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All of humanity’s problems,” the French scientist and philosopher Blaise Pascal wrote in 1654, “stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a COLD WATER IMMERSION ROCK POOL alone.”


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Fertile solitude  is the basic unit of a full and contented life. The line between solitude and loneliness can be thin but there is a difference. Loneliness is difficult to confess; difficult too to categorize. I have no such difficulty confessing solitude here on Fair Isle.

What does it feel like to be lonely? It feels like being hungry: like being hungry when everyone around you is readying for a feast. Fertile solitude, however, is learning to enjoy your own company.More than that, it is a developmental achievement, on the road to knowing thy self.

 

“All of humanity’s problems,” the French scientist and philosopher Blaise Pascal wrote in 1654, “stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Or for that matter, on Britian’s most remote inhabited island.

The best things in life happen to you when you’re alone and despite the camaraderie and the spirit of cooperation, for the most part we are alone on this island.  That’s ok.

Everyone should experience at least one prolonged period of solitude in life. For in true solitude, one’s inner voices become audible and in consequence, one responds more clearly to other lives.


 

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Set in the middle of the North Atlantic, 38km (23mi) from  Shetland and 43km (27mi) from  Orkney, Fair Isle is as far away from civilization as it’s possible to get in the British Isles. Measuring barely five kilometers across and two kilometers wide, the island is home to a tiny permanent population of just 45 people. In fact, it’s the most remote inhabited place in the UK.

Fair Isle is a lyrical reminder to break the momentum of busyness that fuels  the sadness of never understanding ourselves. It makes a place to sit down. So: Sit down. Be quiet…The impulse to create begins… in a tunnel of silence.

 

 Of all ridiculous things the most ridiculous seems to me, to be busy. It’s worth remembering, here, that “busy is a decision” — one we constantly make, and often to our own detriment.

 

Travel is an activity not an accomplishment, yet lately, because of the global pandemic, one of the great cruelties and great glories of  traveling nowadays is the wild discrepancy of timelines between vision and execution. When we dream up an itinerary , we invariably underestimate the amount of time and effort required to make it a reality. Our  Fair Isle return took 6 months!

 

Rather than a cognitive bug, perhaps this is the supreme coping mechanism of the pandemic mind — if we could see clearly the toil ahead at the outset of any travel plans, we might be too dispirited to begin, too reluctant to gamble between the heroic and the foolish, too paralyzed to walk the long and tenuous tightrope of hope and fear by which any worthwhile destination is reached.

 

So We are: HERE NOW.









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These North Atlantic Grey Seals want to make a happy meal outta me!

I was confident that seals are generally gentle creatures unless they feel threatened. Seals default is to choose flight over fight, but they are most likely to be aggressive if you come between:them, which is what I have been doing all week! SO I had to rework my plan, and change venues for the Cold Water Immerssion Therapy-back to the South Lighthouse on Fair Isle.

Seals are the largest land breeding mammal in the UK and can be very intimidating in the water. Always let seals make the first move – let them approach you. Sit back, wait quietly and observe. Nah, I just won't get in the water with them....


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Our 2020 Lake Tahoe Trip
 

A tree is a little bit of the future.

Trees dominate the world’s oldest living organisms. Since the dawn of our species, they have been our silent companions, permeating our most enduring tales and never ceasing to inspire fantastical cosmogonies. Hermann Hesse called them “the most penetrating of preachers.” A forgotten seventeenth-century English gardener wrote of how they “speak to the mind, and tell us many things, and teach us many good lessons.-The Scret Lives Of Trees

There are no trees on Fair Isle

FADE IN: Beneath the canopy of trees, with  roots in the earth and arms stretching toward the sky, I come back to that place I have never been before - and this imense wonder comes over us as  if the trees are there to seek and to know the greater mysteries. I find this comforting, but on Fair Isle, and Shetland in general, there are no trees to speak of. So why do we still manage to have an imense sense of wonder. I wrote of the elegant moss that adorns the land-scientifically impressive beyond measure — the amphibians of vegetation, they were among the first plants to emerge from the ocean and conquer the land. 

The slient companions are the mountains here on Fair Isle, replacing what Hesse calls our most penetraing preechers-- but then I remeber Norway ,Pulpet Rock and all those majestic fjords of Geirange and Stavenger.  This place is like Norway, sans trees.


 Back to trees:

I always found  these great constellations of Cathedral  and Ponderosa Pines, at Lake Tahoe for instance, to be immense objects of wonder. Alaska, and British Columbia, with ribbons of Christmas trees. are also impressive testimonials to the secret life of wood- a kind of Christianity of birth, death rebirth regeneration and resurection on full display on the Alaska Wildlife highway as well

 Every day in their forests was a day of discovery. I get religion. This consecration, and baptism. This is where Mother Nature lives.

The lungs of the earth-trees give off a hint of gladness, and  the way they stand guard over the night, tall in all kinds of weather ===trees remaina lushish metaphor for carrying on, and  the perfect role model and solace for the occasional existential dilemma of being human. They even gave each other space-- slim contour of room around each other. They seem to get along well with each other as valued members of the ├žommunity'. The average tree grows its branches out until it encounters the branch tips of a neighboring tree of the same height. It doesn’t grow any wider because the air and better light in this space are already taken.

I, the land

Now on Fair Isle, because of salt water, and clearings for sheep, there are no such trees on Fair Isle. The Life of wood, and how it shows growth death and  rebirth, is just a soveneir. There is another kind of ecosystem here, and it works, a solitude but not lonlieness, and a general unwinding of the worlds we have known.


The only thing to stand guard between the solitude of me is two defient rocky mountains in the distance, as I look out of our kitchen window. Yet these rocks rock! Love it here. In all its stark spledor. I have had this saying: I haven't been everywhere, but it is on my list. Well, Fair Isle is North Of Everywhere.




 






Lake Tahoe
 


”Trees dominate the world’s the oldest living organisms. Since the dawn of our species, they have been oursilent companions, permeating our most enduring tales and never ceasing to inspire fantastical cosmogonies. Hermann Hesse called them “the most penetrating of preachers.” A forgotten seventeenth-century English gardener wrote of how they “speak to the mind, and tell us many things, and teach us many good lessons.”"The Scret Lives Of Trees

There are no trees on Fair Isle

FADE IN: Beneath the canopy of trees, with  roots in the earth and its arms stretching toward the sky as if to seek and to know the great mystery. I find this comforting, but on Fair Isle, and SHetland in general, there are no trees to speak of.

I always found  these great constellations of Cathedral  and Ponderosa Pines, at Lake Tahoe for instance, to be immense objects of wonder. Alaska, and British Columbia, with ribbons of Christmas trees.. on the Alaska Wildlife highway as well is stunning! Every day in their forests was a day of discovery. I got religion. This is where Mother Nature lives.

The lungs of the earth-trees give off a hint of gladness, and  the way they stand guard over the night, tall in all kinds of weather ===trees remaina lushish metaphor for carrying on, and  the perfect role model and solace for the occasional existential dilemma of being human. They even gave each other space-- slim contour of room around each other. They seem to get along well with each other as valued members of the ├žommunity'. The average tree grows its branches out until it encounters the branch tips of a neighboring tree of the same height. It doesn’t grow any wider because the air and better light in this space are already taken.

I, the land

Now on Fair Isle, because of salt water, and clearings for sheep, there are no such trees on Fair Isle. The Life of wood, and how it shows growth death and  rebirth, is just a soveneir. There is another kind of ecosystem here, and it works, a solitude but not lonlieness, and a general unwinding of the worlds we have known.


The only thing to stand guard between the solitude of me is two defient rocky mountains in the distance, as I look out of our kitchen window. Yet these rocks rock! Love it here. In all its stark spledor. I have had this saying: I haven't been everywhere, but it is on my list. Well, Fair Isle is North Of Everywhere.



 






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Historically, the Scottie was bred by farmers to help them manage vermin problems. They  would follow prey, such as badgers, foxes, and other vermin, right into their burrows and then try to dig them out. Such breeds of dogs are known as Earth dogs. Scottish Terriers do well in earthdog trials, which are a simulated hunt.



Our Scottish Terrier and her breed, is nicknamed the “Diehard,” and that should give you some indication of her personality. She’s independent, feisty and not afraid to stand up for herself. She’s always ready to play and to chase, especially sheep.



 

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We didn't wake up this morning, we came to.

Set in the middle of the North Atlantic, 38km (23mi) from Shetland and 43km (27mi) from Orkney, Fair Isle is as far away from civilization as it’s possible to get in the British Isles. Measuring barely five kilometers across and two kilometers wide, the island is home to a tiny permanent population of just 45 people. In fact, it’s the most remote inhabited place in the UK.

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Wild Swimming At North Haven
Tractor Training



Sheep Roundup:



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After greeting Sarah and Pam at the airport, I had time to jump in the ice pool, and it was particularly spectacular, with waves crashing over the sea walls and providing icy new H2OMG.


Let's go island hopping.

The only true way to “Island Hop” in Shetland  is by Plane. There is a Plan B Ferry, but to save time---the flight is 25 minutes verses 2.5 hours by sea, makes it a longer  and sometimes choppy waters experience.






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 "Burning body fat without exercising! Put me in coach."


The Primal Blueprint

Conditioning  my brain and my body to accept, endure and embrace cold water immersion may be challenging, but the health benefits in both the short- and long-run are well worth it.  Here is my story:

I was thinking  how our overheated Scottie dog Skyelark extended  her tongue to generate an evaporative cooling effect in the South Carolina Summer heat. Then, Bam:I goggled it---that's how they stay cool. It's called cold thermogenesis.

So here I am in the sub Arctic circle, on Britian's most remote inhabited island, Fair Isle, with all this cold water. Suddenly Wim Hoff, The Iceman gets pushed to  my news feed and I read:

A few minutes of COLD Water Therapy can dramatically accelerate the natural, homeostatic cooling process. Hmmm. tell me more....I went to his website. There it was written in ALL CAPS GRANDPA STYLE:

OVER TIME, WE AS HUMANS HAVE DEVELOPED A DIFFERENT ATTITUDE TOWARDS NATURE AND WE'VE FORGOTTEN ABOUT OUR INNER POWER. THIS IS THE ABILITY OF OUR BODY TO ADAPT TO EXTREME TEMPERATURE AND SURVIVE WITHIN OUR NATURAL ENVIRONMENT. THE WIM HOF METHOD IS BASED ON THIS PRINCIPLE.

Basically there are three pilliars: Breathing, Cold Therapy and Commitment.
I immediately began this science project: the first two outings, with baby steps, waist deep, then fully submerged for the recommended 15 minutes... which is where I am at to date.

I have to say it is a work in progress but I like the results. I lost body fat and gained lean muscle mass and I feel good hours afterwards. It's invigorating to say the least, and rejuvenating to say the most.

It is common for professional athletes such as marathon runners, triathletes, and football players to jump into a tub of ice water after an intense race or game. If sitting is the new smoking, then  what about we digital nomads and remote workers who sit alot in front of our computer screens. Could we benifit from this CWI  intervention? I say yes, and furthermore, it has sparked additional creativity in my practice as an Instructional Designer.

OUTDOORS is IN, the IN to my sane.






 If it's physiocal, it's therapy,Try it.
Summary:

Possibly the most talked about benefit of cold exposure, fat loss can occur without any exercise!

Humans have stores of active brown fat tissue (BAT). BAT can essentially turn calories from food into heat Studies show that cold exposure increases BAT activity which --- leads to increased calorie expenditure = increased fat loss

Cold exposure increases shivering and nonshivering thermogenesis.

These processes both increase calorie expenditure

Increased levels of adiponectin, a protein that increases fat burning



Meanwhile, Our Aberdeen terrier  Skyelark, born in Charleston, South Carolina, and being raised on a Shetland farm, is living her best life:






Roll Videos:

FIRST, A Background piece on Fair Isle and The Shepherd Lifestyle we are are living:






NEXT,  The Testimonials.. It;s hard to describe the process. You must undergo the Cold Water Immerssion to GET IT
.


FINALLY,  A little Nostalgia- Six years ago today September 12, 2013, Sarah and I had a fasination for the crofting lifestyle and attended the Findon Sheep Fair:.



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