am concluding my travel blogging with additional pics from our three days in London…and some personal thoughts on traveling.

London was a surprise to me. Or perhaps, more accurately stated, my response to being in London was a surprise. The energy of this big, busy, ever shifting city was amazing to me. I loved the historical elements, and seeing well known landmarks like Big Ben and the London Tower. Our guided tours were fun and informative.

However, it was the people…the many, many people gathered here from countries around the world…that captivated me. The combined energy of so many souls, with their stories and their unfolding lives, surrounded me and impacted me deeply. I enjoy people watching anyway. Here, in a city of 8.8 million plus, the throngs of people were fascinating rather than overwhelming.

And yet, sadly, I tend to crop people out of my photos. I wish now that I had taken more pics of people walking and playing and laughing and sharing. I’ve come home with a determination to get more candid photos, on my next trip!

Here are additional shots around London:

Although our London hotel was housed in an older building, it was quite nice inside. This pic of our hotel captures my traveling companions in the foreground. I am grateful that my mom, sisters and niece traveled with me. It was a wonderful, shared adventure that I will never forget! And trust me, there were a few things I might want to forget…such as the escalator incident, in which my mom and I both fell down and tangled with each other and the luggage…and the day I forgot to lock the bathroom door during my shower and had not one but four interruptions…however, overall, this was a dream come true trip with my family.

My favorite shot of Big Ben.

This pic, at least, has some people in it! Taken in front of Buckingham Palace.

Statues in front of Buckingham.

Queen Victoria.

Inside London Tower.

The White Tower inside the Tower complex.

Tower Bridge.

Harry Potter fans will recognize this site, located inside the King’s Cross Station. There is a Harry Potter shop located next to this photo op place. Long lines kept us from having our photos taken.

I’ve had several people tell me this past week that I was so lucky that I got to travel to Italy, Ireland, Scotland and England this year. I understand what they are really saying. What they are expressing is their own desire to travel. And I get that! I have wanted to visit Scotland since I was a wee girl.

Luck had nothing to do with my travels this year though. They were intentional desires, released to the Divine. I dreamed. I planned. I saved. I read and researched and included my intended destinations on my vision boards. And then I opened my heart and lived life, with excitement, anticipation and curiosity.

And the Divine met me in those desires to travel, and explore, and see the world. Opportunities came. The funding arrived, exactly on time. I traveled. Family members got to travel with me. This is how life works for me. It’s a dance, and an interaction…it’s creative play, and going with the flow, and it’s accepting Divine invitations.

Travel is something I want to continue doing. So the intentions are still flowing. The desire to explore is out there, resting with the Divine, and my heart remains open to delicious possibilities.

“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float, to gain all while you give, to roam the roads of lands remote, to travel is to live.” Hans Christian Andersen

I am looking forward to my next adventure, which will be next summer, most likely. However, I am open to everything, attached to nothing. When the invitation to travel comes, I’ll pack my carry on and go!

Several of my photos inadvertently caught an airplane flying overhead. I didn’t consider that a mistake. It is very symbolic of my desire to travel and experience new places. My favorite photo, posted below, captured a jet high in the sky, with a double rainbow nearby. The rainbow…a symbol of hope and promise.

Yes. I’ll accept that as my own personal message, my invitation…do you want to explore, do you want to play, do you want to travel? I do! My carry on became a casualty to the escalator incident. I am ordering a new one, a sturdier one. And I will be ready to go!

Passing Through Glasgow

Our time in Glasgow was very brief. Most of our last full day in Scotland was spent traveling by car, from the Isle of Skye to Glasgow. We had hoped to catch a hop on/hop off bus and tour the city, but by the time we arrived and dropped off our luggage at the hotel, the day was quickly slipping away.

We barely had time to make it to the one place we all wanted to visit…the Glasgow Cathedral with the huge, Victorian cemetery behind it, known as the Necropolis. And yet, riding in taxis instead of on the bus allowed us to have fun conversations with several different colorful residents of Scotland’s biggest city. And the rain that continually fell didn’t deter us but rather made us appreciate the cozy atmosphere of the restaurant we chose for dinner. It was the right spot. Our young waiter was attentive and we enjoyed chatting with him about Scotland and the US.

Here are additional photos from our brief, but pleasant sojourn in Glasgow.

The glistening square outside the Glasgow Cathedral. In Scotland, you just accept that it is going to rain. We dressed accordingly, in warm layers, with hoodies to cover our heads when the rain fell steadily. When the sky lightened or that rare object, the sun, broke through the clouds, we would push the hoods off our heads and shed a wrap or two.

The sacred beauty of the cathedral.

Far from morbid, the Necropolis, perched high atop a hill, has a unique beauty of its own. The lateness of the day coupled with the rain allowed us to walk among the massive monuments mostly alone. The thing that struck me about this City of the Dead is that the tombstones and memorials list the names of the deceased, and their occupations. This is a burial place of the wealthy and well known in old Glasgow. What the person did in life seemed to be as important as who they were. Even so, in the end, all their empty shells returned to the dust, death being the great equalizer among men.

We wondered if we should be concerned about this sight!

Such a variety of monuments and memorials.

What a gorgeous monument, with its black weathered door.

Outside the gates of the Necropolis is one of the few remaining blue police boxes in the UK. Fans of the long running British show, Doctor Who, will understand why a pic with the blue box was a must!

And that was all we had time for in Glasgow. Another short taxi ride to Buchanan Street, to people watch and find a place to eat, gave us another opportunity for a lively conversation. The next morning, we boarded a train, London bound.

British actor Darren Boyd says about this friendly city:

“For me, Glasgow is all about the people and the spirit of the place.”

I agree. I love Edinburgh. And if it feels like home to me, then Glasgow feels like the fun city I visit on holiday. The people are friendly here. They laugh heartily and share their stories easily. There is a lively energy in Glasgow that courses through the city, encouraging me to return, to explore and see what else I can discover.

I accept that invitation. Glasgow, I will return.

Land of Unicorns

You know that any country who claims the unicorn as its national animal is going to be magical. As we left the Borders behind, heading north into the Highlands, it was easy to set logic aside and firmly believe there were unicorns, hidden in the deep shadows pooled beneath stately forests.

Because of the courage and skill of my sister, Debbie, we journeyed by car. The further north we went, the more wild the countryside became.

These additional photos capture some of the rugged beauty of the Highlands.

The Highland Coo (cow).

Mysterious Loch Ness

The ruins of Castle Urquhart overlooking Loch Ness.

Heart piercing beauty outside the car windows.

There are numerous waterfalls cascading down the Highland slopes.

Sitting pretty, Eilean Donan Castle, near the Isle of Skye.

From the hotel room window, Isle of Skye.

Near the Fairy Pools on Skye.

Since my return, I have been watching episodes of Outlander, a story of survival, challenges and romance, set in the Scottish Highlands in the 1700s. The breathtaking scenery captured on film is familiar and brings me joy, while it simultaneously stirs the desire to return to Scotland.

The female star of Outlander, Caitriona Balfe, who portrays the heroine Claire, said, “The Scottish Highlands are incredible. There seems to be magic and poetry everywhere.”

I so agree. I have experienced the magic of the Highlands and the poetry found there roots around my heart, waiting to be born through expression.

I’ll keep my heart open.

In the Borders

On one of our most magical days in Scotland, full of delightful surprises off the beaten path, we visited the ancestral home of Clan Maitland. Located in the region south of Edinburgh known as the Borders, Thirlestane Castle sits just outside the village of Lauder.

My maiden name is Lauderdale. The surname originates from this area, as the long line of Maitlands, earls and one duke, used the name as part of their title. The current Maitland Clan chieftain, Ian, who resides in London, is the 18th Earl of Lauderdale. Edward Maitland-Carew and his family are the current owners, and occupants, of Thirlestane Castle. During the summer months, the castle is open to visitors.

I am so glad that it is. This was my second visit to Thirlestane, and my niece’s second as well, while my sisters and mom saw it for the first time. Photographs were not allowed the first time I toured this 16th century castle. However, to my amazement, the signs now say no flash photography permitted. After asking permission, to be sure, my family and I started over in the first room open to the public, and happily snapped pics with our phones.

Welcome to Thirlestane Castle.

A parlor, with dark wood paneling.

An old wheelchair

Old photographs and awards from an early amateur photographer.

The recessed window alcoves show how thick the walls are. Castles are more than residences, they are fortresses, places of protection.

The billiard room.

The small library

The Duke of Lauderdale’s bedroom

The Duke of Lauderdale, a powerful man in Scotland and England.

A guest bedroom that was specifically reserved for Bonnie Prince Charles of England.

Formal sitting rooms, with ornate plaster ceilings.

The grand dining room.

The nurseries, with an impressive collection of vintage toys.

One of many staircases in the castle.

We so enjoyed our visit to Thirlestane Castle. There are 150 rooms in the castle, and although only a fraction of those are open to the public, it is easy to gain an appreciation for this gorgeous historic home and soak up the atmosphere. The energy within these thick walls is interesting to me, as I can imagine being accompanied by a host of past inhabitants as I wander room to room.

Are they as curious about me, as I am about them? Do they feel the connection of kinship that I feel?

The Borders is an apt name for this region in Scotland, as it lies between Edinburgh and Glasgow and England. A borderland is defined as an overlapping area between two things.

It is an apt description for me as well. I live my life in the borders, embracing reality and imagination, the natural world and the spirit world, and my Scottish/Irish/English heritage while also being American.

My borders are not sharply defined, the edges blurring together, shifting and enlarging, as I grow and flow through life and landscapes and regions. No wonder I feel like I belong in Scotland.

My heart has found its way home.

High Atop Castle Rock

Edinburgh Castle dominates the skyline of this historic city. Located atop an extinct volcano, in the heart of Old Town, the fortress stands as a stark reminder Scotland’s more turbulent times, when wars were fought between countries and even between clans.

Touted as Scotland’s most visited landmark, Edinburgh Castle draws in more than a million visitors a year. We made our way to the top of the Royal Mile to explore this ancient castle and learn about its place in Scottish history.

Here are additional photos from our time

within the castle compound.

Looking toward the Firth of Forth, east of Edinburgh.

There has been a royal castle on this rock since the reign of King David I, in the 12th century. Most of the castle’s original structures were destroyed in the 16th century during the Lang Siege, due to artillery bombardment, with the exception of Saint Margaret’s Chapel, the Royal Palace and the Great Hall.

Stained glass window and huge painting in the Great Hall.

We spent time wandering in the castle prisons, where the somber energy was heightened by dark shadows and the interesting play of light in stone passageways and long, dormitory style rooms. There was a sacredness present there, that told of survival rather than captivity, and life rather than death. Some of my favorite photos of the castle were taken in the prison.

Hammocks strung above narrow cots.

I love the light finding its way through these shuttered windows. It symbolizes hope to me.

Although the prisons could be considered depressing, I found a resilient beauty in them. The stone chambers would have provided unyielding barriers to the men within, however, their souls were not contained. We viewed etchings and carvings the prisoners made on wooden doors and upon the stone walls themselves. The creative pictures were vital reminders of home and life and hope.

The One O’Clock Gun is fired every day, except Sunday, at precisely 1:00. It is a time signal, fired for the ships in the harbor, since 1861.

There is a castle tea house in the compound, where I enjoyed a cup of hot lemon grass and ginger tea.

We enjoyed our time on Castle Rock. The views of the city are amazing. I stood peering over the battlements, and imagined what Edinburgh looked like in the centuries past. Remove the cars and buses, and much of it probably looked the same as it currently does. I felt the solidness and permanence of this stronghold and my Scottish blood rejoiced.

The statues of Robert the Bruce and William Wallace were added to the gatehouse entrance in 1929. They stand as silent sentinels, defenders of Scotland’s freedoms. I feel the castle itself is a sentinel, watching over the city from atop its stony perch, a grounding force for Edinburgh’s residents and visitors. Long may it stand.