New year in an unfamiliar, indifferent place

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If there’s one thing I know about myself, it’s that I’m not afraid of change.

If anything, I’m a touch too far in the opposite direction – relishing change, constantly looking to bring it about in my life, whether that’s through incessant planning, sabotaging things just as they’re beginning to work, or taking weird little risks all the time…just to see what happens.

When I couple this with a powerful desire to ground, to put down some roots and physically build a life with my love and my cats… well, it’s a difficult combination to manage. Blame my busy-brained, ever-aspiring Aquarius sun fighting down my yearning Capricorn moon, or blame nothing, that’s just how it is. A battlefield in the stars that’s mostly exhilarating and joyful, and from time to time just bewildering and exhausting.

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Change is winning out right now, but the grounding is built in. On Monday, I move north, far far north, to the Isle of Skye. Em and I visited for less than 48 hours last month, and something got under my skin. Something damp and wild and peaty and delicious. On the first day of the new year we rose at dawn, jumped into the car and headed back, that stunning nine hour drive through the Highlands, the dazzling wilderness of Glen Coe, so many freezing lochs and snow-capped peaks, the highest places in Britain, over the sea, to an island born of a volcano in the South Seas, that over 350 million years found its way to the north Atlantic and is ever moving towards Norway.

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The places here have ancient names that hint at their ancient Nordic and Gaelic roots. Aardvasar, Taskavaig, Torkavaig, Ord. Scurr na Stri (‘Peak of Strife’), Galtrigill, Kilmaluag, Elgol, Uig. They’re weird and beautiful in my mouth, unfamiliar, old, existing indifferently, here in the north. It’s…something else.

We found a garden, overgrown with herbs and stone and tiny wooden homes built from found things, and a woman with a dream to share and teach and build. I’m back in Manchester now, just for a few days, preparing to move back to Rubha Phoil for the remainder of the winter. I’ll make myself useful, dig, clear, tidy and paint, and live on a caravan down on the rocky shore where I can watch the sun come up over those Highland mountains across the sea each morning.

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Why? To ground. To turn off the computer, to unplug from the internet, to spend more time working with the earth than sitting at a desk, to watch the season change in a wild and foreign landscape.

It’s difficult not to be full of questions, and more, to be searching for answers, to be trying to pin things down into plans, resolutions, decisions. But that’s precisely my challenge. I’m going to Skye to simply be there, not as part of any grander scheme. Perhaps I’ll work the winter, and leave when the light returns. Perhaps I’ll stay a year and see the land through one complete cycle. Perhaps I’ll never come home.

Who knows. Who cares? Really though – why must I care about that? Now is a moment for being in that moment. That’s all I need to know.

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31 comments

  1. Danielle says:

    EXCITING!!!

    have you read jeanette winterson’s lighthousekeeping? you should, because she’s amazing, but also because the lighthouse in question is up at cape wrath/am parbh and that seems fitting for yr new adventure!

    • Beth says:

      Ahh, nice recommendation! I haven’t read it but it’s high time I had Jeanette Winterson back in my life…I’ll grab a copy. Thanks! xx

  2. Mara says:

    Maybe it’s the sun in Aquarius in me too (that Sagi moon doesn’t help), but I always craved that restless, rootless, wandering freedom. The ability to say that for now you are here and nowhere else, but who’s to say you’ll stay and who’s to say you’ll go? Even as a kid, my “life plan” was to never settle down, to always be flexible and able to travel. Bit ironic then that I ended up a housebound recluse, but life is strange that way.

    It’s good to find some time to put your feet in the dirt, even if it is new dirt. Sometimes that’s just what you need. Here’s to your new challenges and new beginnings. 🙂

  3. Dana Marie says:

    Just reading this post filled me with wanderlust! The Isle of Skye has been on my to-visit list for ages. Best of luck on your latest adventure – I hope it brings you even more than you were looking for 🙂

  4. Jen says:

    The way you live your life is so inspiring! I love reading about and seeing your adventures… you remind me to strive to be more adventurous!! xo

  5. Bobby says:

    I envy you sooo much…. My mum is a highlander and that country is deep in my blood… the past few months Skye has come up again and again and I long to re-visit and stay a while… soon… ! Go well… I just read my resolutions from last January on your blog and I succeeded with 8/11… not bad going! This year I am going to ut in lace on the new Moon xoxo

  6. Beth Cummings says:

    Your comment below has me wondering if you will still be active on Little Red Tarot.

    “Why? To ground. To turn off the computer, to unplug from the internet, to spend more time working with the earth than sitting at a desk, to watch the season change in a wild and foreign landscape.”

    I don’t like change when communications from my favorite tarot wise woman is disrupted.

    It sounds great for you though, a soothing and restful place. Go for it and follow your bliss.

    • Beth says:

      Aw, thanks Beth. I won’t be completely offline and I plan to keep blogging – I just want my days to be structured around something other than sitting at a computer. I have a few different ideas for Little Red Tarot this year which I’ll be sharing soon.

  7. I am SUCH a city girl–there’s no way I could ever do that, but I’m also not a regular city girl. I need escapes to places like this once a month or more to stay truly in my highest self. Your adventure sounds amazing and I know YOU will be so much better for it. I can’t wait to see what writing pops out of you once settled!

  8. Mel says:

    I always think of the Altered Images song ‘I Could Be Happy’ where she sings “I’d go to Skye on my holiday, I could be happy, I could be happy” 😉 Feeling very envious (in a good way) hearing about your new adventure. I wonder how many other people out there want to leave their computers, SmartPhones and what not for a while and just ‘be’. Old school fun hey 🙂 Enjoy – and hope to hear about this at some point.

  9. Enjoy your adventure, it sounds wonderful. Does it mean you won’t be blogging for a while. If it does, I’m going to miss them. But what wonderful stories you’ll have to tell when you’re back.

    • Beth says:

      I’ll still be blogging, for sure! It’s only a partial unplug…I’m looking forward to doing lots of writing too 🙂

  10. Ellen says:

    Now that’s what I call following your gut’s instinct. I Wish you a wonderful time, filled with magic and inspiration
    Big Hug

  11. Alba says:

    Well done Beth! We should all be ready to grab life chances such as this (or create them). Here’s another reading recommendation: The Wild Places by Robert MacFarlane, if you haven’t read it. Much of it is about Scotland, and the author’s attitude seems to fit your adventures 🙂

  12. How fun! I am jealous of your opportunity to travel around and wish I could inject more opportunities to roam into my own life. I definitely have the self employment thing going, but have a settled partner w/ a traditional job – so going seems more difficult.

    I hope you enjoy the gardening/farming experience. The journey sounds wonderful and your willingness to just see what comes of it seems like a nice dose of healthy change. Have fun!

  13. Vera says:

    Beth! It made me smile so much to see your post – and I’m left breathless by how beautiful your writing is. I was sitting at my work desk at 2PM, basically, wishing I were driving through Glen Coe again, visiting the Isle of Skye, and making my own roots in such a beautiful place. Your photos made my heart ache for it!

    I really hope you’ll be able to ground yourself again there – that’s definitely starting the new year right. Have a lovely, lovely time x

  14. (Ms.) Kyle McKenzie says:

    Skye is where I’ve always wanted to go, since our family story is that my grandfather, who immigrated to the US, had some connection to a MacKenzie castle there. All I remember is a photo from National Geographic with an intriguing caption! I’m happy for you, and wish you many exciting and wonderful times there!

    • Beth says:

      Wow, well you sure have a very Scottish sounding name Kyle! (Kyle of Lochalsh is the mainland town where the Skye Bridge touches down. I believe ‘kyle’ means narrow, or strait.)

  15. Isabelle says:

    This really resonated with me. I always get serious wanderlust this time of year, so next week I’m going away for four days on my own to a cottage. I’m going to write for most of my time there, to build up some inspiration for my next art project. It’s going to be glorious isolation in the middle of the countryside. Not as ambitious as moving to Skye! but I’m 18 so small steps – this will be my first time living on my own, if only for a long weekend 🙂

  16. Marianne says:

    I just have to point out that I’m a Capricorn sun with an Aquarius moon, and I feel like I have exactly the opposite problem! Yearning for adventure, and yet… just loving sitting on the same old couch with a cup of tea, uninterrupted. It’s so funny to know that someone is experiencing that in exact reverse!

    • Beth says:

      Wow, that’s really interesting! I really feel caught in a tug-o-war between the two signs (I’m 22nd January, so only just made it into Aquarius, if I’d been born a day or two earlier I would have been Capricorn myself). It would be fun to talk about how your opposite experience pans out in day-to-day life Marianne…

      • Marianne says:

        That IS interesting – you’re right on the cusp, it is a real tug of war! I’m the 25th of December, so almost a Sag, but I’m not sure that has much of a role to play in my MO. My poor Capricorn is very bossy and dominant, squarely sat on that couch, but she has to be, because between my moon Aquarius and my rising Pisces I’m forever making lists that never get crossed off! Anyway, we should definitely compare notes sometime 🙂

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