Friday, 30 December 2011


Less than 40 hours ago I was doing that thing that I've always wondered how people do. I was on the CalMac ferry leaving Iona, leaving my home, leaving my friends and my lifelines. But, you know what, it was ok. Even though I have no idea what I am going on to next. Even though I am leaving the place, and more than that, the people I love. Even though I have to make a new life for myself. Even though I don't yet know when I will go back.

Sometimes emotions disappear, and 40 hours ago they did just that - blank. There were tears shed. But not in the way I may have expected, after watching so many people leave on that ferry before me. They were shed mainly because I was being taken away from the most important people in my life. But even that didn't quite feel real enough to really hit home to wherever it is emotions hide inside.

In another 40 hours time, or even 400 hours time, I can bet those emotions will come rushing and hit hard then. My heart feels quite broken after leaving and I know soon it will start to make more sense.

"Sometimes we sorrow, other times embrace,
sometimes we question everything we face;
yet in our yearning is deeper learning:
we belong to God, we belong to God."

And now I am in Edinburgh, adjusting to life in a busy (well, compared to Iona) city, driving in traffic, starting up a house for the first time in my life, living with someone I've never lived with before (though known for years), hunting for a church to feel comfortable in (eventually), applying for jobs and universities and colleges (ah, deadlines), reconnecting with friends, trying to stay in touch with friends around the world (thank you internet), cooking for myself, getting up in the morning with no official things to do each day... etc etc.

From here, I expect emotions and visitors... please.

"Mayenziwe 'ntando yakho."
"Your will be done on earth, O Lord."

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Monday, 12 December 2011

What you do with what you've got...

"What's the use of two good legs if you only run away
What's the use of the finest voice if you've nothing good to say
What good is strength and muscle if you only push and shove
And what's the use of two good ears if you can't hear those you love"

Songs mean various things at various points in your life. It's amazing how you can take new things from them each time you listen depending on where you're at in your life...

"It's not what you're born with
It's what you choose to bear
It's not how big your share is
It's how much you can share
It's not the fights you dreamed of
It's those you really fought
It's not what you're given
It's what you do with what you've go"

Eddi Reader - What you do with what you've got

Tuesday, 6 December 2011


What can you see?
What can I see?
What can we see together?

Do you ever see something that you don't quite want to be true?

Do you ever see something that you want to be true yet know isn't?

Whether it's actually seeing with your eyes, or experiencing something in other ways; through thoughts, emotions, sounds...

Do the things that we see change the way that we act, we react?

Do the things that we see change the way we think, we feel?

Whether it's a simple action or a change of life direction. Whether it's a flying thought or a long term dream.

And more to the point, how do we deal with what we see? Sometimes what we see is right. Sometimes what we see is wrong. Sometimes what we see is somewhere in between. But how do we deal with these things?

If there are answers, surely they don't follow any one rule. Answers on a postcard.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Old And New Eyes

Looking on at a difficult situation with 'new eyes' can be challenging, heart wrentching, exhausting, testing, emotionally draining... The list could go on. Looking back on a situation with 'new eyes' can be just the same.

How do we deal with this? How do we deal with our own expectations; expectations of ourselves, expectations of others, expectations of a situation?  How do we comprehend all that goes on within us, mind and soul? How do we make sure that our 'new eyes' don't take away from the experiences that our 'old eyes' had?

Our 'old eyes' saw something great and embraced it, our 'new eyes' see something great turned in to a challenge to deal with, yet still needing to be embraced.


A lot has happened lately. A lot is happening. A lot will soon happen. This is life.

I just now have many questions about dealing with all of this, good or bad, positive or negative, old or new. Not so much answers to be looked for, but questions to continue to be asked.


Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Feels Like Home To Me

When walking along a very familiar beach, with very familiar people, watching a very familiar sunset, a very old familiar song popped in to my head.
"Feels like home to me. Feels like I'm all the way back where I come from."
And that was right, that is right. But the strange thing is, it's also right that I'm leaving this place.
No more familiar walks along the Machair watching the sunset with these people again. Not like this anyway.

Monday, 31 October 2011


Where would you expect me to be when thinking about the above things? In the maintenance shed whilst picking paint for work? In the kitchen whilst cooking? In the guest rooms whilst making beds? Out shopping? Looking at the Argos catalogue or on Amazon?

Nope. In church. Yes, not only in church, but in the leader's desk while leading a service.

Do you think you can get so used to something to the point you get blasé, even when you're the one leading it? Clearly so!

2 years living in community with 2 services every day, 9am and 9pm...

Is it a wonder at times I switch off and my mind wanders? Not really.

But is that such a bad thing? To me: not really. You can't always engage with everything all of the time. Can you? If you can, I don't think you're a true human. End of.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Music for the soul

Lately I have listened to a lot of music, and have also started to play my guitar again. I have even written a new song in the last week. Life is changing. Fast. Sometimes music feels stable.

Tonight I have been listening to the Wailin' Jennys. For a few reasons/memories I find them tricky to listen to. But after a 'jukebox' last night with some friends I was challenged to listen to them again. So here I am.

"Take me where the angels are close at hand
Take me where the ocean meets the sky and the land
Show me to the wisdom of the evening star
There's only one way to mend a broken heart"

Short post as I don't have many words tonight. Bed.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Memories and dreams

So I went for a wander this afternoon up to St Anthony's Chapel...

It was a lovely sunny afternoon, although not by the time I got up the hill! The only annoying this was that there were people there. People? How dare they!

In my sight there was the castle, the Scott Monument, Calton Hill, the football stadium, the sea, Fife, power stations, houses, the city centre, Dynamic Earth, a pond full of happy ducks... The list goes on. Some of it doesn't sound so lovely, and to be honest it isn't that lovely. But some of it is lovely. And if you put the lovely and the not so lovely together, you get Edinburgh.

There's many memories up there There's many dreams looking out from it. With less than 12 weeks left on Iona before moving back to Edinburgh, it's hard to try to mix those memories and dreams together.

There's a theme in my blogs and general life lately - leaving Iona. Did you guess?! Guess what's taking up my mind right now! There's an awful lot more in there, but this is the easiest stuff to share I guess. Dum dee dum!

Memories and dreams,
Mine and yours.
Memories and dreams,
Challenging and rewarding.
Memories and dreams,
For now and always.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Back and Forward

Looking back
Looking forward
Looking here
Looking there

Feeling back
Feeling forward
Feeling here
Feeling there

How do we know if we are looking and feeling back, or if we are looking and feeling forward?
How do we tell apart those times when we look forward from skewed memories?

I found myself today in a shop in Tobermory looking at awe at a very colourful and stripey rug. Two of my favourite colours matched beautifully. The blue stood out as I found myself saying 'that's the colour my bedroom used to be' and then just a minute later saying 'that will match the colour I want my room to be' ... so although I don't officially have anywhere to live come January yet, here I found myself buying a rug for that place I will live. The first item I have bought intentionally for my flat.

Memories are mixed with looking forward.

I found myself today online looking at past blog posts of people close to me, wishing I could ask questions about them and knowing I can't. How many times in our lives do we want to experience things we know we can't?

As my time to leave Iona seems to be ever closer, with only 6 weeks of season guests left, I find myself trying to experience things - maybe for the first time, maybe just again. I know I will be back, but never at this time with these people. So often this place is only made what it is because of the people it has in it. And when the people change, the place changes. More than anywhere else I know. And that's what makes it so special, so unique. And those people mean the world to you. How do you carry those memories forward in to a different life, away from here, away from them, away from what you know? And more importantly, how do you carry those people forward, as you venture on to new things, and still keep that connection and relationship that you have here? Do you? Maybe there is no way to know without trying...

So, the memories need to stay strong, yet the 'forwards' needs to begin...

Looking and feeling back... looking and feeling forwards... they are linked all of the time. If they weren't linked, we wouldn't have a life story to tell...

Monday, 12 September 2011


Outside is calling.
The rain is falling.
The wind is blowing.
The birds are flying.
This girl is aching
To fly.

In 3 days time I will turn 22. In less than 16 weeks time I will be sailing on a one way ticket on the CalMac ferry away from Iona.

Outside is calling.

Each day I get asked:

How does it feel? Exciting.

How does it feel? Scary.

How does it feel? A bit 'big' and 'real'.

How does it feel? Like I'm leaving my home.

How does it feel? Like I'm returning home.

How does it feel? Uncertain.

Each day the answer will change. Maybe even each hour. There is no one answer.

Yes I am unsure and concerned and feel like I'm leaving my entire life behind. But I am excited, eager and ready to be in the 'world' again.

I've learnt a lot, I've lived a lot, I've become a lot. I want to use those things elsewhere. Where? Doing what? With who? Well, I don't know! But that will be ok. Whatever it is, that'll be ok.

There will be tears and laughter. There will be joys and sorrows. There will be loss and gain. There will be heartache and mending.

It won't be an easy adjustment and it won't be one that I make overnight; it will take quite some time for it to feel 'normal'. But I want that to happen, I need that to happen. I need to adjust and evaluate and learn and seek and find and lose and break and mend and get lost and find my feet.

How else can you live life?

Thursday, 30 June 2011

The 'Real World'

The 'Real World' - Thoughts from a drugged up girl!!

What is the 'real world'? Where is the 'real world'? Who is in the 'real world'?

We were sat watching "Friend Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe" last night (just what you need after a morning at the dentist!) and some of the things in that film made me wonder. I know that I am thinking a lot about the 'real world' at the moment, because in 6 months time I will finish my job on Iona and have to go elsewhere, do something else, be with other people... It's an uneasy thought just now.

"I wouldn't be afraid of death if I was you. I'd be more afraid of driving in rush hour traffic."

Is this what the world is like? Do we have to be afraid of driving in rush hour traffic? Surely there are bigger things in the world that we can try to change. I don't think rush hour should be a priority of ours to avoid and be afraid of in our daily life. We can't avoid death. We all know that. We can avoid rush hour. We all know that. So why do we become afraid of things that actually we can change, with a bit of effort?

I'm slightly afraid of the idea of living in a city after living on a very small remote island for two years. So, I won't be afraid. I will change my life so I don't have to live in a city centre. Yes, I will likely still live somewhere busy and loud, but maybe I can avoid the centre of town where I find it too much. I love the city. But at this moment in time I don't love it to live in, just to be in it. What's wrong with living out of town and commuting in if I need to?

But the biggest worry is who. Who do I live with? Who else would like to live out of the city centre, where there are more fields and birds than ambulances and shops? After living in community for two years, where we live together in a small space, where we eat together, where we work together, where we worship together, where we socialise together, where we cook together, where everything we do revolves around the people around us, where those people may not be people we'd naturally choose to live with and share our lives with - who do we live with and share life with after here? How do we balance time with each person in our life? How do we balance time for ourselves? How do we balance work and social life? It's hard here to do all of that. Very hard. But is it harder here, or harder there? Where is there? Anywhere that isn't here, in the present time and space.

I think I could blab here for quite some time, releasing thoughts and emotions and feelings and concerns and joys... But I only really wanted to make a couple of points...

Wherever or whatever the 'real world' is - it's up to us, individually and collectively. The work, the people, the worship, the socialising, the place... it's all the 'real world' for us each day. Whatever we make our lives - that is what is 'real'.

We don't have to be afraid of things we can change, we can influence, we can amend. There are things we can't change and things we can change. It's our decision to be afraid, or not. The changes we make can be what we are afraid of, and then we can take responsibility of why we are afraid of them.

"See, now is a time for courage. I guess you already know that there are angels masquerading as people walking around this planet..."

Share life and be life, and it will be real.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Wing & A Prayer

When I returned from 4 nights off island I came back to a magazine in the post for Greenbelt Angels and Volunteers:

Wing & A Prayer

Inside this magazine there are articles titled:
The world is changing

Dreams of Home

Whole life

Ancient & Modern

Dying to Live

Not one of these titles didn't mean something to me at a quick glace, before I had time to sit and read it. Not many of the articles inside relate at all to what my original thoughts on those titles were, but it's an interesting lesson in how the individual mind works; turning the matters of many in to matters of one.

The world changes so much, yet can I keep up with it in any way? After being off island for only 4 days I realised how much of the 'news' I have missed out on lately. I've known the major headlines, but any information in detail? Nope. How, in an ever changing island community, do you keep up to date with the ever changing world that surrounds you?

Often here we get asked where we are from, or where home is. That question gets harder to answer each time a guest asks. After 1 years and 3 months on Iona, I would say Iona is my home. After only 1 day I think I would have said that. But Iona is only home for a brief moment in time; not forever. It's an ever changing place that people come to and leave again; it's the way it works here. So where is home? Edinburgh is where is home for me, I guess. I was brought up there for most of my life and I know it better than anywhere else; it feels comfortable and known. But maybe home is about the people too, not just places? Dreams of home... Who do those dreams include?

My thoughts could continue on the rest of the titles but I may need at least another hour to type out background information too, and sadly I don't have time for that. But it was interesting to me; to come home and find Wing & A Prayer in my pigeon hole and what thoughts and emotions that led to. Maybe a Wing & A Prayer is what it feels like I'm living by right now...

Sunday, 13 March 2011


Being unable to speak is an interesting thing.
Made more interesting by emotions and feelings.
Made more interesting by events and tasks.
Made more interesting by people and community.
Made more interesting by the want to help.
Made more interesting by the want to say goodbye.
Made more interesting by the conversations around.
Being unable to speak is an interesting thing.

Sunday, 6 February 2011


As many of you will know, my mum struggled with her fight against cancer and died in March 2008. Obviously this had a major impact on my life, and an impact that would never be possible to be put in to words. Throughout her time of illness she was helped by Macmillan Cancer Support ( in various ways. Her nurse was great with her, and the people we met in the hospital were lovely and cared for us, as well as her, at a time of need. There's no way I can get the life of my mum back, and I couldn't deal with that happening for many reasons. I don't feel up for a religious/moral debate just now, however! There's no way I can pay back Macmillan for the work that they did, or Maggies Cancer Care Centres for their influence, or the Borders General Hospitial or anyone else for that matter. So, I won't try to pay them back but I will try to support them in their work now, and in the future. Already each month I donate to Macmillan but every so often I feel that it is time to do something more and make an effort. A direct debit doesn't take much out of me!


That is what is going to happen. On the 13th March 2011, I will be having a designated quiet day. I say 'silence' and not silence, because although my mouth will not be leading to words, my phone won't be leading to texts, my laptop won't be leading to emails, I shall still have thoughts, feelings and emotions to live with. They, to me, are not silent.

This date marks the first Sunday in lent, my last Sunday off work until November and the 3 year anniversary of the day my mum made her way to comfort. What can I learn from this day? Isn't life about learning? Every day we learn, and on this day I am challenging myself more than normal to learn in new ways. To learn about the world, communication, faith, relationships, worship, support, empathy, heaven, listening, earth, words, myself... The list is endless. Learning.

Please, if you would like to help me in my quiet day and would like to help Macmillan continue to work they do, follow this link: If you would like to donate cash/cheque, please speak to me. If you would like to support through written word, prayer, song, quiet with me, or anything else, it'd be lovely to know. No matter how you support, even if it is just to read this, then thank you.

Friday, 21 January 2011


Isn't it amazing how songs can bring back so many memories? Memories of feelings, emotions, friends, moments in time, family, food, learning, creating, becoming.

Tonight I have had my iPod on shuffle. 2042 songs. I think I likely listen to about 100 regularly. Not 2000. It's nice to use the shuffle options to find out what bizarre music I have. I don't remember some of it at all, which likely means it's either off a compilation album, or something I've been given and never quite got round to listening to. I do remember a lot of it.

In the last half an hour I've been transported from being in my Religious Education classroom at lunch break to being at the Edinburgh Tattoo. I've gone from being at the North End beach on Iona to being in Canada. I've been from driving around in Edinburgh to sitting on a tube in London.

I love it. I love music. I love the places it takes me to. I must discover more music. I must discover more of the world.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

A Wee Update

So I've just been chatting to a friend and realised that I haven't really updated my blog or anything lately to say what has actually been going on in my life. I like to write about thought provoking things, but maybe writing about daily things is good too!

Christmas happened. That's enough of that. Nah, not really! Christmas was mad. The guests were mad. The vollies were mad. The ressies had gone mad by this point in the year. Mad in a good way! It was quite a busy week with lots of work to do and was the hardest Christmas I've had out of the 4 I've been on Iona for, but I wouldn't have changed it.

New Year was nice and quiet. Julie, Eilidh and I had some nice drinks and nibbles at home, and then ventured down to the village hall for the bells to join the Hogmany party. It was nice to be out with the locals and celebrate the New Year together. This new year felt different for me - it wasn't just the start of a new year but the start of a new job.

On January 1st I started the year by leading the morning service and then spent the next three days finishing my handover notes and starting on some major housekeeping tasks. If I really haven't spoken to you in a while, you won't realise that I'm changing jobs! 2010 I was the Hospitality Team Support Worker, working in both the Mac and the Abbey doing kitchen and housekeeping. 2011 I am the Abbey Housekeeper. It's actually quite a big change. Although I know the job day to day and have worked in Abbey Housekeeping a lot, there's a lot I'd like to do with the job and the centre. Change to come!

So after those three days, I hopped on a ferry in the morning and ended up in Edinburgh later that day being greeted by Becki who had just come up from Kent, and my dad who came to pick us up. For the next 6 days, we chilled out in Edinburgh. Stayed in bed till all hours of the afternoon, went down to Newcastle to meet a friend and walk some dogs, did some shopping, went for a night at Heather & Maurice's flat, had Epiphemas (Christmas celebration just after Epiphany!), went to 24hour Asda and, well, had a lovely week in general :) It was exactly the escape I needed.

Now I'm back on Iona, working away and keeping busy. After many goodbyes at the end of last year, it's got to the time of hellos. The person who will be the Hospitality Team Support Worker this year has now arrived, so it feels a bit strange to be helping with the training of the person doing my job. I'll get used to it when I'm fully in to my new job! Someone who was a vollie last year is now back as a ressie, so it's great to have her back. Feels good. Looking forward to more new ones arriving later this month, including Becki who I was in Edinburgh with and Joanne who was also a vollie last year.

Anyway, it's now the weekend and so it's time off. Just had my dinner made for me and now watching Modern Family. Early to bed...