All that I am, all that I ever was…

I am more than my mental health. I am more than my homelessness. I am more than any one aspect of me. I am Addy. And this is…


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25 Songs, 25 Days: Protect and Survive

Day 15: A song you love singing along to

Protect and Survive | Runrig

scotland

I’m a terrible singer. Really. Truthfully. I couldn’t hold a note if the fate of the world depended on it. But when I’m alone – which is pretty much all the time – I have been known to sing along to random, much-loved tunes.

Given they are my favourite band, more often than not, I’m singing along to Runrig. I love their use of language. I love the rhythm of their music. I love the blend of folk and rock genres. I feel good when I’m singing along to Runrig, even if I’m butchering the tune with my shrill, melodyless voice.

So be glad you’re not in the room with me as I play today’s song; for I will be singing along to it, and I wouldn’t want to damage your precious sense of hearing. But why don’t you sing along to. Even if you are as bad at it as I am.

The red hot sun burns up the hill
The winter’s bride, the summer’s king
I tramp these acres and I feel
Once upon a time
Then it seemed that everything
You saw and touched and felt was real
You turned the tap and you turned the wheel
Breathing free

Once in a lifetime
You live and love
Once in a lifetime
You die
Once in a moment
The sun goes down
Protect and survive

Now you search the open evening sky
Trace the memories in your eyes
For the prophet’s hard rain and the deluge
Lie in tears around your door
Once there were trees and livestock here
A mother’s love, the warnings clear
But you chose to turn away from fear
Breathing free

Once in a lifetime
You live and love
Once in a lifetime
You die
Once in a moment
The sun goes down
Protect and survive

Now there’s a faceless cross on a distant hill
A wasted voice, a silent scream
Where the lovers love and the dreamers dream
You stand and dream alone
You took your sacrifice to the gods of war
Traded your children’s lives for a mess of gold
And you beat your ploughshares into swords
Breathing free

Once in a lifetime
You live and love
Once in a lifetime
You die
Once in a moment
The sun goes down
Protect and survive


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25 Songs, 25 Days: The Old Boys

Day 10: A song by your favourite band

The Old Boys | Runrig (with Paul Mounsey)

1

My favourite band of all time is, and always will be, Runrig:

Runrig are a Scottish Celtic rock group formed in Skye, in 1973 under the name ‘The Run Rig Dance Band’. Since its inception, the band’s line-up has included songwriters Rory Macdonald and Calum Macdonald. The current line-up also includes longtime members Malcolm Jones, Iain Bayne, and more recently, Bruce Guthro, and Brian Hurren. To date, the band has released thirteen studio albums, with a number of their songs sung in Scottish Gaelic.

My favourite musician of all time is, and always will be, Paul Mounsey:

Paul Mounsey is a composer, arranger and producer from Scotland. He lived for over 20 years in Brazil. A graduate of Trinity College, London, where he studied with Richard Arnell, he has written for film, television, theatre, advertising and also for the Latin American pop market. He lectured for a short while at Goldsmiths College before moving on as creative director of Play It Again, one of the biggest commercial music houses in Brazil. He has also written articles on various aspects of music. He’s written pop hits for Mexican boy bands, has received commissions for chamber and multimedia works, has lived with and recorded the music of indigenous communities in the Amazon rainforest, and to date has released five solo albums.

And in 2003, much to my happiness, an album was released combining the talents of both Runrig and Paul Mounsey.

So for today’s song in the 25 Songs, 25 Days Challenge I’ve chosen a song from this album.

A song that is both beautiful and haunting.

Enjoy.


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Ten things that never fail to perk me up…

Well, the journey has come to an end. Today marks the final installment of the Ten Times to Be Happy challenge and, truth be told, I’m a little sad. I’ve enjoyed sharing my happiness over the last ten days, and hope that you’ve enjoyed joining me on my journey. Today is all about things that cheer us up, as I share ten things guaranteed to brighten my mood on even the darkest day.

~1~
Literature

Books

My first memory of being on this earth was walking to the library alone. My parents, in their infinite awesomeness, would watch from the front door of our house as I walked the two hundred yards to the local library. Once there, I would fill my satchel with books and then rush home to begin devouring them.

In the intervening years I have developed a passionate love of both libraries and the books contained within them. I cherish good literature above all else. It fills me with joy. Reinforces my hope for a better, more kinder world. And fills me with happiness like nothing else can.

“She would have liked to sit upon a rock and listen to words, not of any man, but detached, mysterious, poetic words that she alone would interpret through some sense inherited from sleep.”
~ Patrick White, Voss ~

~2~
Serena Ryder

serena19

With a tremendous vocal range, intelligent lyrics and a knack for getting the best out of the guitar, how could you not fall for this Canadian singer-songwriter? Her music has been the source of tremendous solace throughout my life, scoring several pertinent moments (e.g. my breakdown, my homelessness) and filling me with joy on even the darkest, most brutal of days.

Would you mind if I pretended we were somewhere else
Doin’ something we wanted to?
‘Cause all this livin’ makes me wanna do
Is die ’cause I can’t live with you
And you don’t even care.

Would you mind if I pretended I was someone else
With courage in love and war?
I used to think that’s what I was
But now this lyin’ hurts too much
And I don’t know what for.

I’m weak in the knees for you
But I’ll stand if you want me to
My legs are strong and I move on
But honey I’m weak in the knees…

Would you mind if I walked over and I kissed your face
In front of all of your friends?
Would you mind if I got drunk and said
I wanna take you home to bed
Oh, would you change your mind?

~ from ‘Weak in the Knees’ ~

~3~
Scotland

Skye

The heart stopping landscape of the Isle of Skye.

When I was a child, growing up in the small village of Portlethen, on the eastern coast of Scotland, I was more concerned with being a brattish schoolboy – playing practical jokes on my family and getting into as much mischief as I could – than being aware of the country I was living in. But all that changed when my parents took us on a day trip to Loch Ness, a couple of hundred miles west, in the heart of the Highlands. I can vividly remember gazing through the car window at the luscious landscape all around me, feeling a pull on my heartstrings that indicated all was well in my world.

After moving to Wales when I was eleven, I felt like a part of my soul was being ripped out. I missed Scotland with an intense passion, and couldn’t wait to return. Several years and one hypomanic episode later, I did, returning to my childhood love of the Highlands with a twenty-six mile hike down the shores of Loch Ness. From there I went to Fort William, where I experienced the grandeur of Glen Nevis and breathtaking Glenfinnan, on the shores of Loch Shiel.

Every day I spent in Scotland made me feel complete. The country fills me with a passion unlike anything else on this earth. I feel connected to Scotland. I experience physical pain when I am away from it. It is, without question, my home on this earth. Living in Australia, being so far from my home, fills me with sadness. But I have made my home a shrine to this magical, mysterious country. Maps of Skye, of Loch Ness, of Torridon adorn my walls. Photographs of the Highlands, of the islands, of the cities, decorate every nook and cranny.

Scotland, its people, its culture, its folklore, fills me with a happiness unlike anything else on this world. It soothes my soul. It completes me.

Caledonia
by James Hogg

Caledonia! thou land of the mountain and rock,
Of the ocean, the mist, and the wind-
Thou land of the torrent, the pine, and the oak,
Of the roebuck, the hart, and the hind;
Though bare are thy cliffs, and though barren thy glens,
Though bleak thy dun islands appear,
Yet kind are the hearts, and undaunted the clans,
That roam on these mountains so drear!

A foe from abroad, or a tyrant at home,
Could never thy ardour restrain;
The marshall’d array of imperial Rome
Essay’d thy proud spirit in vain!
Firm seat of religion, of valour, of truth,
Of genius unshackled and free,
The muses have left all the vales of the south,
My loved Caledonia, for thee!

Sweet land of the bay and wild-winding deeps
Where loveliness slumbers at even,
While far in the depth of the blue water sleeps
A calm little motionless heaven!
Thou land of the valley, the moor, and the hill,
Of the storm and the proud rolling wave-
Yes, thou art the land of fair liberty still,
And the land of my forefathers’ grave!

~4~
Doctor Who

doctorwhoowls

Even owls like Doctor Who! :)

My favourite television series – bar none! It has been part of my life since 1988, cheering me up and filling me with confidence for over twenty-five years. The good Doctor never fails to lift my spirits and his confidence in the face of danger pushes me to victory against whatever demon has decided to raise its ugly head.

My top five NuWho stories that never fail to cheer me up:

1. Utopia
2. Vincent and the Doctor
3. Partners in Crime
4. Human Nature/The Family of Blood
5. The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang

“I am and always will be the optimist.
The hoper of far-flung hopes and the dreamer of improbable dreams”
~Eleventh Doctor~

My top five Classic Who stories that never fail to cheer me up:

1. Remembrance of the Daleks
2. City of Death
3. Doctor Who and the Silurians
4. Inferno
5. The Evil of the Daleks

~5~
Blog Comments

comments

It’s funny how such a simple thing can fill me with happiness and perk me up on overcast, depression filled days. Just the sight of that orange notification button causes my heart to flutter. I hover the cursor upon it, overflowing with curiosity for what post has inspired some beautiful soul to share their thoughts with me. And then smile sweetly as their words stoke my heart, filling me with joy and contentment.

“In the midst of feeling completely desperate and totally compelled to hurt myself, I came across a picture of your safe box then followed the link to your blog. Just reading the facts about you has calmed me down enough to not. Thank you.”
~ from Anna, on About Me ~

~6~
Smoking

roll-your-own-cigarette

Rolling your own cigarette. One of the most gloriously relaxing pastimes imaginable! :)

I don’t know whether it’s because it’s on my mind at the moment, given we’re in day two of my quit smoking campaign, but smoking a cigarette is one of life’s only joys. I don’t know whether it was simply the inhalation of relaxing chemicals or the glorious routine of making the cigarette, but smoking never failed to lift my spirits and put a smile on my face. But that’s all in the past now. I’m not allowed to smoke again. I’m determined this time!

“After some time he felt for his pipe. It was not broken, and that was something. Then he felt for his pouch, and there was some tobacco in it, and that was something more. Then he felt for matches and he could not find any at all, and that shattered his hopes completely.”
~ J.R.R Tolkien, The Hobbit ~

~7~
Binge watching television series!

24:  LIVE ANOTHER DAY:  Cast L-R:  Michael Wincott, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Giles Matthey, Benjamin Bratt, Yvonne Strahovski, Gbenge Akinnagbe, Kiefer Sutherland, William Devane, Kim Raver and Tate Donovan.  24:  LIVE ANOTHER DAY is set to premiere Monday, May 5 with a special season premiere, two-hour episode (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2014 Fox Broadcasting Co.  Cr:  Greg Williams/FOX

Binge watching 24 is one of my favourite, most cherished pastimes!

I’ve been doing this long before it was fashionable to do so. Back in the day I used to binge watch Alias, 24 and all manner of British dramas and situation comedies. On my days off work I would settle in with whatever show had taken my fancy and, for several hours, immerse myself in the fictional world. But now everyone does it, and they think they invented it. But they didn’t. I did! :p

“Too much of a good thing can be wonderful!”
~ Mae West ~

~8~
Runrig

Runrig

I first discovered Runrig when I purchased the album The Stamping Ground. It was one of those on-a-whim purchases that we all make from time to time. I don’t know what drew me to the CD. Perhaps the colourful artwork. Perhaps the fact it was filed in Scottish Folk/Rock. Perhaps it was just a moment of destiny; one of those instances of happenstance that change your world. From the very first listen of the CD I was hooked. The music spoke to me like no other musician had ever done. It touched my heart, filled me with hope and soothed my troubled soul.

Runrig are my favourite musicians. They have been producing heartfelt folk/rock music for over forty years. Their music features heavily on the soundtrack to my life and it never fails to lift my mood during moments of darkness and depression.

There’s thunder clouds
Round the hometown bay
As I walk out in the rain
Through the sepia showers
And the photoflood days

I caught a fleeting glimpse of life
And though the water’s black as night
The colours of Scotland
Leave you young inside

There must be a place
Under the sun
Where hearts of olden glory
Grow young

There’s a vision coming soon
Through the faith that cleans your wound
Hearts of olden glory
Will be renewed

Down the glens where the headlands stand
I feel a healing through this land
A cross for a people
Like wind through your hands

There must be a place
Under the sun
Where hearts of olden glory
Grow young

 ~ from ‘Hearts of Olden Glory’ ~

~9~
Friendship

friendship

I miss my friends. I miss spending my afternoon sharing a jug of beer with Grace. I miss playing pool with Kathy, hiking the Canadian wilderness with Annie and indulging in kinky, slightly perverted, acts with Samantha. I miss how my friends made me feel; happy, contented, invincible. Being alone is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Not even giving up cigarettes comes close to the pain and distress one feels when they know they are spending their life alone; unloved, uncared for, forgotten.

Although I have several online friendships, all of which I am thankful for, it isn’t the same as having people you can spend time with in real life. There isn’t the camaraderie, the instantaneous gratification or sharing of wit that is part and parcel of real life conversation.

If I had three wishes granted to me, my first wish would be to have friends. Not many. Just one or two. That would make me happy. It always did.

“A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.”
~ Elbert Hubbard ~

and

~10~
Spanking!

HNI_0035lp

A picture Meadhbh (and I) drew. It apparently depicts us being soundly spanked! :p

Hey! Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it. A good spanking has the power to lift anyone out of the deepest, darkest quagmire. Don’t believe me? Then toddle off to your significant other (or BFF or bestest, most nonjudgmental friend) and request they put you over their knee for a sound spanking. Done? Your bottom’s all nice and toasty now? See. Your spirits have lifted, haven’t they? Told you they would! :p

“Of course it hurts, it’s a spanking. How else would it work?”
~ Breanna Hayse ~


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Ten historical moments of epic magnificence…

In today’s installment of the Ten Times to Be Happy challenge I’ve been tasked to pick ten of my favourite historical moments. For a history nerd, the difficulty isn’t thinking of historical moments, it’s in picking just ten from the millions of possibilities. But let’s see how we get on!

~1~
Callanish Standing Stones
2900 – 2600BC

The Callanish Stones (or Clachan Chalanais or Tursachan Chalanais in Gaelic) are an arrangement of standing stones placed in a cruciform pattern with a central stone circle. They were erected in the late Neolithic era, and were a focus for ritual activity during the Bronze Age.

Callanish

~2~
“I have a dream”
28 August 1963

I Have a Dream” is a public speech delivered by American civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. in which he calls for an end to racism in the United States. Delivered to over 250,000 civil rights supporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, the speech was a defining moment of the American Civil Rights Movement.

~3~
The Beaumont Children
26 January 1966

Jane Nartare Beaumont (aged 9; born 10 September 1956), Arnna Kathleen Beaumont (aged 7; born 11 November 1958), and Grant Ellis Beaumont (aged 4; born 12 July 1961) were three siblings collectively known as the Beaumont children who disappeared from Glenelg Beach near Adelaide, South Australia, on Australia Day, 26 January 1966.

Their case resulted in one of the largest police investigations in Australian criminal history and remains one of Australia’s most infamous cold cases. The huge attention given to this case, its significance in Australian criminal history, and the fact that the mystery of their disappearance has never been explained, has led to the story being revisited by the press on a regular basis. It is also viewed by many social commentators as a significant event in the evolution of Australian society, with a large number of people changing the way they supervised their children on a daily basis.

beaumont children

For baby boomers growing up in the late 1960s, and for those who came after, the subsequent police investigation into the abduction and probable murder of the Beaumont children has been both repelling and haunting. On the fortieth anniversary of the children’s disappearance, many questions still remain: What happened to Jane, Arnna and Grant Beaumont at Glenelg on the day they disappeared? Who was the man last seen with the children that day? Why has there never been a public inquest into the children’s disappearance? What links are there to the abduction of two young girls from Adelaide Oval in 1973 and the infamous Family Murders in the early 1980s? Are the Beaumont children still alive, as many still believe, or buried in some unmarked spot?

The mere mention of the words ‘the Beaumont children’ brings so many memories of that time flooding back. For those who have come after, and know only the half-truths and the urban myths, there is a yearning to know more – to understand the unimaginable and try to answer questions that may never be answered.

For over four decades now, we have all been searching for the Beaumont children.

from ‘Searching for the Beaumont Children’
by Alan J. Whiticker

~4~
Feminism
1837-Present

Charles Fourier, a Utopian Socialist and French philosopher, is credited with having coined the word “féminisme” in 1837. The words “féminisme” (“feminisme”) and “féminist” (“feminist”) first appeared in France and the Netherlands in 1872, Great Britain in the 1890s, and the United States in 1910, and the Oxford English Dictionary lists 1852 as the year of the first appearance of “feminist” and 1895 for “feminism”. Depending on historical moment, culture and country, feminists around the world have had different causes and goals. Most western feminist historians assert that all movements that work to obtain women’s rights should be considered feminist movements, even when they did not (or do not) apply the term to themselves. Other historians assert that the term should be limited to the modern feminist movement and its descendants. Those historians use the label “protofeminist” to describe earlier movements.

The history of the modern western feminist movements is divided into three “waves”. Each wave dealt with different aspects of the same feminist issues. The first wave comprised women’s suffrage movements of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, promoting women’s right to vote. The second wave was associated with the ideas and actions of the women’s liberation movement beginning in the 1960s. The second wave campaigned for legal and social equality for women. The third wave is a continuation of, and a reaction to, the perceived failures of second-wave feminism, beginning in the 1990s.

feminism

“I hate men who are afraid of women’s strength.”
~Anaïs Nin~

~5~
The Battle of Bannockburn
24 June 1314

The Battle of Bannockburn was a significant Scottish victory in the First War of Scottish Independence. Stirling Castle, a Scots royal fortress, occupied by the English, was under siege by the Scottish army. The English king, Edward II, assembled a formidable force to relieve it. This attempt failed, and his army was defeated in a pitched battle by a smaller army commanded by the King of Scots, Robert the Bruce.

bannockburn

Scots Wha Hae
By Robert Burns

‘Scots, wha hae wi Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led,
Welcome tae yer gory bed,
Or tae victorie.

‘Now’s the day, an now’s the hour:
See the front o battle lour,
See approach proud Edward’s power –
Chains and Slaverie.

‘Wha will be a traitor knave?
Wha will fill a coward’s grave?
Wha sae base as be a slave?
Let him turn an flee.

‘Wha, for Scotland’s king and law,
Freedom’s sword will strongly draw,
Freeman stand or Freeman fa,
Let him on wi me.

‘By Oppression’s woes and pains,
By your sons in servile chains!
We will drain our dearest veins,
But they shall be free.

‘Lay the proud usurpers low,
Tyrants fall in every foe,
Liberty’s in every blow! –
Let us do or dee.

~6~
The Glencoe Massacre
13 February 1692

Early in the morning, in the aftermath of the Glorious Revolution and the Jacobite uprising of 1689 led by John Graham of Claverhouse, a massacre took place in Glen Coe, in the Highlands of Scotland. This incident is referred to as the massacre of Glencoe, or in Scottish Gaelic Mort Ghlinne Comhann or murder of Glen Coe. The massacre began simultaneously in three settlements along the glen—Invercoe, Inverrigan, and Achnacon—although the killing took place all over the glen as fleeing MacDonalds were pursued. Thirty-eight MacDonalds from the Clan MacDonald of Glencoe were killed by the guests who had accepted their hospitality, on the grounds that the MacDonalds had not been prompt in pledging allegiance to the new monarchs, William and Mary. Another forty women and children died of exposure after their homes were burned.

~7~
The 1745 Uprising
1745

The Jacobite rising of 1745 was the attempt by Charles Edward Stuart to regain the British throne for the exiled House of Stuart. The rising occurred during the War of the Austrian Succession when most of the British Army was on the European continent. Charles Edward Stuart, commonly known as “Bonnie Prince Charlie” or “the Young Pretender”, sailed to Scotland and raised the Jacobite standard at Glenfinnan in the Scottish Highlands, where he was supported by a gathering of Highland clansmen. The march south began with an initial victory at Prestonpans near Edinburgh. The Jacobite army, now in bold spirits, marched onwards to Carlisle, over the border in England. When it reached Derby, some British divisions were recalled from the Continent and the Jacobite army retreated north to Inverness.

1745uprising

which culminated at

~8~
The Battle of Culloden
16 April 1746

The Battle of Culloden was the final confrontation of the Jacobite rising of 1745 and part of a religious civil war in Britain. On 16 April 1746, the Jacobite forces of Charles Edward Stuart fought loyalist troops commanded by William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, near Inverness in the Scottish Highlands.

culloden

Culloden
by Andrew Lang

Dark, dark was the day when we looked on Culloden
And chill was the mist drop that clung to the tree,
The oats of the harvest hung heavy and sodden,
No light on the land and no wind on the sea.

There was wind, there was rain, there was fire on their faces,
When the clans broke the bayonets and died on the guns,
And ’tis Honour that watches the desolate places
Where they sleep through the change of the snows and the suns.

Unfed and unmarshalled, outworn and outnumbered,
All hopeless and fearless, as fiercely they fought,
As when Falkirk with heaps of the fallen was cumbered,
As when Gledsmuir was red with the havoc they wrought.

Ah, woe worth you, Sleat, and the faith that you vowed,
Ah, woe worth you, Lovat, Traquair, and Mackay;
And woe on the false fairy flag of Macleod,
And the fat squires who drank, but who dared not to die!

Where the graves of Clan Chattan are clustered together,
Where Macgillavray died by the Well of the Dead,
We stooped to the moorland and plucked the pale heather
That blooms where the hope of the Stuart was sped.

And a whisper awoke on the wilderness, sighing,
Like the voice of the heroes who battled in vain,
“Not for Tearlach alone the red claymore was plying,
But to bring back the old life that comes not again.”

~9~
Sabina Spielrein
1885-1942

Sabina Spielrein was a Russian physician and one of the first female psychoanalysts. She was in succession the patient, then student, then colleague of Carl Gustav Jung, with whom she had an erotic relationship during 1908-1910, closely documented in their correspondence from the time and her diaries. She also met, corresponded, and had a collegial relationship with Sigmund Freud. One of her more famous analysands was the Swiss developmental psychologist, Jean Piaget. She worked as a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, teacher and paediatrician in Switzerland and Russia.

In a thirty-year professional career, she published over 35 papers in three languages (German, French and Russian), covering psychoanalysis, developmental psychology, psycholinguistics and educational psychology. Her best known and perhaps most influential published work in the field of psychoanalysis is the essay titled “Destruction as the Cause of Coming Into Being”, written in German in 1912. Although Spielrein has been mainly remembered on account of her relationship with Jung, she is now increasingly recognized as an important and innovative thinker who was marginalized in history because of her unusual eclecticism, refusal to join factions, feminist approach to psychology, and her death in the Holocaust.

Sabina Spielrein’s relationship with Carl Jung was explored in the motion picture ‘A Dangerous Method’:

and

~10~
An Unearthly Child
5:16pm, 23 November 1963

Doctor Who first appeared on BBC TV at 17:16:20 GMT, eighty seconds after the scheduled programme time, 5:15 pm.

And now it’s over to you. What are some of your favourite historical moments?


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Ten places that make me feel positive, inspired and happy…

In today’s installment of the Ten Times to Be Happy challenge I take you on a whistle stop tour of some of the places that make me feel positive, inspired and happy. And surprisingly, most of them are in Scotland! :p

~1~
Glenfinnan, on the shores of Loch Shiel

Glenfinnan-GeneralViews-2008-0023

~ Glenfinnan, on the shores of Loch Shiel ~

I have Highlander to thank for this. My obsession with the TV Series during my teenage years was instrumental in my decision to run away from home in 1997. For some reason I needed to visit the location of my fictional hero’s birth. I needed to walk the glen that had featured so prominently in the episode Homeland. When I arrived in Scotland I walked twenty-six miles to Drumnadrochit, on the shores of Loch Ness, before catching a bus to the quaint town of Fort William (see 4). Once in Fort William I hopped on a train for the twenty-minute journey to Glenfinnan. And as the train weaved across the viaduct (made famous in the Harry Potter films) my heart skipped a beat at the most beautiful view I’d ever seen; the glen opened up, all eyes leading toward the loch, and the Highlander statue that stands at its tip. I was instantaneously smitten.

I have returned to Glenfinnan many times in my life. After that first visit it quickly became my favourite place on earth. I loved the serenity of the glen. I loved the beauty of the loch. I loved that it always provided me with such peace and solace. Although it is tinged with sadness (it being the site of a suicide attempt in 2000) it has never failed to bring me positivity, inspiration and happy fuzzy bunny feelings. I cannot speak highly enough of this magical place. It is a location that everyone needs to visit at least once. It is a site of such majesty, such ravishing beauty, it cannot fail to move you.

The following video was made in 2008, during my return to Scotland (and Glenfinnan) after six years in Australia:

~2~
Berneray

CNV00040

~ The Sound of Harris, Berneray ~

When I first visited Berneray in February 2000, I fell instantly in love with this far-flung island of the Western Isles chain. A tiny island off the coast of North Uist, Berneray is blessed with a rugged beauty that few places on earth can match. Home to otters, a flower covered machair, and miles of unspoilt white beaches, you could lose days of your life exploring this magical, inspiring locale. As I have done over the years. But Berneray means more to me than just another ravishing Scottish Island. It was the place my life changed when I met Louise at New Year 2000, and it was the place where I lost my virginity, one wind-swept New Years day. And ever since that magical moment occurred, I have loved Berneray with an intense passion.

~3~
Inverness

Inverness-2008-0021

~ Inverness, Scotland ~

My home in Scotland. My love affair with Inverness began in 1997, when I stopped off there during my ‘runaway’ period. I fell in love with the river Ness, that winds effortlessly through the heart of the city. I fell in love with the islands, a chain of small islets in the middle of the river. I fell in love with the cobbled streets and myriad of independent shops that populated them. I fell in love with Leakeys, the finest bookshop I’ve ever visited. I fell in love with the music that played in pubs and clubs on a nightly basis. I fell in love with Craig Phadrig, a forested hill that dominates the skyline. I fell in love so quickly, so hard, that I began dreaming of this fair city. In 1999, during my backpacking odyssey, it was always my final destination; the city that I had chosen to make my home, and for many years, it was. I attended college in Inverness. I fell in love in Inverness. I lost my soul to Inverness. Even now, tens of thousands of miles on the other side of the world, my heart yearns for that majestic city in the Highlands. One day, I will return. That much I know to be true.

~4~
Fort William

FortWilliam-2008-0022

~ Morning mist over Loch Linnhe, Fort William ~

If Inverness is my wife, Fort William is my mistress. Many times whilst I was living in Inverness I would travel the 66 miles to this quaint little town to spend night after night in its warm, loving embrace. I fell head over heels for its location on the shores of Loch Linnhe, for its arts scene, for its mountain festival, for its proximity to the mighty Ben Nevis and beautiful Glen Nevis. Fort William burns in my heart. It always will.

~5~
Orkney Mainland

05

~ Me, at the Ring of Brodgar, Orkney Mainland (1999) ~

I’ve only been to Orkney twice. Once in 1999 during my backpacking odyssey around Scotland and once in 2001, when I visited it with Louise and her parents. On both occasions I was overwhelmed with the beauty of this fair isle. I fell head over heels for its history, for the neolithic sites, for the serenity of Scapa Flow and its turbulent, tragic history. I fell head over heels for its fishing villages, Viking lineage and treeless landscape. This love was cemented when Louise and I appeared in the Orkney tourist brochure; gleefully smiling away in the shadow of Kirkwall Cathedral. Of all the Scottish islands, this is my favourite. It has always been inspiring. It has always filled me with joy and happiness. I love it. Truthfully and totally.

~6~
The Western Isles

callanish

~ Callanish Standing Stones, Isle of Lewis ~

Berneray (see 2) is the jewel in the crown of this archipelago. But it has stiff competition. My first visit to this island chain was in February 2000, when I traveled the length and breadth of it with Deborah and Elle, two friends I met in Inverness. I was overwhelmed by the Callanish Standing Stones. In awe of the mountainous Isle of Harris. And moved by the majesty of North Uist, Benbecula and South Uist. To this day I regret visiting Barra, the southern most island of the archipelago, but deep down I know that one day I will walk upon its unspoilt beaches. Like the Orkney Mainland, I carry the Western Isles in my heart, and regret living so far away from this magnificent collection of islands.

~7~
London

And so we leave Scotland and travel several hundred miles south, to the greatest city in the world. I have loved London for as long as I can remember. When I was in my late teens I would house-sit for my Aunt and Uncle, traveling the thirty minutes into the heart of the city each day to explore the history, architecture and art it had to offer. I would spend days of my life walking the stone streets of England’s capital, my heart singing with every mile walked. I would visit its plethora of theaters. I would wile away the hours in its shops, stores and shopping arcades. There is nothing you can’t do in London. There is nothing you can’t help but fall in love with. From the mighty river Thames, to the back streets of Soho to the expanse of parkland in the heart of the city. It is a wonderful, inspiring and altogether glorious city that burns in your soul whenever you are apart from it.

~8~
Melbourne

Melbourne

~ Melbourne ~

My home in Australia. For the first ten years that I was in Australia I lived in Melbourne. It’s laneways, coffee shops, wide streets and intricate inner suburbs were my home. And later, it’s parkland, alleys and litter strewn streets, my bed. My homeless period in Melbourne has stained my love of the city to some degree. The memories of this traumatic, brutal life tingeing my memories with sadness and rendering me unable to love the city as much as I once did. I used to be able to spend days exploring the laneways and streets of the city, engaging in the vibrant arts scene and wiling the hours away in its beautiful art galleries and museums. But now when I think of Melbourne I think of curling up on stone concrete for a restless nights sleep. I think of the abuse I received from its residents; words and actions that made me think I was less than human. I think of the pain and trauma that my mind and body went through during those dark, joyless years. But I still love Melbourne. I still miss is. It is, after all, my home in Australia. It always will be.

~9~
Port Fairy

Port Fairy East Beach

~ East Beach, Port Fairy ~

This quaint little fishing village on the southern coast of Victoria, Australia, has always shone in my soul. From my first visit there with my parents in 2004, through to the traumatic breakdown I experienced on my last visit there in 2007, it has always been held with high regard in my mind. I love the wide streets. The expansive beaches. The plethora of outdoor activity. And the annual folk festival that fills the town to bursting. I love how the quiet allowed my soul to sing as I explored the township and fell in love with the inspirational arts scene that runs through the village. I miss Port Fairy. I used to go there often. Two, three times a year I would leave Melbourne to refind myself in this delightful town. But since the breakdown. Since the darkness that clouded my last visit. I don’t think I would ever return. Too much pain. Too many bad memories. But not even to dampen my love for Port Fairy. It will always be one of my favourite places in Australia.

and

~10~
The Wodonga Public Library

This is the only place in Wodonga, the town I currently call home, that I like. I visit it several times a week, losing myself amidst the stacks of books and piles of DVDs, allowing the knowledge and intellect contained within them to wash over me. I cherish how it soothes my troubled soul. I love how it calms my anxiety. I love how it provides me a moment of solace from the usual chaotic nature of my life and illness. I have always loved libraries, ever since I was a child, and Wodonga library will always be one of my favourites. And not just because I have a crush on one of the hot librarians who works there! :p

~ All photos in this post are © Addy Lake ~


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Should I stay or should I go?

In April 2014, when this crippling depressive episode started, I was sitting at home watching an episode of Monarch of the Glen. Although not the greatest television series of all time, it is one that means the world to me because of its, and my, connection to Scotland. Alongside Hamish Macbeth, it is one of the television series I return to whenever I’m homesick and eager to bask in the glory of Scotland. On this particular occasion though my homesickness overcame me and I said out loud: “I don’t want to be here any more, I want to be there,” whilst pointing at the glory of the Scottish countryside. It is a moment that has stayed with me because it was the moment that I realised I was no longer happy living in Australia.

Monarch of the Glen

Monarch of the Glen: what I was watching when I realised I was no longer happy living in Australia

I first moved to Australia in 2002 for one reason and one reason only; to be with my then girlfriend, Louise. I sacrificed my home (Scotland), my family, my friends, my education and my country of birth (England) to continue a relationship that had begun in the wilds of the Outer Hebridean winter. For a while, things worked out for me in Australia. My mental health was relatively stable, I had a job that (for a brief period) I loved, and my relationship with Louise was secure and loving. But then came 2006; my relationship with Louise faltered and failed, my mental health collapsed and I became deeply unstable, causing me to lose my job. And then came 2007; the loss of everything I owned, the end of my friendships and a complete breakdown in my psychological functioning. Since then, my “life” in Australia has been meaningless.

Certainly, there was a brief period of time in 2008 when things looked like they might work out, but that was a mirage, a mistake of epic proportions, and ever since my life has paid the price; homelessness, isolation and pain on a level most people couldn’t comprehend.

Although a large part of this has been down to my unstable mental health, an equally large part of it is that I know I’m not happy here anymore. I dislike the town in which I live with a venomous passion; there is nothing to do, nowhere to go and I feel as if it has been slowly sucking my soul dry for the last three years now. The unit which I call “home” is unpleasant, noisy and altogether boring. I dislike living here just as much as I dislike the town in which I live. It too, is a succubus attached to my soul, draining me of any passion, excitement and my ability to live. I have also lost any passion I had toward Australia as a country. I no longer enjoy living here. I no longer feel happy about calling myself an honorary Australian. In fact, I feel more disenfranchised and irrelevant than I have at any other point in my life, for it is hard living somewhere that you have no passion for.

As such, ever since I was discharged from hospital back in February, I have been seriously considering leaving Australia and returning to Scotland. But in doing so I would be risking much. I would lose my benefits. I would lose my home. I would, in essence, be homeless again; and I’m not sure I have the energy to rebuild my life from scratch all over again; which is what I would have to do if I returned to the United Kingdom, my home.

Inverness-2008-0021

Inverness, Scotland: my ‘home’

My desire to leave Australia has been so strong, I even had a discussion with my support worker about it, who agreed that I had little to keep me here. I have no friends. I have no family. I have no connection to the land. In fact, the only reason I’m here is because it’s where I’ve ended up. I didn’t even choose to be living in this town, I just ended up here during a particularly unpleasant period of my homelessness. And its hard living somewhere you don’t love. During this conversation with my support worker we wrote a list of pros and cons of staying/returning:

PROS

  • I would be living close to my family
  • I would get to see my niece & nephew for the first time
  • I would be living in Scotland; a country that I am passionate about
  • I would be able to cross off many items of my ‘things to do before I die’ list, as they are related to Scotland
  • Cheese is infinitely better tasting in the UK
  • Free medication
  • Free health care (albeit on the NHS)
  • Good public transport (albeit a trifle expensive)

CONS

  • Benefits situation is complicated. Although I would qualify for job seekers almost immediately I would have to wait two years before applying for disability. And as I’m not stable enough to work or look for work, this could cause problems and potentially leave me income-less.
  • Living with my parents on initial return to UK could prove troublesome as I am so used to living on my own.
  • If things don’t work out with my parents, I would be at risk of being homeless again.
  • Finding accommodation would be difficult, especially on job seekers allowance (which is approx. £60/fortnight)

So at this point in time, the pros of leaving Australia and returning home are winning. So I should go, right? But it’s not as simple as that, because of the risk I would be taking in terms of benefits and accommodation; two areas of life that are at lease stable if I were to remain in Australia, given I have the unit and am a recipient of the Disability Support Pension.

It all comes down to what I mentioned above; do I have the energy to rebuild my life from scratch?

And that’s a question I can’t answer at the moment.

So I’ve decided to turn to you, my wonderful blogging friends. Would you leave somewhere you have no passion for in order to return to where you felt at home? Would you risk homelessness in order to be close to family and friends? Or would you continue living somewhere you dislike, solely because you are the recipient of a reasonable benefit and have somewhere to live?

What would you do in my situation?


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Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside

This weeks WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge is:

Share a photo that says ‘inside’

LochNess-CastleUrquhart

I wonder how many people have stood inside Urquhart Castle and, whilst glancing over
the deep waters of Loch Ness, found themselves asking “are you in there?”

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