Sunday, 18 December 2016


This became more difficult as the year went on. Partly due to other commitments, and partly as the challenge became harder and I was unable to dedicate the time to research and finding out better paths to take on my progress through the world. I would still like to review this though, and outline some thoughts for my future as well.

Let's consider the months in proper order and through each subject. This might be a rather weighty post, so do bear with!

January: Clava Cairns, Inverness
January was just the beginning: the consideration, what I was going to do and how it was going to happen. Let's leave January for now...

February - what makes me: the foods I eat and the way I eat it:
February: Lichen on a post, unknown location
This has been a major consideration through the year, especially as long-running dietary something became an almost diagnoses of probable IBS. This means that food has been at the forefront of my mind this past year. 
It has become intrinsically linked with how I feel. Poor food, even just food that's linked to wheat, leads to very low energy, bad moods and general poor wellbeing. This, of course, becomes a downward spiral as less and less energy (coupled with a very demanding job and lots of overnight stays) makes it harder and harder to fuel myself properly. 
Food wise, I try to do well, I do buy organic or local when I can, but it's not really worked out very well for me. As I say, a lot of overnighters mean that often my cupboards are empty, and the food relationship becomes more and more skewed. Convenience means I go to the nearest supermarket, Tesco's, and so the local food ideal hasn't really worked out either. 
I'll put this down to a learning process...

March - Externalising; what I put on me and why: 
April: Cycling in Barcelona
This has been a lot more successful, as I've basically stopped using any chemical rich anything on my body. 
Except toothpaste. The search for eco toothpaste just left a bad taste in my mouth, and mouth health is important so I'm leaving that as a compromise at the moment. Lush does do toothy tabs though, which are great for camping etc as you can clean your teeth with very little water. But every day? I still use colgate....
Otherwise it's good: 
Soap: any natural soap I come across on my travels

Make up is a work in progress(ish). I wear makeup so rarely that I don't really replace it that much (is that disgusting?) but when I do replace anything I will be heading to The Body Shop, Lush or the likes to try and get something chemical free. 
Overall I've found this pretty easy: there are good effective products for the skin that are good for the planet too! 

April - How to clean....the home:
April: Female Rannoch Brindled Beauty, Corrimony
I mostly transferred my cleaning to Ecover and Ecloth. Not much to say there- it's not the most interesting of topics, hmm? 

May - Travel and all that jazz. Seeing the world eco-ways:
May: Camping with friends above Sandwood Bay, Sutherland
I didn't really do all. Didn't look into it or anything. It's certainly something to consider, and with the amount of driving I do it's really worth thinking more about how I can reduce miles, be more efficient, or just something. Saying that though, I did take an Advanced Driving course this year and that increased my miles per gallon from 50 to 55, so that's something! Eco-driving.... 

I will think of this more in the future. 

June - Dressing one's self:
Well, this is the one that put a stop to everything. I was doing lots of research and then a discussion with one person really put me off my stride. 
To be honest, I thought I was doing alright here. I don't buy many new clothes: I tend to wear what I do have to the death and then deliver it to charity (and they can get money for it by fabric recycling if it's no good to sell). I also make my own clothes by knitting and sewing, and have been spinning a little. 
June: finding hope in regenerating Alder
I always thought I was quite a conscious clothes consumer. That is, until this conversation when I was explaining I'll no longer buy Converses due to their bad eco-rating (see for more information), and they're response was that they'd heard that you need to keep buying these things otherwise people that are already being treated badly will receive even less wages etc etc. And I cannot explain the number of times that I tried to write this and I tried to figure this out, but it basically just put an absolute stop to this whole #changingmyworld thing - which isn't great for many reasons. 

Surely a challenge is what I wanted? And all of a sudden I was being challenged...

Here's a solution: stop buying these things, but tell the company why. Back up your beliefs with strength and dedication. Follow it through. Write a letter. Explain, and ask for change. And that is something that I am going to do. 

July - My home; energy:
July: on the trail of a toad underwater, Tracking Course, Kindrogan
Well, I did need to change my energy this year but: 
1) The 'green' energy is all much more expensive than the regular energy
2) I have a flatmate who pays half the bills and I do not really see that I should be forcing my ethics on him... 
3) As I work in the sector-ish, I have the understanding that green energy is not always as green as all that - all energy produced goes into the same grid, we all receive the same energy, but we just pay different suppliers. I haven't quite figured out exactly what to do hear, but I do realise that by buying green energy, a consumer is making a statement about what change they want to see, and also putting money into the production of more green energy. 

This is a constant consideration for me, and I think you will all agree it's rather complex. I don't have the answer here, sorry. 

August - Working and changing bad practice:
Close encounter with a curious deer, Dumfries and Galloway
Yeah, not really sure what this means? Does it mean me personally in my work? Or does it mean in the workplace in general. Don't really want to think about work right now so this is getting skipped...Next!!

September - Charitability:
September: Trees for Life heaven in Glen Affric
Give to charity. Next!
Hah. Basically I was going to look into what I give to whom, and who are the most effective charities to use (i.e. donation to charitable function rather than wages of staff etc.) but I've not yet done that....

October - After life and the legacy we leave:
October: Falling in love in Ardnamurchan
Euch, not done this either. Death is weird - the things that happens to our bodies after we die just seems to be ridiculous. Formaldehyde anyone? But...I've not looked into it at all so I have no information. My family are aware that I will want to be buried, within a wicker or cloth casket, and have a tree planted over me. Otherwise, I guess I'll leave that another forty years or so before I consider it again ;)

November - Reduce, reuse, recycle:
November: Discovering the wonders of Marrakech

December - Celebrating with a conscience (and what happens next):
I'm going to ignore the celebrating with a conscience at the moment and jump straight to 'what happens next'. This year I have learned this about myself: 

1) I am a stress non-eater
2) I need to eat well
3) I need to practice yoga on an almost daily basis for me to connect fully and happily with myself
4) Exercise is good good good. I must move every day, climb once a week and do proper cardio once a week as well. 
5) Loneliness is becoming a bit boring - I must work harder to foster friendships and shake off the 'independent hat' and open my heart to other people
6) Loving my job is important to me
7) Nature is a salvation and I must experience nature, outside of work, regularly to feel healthy, happy and whole. 
8) Crafting is important for my sanity. In knitting I witness total relaxation, in creating something beautiful I find peace.
December: Building an otter couch, Highlands

These eight guidelines should help to keep me on the straight and narrow, but this isn't always easy. Maybe 2017 will be about connecting with my self again, soothing out the weaknesses in my chakras and really dedicating myself to becoming whole. 

PS. I guess this post turned into a bit of a pictorial review of the year as well: Each picture was taken within that month (except I visited Barcelona with my sister in April, not March, but apparently I took no photos in March at all *shocked face!*) and with some months being harder than others, these photos show important moments for me. 

It's been a year, it's been a great year in some ways: I've fallen in love with a wonderful man; I've met great people, partied hard and had wonderful conversations long into the night; I've discovered more about myself. But it's also been hard. A great man and amazing friend committed suicide in April, there have been ups and downs with a job that I moved to the Highlands for, and (who knew?!) it turns out it's difficult to start anew in a place and move away from family and friends, especially when times are tough and all you want and need is the familiarity of an old friend. 
August: Nairn beach with a favourite old friend :)

But life battles on regardless. The world has become a strange place this year, but also seems to be forming more of a global community than in the past. Maybe this is the time that we all really do start to change the world. But I could talk till I'm blue in the face, and still the moon shines. The earth turns, the sun shines, the rain falls and the wind blows. We breathe, and we experience and we live. 

And the year again becomes new.  

Friday, 16 December 2016



I have been writing a letter to you for almost eight months now.

Since you decided that your future was not worth the battle.

There is still so much regret about the way things ended - how I should have been the friend to you that you were to me. The advice and help you gave me went a long way towards my own healing, and I only wish that I had been able to help you in the same way.

Know this though: I have your memories, and though I knew you but a short time, I will have those memories forever. Places we went, and of those, Nairn beach is the one that I will always remember the most.

Remember when we visited the beach the day of your diagnoses? You were just back from the doctor and we met up. Went for a walk along the beach. It was a lovely day, bright sunshine in January (very cold as well - you were in shorts and your big blue jacket). It was a slow walk, but I think although the COPD diagnoses was weighing heavily on you, this was before you'd really looked into the disease, and before you'd discovered the worst.

I think you're still here. With the trees, the grass, the clouds and the flowers. I cannot see it any other way: We come from stardust, and we return to the earth, and I hope that you found your peace. The people you left behind may never know the answer to that, but I think that that's what we have to believe.

This letter is for you, but it's also for me.

I want to say thank you. For what you gave me - thank you. 

You are often in my thoughts, and as another winter comes around, as does the anniversary of our friendship, your diagnoses, your travels and all to soon, your death, it brings a moment of reflection and thought, and a realisation - you will never be forgotten; for the brightest lights still shine when all else fades.



I dropped my car off at the garage this morning and walked home - back in time to do some computing work while the garage carried out the work, and then back by the same path to collect the car once it was ready.

Both walks, I took the most direct path, which, luckily for me, leads me through woodland. Inverness is a very green city, I feel, but it is still a city and living in the suburbs can take its toll. City or not, the walks were magnificent - a bright spot in what has otherwise been a challenging week.

It's almost the time for Christmas, and there's a feeling of wanting to just curl up and hibernate this winter away. It's not cold really, though there has been a biting wind. There's just a tiredness deep inside that comes for many reasons, and doesn't easily disappear.

The cure? Nature. To step outside and feel the wind in my hair. To hear the birds sing as I did this morning. To smell the cold frost and all the scents. And yet sometimes, to reach nature in the way I need becomes part of the challenge. To stomp, to get out of breath, to laugh, to dance over stones - sometimes that feels completely out of reach. I think I need a challenge again. To find my feet again, and to listen to the stars.

Glen Affric winter camping Coire Loch