Suns Out, Scots Out

Dearest Friends,

When it comes time for the clouds to clear and the warm air to sweep its way across Glasgow, it’s also time for the city to come out of hibernation.

No more huddling up under warm clothes and avoided eye contact. No more multiple layers with a scarf overtop. No more boots and long coats and hats to hide under. No more rushing from place to place because it’s better indoors.

No more.

When the sun finally dominates the sky and weather grows warm (so like…50-60 F), it’s time to don t-shirts and cardigans and capris. It’s time to take over the open green spaces and smile at strangers as you pass. It’s time to slow down and enjoy the penetrating warmth of the sun seeping into your bones.

And it’s time for those of us unused to emerging from such a hibernation to wonder at how beautiful, how magical, Scotland is under a bright blue sky after having survived so much gray for so long.

To wonder at the speed in which flowers spring from the ground and bloom towards their source of life, and the speed at which humans seem to do the same.

Coming from a colder, brighter winter to days that seem to be too hot, as I usually do, is nothing compared to emerging from months of mostly cloudy skies to a bright day just warm enough to spread cheer but not so warm that you want to shun it.

It was so lovely, in fact, and such a great way to go to and from the library that I completely forgot to take pictures of the flowers spreading across some of the lawns at the botanics or the animals that were livelier than ever.

Lucky for me, though, it’s supposed to stay sunny and warm, though not as warm as today, for much of the week, and that, my friends, is something to smile about.

Your Bonnie Celtophile,

Dani

Lia Fáil: The Screaming Stone of Tara

Dear Readers,

This is a day late, I know, and I apologize. However, I do have something really cool (and slightly terrifying) to share with you today. It’s come from the readings I have for this week on Tara, a site that is both historically and pseudo-historically royal/sacred.

One of the monuments on the site is called Lia Fáil. It’s a stone that has the capacity to cry or weep, and in one story (Baile in Scáil) a king, Conn, stands upon the stone.

And the stone cries out. But it cries out loud enough that it’s heard not just throughout Tara, but also throughout the plain on which Tara sits. And it screams once for every king that will reign in Conn’s line, and let me tell you, that’s a lot of times.

Neat, right?

But imagine you’re in that plain. You’re minding your own business, smithing or baking or weaving or farming or whatever it is you do, and out of nowhere, you hear screaming. It sounds like it’s coming from nearby, but you look and see no one, and the screaming doesn’t stop.

You see others, and they can hear it, too, but nobody knows what’s causing it. And it keeps going. And you stay in a group, looking around nervously, but the screaming starts to grate on your nerves.

Some people get angry. Some people cry. Others go out searching for the source, but they never find it. You cover your ears, hoping not to hear it, but it doesn’t help at all.

And suddenly, it stops. You theorize with others about what might have caused it and discuss the supernatural beings that might be at work. You hope something traveling by will be able to tell you the truth of what happened.

But you never run into the king or his druids, and you never learn what caused the screaming.

And from then on, whenever someone screams, you brace yourself in case it doesn’t stop.

Or….

Imagine you’re Conn. You’re walking along, minding your own business, and stop on a stone.

And from beneath your feet, screaming starts.

Lucky for you, there are druids with you that might be able to explain why the stone is screaming, but that doesn’t make you feel any better about the noise grating on your nerves. Or your inability to leave the stone until it’s done.

Okay, so I exaggerated and fictionalized much of that. I don’t have that much detail about the story. But I do stand by the fact that as interesting as a screaming stone is, it’s also very, very terrifying.

Your Bonnie Celtophile,

Dani

5 Possible Signs That You are Way Too Stressed

Dearest Readers,

Last weekend, I had the unfortunate experience of becoming very suddenly completely overwhelmed. Looking back, I am unsurprised, but up until then, I was mostly unaware of how stressed and under pressure I’d become.

I am doing better now, but I certainly wouldn’t say I’m back at full steam. I am, however, able to identify some signs that I was, indeed, that stressed, red flags I could have picked up on in order to avoid the general breakdown that was my realizing just how much I have to do and just how much I’d been doing to hit my deadlines and goals.

I wouldn’t have been able to step back from everything, but I could have let up on some things and been proactive about stress-relieving behaviors.

I decided to write this post because 1-I might remember these better and keep more of an eye out in the future and 2-I’m always curious about how humans react to things, especially how I do, and hope that by my sharing, some of you might share your signs that you’re overstressed, too.

So here are 5 signs that I was far too stressed for far too long.

  1. Tired all the time. This happened gradually, so I didn’t really notice anything was different until I stopped to consider the last time I wasn’t tired most of the day. It was a couple weeks. That and constantly falling into mini-naps while doing my homework was a sure sign, and I think it was the first. I just figured it was a natural byproduct of the amount of work I had to do, forgetting that I have been just as busy but much more awake before.
  2. More time on social media. I tend not to like to scroll through social media for hours because it really wastes time, and it’s not actually a satisfying activity for me. However, I began to scroll through it every chance I got, including when I woke up and when I was about to go to bed. That’s really not helpful, but at the time, I found the mindlessness calming. I think I was actually reminding myself what life could be like if I didn’t have so many readings to do.
  3. No desire to do things I usually find fun. I like to read for-fun things. I also like to knit, and cross stitch, and dance. I also prefer to tidy my room every week or so to keep it mostly organized. All of those things started sliding, partially because of time restraints and partly because when I had free time I went straight to social media instead of something that really relaxes and rejuvenates me, like a good book. If the fun things in life start to disappear and you don’t even notice, something isn’t right.
  4. Brain wouldn’t calm down even after journaling. Since I’ve started the 365-Day Journal Challenge, my brain has been much more calm when I try to sleep, and it has done a lot to improve how long it takes me to sleep. My mind still going a mile a minute and requiring melatonin and/or relaxing sleep music to settle should have let me know I was getting to the end of what I could handle on a really high level of productivity.
  5. Awake until ridiculous hours of the night. The thing that really told me that I was far too stressed was when I was awake at 2:30 in the morning, tired but unable to keep my eyes closed, going through my previous week and what I needed to do in the next week, unable to relax enough to sleep despite melatonin and relaxing sleep music. I’m pretty on top of making sure I sleep enough no matter what is happening because if I get off a sleep schedule, it takes a while to get back on one. Being completely unable to sleep despite it being more than three hours passed my bedtime was the thing forced me to recognize just how stressed I really was.

 

 

So where am I at now?

Well, I have people in Glasgow and back in the States that are aware that the candle I’d been burning at both ends finally went out, and more importantly, I’m aware of where I’m at. So I’ve forced the relaxing and destressing things back into my life (dance class, knitting, podcasts) and reduced the things pressuring me by prioritising and putting something on the back burner to be added back in at a later point. I have somewhat overcompensated and spent a bit too much time in non-productive-for-school activity, but I also think that was necessary.

Am I still tired? Yes, but I think right now it has more to do with getting back from a dance ball at 2am last night.

My project this week is to get back to a balance instead of leaning one way or another on the activities in my week. And to go see Beauty and the Beast next Sunday, because I have full faith it’s going to be a great movie.

What are some signs that you’re stressed? How do you handle it?

Your Bonnie Celtophile,

Dani