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Taking Time Out

Exploring Atlantis.... (well, Madeira!)



We all need to take time out of our usual routine once in a while, to re-group, renew our energy, and see different places. I also think it’s important to see and visit different cultures and peoples every so often – it helps to widen our vision. We see things in a more expanded way as our minds are opened. In this way we broaden our horizons. I’ve really only realised this fully as I’ve grown older, having always been something of a workaholic with little time off. But nowadays I do build-in essential re-couping time for me. We can’t be “on duty” all the time.

It’s not been easy for me to take time out during the last two or three years in particular.. My elder cat Cricket became very demanding in the last couple of years of her life – especially during the final few months, needing constant attention. And now my slightly autistic younger cat Chloe is getting on in years, and we’ve got a rather unique problem (she’s a very unique cat). Cut a long story short, she has been eating toxic plants in the garden – mainly ones that give her a “high”! She’s been doing this since we arrived here a few years ago – first crocuses (our first spring here was a nightmare), then bluebells, then progressing on to several types of creeping plants that clearly put her in an altered state of consciousness, as evidenced by her dilated pupils and erratic behaviour. I’m living with a feline junkie! Now I’m not averse to anyone having fun and enjoying themselves in their own way, but unfortunately this habit has given Chloe major digestive upsets, with the resultant diarrhoea; and Chloe has very long fur – I’ll leave you to imagine the unpleasant messy result. She hates having the rear end washed, or being taken on yet another trip to the vet to get it clipped and cleaned up, so it’s a lose- lose situation all round, to which I have had to call a halt, for the sake of her health and my sanity! All possibly toxic plants, in both the house and garden, have gradually been carefully weeded out and got rid of, and I have to keep a careful eye to make sure nothing re-grows.

So, given the issues with Chloe, and badly needing a break and some sunshine and warmth after three months of constant rain and grey cloud in the UK, I made very careful preparations in the garden, left Chloe in the capable hands of my intrepid neighbour, and managed a few days in Madeira – somewhere I have always been very drawn to visit. This is probably because Madeira is part of the ancient land of Atlantis, and as an old soul, I recall at least one lifetime there.  

On the flight as we flew south, gradually emerging into blue skies from the many thick layers of cloud covering the UK, I felt my spirits start to lift out of the doldrums of the past few months. Some trips are a Retreat or pilgrimage – these are the sort of adventures that are ideal for solitary travel, needing to be undertaken alone.  There are times when we need to be solitary – within our own bubble – to process and shed on many levels. For me this was one of those.

Landing in Funchal, the higher energy vibrations were immediately apparent. I spent a lovely few days walking in gardens, taking trips to different parts of this dramatically mountainous volcanic land, seeing a different way of life, and enjoying the constant  warmth and sunshine and temperatures of 20 C. I was told the weather was unseasonably warm and dry for February.. My ears were popping constantly from the changes in altitude - we went up to 1810m above SL. I met some nice people too - in cable cars, buses, on mini bus and Jeep tours – and it was good to strike up interesting conversations with strangers and compare experiences. Madeira is Portuguese, and the people are very welcoming and kind. Indeed, someone commented to me that the alliance between England and Portugal is probably the oldest in the world. So I had a great time there.

Returning, it was good to see the UK mainland come into view, with few clouds and some sunshine! This is a funny little island, but in this lifetime it’s home for me. Flying back into Bristol I felt how small and insignificant we each are in the grand nature of things, but each one of us contributes to the collective energy, and it’s important to keep our own energy high and raise ourselves out of the doom and gloom which can afflict us here in winter.  Escaping for a short while to a different  land has cleared my mind. I have arrived back centred in a very quiet, deep space and with an expanded view of things. And there’s a feeling of something else : healing and atonement for that past life, which was the esoteric reason for the trip. When we take time out and get away like this, we get things in perspective and find out what’s important. It feeds our soul and nurtures our spirit. We need these types of trips to re-connect with the mystical – that deep inner knowing that we are one with All That Is. I think Man needs wilderness in order to come back to him/herself, and for me that is mountains and high moorland – the more remote the better. And the mountains in the central area of Madeira are truly majestic – you can feel their Presence.

So now I am home it’s back to work, but with renewed energy and vigour - ready for the fray of everyday life but with a wider understanding and greater awareness. It’s the first time I have taken a winter break, but I can highly recommend it if only to get away from the dismal UK winter. I even came back with the beginnings of a tan! And arriving home to my beloved Chloe, she had coped OK and was very glad to see me back, and there were no messy dramas while I was away, thankfully. A win-win situation all round!

Sheila Whittaker 3/3/20

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