"I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will, which I now exert to leave you." ~ Jane Eyre
When I was about 12 years old, I wrote a poem about a caged bird. It wasn’t that great; nobody really liked it but me – not even my mother. For me, it spoke more about how I felt when I put the words on paper than what the words actually said. I dumped it, although I wish now I’d kept it as it sticks in my memory like that little grains of sand between the toes after a stroll on the beach.
In my day-to-day life I’m often asked what I do for work all year round: ‘Is this [guiding on the buses] all you do’, or ‘what do you do in the quiet season?’. My life used to be clearly defined, my vocation straightforward – I worked in the local museum, I worked 9-5 Monday to Friday. It was a nice simple explanation that people understood. I went to work and then came home to my family. But I felt like that 12-year-old writing about a caged bird – except now I was the bird. My role now is less defined; harder to explain. I wear several hats, and it takes a little longer to unravel it to people. But that said, I have never felt freer. I no longer feel caged.
I tell my guests that I gave it all up and have never looked back. I’m now self-employed doing tours that I love and writing about all the things that make me feel alive. In January I took over as editor of Shetland Life magazine – a monthly lifestyle magazine all about, yes you guessed it, life in Shetland. I feel now like my life is full of opportunites and adventure, every door that creaks opens unlocks another wonderful experience or opportunity. My mind is bursting with ideas and my heart is full.
I’ve always enjoyed playing with words; dabbling in poetry that nobody is allowed to read, fiction that no one will ever want to read, and the dreary academic stuff that leaves your eyes feeling droopy and your brain aching from the weight of words that you don’t even recognise as your own, all written in an attempt to appear more intelligent, or accepted by your peers. These ventures into academia never left me feeling alive; in fact, the opposite was true; they just left me feeling a bit hollow and unfulfilled.
My blog was a turning point; a revelation of sorts. I could write what I wanted, and if people chose to come along and read them, great. If not, I was left with an assortment of musings and some nice photos to act as a reminder of the motivations that caused me to write them in the first place. I began to feel inspired again.
So, if you are dabbling in words, or worse still, if you are feeling caged, then take a pen and some paper and write it out. You never know what doors –or cages – it might open for you too.
This was never supposed to be a blog post about life. I was supposed to just come here and tell you that I also worked in winter. It was just a little memo I wrote to myself in the notes on my phone while I stood outside in the rain musing about life and philosophising about the road that it takes you down. That road might be bumpy – and if I’d written this a year ago, that would certainly have been the case – but if you remain true to yourself and listen to that intuition that burns somewhere deep inside you, then you too can find that little golden key to unlock your own cage and set yourself free.
Now, for anyone that is worried that I have finally lost my marbles – I’m sure that I’ve dropped one or two along the way – then please don’t worry; my next blog post will be back to basics in a few weeks. But for now, here’s the answer to ‘what I do’; I tour, write and muse.
I’d love to hear from you – what unexpected journey has your life taken, how has it shaped you, and how did you set yourself free?
Hello, and welcome to my blog. I hope that you find what you're looking for, whether you are planning that perfect holiday or maybe you're from Shetland and looking for some inspiration. Hopefully, there is something here for everyone.