An Outlandish Obsession

In 2012 I decided to step outside of my comfortable OBU bubble to study abroad and become a Sassenach (Outlander) at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

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Just another Sassenach, in Edinburgh, Scotland (PHOTOCREDS: Becca Cahan – my wonderful penpal of 13 years)

I learned a lot on this trip about Scotland, the world outside of America, and myself. I had traveled before on mission trips to Nicaragua and South Africa but this was the first time it was just me, out in the world, figuring things out first hand. I can’t say enough good things about the experience. It really grew me both spiritually and in maturity and I would definitely recommend studying abroad or working abroad if you ever have the opportunity.

Well ever since my return to America in the summer of 2012, I’ve harbored a deep love for Scotland. It was William Shakespeare who penned the phrase, “Though she be but little, she is fierce!” and although he was obviously not speaking of Scotland, I think that it applies. Few countries have had such a turbulent history as Scotland. The glens and lochs are abounding with mystery and legends that I could never do justice, but that brings me to the point of this post (or the main point at least!): Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series.

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Outlander TV Series on Starz, Based on Gabaldon’s Book Series

Last August I stumbled across an episode of Outlander on the Starz channel and I was immediately hooked. I quickly got caught up on the series and eagerly awaited the new episodes every week. The cinematography alone is amazing, providing stunning views of my beloved Scotland, but the show goes beyond that. The drama of the Highlands pulls you in as you watch Claire (the heroine) be violently uprooted from her life and thrust into a world far different from her own. I’ll start out by saying if time travel, kilts, bad-A heroines, and romance aren’t your thing, you probably won’t like the series, but hey, don’t knock it till you try it!

So here I am, in the midst of the series at a cinematic cliffhanger, when suddenly I discover it is only a half series and the next half won’t be airing until April! (Lucky for those of you reading this now, you have time to get up to date before the newest episode premiers Saturday!) This simply would not do.

Enter the boyfriend: Jeff Rose. So Jeff sees my anguish, and being the caring sort of person he is, begins buying me the books. Seriously it was like he was my drug dealer. I was polishing those babies off in no time (there are 8). I just had to get my fix! Maybe it was all apart of his master plan… You see, Jeff and I are long distance, so maybe he was only buying me the books in a devious plot to spend more time together. The fiend! Whatever his motive was, I now possess the entire series. Those who know me best know I am an avid reader, not to be daunted by the large volumes and big words,  so let me tell you that if you can’t stomach getting into a series that spans over 30 years of drama in the lives of the main characters, and weighs in at approximately 1000 pages per book, then this series probably isn’t for you. However, I still highly recommend at least watching the TV series!

Now I don’t want to get into the plot(s) of the novels too much because I don’t want to risk spoiling it for all you potential readers/watchers out there. I actually want to focus on some ways that the series has affected me specifically.

So like I said, the series immediately drew me in because of my own experience in Scotland, but I was delighted to find that the heroine mentioned above, Claire, was in the medical profession. Now this got her in quite a bit of trouble with superstitious 18th century highlanders, as you might imagine, but I loved that Gabaldon wove in so many medical elements, because I am actually in the process of trying to get in to medical school currently. In the series, deprived of the medical advances of her own times, Claire turns to the wonderful world of Botany to aide her in caring for patients. This proved inspirational to me. I have always been a bit of a nature freak, so it seemed an excellent idea to me to learn more about medicinal plants and home remedies! Who knows when the planet will be plunged into total anarchy and we will all have to learn to survive in a post-apocalyptic world, right? Well…maybe. Regardless, I have taken up the study of Botany as a pastime, and it really is quite fascinating! My long-term goal is to be able to identify and know how to use these medicinal plants (and also edible plants)  in the wild, and not just in a photograph. It’s not an easy process but its definitely rewarding. This, in turn, has lead to me taking steps toward living a more sustainable lifestyle. I started by planting a small herb garden. Right now I only have mint, sage, and rosemary, but I’m hoping to expand in the future.

You know, I hear so many people preaching about eating organic, free-range, no hormones, no steroids, buying local, no GMOs… the list goes on. All of that stuff is great if you have the time, money, and know-how, but for most people in America making a drastic lifestyle change like that is simply not feasible.  So here is my two cents.. How about:

  1. Do your research
  2. Start small

Seems doable right? Things don’t happen overnight. (Except zits – they most definitely do) So what is my point in this possible rabbit trail? Well maybe I don’t have a single, salient point, but I think for me, trying to buy local when possible and attempting to grow/raise my own when I can is a good place to begin. For now, I’m definitely loving the learning process. And of course, loving the books that I just have to buy to aide in that process (can I get an “amen” from my fellow nerds?!).

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An Outlandish Obsession

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Starting small, with sage, rosemary, and mint

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King Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh, Scotland (PHOTOCREDS: Becca Cahan)

In later posts, I plan to enlighten you on some specific home remedies, foraging recipes, DIY sustainability projects, and plant spotlights (like, “getting down with dandelions” or something… btw, did you know that they are edible as well as medicinal and can be used to treat infections, liver problems and more?!). but for now I just want to highlight a few books and blogs that you should definitely check out.

  • The Feast Nearby, Robin Mather
  • Medicinal Herbs, Rosemary Gladstar
  • Herbs, an A-Z Guide, Gardening, Cooking & Health, Reader’s Digest
  • The Country Almanac of Home Remedies, Brigitte Mars and Chrystle Fiedler
  • Outlander, Diana Gabaldon
  • http://shelfassurance.com/2015/04/books-on-screen-outlander/   (My dear friend Jessica’s amazing blog, most recent post highlighting OUTLANDER!!!)
  • http://wellnessmama.com   (I love this website/blog and have pinned countless things from the wealth of knowledge she has available here)
  • https://shelbybriley.wordpress.com   (My personal blog, mostly featuring my travels)

As always, live healthy and love hard!

– Shelby aka Sassenach

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For photos of my travels and more check out my Instagram handle @hopelesswanderer_sb

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