Deep Breath

Langston Hughes wrote a famous poem about a dream deferred. I’ve been reciting it in my head a lot during the past month, ever since reality hit in Scotland and it became clear that the pursuit of my sheep farm dream was ending up far unlike I had, well, dreamed it would.

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I spent a lot more time shredding tree branches than tending sheep. Really quite meditative, as jobs go.

But this poem—a brilliant piece of art, go read it if you don’t know it—is about putting off a dream. As Hughes writes, when we put off our dreams, they can dry up, fester, or even explode. It’s scary to put off dreams. But we do it anyway.

Why?

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“What do they need that your talent can provide?”

Today a friend tagged me in a Facebook video of Jim Carrey. In it, he says,

Risk being seen in all your glory. . . . Fear is writing the script, and the working title is I’ll Never Be Enough. . . . How will you serve the world? What do they need that your talent can provide?

All month, my working title has been I’ll Never Be Enough, as I’ve managed to fail at everything they’ve given me to do, and at even understanding them half the time. But today, on my penultimate day of volunteering, I have figured out what they need that my talent can provide.

Beauty.

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Mrs A

No country British home is complete without its Mrs A. She cooks, helps with the laundry, and—most importantly my first few days here—keeps everyone warm.

“You just don’t see these in the States,” I said my first day, cozying up to her with a cup of tea.
“Not even in the countryside?” the other WWOOFer here asked, aghast.

Alas, no. My friends, allow me to introduce Mrs A.

(A is for Aga.)

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On Being Spaintaneous

The year before I studied in Germany, a friend of mine studied in Spain. That semester, she stopped wearing her watch, she stopped worrying as much as we’re both prone to, and she learned how to be spontaneous, or, as she called it, spaintaenous.

What a great way to live.

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Pont du Gard, 2009.

Just like my friend, I typically like to plan things. I like to know where I’m headed and what steps I’ll take to get there. But there’s a big, suppressed part of me that hates being so regimented.

And this week, she won out.

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Trial By Fire

Clearly by my last post, you all know I certainly felt in over my head upon arrival. And it was undoubtedly difficult, especially as someone who doesn’t know how to pace herself or when to quit. I had also forgotten I can experience things like homesickness and loneliness, for all my big talk about about traveling solo. Despite all that, after getting to know my host and hostess better—and realizing just how kind they are—I’ve hit my pace and am well-poised to enjoy the rest of this experience.

And what an experience it is! The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Fest is taking place this weekend, and my hostess and I went to a ceilidh to celebrate. I feel like Lydia Bennet when I say I danced every dance!

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Travail

The difficult moment as a travel writer: Do I write about the negatives?

Yes, travel is wonderful. It opens you up to all new experiences and horizons and ideas and people. But it’s difficult—no coincidence the root of travel is the same as that for travail—and how much of that should I write about?

But you see, this trip is nothing like what I expected.

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Airplanes and Emails and Sheep, Oh My!

If you haven’t seen me in person for a few days, here’s the look that’s been pretty much plastered on my face this whole time:

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This expression, but hopefully less … red. Excuse the photo quality.

Today I took the final step of booking my flights, so it’s official and I can finally announce it: I’m WWOOFing in Scotland this spring!

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