Become…

Here’s one for all my female followers.

A friend posted this recently on Facebook, and I thought it would be a nice reminder, for all of us.

We all need to remember who we are, and who we want to be. To become the best possible version of ourselves. There is magic within us all. We just have to remember how to bring it out!

Making Every Day Count Six Years Later…

It’s a scary thought, that six years ago on this date, my cancer journey began. It was a Friday, and I was scared as Hell. Anyone who has been through a cancer diagnosis will be able to relate. No amount of doctor’s appointments, consultations, or medical tests can prepare you for what you will have to go through in the days and years to follow.

In late April of 2018, when I received the bad news that the cancer had returned, it was probably even scarier. My oncologist told me that if I didn’t undergo chemotherapy, that I wasn’t expected to live long. So I took it. I’ve been on three different drug infusions since to keep the cancer at bay.

But I’m still here. Here, with a greater appreciation for life and all the little moments that make it special. I had NO idea that by telling my story during the first Coronavirus lockdown of 2020, I’d end up becoming a best selling author, with people calling me things like “brave” and “an inspiration”, or that a year later, I would be working on turning that story into a full-fledged book. With the help and encouragement of a good friend, I am even working on a podcast to help other cancer patients cope.

I am so grateful to my family and friends, and to all of you for all your support, love and kind words during my journey. But it’s not over! I feel like I am just getting started. Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog so you can be kept up to date with all my future endeavours!

And to all you cancer warriors out there, please remember that your diagnosis doesn’t have to mean the end of your story. Keep smiling, keep fighting, and don’t forget you have people who love and support you!

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Respect Your Cat Day

…Or pay the price, and be snubbed by them!

I love my cats! I always have! So, when I discovered that today is Respect your Cat Day, I was thrilled, and wanted to share with my followers! I’m not sure when or where this originated, but do I care? Of course not!

There are lots of ways to celebrate with your cat today, whether you own just a regular moggy (mixed lineage), or have a high-class Persian, a Scottish Fold, Birman, or Tonkinese. My day started with my moggy boys taking turns sleeping under the bed covers with me, or up near m pillow. Much as many of my mornings do…. Later, perhaps I’ll do some trick training with them or have a nap on the couch. Maybe even give them a special treat for their dinner?

There are other ways to enjoy your cat too.

  • Stroke them or give them a scratch behind the ears.
  • Buy them a new toy.
  • Learn a new game to play with them (they like Peek-a-boo!).
  • Verbally praise your cat or give them a treat for good behavior.
  • Brush them or give them a manicure. I know not all cats like getting their nails trimmed, but I taught mine at an early age, to allow me to touch their paws. However, I still wait until they are relaxed before attempting such a feat!

Here is a great little YouTube video that shows the best way to pet and massage your cat.

How To Pet Your Cat
So, why do we love our cats so much?
  • Cats are very empathetic and intuitive. Come on, we all know that they can feel when we are upset, or feeling sad. They come on our laps, rub against us, or do something to make us laugh.
  • They are great with children. Although, as common sense would dictate, be careful introducing a cat to a very young child, and never without adult supervision. I grew up with both dogs and cats, and my parents would never have allowed us to be rough with or disrespectful to them. Children and cats can spend hours on end playing together, and then possibly end up taking a nap together!
  • Cats can be hilarious! I’d argue that they are as entertaining as dogs (dog lovers, don’t hate me. I’m a dog person too!). They fall off window ledges, or the back of the couch, and pretend like they meant to do it! Two cats together can have amazing, acrobatic wrestling matches! They can chase little balls or furry mice and even fetch them like a dog. They watch the laundry going round and around in the washing machine. When you step away from your laptop, they walk all over your keyboard to assist with your blog post – seriously, this just happened!!
  • They are great company. For the above-mentioned reasons, and so many more! And I’m glad I had my precious fur-babies during the Covid-19 lockdown. It has been a long haul, and I’m sure that anyone else who lives alone will agree that their pets have helped them through these hard times.

I’d like to thank you for taking time to read this post! Please show it some love by clicking the “Like” button, and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog. And if you’d like to support me during these trying times, please consider donating.

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What A Difference A Year Makes!

It’s been almost a year (March 13th 2020), since I was put on medical leave from my job in Canada because of the dangers of Coronavirus and my compromised health. If someone had told me on that day what the next year held, I would probably have laughed!

I was already undertaking preparations for my planned move home to Scotland. I actually had received email confirmation of my flight only a few days prior. This was for the original travel date I had chosen, April 29th. That date however was cancelled due to the borders being closed because of the fast spreading virus.

So, when I received an invitation to write a piece for a compilation book named Choices For Change, I accepted. After all, it would give me something useful and creative to do, and I quite enjoyed writing. That book would go on to become a #3 bestseller on Amazon.

During the same time period, I also started a blog, created a new website, and fulfilled my dream of moving back to Scotland. I sold several copies of my book privately, as well as creating a calendar of my Scotland scenery photography and acquiring another aromatherapy certificate.

But recently, I received news that my friend Andie, who is a successful author and publisher herself, had someone contact her in regards to turning one of her books into a movie. Exciting stuff! They had also shown interest in some of the stories in the C4C book, including mine. Andie keeps telling me how inspiring my story is, and how many people I have touched. I am very humbled and honoured to know that I have had such a profound effect on people. So, in addition to the other book projects I’m working on, I am now working on turning my short C4C stories and journal entries about my decision to return to Scotland, into a book to be published ASAP. And I thought it would be fun to give you a little teaser…


From my as yet unnamed book…

On February 20th 1980, at the tender age of ten, I boarded a plane with my parents and little brother , to emigrate from Scotland to Canada. My Nana, my favourite person in the world, tearfully saw us off from Prestwick Airport. I remember my Mum crying too as we boarded the plane. Being a child, I didn’t realize that it would be a long 40 years before I’d see my homeland again… Or that I would come to miss it so much as the long years wore on.

As time passed, I realized more and more that I was homesick. I felt it in my bones, in the depths of my soul. I can’t even describe how it felt; I just knew…I longed for it. The country I was born in. Scotland. Some of my friends who were closest to me had known it for many years. I didn’t really tell even my family how much I yearned to return. My good friend Aaron who I met in high school and reunited with long after via Facebook knew. He was extremely proud of his Scottish heritage, and wore his kilt as often as possible, including of course, his wedding day. He was a strong reminder to me of who I am, and where I came from.

So, how did this happen? My homesickness. I have no idea. Maybe it was from watching movies such as Braveheart and Rob Roy. I just knew I had developed an ache in my heart. An ache that whispered to my soul. It whispered the word “Scotland”. And that whisper, over the years, grew louder. And louder still. And yet life continued to tick along.


So there it is, an excerpt from Chapter 1 of my new book. I hope you will stay tuned for updates and more sneak peaks in the future!

I’d like to thank you for taking time to read this post! Please show it some love by clicking the “Like” button, and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog. And if you’d like to support me during these trying times, please consider donating.

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What’s New, Pussycats?

I know my writings have been few and far between lately. Sometimes it’s hard to come up with something new and exciting or even worthwhile to write about. Sometimes, it’s just that I get doing mundane everyday things, that I either forget to write, or just don’t allow myself the time to do it.

And with lockdown dragging on like a slug, there hasn’t been much of interest happening anyways. I remember last year, when I was put on a “temporary” medical leave, due to being at a higher risk of catching Coronavirus. Being able to sleep and wear whatever I wanted in was great for awhile. But it got boring in a hurry. Then I was asked if I’d like to contribute a short story for a compilation book about making changes in our lives. So, in between selling some of my personal belongings and preparing for my move home to Scotland, I ended up actually writing four pieces for the book. The book was a hit, and became an Amazon top 5 best seller, so I felt very proud of all of the wonderful authors who shared some very personal and heart warming stories.

Who would have guessed though, that Coronavirus would plaque us (sorry, no pun intended) for a whole year. It has been hard on everyone affected, either with their careers, travel plans or health-wise. But a lot of good has come out of it too. Creative talents who had never before been heard of emerged, people cheered for brave and hard-working healthcare workers, and checked up on their neighbours stranded at home due to lockdowns. Lots of people started or took up once again, a favourite hobby. And home-based business opportunities gave us something useful to do with our time, and earn at least a little while laid off or stuck at home.

I also have been doing some of the above mentioned things. Trying to do more writing, with a couple of book projects either in the works, or planning stages. I took a couple of free online courses (which were also popping up all over the place), and created a photography calendar and essential oil products to sell at a Christmas craft market. My most recent venture was re-joining Avon. I used to be a representative for several years back in Canada, and since I like their products and excellent value, I thought it would be a good idea to join Avon UK. I like that I don’t necessarily have to go out canvassing with brochures if I want to stay safe (from Covid, that is…). Avon has a web link that I can share with my customers and also a digital brochure. All very easy to use, and helps to keep our customers safe. Ordering online also means delivery directly to their own address, so no middle man (or woman). And being a household name is also a plus.

I’ve also been training my kittens to do some tricks. Yes, it is possible! There are even Instagram accounts showing off how to train your cats. Tomorrow my fur-kids, now 8 months old, are off to their vet for their neutering’s. I believe in being a responsible pet owner, plus I want to take them outdoors when the weather warms up. But there are other cats around, so I want to keep them safe. And they’ll only be outside under my close supervision when they do go.

So, what has everyone else been up to? Have you started a new hobby, written a song or poem, learned a new skill? Accidentally joining a Zoom meeting as a cat? Lol! Whatever you’ve been doing during this pandemic, just remember to hang in there. If we all keep taking the necessary precautions, hopefully it will be over sooner rather than later.

I’d like to thank you for taking time to read this post! Please show it some love by clicking the “Like” button, and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog. And if you’d like to support me during these trying times, please consider donating. Below, you’ll also find the links to my Avon (UK) store and Facebook page. If you are in the United Kingdom and would like to sign up as a rep, please go to my store, or message me directly.

My Avon store

My Avon Facebook page

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Wordy Wednesday

Funny Scottish Words

So, in keeping with the Rabbie Burns celebrations, I thought I’d offer up a sampling of funny Scottish words, slang and phrases. So, here goes. The first one is one of my personal favourites…

Haud yer wheesht! (Be quiet. You can also shorten it to just Wheesssht!)

Blether (noun: a blether is someone who likes to talk a lot. Verb: to have a blether is to chat with someone.)

Haver (to talk nonsense)

Hodjur (Hold your… See image below)

Ah dinnae ken (I don’t know.)

Tattie (a potato. Personally, I LOVE mince and tatties, a staple meal made from ground beef with vegetables and gravy, and tatties.)

Dreich (Cold, misty or rainy weather, as in “It’s a dreich day.”)

Yer aff yer heid (You’re off your head, as in a little bit daft or crazy.)

Baffies (slippers)

Clype (noun: a tattle-tale. Or as a verb: To “clype” on someone is to tell tales about them.)

Shoogle (to shake. Something that is “shoogly” is shaky or wobbly.)

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A Toast To Rabbie Burns

So, anyone who has any type of connection to Scotland, Scottish roots, family ties, whatever…knows that tomorrow, January 25th, we celebrate the birth of Scotland’s Bard, Robert (Rabbie) Burns. And this year, January 25th also marks the 6-month anniversary of the day I left Canada to return to Scotland for good.

During his short life, Burns wrote many poems, mostly about love or nature. Some of his most famous works include “To A Mouse”, “Tam O’ Shanter”, “Address To A Haggis”, which is traditionally read at Burns Night suppers. And of course, the song we all sing at midnight to welcome in the New Year, “Auld Lang Syne”. He wrote a lot of his works in the Scots language as well as English, but with a Scots dialect.

Robert’s parents were tenant farmers. He was the eldest of seven children and lived much of his life in poverty. The family moved frequently from farm to farm, but never improved their circumstances. He had very little former education, learning reading, writing and arithmetic from his father in his early years. The house Rabbie was born in was built by his father, and is now the Burns Cottage Museum.

The traditional meal for Burns Night supper consists of haggis (of course). It’s an acquired taste, not for everyone. Luckily, I lived my early years in Scotland and did acquire it! The meal also includes mashed turnip (neeps) and potatoes (tatties). This is accompanied by a good Scottish whisky, which is used at the end of the poem recital to “toast the haggis”. At formal Burns Night events, the haggis is served on a fancy platter and “piped in” by a bagpiper. Traditionally, a Scottish person is the one chosen to recite the Address. Don’t worry, I won’t gross you out by telling you what haggis consists of. If you really want to know, Google it, lol!

Haggis from a Burns Night I photographed a few years ago.

So tomorrow, along with many people around the world with a love of Scotland, I will be celebrating Burns Night. I made sure to have some haggis and black pudding in my freezer for the occasion, and may even have a wee dram with it. With Coronavirus and the continuing lockdown, we can’t celebrate in a pub with our friends. However, there are quite a few virtual events being held by various locations and Scottish groups online. Edinburgh Castle is hosting a free event, and there are many others too. So, grab yourself some haggis, a good dram of whisky, and enjoy the day!

Address To A Haggis

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin’-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.

Read more

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Scottish legend of the enchanted ‘Faery’ bagpipes of Kinlochmoidart

Not everyone has a fondness for bagpipes, but I do. And an appetite for Scottish history. Even more so for interesting and little known details that are not common knowledge. So, with that in mind, here is a story I discovered about the “faery pipes”.

Made by a MacIntyre piper more than 800 years ago, the ‘Faery’ bagpipes of Kinlochmoidart, are thought to be the oldest Highland pipes. The legend is that the MacIntyre piper had a dream where a “faery” (fairy) came to him…

Click on the link to read the entire article.

Source: Scottish legend of the enchanted ‘Faery’ bagpipes of Kinlochmoidart | Transceltic – Home of the Celtic nations

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The Physics of Santa and His Reindeer

* Please considered yourselves warned; this piece is satirical and intended for humorous purposes only. Please do not allow children or overly sensitive adults to read this!*

The following piece is something I found online many years ago, that I saved as a document and read every year at Christmas-time for a laugh. I don’t recall which website I found it on, so I apologize for not being able to credit the author.


No known species of reindeer can fly. BUT there are 300,000 species of living organisms yet to be classified, and while most of these are insects and germs, this does not COMPLETELY rule out flying reindeer which only Santa has ever seen.

There are two billion children (persons under 18) in the world. BUT since Santa doesn’t appear to handle the Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and Buddhist children, that reduces the workload to 15% of the total — 378 million according to Population Reference Bureau. At an average (census) rate of 3 .5 children per household, that’s 91.8 million homes. One presumes there’s at least one good child in each.

Santa has 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming he travels east to west (which seems logical). This works out to 822.6 visits per second.

This is to say that for each Christian household with good children, Santa has 1/1000th of a second to park, hop out of the sleigh, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left, get back up the chimney, get back into the sleigh and move on to the next house. Assuming that each of these 91.8 million stops are evenly distributed around the earth (which, of course, we know to be false but for the purposes of our calculations we will accept), we are now talking about .78 miles per household, a total trip of 75½ million miles, not counting stops to do what most of us must do at least once every 31 hours, plus feeding and etc.

This means that Santa’s sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second, 3,000 times the speed of sound. For purposes of comparison, the fastest man-made vehicle on earth, the Ulysses space probe, moves at a poky 27.4 miles per second – a conventional reindeer can run, tops, 15 miles per hour.

If every one of the 91.8 million homes with good children were to put out a single chocolate chip cookie and an 8 ounce glass of 2% milk, the total calories (needless to say other vitamins and minerals) would be approximately 225 calories (100 for the cookie, give or take, and 125 for the milk, give or take). Multiplying the number of calories per house by the number of homes (225 x 91.8 x 1000000), we get the total number of calories Santa consumes that night, which is 20,655,000,000 calories. To break it down further, 1 pound is equal to 3500 calories. Dividing our total number of calories by the number of calories in a pound (20655000000/3500) and we get the number of pounds Santa gains, 5901428.6, which is 2950.7 tons.

The payload on the sleigh adds another interesting element. Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium-sized lego set (two pounds), the sleigh is carrying 321,300 tons, not counting Santa, who is invariably described as overweight. On land, conventional reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds. Even granting that “flying reindeer” (see above) could pull TEN TIMES the normal amount, we cannot do the job with eight, or even nine. We need 214,200 reindeer. This increases the payload (not even counting the weight of the sleigh) – to 353,430 tons. Again, for comparison – this is four times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth. 353,000 tons traveling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air resistance – this will heat the reindeer up in the same fashion as spacecraft re-entering the earth’s atmosphere. The lead pair of reindeer will absorb 14.3 QUINTILLION joules of energy. Per second. Each.

In short, they will burst into flame almost instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind them, and create deafening sonic booms in their wake. The entire reindeer team will be vaporized within 4.26 thousandths of a second. Santa, meanwhile, will be subjected to centrifugal forces 17,500.06 times greater than gravity. A 250-pound Santa (which seems ludicrously slim) would be pinned to the back of his sleigh by 4,315,015 pounds of force.

In conclusion: If Santa ever DID deliver presents on Christmas Eve, he’s dead now. (My apologies!)

Well, I hope you enjoyed reading this post! Please show it some love by clicking the “Like” button, and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog. And if you’d like to help support my writing, please consider donating below. Even the smallest amount is greatly appreciated!

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Scotland’s Hidden Secrets

Perhaps my opinion is biased, but this country is fantastic! So rich in history, and such beautiful scenery, as people far and wide already know.

But it has so much hidden, or should I perhaps say, forgotten history too. Little nooks and crannies tucked away in the places we visit on a regular basis. Places off the beaten track that only the person with an explorer’s heart sees. I found one such gem last year while I was on my holiday here.

I had planned a solo day trip to North Queensferry, on the edge of the Firth Of Forth River, settled in between the three bridges connecting Fife to the Lothians and Edinburgh. I had gone there after finding out that the famous “Flying Scotsman” would be crossing the iconic Forth rail bridge that morning. It was something I couldn’t miss, and I wanted to find a good vantage point. I had expected there to be a lot of other photographers around, considering the location and great views of the bridge. As it turned out, there were only about 1/2 dozen of us…

Anyways, after seeing the train and having a bite to eat, I wandered around the streets of the town. The village is set on the side of a hill, and at one point, I noticed an old set of stone steps going down towards the river. “Explorer Jen” decided to investigate! The winding narrow steps led down to a causeway with high walls on both sides, with ivy hanging over the edges. And at the bottom, tucked in the corner was an iron gate built into the wall and a dark cavern inside. There was a sign on the wall saying that inside the cavern is Willie’s Well. It sits below the edge of what used to be the ancient village washing green (17th and 18th centuries). It used to be the main source of fresh water for the village. And local legend has it that anyone who drinks of its waters will always return to the “Ferry”. And that’s just what I did…

Willie’s Well, North Queensferry. Image copyright ThruJensLens Photography

When my friend and I went out a couple of weeks ago to take in and photograph more of Fife’s beautiful coastline, we finished up in North Queensferry. The sun was setting, and we got some great images of the bridges. And I was telling my story of the last time I was there. It felt like I had truly come full circle, and that I was finally really home. Last year, I may not have drank from Willie’s Well, but I did have a coffee at Rankin’s Cafe just around the corner from it. And today, I remembered that my image above is now on a website of British historic buildings! It is also on my 2021 calendar, “Out And About In Scotland”. I’ll leave the links below. It is also going to be mentioned in my upcoming book project….keep your eyes peeled for it!

Willie’s Well fact sheet

Out And About In Scotland 2021 Calendar

Thank you for taking time to read this post! Please show it some love by clicking the “Like” button, and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog. And if you can, your donation is greatly appreciated! Donate at https://jenmcnaughton.uk/2020/12/21/scotlands-hidden-secrets/

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