“What the heart has once owned, it shall never lose.”
– Henry Ward Beecher
If you are in receipt of my previous newsletters,, you know that I’m back from leading my Scottish Highlands & Islands Odyssey and my fellow ‘Odyssey-ites’ (sixteen) and I had the most wonderfilled, magical, transformative time, ever!
Whenever I talk about the experience, people respond with a deep sigh and say, “I wish I could have been there.”
Therefore, I decided to share my day-to-day Odyssey experiences with you through a series of newsletters. Every few days, I’ll post an account with photos of our amazing adventure.
Please click on the link below to visit my website if you would like to view any content that you may have missed, and please feel free to email me any questions or comments.
Lots of Joy,
October 3-11, 2014
Scottish Highlands and Islands Odyssey
(Odyssey– a spiritual quest of self-discovery; a journey home)
Friday, October 10th – Day 7, This love will carry…
Accepting Nicky’s invitation, at eleven o’clock on a beautiful sunny morning, ten of us met her in our hotel lobby for a mini walking tour of Edinburgh and a visit to the Scottish National Gallery, home to her favorite painting and one of the best fine art collections in the world.
As Nicky led us out of the hotel and down the street, I said to Nicky, “You’re on a bus man’s holiday!” She laughed and replied that she indeed was, “I don’t want to be away from you and I don’t want the Odyssey to end. Besides, I love showing people how beautiful my home is.”
We knew what she meant. As excited as we were to see the sites and visit the art museum, we really wanted what she wanted–to stay within the beauty and magic of out time together, forever.
As we stood across the street from Princes Street Gardens, she pointed out the details on the beautiful 200 foot tall monument of renowned author, Sir Walter Scott. Her Simple, yet passionate description of the monument and why he is Scotland’s beloved national bard made him come alive to us. As she drew our attention to other wonderful and wondrous sites, I realized again how happy and blessed we all were to be in Scotland with our great gift of a friend and guide, Nicky.
I love art museums and the Scottish National Gallery does not disappoint! It’s one of the most diverse art museums I’ve visited and entry into it is free of charge! You can get up close and personal with the great works housed in this temple of creativity without an alarm going off or a bored museum guard cautioning you against getting too close to the art work.
It was with this unaccustomed permission to study the details of the magnificent works we encountered that we came upon the brilliant work of Phoebe Anna Traquair. She was an amazing modern artist who worked in all mediums, one of them being textiles. Her four large– 29″w x 71″h– ‘paintings’ of the tale of Dionysus, entitled, “The Progress of the Soul,” are phenomenal in and of themselves and even more so when we realized each of the four scenes was illustrated not with paint but by embroidering silk, gold and silver threads onto linen cloth– stunning! For those of us who are Tarot adepts, we could easily see a Major Arcana Tarot card in each scene!
And just a few feet away in the same corridor, we came upon the motivation for our excursion, the original painting of John Duncan’s iconic depiction of angels transporting St. Bride from the Isle of Iona to Bethlehem to attend the birth of Christ. We crowded around Nicky and the painting, and as she pointed out all of the great and quirky little details that made this rendering so special, it was easy to see why this was her favorite painting. It became ours, too. How could it not? In addition to being a fine work of art, it carried the spiritual energy of one of the most beautiful places that we’d visited, the sacred Isle of Iona.
After a bit, we made our way to the museum gift shop where we each bought a small copy of the St. Bride painting. I bought photographs of Phoebe Anna Traquair’s four embroideries and I noticed that Louise was buying the book of her artwork. As I wondered if I should do the same, Nicky again asked my opinion on something else she was buying. Then Jan asked my advice about a gift she wanted to get for her aunt and I happily shifted my attention to her quandary. As a clothing and costume designer and image stylist, I love matching people up with the adornments that reflect their magnificence.
Jan had decided her aunt would like one of the unique and beautiful scarves made of Harris Tweed and velvet. They were lovely and ‘covet worthy’ and I wondered if I should get one for myself. I intuitively got that I shouldn’t, so I asked Jan about her aunt, what her likes and dislikes were, whether she was conservative or adventurous, creative or intellectual and other questions that would help me match her personality to the right scarf. Jan bought the scarf I’d recommended and I was happy that I’d helped someone get a really gorgeous Scottish fashion statement/keepsake.
Our next stop was Coda, a music shop with an extensive catalog of Gaelic and Celtic music. When the owner asked how we’d found out about his shop, he was very pleased to hear Nicky explain that we were from the States and had asked to be taken to the best music store in Edinburgh, so she’d brought us to him. Knowledgeable and charming, he happily answered our questions and advised us on our choices as we stocked up on the wonderful music that Nicky and Les had played for us when we were on the ‘road.’
From there we moved on to a mini tour of the monuments in the courtyard of Edinburgh Castle. I liked the castle courtyard. It had a great view of the city, was part of a castle, and the building on its left side was “The Witchery,” the restaurant we were going to have lunch in later. On its right was a weaving mill where they wove and sold authentic clan tartan fabric! I love a great fabric shopping experience as much as I love a good meal with friends. Wow– a castle, dear friends, a good restaurant and a fabric mill– bliss!
After lunch, Nicky went on her way, promising to meet us later that evening at the restaurant where we were going to have our Farewell dinner. The rest of us spontaneously headed down Canongate and found ourselves back at the magical Wyrd Shop where another miracle occurred.
A week previous, when we’d been in the shop, Linda P. had asked for a particular fairy Tarot deck. The owner looked for it, and surprised at not finding it, concluded that it must have been sold. This visit, a week later, when Linda P. entered the shop, he handed her the deck, explaining that it had fallen out of sight behind the counter and when he found it, he’d saved it for her, knowing she’d be back for it! How did he know that!? We didn’t even know we were going there until a few minutes before we arrived!
We continued enjoying being in each other’s company, shopping and Edinburgh. At length, I came upon another really great tartan fabric shop. I left the group and entered into a wonderful world of authentic Harris Tweed and other uniquely Scottish textiles. In addition to having the best tartan fabric I’d seen, they gave a discount if purchases were made with US dollars. Being the generous person that I am, I felt I had to help them out. And help them out I did! Inspired by these beauties, I knew I’d be using them in my upcoming line of Tarot bags and totes.
Back at the hotel, several of us met in the lobby for the walk to the restaurant where we’d have our Farewell dinner. It being a ‘frock opportunity,’ I wore a dress and tartan sash I’d made for the occasion along with my beautiful black cloak. Upon seeing me, Maria dubbed me, ‘Miss Scotland.’ By now, the trek to the restaurant and through the neighborhood were familiar to us and we shared a comradery that only people who’ve experienced a lot together can.
Nicky met us there and there were hugs all around. James, Jan, Amanda, Pam, Heather and Linda P. were already there. As I took my seat at the head of the table, I noticed a box to my left in front of Linda P. “Great,” I thought, “she’s bought something lovely and wants to show it to us!” After making sure Nicky was seated on my right, I left the dining room to check with the manager about something. As I waited for him, I heard the joyful noise coming from the large party in the other dining room. I noticed the servers pouring champagne into champagne flutes and sighed with envy. I’d wanted us to celebrate with champagne, too, but because my intuitive voice had vetoed that idea, I was at least happy that someone was going to be enjoying the ‘nectar of the gods’ that evening.
After speaking with the manager, I again took my seat at the head of the table. I noticed that the box that I’d assumed was Linda P.’s was now on the table in front of me. Before I could ‘compute’ the meaning of that, the servers entered our dining room carrying the very same champagne flutes I’d seen them filling! As they handed out the glasses, Jan told me to open the box.
Stunned, I followed instructions and there inside were the Phoebe Anna Traquair art book I’d seen Louise buying and the beautiful velvet and Harris Tweed scarf I’d helped Jan choose for her ‘aunt!’ Nicky leaned over and whispered, “My job was to distract you when we were in the museum gift shop.”
James stood up and told the story of our journey, acknowledging everyone by name for their contribution and then he turned to me and thanked me on behalf of everyone on the Odyssey for creating the opportunity and leading us on and through a life-changing adventure. Several other Odyssey-ites also commented and expressed their feelings.
By this time, it was all I could do to not completely lose it and burst into tears of love, gratitude and joy. Even though tears had started to fall, I told myself that if I could just hold back the rest of them, I’d probably be able to make it through the evening without dissolving into a puddle of elated emotion. And I might have made it too, if Jan hadn’t stood up and announced that the lyrics of the song she was about to play expressed the feelings of all of the Odyssey-ites towards me. She then pushed a button on her iPad and the song “For Good” from the Broadway play, ‘Wicked,’ reverberated throughout the room and my heart.
It was all I could do not to put my head in my hands and sob from sheer joy. The only time I recall being that happy in every aspect of my being was when I arrived at Ganeshpuri ashram in India several years before. I cried then, too. Then, just as now, I’d been instructed by the Divine every step of the way to walk in love, trust, faith and courage and I had done it. I had followed the word of God and the people who were to walk with me, had also listened to the God in their hearts and showed up. There are no words that can describe the exquisiteness of the feeling of following the word of God and being the conduit for the message of love, hope and the opportunity for people to transform their lives and see themselves as God sees them– wonderful, loving and deserving of the very best. Divinely guided, I’d taken the opportunity provided me and I knew that I would continue the life-changing work I’d begun on this magical, blessed soul Odyssey. I hoped the others would, too.
Often during dinner, as I looked at everyone around the table, I knew that the love I felt for and from everyone present would stay with and sustain me forever. Our being here together was a soul’s kept promise; a coming home to ourselves and each other. I heard and felt the beauty of the lyrics from another Dougie MacLean song, “This Love Will Carry”– “This love will carry, this love will carry me. I know this love will carry me.”
After dinner, I handed out copies of a Divine message/directive I’d been given a few years before entitled, “Me– on Being Great.” I’d brought the right amount, too, enough for all of my fellow Odyssey-ites, including Nicky and Les. We all took turns reading a sentence from it and that further empowered and liberated us.
And then it was time to let everyone choose their Odyssey keepsake — a smoky quartz crystal, which is Scotland’s national gemstone. A little backstory here– I’d bought eighteen smoky quartz crystals, one for each of the seventeen of us on the Odyssey plus one for David when he joined us in Skye. Right after Winslow and I arrived in Edinburgh, Winslow picked up the bag with the crystals in it and to our shock, it was empty! How could that be!? I’d counted them, put each one in its own little pouch and given them to Winslow for safekeeping and now they were gone!
After a mini freak-out, we decided the sensible thing to do was replace them. That’s what had motivated us to go out looking for the Wyrd Shop the day before the Odyssey began. We couldn’t find any replacements and so, empty handed, we returned to the hotel. While talking about our adventure and how strange it was that the crystals went missing, Winslow picked up the empty crystals bag and one of the crystals fell out and hit her foot! What!? We counted the crystals and they were all there!
Just before I left my hotel room for the Farewell dinner, I’d counted the crystals again and there were just enough to make sure every Odyssey-ite would get one with none left over. Knowing Nicky would be with us that night, I’d bought her special stones to go in the spare pouch I’d brought with me. I regretted that I didn’t have a smoky quartz or special stone for Les, too.
Winslow passed the bag with the crystal pouches around and everyone chose their stone. Since I’d given Nicky her pouch earlier, she didn’t need to participate in this ceremonial rite. When Winslow finished handing out the stones and everyone had one, there should have been none left in the bag. There should have been none, but there was one left! How that happened, I don’t know. I couldn’t wrap my head around it, so I just let it go. I gave the mystery smoky quartz to Nicky, telling her it obviously wanted to go to Les. More Scottish magic, miracles and mysteries!
Reluctantly, we accepted that the restaurant was closing and we had to leave. We hugged Nicky and bade her farewell and we set off on our journey back to the hotel. Back in the lobby again and knowing that we’d be going our separate ways in the morning, nobody wanted to go to their rooms. We stood around talking to each other, when spontaneously, a group of Odyssey-ites began singing “Amazing Grace!”
It was something that just happened all on its own and the memory of that moment will live with me forever! After a few more songs, a few more hugs and a few more “I love you’s,” we went to our rooms to pack, sleep and prepare for our departures.
I sat in my room, awed, humbled, amazed, grateful. Did I know all of that was going to happen? No– nobody could’ve predicted what was essentially an unceasing, ten day powerful demonstration of what will happen if you listen to your heart and step out on faith. I love a good surprise party and that’s what this Odyssey had been– a larger than life, magical, joyful, transformational surprise party!
Hear For Good
Hear This Love Will Carry
Click here to learn more about Phoebe Anna Traquair
Click here to read “Me– on Being Great”
Saturday, October 11th – Departure- Day 8, You have found a home…