Erin Conrad, Three If By Space’s Outlander voice tells ALL!

How’s that for a headline, eh?

Welcome to the 2nd edition of The LOVELANDER Project. Erin Conrad won’t like me saying this and will ask me to edit it out (I won’t) but, she’s kinda a big deal.

If you already know her, you may be pleasantly surprised to learn something new, if you only know Erin from her Three If By Space life, then sit back and let’s close that gap. Maybe you haven’t heard of her – it’s possible – if that is the case, stick around, meeting new people, even virtually, can be very rewarding.  

I have been following Erin on social media for years. First on Twitter and then I started listening to her TIBS radio show, sometimes live but mostly following a few days later while writing or working on my own things at home. I generally stay away from reviewers as I am the ‘keep things positive’ at all costs type o’ gal. (This is not because rainbows shoot outta my butt – this is because I must maintain my own sanity- it’s a tippy thing) There is something about Erin’s TIBS approach. She has the enjoyment and knowledge of the source material while maintaining a respect for the creators. She never speaks as if her word is the last and always invites discourse and treats other’s opinions with kindness. Her lifetime of experience in journalism may have just a little do to with that but perhaps the diplomacy comes more from being married to the same man for 31 yrs and to raising two sons.

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All the things, together – the perfect puzzle.

The super cool thing is, I don’t have to see eye to eye with Erin on her reviews. I still enjoy reading them as her views are succinct and beautifully explained. She helps me understand why she sees things the way she does and that is important to me. It’s not just “I hated it” or “It was stupid”.  That doesn’t help anyone see what the reviewer struggled with.

The benefit of a well-written review is we are able to respect the viewpoint because we understand it. We are then able to move on with our overall love of the journey.  Kind of like being on holiday together, going out to dinner and one devouring the cake and the other thinking it was too sweet. It was still yummy cake.

Let’s dive in with Erin to see what it is that makes her – the her – that she is. I want those reading to know about ‘everyday’ Erin…give us a glimpse will you?  Erin-“Ummm, okayyy… I’m 60, retired last year after our parents had major health issues that required my time and my father in law died. Kevin and I have two sons, Greg and Andy. Greg is 27, a musician, married, and expecting their first child (awww, CONGRATS Grannie!) and they live in New Zealand. Andy is 24, engaged, living about 20 minutes away with his fiancée. I have a degree in journalism – I’ve always been a writer. I stepped back from fulltime work when Greg was 6 months old and did a lot of freelance stuff, then substitute teaching, and a string of admin kind of jobs, most of which bored me silly, but paid some bills. In addition to writing for TIBS, I started doing fused glass work three years ago, and now my basement is full of glass, kilns, equipment. This year was supposed to be my year to start travelling, but of course, that’s difficult now. We’re just hoping to get to New Zealand over Christmas to meet our new grandchild.”

I’ve seen that glasswork of yours, it’s gorgeous! (Check it out peeps). I imagine it becomes a great outlet, and the pieces you have done for your Outlander groups have been stunning, which swings me back around again, we fans all have the story of when Outlander came into our life, how did your journey start? “I found Dragonfly, I think, in the large print section of the library (not where I usually look for books), in probably 1997 or early 1998, right after we moved to Crystal Lake. I realized quickly that it was part of a series, and ran to find the first book. I’ve been hooked since then. I didn’t realize that, other than Ladies of Lallybroch, which I knew about, that there was a huge following until I started writing about it.”

Which leads us of course to Three if by Space… “TIBS started when the owner, Robert, won a contest to go to the set for the show Falling Skies (the site’s name is a line from the show). He started the website as a fan site for that show, and it quickly became a multi-show review site.  I loved Falling Skies and found TIBS looking for info about it, then found out they were looking for writers. That was in 2013, right as news about a TV series of Outlander was coming out. I asked if it fell in their world – sci-fi – and he said sure. So I’ve been writing for the site since then, and have been senior editor, second in charge, for a few years now.” 

Sounds like perfect timing to me! I am always curious as to what other book lovers thought when they found out Outlander was going to be adapted into a TV program. I almost lost my damn mind.  “I was very excited. I have a copy of one of the older books that says on the back that a major motion picture is coming – of course, I was thrilled to see that, and we know that never happened. A TV series is definitely the better choice. It made me nervous, though – how faithful would they be to the books? I was a little reassured that Diana would be involved, but I have enough experience with the world of adaptations and writing to know that there would be differences. Since the show has come out, I haven’t been thrilled with everything they’ve done, but that’s fine – like I’ve said since the beginning, I don’t have the talent, the money or the contacts to do it myself, so I’m happy that someone with all of those is taking it on. I can live with the differences, even if they make my head hurt sometimes – I’d rather watch what’s there than not watch at all. I would give the series a B+ – some of the casting has been off (and some has been spot-on), and I personally think that the show’s angle is skewed in an uncomfortable direction.”

Since I listen to your radio shows and read your reviews, I get exactly what you are saying and where you are coming from. If those reading haven’t tuned in –CLICKITY CLICK RIGHT HERE– You can listen to past episodes. So, what would you say your vision is for the future of the TV show? “As much as I would like to see the show finish out the entire book series, I don’t really know that they will. I think I can live with it if they don’t. I don’t really want to see 80-year-old Jamie and Claire, except in a flash-forward at the end. I’d rather see the show end on a high, rather than dribble on and on toward an end where it’s cancelled because of low viewership. I LOVE David Barry as Lord John but don’t really need a spin-off. I’d watch it – don’t get me wrong – but I’m not going to live and die over it.”

I’d love to hear your vision of how those books will end?  “Now here, I’d be happy to see an 80-year-old Jamie and Claire. I don’t know that Diana wants to go that far. She’s said one more after Bees, and for the main series, that’s good. I’d love to see Germaine and Jemmy and Mandy as adults, solving crimes and taking names (just kidding).” 

Damn, that would be so awesome. Can you imagine? The Mystery Conestoga *snort* My imagination has been tapped. That is never a good thing.

You’ve attended many Outlander events over the years and this is something that many fans might not get to experience. I, personally, am a serious introvert so I know there are certain events I would be overwhelmed by. There will be certain readers who think “I wanna be like ERIN!” tell them about events you dove into.    “Of course, this year, a lot has been cancelled. One I’m hoping doesn’t get cancelled is Thru the Stones, in Davenport, Iowa, in December. This is a great every-other-year event, and it’s different than others – there’s always one BTS guest and one actor guest (although last time Terry Dresbach, former costume designer, came for her second appearance and brought Ron D. Moore with her). But organizer Deb Ford does classes and a trivia contest, a lot of things that other events don’t do. Last year, I went to Outlandish Vancouver for the first time (even though I’ve been good friends with the organizer since my very first Outlander event in 2014) which was really a lot of fun and where I met YOUUUUUUU. (I mean, that had to be the highlight for all *snort*) That one’s been cancelled for this year, and because of Andy’s wedding next year, I don’t think I’ll make it then either, but I encourage everyone else to look at that one.”

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These women love each other so much. Meet Alyson, Cardboard Bonnet, Erin, Cardboard Jamie, Samantha, Cardboard Young Ian. Pass some Droughtlander hours and go back for a listen. Stay Tuned for new ones!

I’m going to live vicariously through you because I think my only cast experiences will ever happen at Outlandish Vancouver (I’m not complaining, because they have been freaking life-altering– not even kiddin’) Please share your most memorable fan experiences… “My favourite was probably my first – the Random  House MOBY book debut in Seattle in 2014. I met so many wonderful new people, met Diana Gabaldon for the first time, saw the first TV show trailer…

I love being in the position to be able to meet the stars and creators personally when I’m interviewing, or on red carpets, etc. For the S1 Part 2 premiere in NYC, I did my first red carpet. I had a minor role in helping the SoCal group meet Sam at what they thought was just going to be a chance to look at the packaging for the upcoming DVD, and Sam walked into their review session. For my assistance – which was just providing a name – Sony sent me a personalized photo of Sam holding up a sign for me. At that red carpet event, I brought a printed out copy of that picture. Sam saw me holding it, and ran over to say “That was for YOU?? Can I sign it for you?” That was a thrill. Everyone has been wonderful to meet.”

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Erin with Diana Gabaldon (L) – and with Sam Heughan. 

THUD! Yup. Just THUD. I’m that person that says something inappropriate to break the ice and ends up wearing it forever. I’ve seen you on the red carpet while watching live streams and you are always so damn dignified. It’s annoying and why I like hanging around you – you make me look like a grown-up. Just put your cursor right here and click! You can see for yourself how cool she is. I am always grateful for the people that Outlander has brought into my life. What do you feel it has brought to yours? “Outlander has really expanded my personal and semi-professional life (since I don’t get paid for any of this). I’ve met the BEST people, women I never would have met otherwise, and that’s enriched my life to no end. I’ve also done things I couldn’t have conceived of doing – I’ve interviewed not only Outlander stars, but then had the confidence and opportunity to meet stars of many other shows, hone my interviewing skills, and develop a bit of a reputation. I’ve really enjoyed managing Facebook groups, setting up and running an annual Holiday Gift Exchange (6 years and still going), and doing an internet radio show.

Now that Droughtlander is in full swing, have you any advice for fans that are starting to get antsy?Find something else to do in real life. Like I said before, it’s not healthy to be so invested in one book and TV series. I see people, over and over, saying “nothing else lives up to it,” and I don’t get that. There are SO many books, TV series, real-life adventures, children and grandchildren, things that need to be done. And then when it comes back on, you’ll enjoy it even more because you’ll be ready and refreshed, rather than in agony over every little word and delay.” 

That’s some damned good advice, my friend. For those reading, leave any books you have read and enjoyed in the comments or the thread of whatever media you are reading this on. Share and share alike!

This is the ABOotlander finale question.  You have been invited to dinner with us and you have been offered these Albertan delicacies  A) Moose Droppings B) Beaver Tails   C) Prairie Oysters D) Taber Corn.  Which would you choose & why? “AHHH. I know what Prairie Oysters are, not having those.  I like most things corn-related, but somehow this feels like a trick question. I hope moose droppings have something to do with chocolate, so I’ll pick that one.” I love you think I would trick you with corn. It speaks so much of what you know of me.

The Outlander fandom started before the TV show was even created due to the popularity of the novels. When the show was announced, the book fans started an online presence that was impressive. Erin was certainly a part of that wave, we are grateful for her dedication. Thank you, my friend for sharing your mind and your heart with so many…especially me!

Sher xo

 

The LOVELANDER Project – Edition 1 Vida/Blancklanderz

ABOotlander L🖤ve – Previous Interviews –  Julia LeBlanc/VideoQueen  Summer & Ginger from Outlander Podcast  CastDr.Joe Abernathy/Wil Johnson  CastAdrienne-Marie/Suzette Beth Wesson/@PixieTwit  Connie Verzak@ConnieBV  Karmen @OutLandAnatomy          Jane @RRankinFans  CastSera-Lys McArthur /Johiehon CastCarmen Moore /Wahkatiiosta CastKikkiFleming/ Lesley

Fear. My last ‘not a recap’ for Outlander Season 5. Never My Love.

Whether we were captivated or horrified by Outlander’s season finale, Never My Love, I believe we can agree that it had an impact.

I debated whether I would write about this episode, I also had an inner dialogue if I’d go my regular route of running further afield. Should I break my streak and face real talk? I have a rather, let’s say, intimate relationship with sexual assault and rape. I have spoken of it pretty openly.  In my 30’s, I spent time working as a victim services coordinator which gave me an opportunity to sit with, walk beside and rage alongside women in impossible circumstances. Rape should never be brushed away. It happens often in our society now, we know damn well it happened in the past. In fact, it happened so often that it wasn’t even considered rape. It was considered a right by the aggressor and a duty by the victim. I decided not to take a deep dive there, this time. Droughtlander is going to be long, I  do have some things I want to say and I will because I have plenty of time.

The finale was steeped in fear. I know we all have different ideas of what fear is. Motivational speakers like to say fear is “False Evidence Appearing Real”, and hey, I’m not knocking that mindset, hell, I have said it myself BUT when you have a boot being swung at your head that’s fucking scary and real, there is a legitimate reason to fear that.

Fear, like many things in this life – isn’t simple.

The series of events we witnessed were spurned by the deep-seated fears that Lionel Brown had. Before someone thinks I am defending that piece of flaming garbage, I am not. People act with violence ‘because of’ and Lionel was acting through his hate for Claire and everything she was/represented. That hate constructed a fear he felt powerless with. In order to gain some dominance he recruited and included other men. This gave him the impression of strength and control. All the while, his fear and hate continued to build because Claire refused to cower to him.

Sadly, we can see this in ourselves. Naturally, the degree that Brown hits isn’t the norm for most of us🤞🏻 . When we ‘hate’ someone, that is mostly predicated by a perceived threat (or because someone we trust has told us we should).  We may feel inadequate, powerless or somehow ashamed when we are exposed to them. Those feelings can cause us to lash out.

In Lionel’s case, they are exhibited in violent acts and rage. We aren’t complete misogynist slime balls so we react in a less vicious manner. We may be passive-aggressive, withhold kindness, gossip or spread rumours. It is a usual tactic to try and turn others against those who we have had felt threatened by, Lionel did exactly that with his men.

Lionel thought he had power over Claire when all along, she had power over him. Did it matter that Lionel’s wife refused his bed? No. He would beat her and raped her anyway.  Did it matter that Claire made eye contact with him and called him out on shooting a man in the back? Not really, her accusations held no water legally. None of these things truly changed Lionel’s life BUT he invented Claire being a personal threat to him. He created that narrative and brought his friends along for the ride because when we get others to join in our treachery it validates it.

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The big bad girl scared all of them with her big brain.

Let’s face it, spreading hate is especially easy when the one person fighting against it, is bound, gagged, beaten and raped into submission. When this kind of fear/hate finds it target, it becomes emboldened and so do those who follow it. When their target falls they use this as fuel for their hate.

This is something that we see regularly. Those who are oppressed, have to fight harder, be louder and they are still consistently beaten into silence – yet – they don’t give up.  Those who are bullied, beaten, shot, denied work, incarcerated and forced to sit at tables alone…think about it. We see it on Outlander on a dramatic scale, when we travel to the other points on the spectrum, there you will find us. It’s the human condition and not all of it is pleasant to look at.

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No matter what side we are on, it’s embarrassing to be ‘in’ this society sometimes.

The show writers made it easy to despise Lionel. We don’t really give a shit if he was afraid of Claire, do we? That’s his own shrivelled up masculinity, too bad he couldn’t keep it to himself.  All we wanted to see was that he and his buddies were punished.

The reality of that punishment, in this story, is that would also come from fear. I wanted to look at 2 of the characters that truly used their fear as fuel.  This is why being aware of the scope of emotion is so important, why looking at life in black and white can be dangerous.

Marsali and Roger both used their fear as fuel.  Marsali, has become aware of her worth as a women in a world that doesn’t especially find worth in her. This man not only threatened her and the child she carried by assaulting her, he tormented and raped her Ma. Brown was laying in the room with her, threatening to kill everyone on the ridge. Her experience with him tells her that he is not lying. These are not threats, these are promises. Marsali is not willing to live with this fear, she ends it the only way she can. I could hear the cheers across the Outlander fandom.

We have the ability to do the same in our lives. No, I am not advocating jabbing a big ole needle full of poison into someones neck, that’s pushin’ it.

Imagine for a moment, we have that person who is in our life that is constantly forcing toxicity into our life. We listen, take it in, allow it to seep into our days because we fear the fall out if we stop engaging.  I know many of us can relate to this, afraid to hurt feeling. Confrontation is hard. Yet, here we allow ourselves to go through the stress for a harmful relationship out of fear of hurting the feelings of someone we don’t respect or even like. We need to love ourselves more than that.

Roger. Deep down is a pacifist but his fear was clearly build from love. His fear was for Claire and her safety. He used this to push through his natural instinct to be a man of peace, to fight for his family.  We will find this with mothers and fathers regarding their children. It is why I was so happy to see Outlander utilize Roger in this way. His nature is not one of violence, yet, for his family, for the woman who is very much a mother to him, he will do whatever it takes. Even if it means stepping over a line that he will never forget crossing.  We have those moments too, we are so terrified, we don’t know if we can do something, yet we do.  Getting married, having kids, getting on that roller coaster, taking that promotion, buying that house, moving across the country, getting a divorce, getting help for that thing we don’t want anyone to know about.  No matter what it is, if we think it is worth going for, we will push through that fear and do it.

This fear thing, we all live with it. It’s an emotion that we can learn to manage, understand and even embrace.

Now gimme a HUG! We all need it after this season. Let’s try and get through Droughtlander without too many injuries, eh?

Sher xo

I’m not going anywhere during Droughtlander. I have some fun things up my sleeve so staytuned my Twitter account and this blog!

Our REDBUBBLE STORE is open.  You will find some fun #Droughtlander designs there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Reason. A Season. A Lifetime. How Ep11 of Outlander took me back.

It’s been approximately 12 hours since I watched Journeycake for the 5th time. I’m still not completely settled. To be honest, I feel like it beat the shit out of me.

*sssh* I know, self-inflicted. *blah blah blah*

As soon as I felt a little safe with a bit of happiness, laughter or joy BOOM – kick in the face with sadness, despair or pure fear.  It may be partially due to my being in a vulnerable state but jeemziz, it was a doodiddlydoozey!

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Do what ya can to get you through it!

I am diving in because if I don’t I will let my mind start wandering and it may never come back.  All the dynamics of relationships were on display in this episode. Good, bad and deep dark-n-ugly.  The beauty of it all, we can identify with each one and that is why they resonate with us.  I want to throw a mental note at everyone, these blogs (even though I’m a book reader), are written in direct relation to the show and what happens on it.

I have always believed that people come into our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Some will fill one of those spaces and that’s kinda the way it’s meant to be. Not everyone we develop relationships with is meant to be in our life forever. Realistically, some who pass through may not have been put there for us, we may have been there for them. A by-product, for lack of a better word, of something they needed, to teach them a lesson of some kind. Meaning the reason may never be known to us.

This thread was so predominant with our characters in this episode.  The opening scene was jarring yet speaks loudly about how people come into our life for a reason. The dying girl, her connection to Roger, lasts mere moments though it will stay with him forever. We will never know who they were but she needed Roger. As she lay there suffering it was his gentle and merciful hands passing by to set her free from the pain. For that reason alone, they were meant to cross paths.

That meeting may have also been a catalyst to Roger’s desire to return to his own time sooner than later. This isn’t something a 20th-century history professor would ever have to worry about stumbling across, is it?

‘Dr. Rawlings’ made his way to Wilmington and everywhere in between, as unintentional as it was, it seems the reason stretched far beyond Claire’s objective. Women were getting medical advice that was unprecedented.  Previous episodes foreshadowed it, where this episode solidified Claire’s life has been put in danger due to her connection with Dr. Rawlings.

Those three minutes on screen with Claire, Rose and Marsali were enough to give the audience a full view of what affects Dr. Rawlings has had. Rose Brown, whose reproductive choices were never her own now had some say, due to the knowledge inadvertently printed in that newspaper.  No doubt saving a child being born to the hands of an abusive father.

We are aware that women have been controlled in many ways over the centuries, reproductively we were on the bottom, which is insane since we are the ONLY ones that have that particular superpower. We can easily assume that Rose was not the only one taking this advice. Whether it was because they were in an abusive relationship, had enough damn kids already or *gasp* simply did not want to have a child. We will need to hold the outcome of Dr. Rawlings as a separate entity from the purpose it may have had for the women who benefited from it.

We have those ‘seasonal’ relationships. You know the ones. They come into our lives and we feel like they are going to last forever, they change who we are at our core and then the relationship ends or changes to something less than it was.

With the MacKenzie’s leaving the ridge, we experienced these heartwrenching but beautiful goodbyes. In the land of the interwebs, we are luckier but we still go through them. A friendship, like Lizzie and Brianna, we feel will last forever. BFFs, we say. Forever is a long time though. We attach ourselves to people in times we have a need, they have a need. When those needs change or we change, often so will the relationship. Sure, sometimes our relationships can grow and change along with us however there are times they disappear with the seasons. We often see this as a bad thing instead of accepting it as a part of moving through life. This doesn’t make them less than, they likely taught us something wonderful about ourselves, pushed us through some harrowing times and created a soft place for us to land.

We often make the mistake of thinking those seasonal relationships of growing apart or ending as bad things. If we accepted it for what it was, we would be grateful for the experiences we shared, thank one another, hope we will cross paths again one day and move forward. Instead, we often end up burning a bridge or two because we aren’t sure how to end a relationship in a healthy way. It seems this is something Ian is struggling with. His desperate need to go back to change things with the woman he speaks of.

Otter-tooth attempted to go back in time to change the fate of his people. What was supposed to be a lifetime relationship became one of the seasons. The connection Otter-tooth ended up having with Claire, saved Roger from the Mowhawk but also become the catalyst of Ian finding a home with them. It was planned Ian would stay with them indefinitely except things happen that we can’t predict. These are the moments when our wishes get blown out like a candle.

Those instances can kick us in the back of the knees, can’t they? We think we have it all figured out. Know exactly what is happening with our life and suddenly something that we have no control over changes the trajectory, instantly. Without warning lifetime people fade into seasonals and the adjustment physically hurts. The ridge was alive with this while the MacKenzie’s said their goodbyes and why there were so many emotional reactions by viewers.

Our characters drove home a crucial point, our lifetime people don’t always have to be in our daily lives. Ulysses comes to mind. He has been a free man since Hector Cameron died yet he stayed as a loyal friend (viewed by all others, as a slave) to Jocasta. Never leaving her side until he was finally forced to. The bond that Ulysses and Jocasta had is not the kind that is lost with time or distance. It will be carried across the sea as it is an attachment that was sealed with trust (and you know, weasel killing).

Jamie may have spoken the words clearest during the scene with Bree. “Though I might not see any of you again, You have made my life whole.” Not all relationships within families are this deep.  With Bree,  Jemmy and yes, Roger, Jamie had been given the full family that he always desired.  Whether he held them in his arms or in his heart, he had them and that mattered the most.

The reason why Jamie’s stalwart nature resonated with me is I had to stop and ask myself why isn’t he breaking? I could feel Claire. She was feeling the grief of her daughter, grandson and son-in-law, being gone from her. Jamie, being bold and yes, moved, missing them but then I saw it. He still held them in the very same spot they were as if he could touch them. Where Claire, like so many of us, have done, when our children leave home, move out of the province or country, saw them as untouchable – he saw them as within.  Not only did it help him with the transition, but it also enabled him to support Claire better through her grief.

We also have those relationships. The ones that never end. Whether the person is gone from this earth or has moved far away. I have friends that I haven’t seen for years, might speak with a couple times a year yet I know, without a doubt, they are my people. The minute we end up in the same room, no time has passed and we are the same two idiots we always were.

Reflecting on the episode Journeycake makes me grateful for the ‘Outlander season’ part of my life.  It has been a hell of a ride thus far. I have no idea how many years we have left on this rollercoaster of a fandom. We can’t even guess who will come into our lives or who will leave over that course of time. I do know that I have met some remarkable people as a result of me sticking my nose in all yer bizznizz and I have a feeling there will be more than a few of you stuck with me for a lifetime.

Don’t worry though, the ones that want to make this seasonal, I am sure you can mute me easy enough. As for the reason I ended up on the other side of your computer screen…that’s all your fault.

Next week lasses and laddies, are ya ready?  I can say loudly – I AM NOT!

Sher xox

Don’t forget to join us for the season finale LIVETWEET event while Canadians tune in on W Network at 7 Pm MT using the hashtags #OutlanderCAN #NeverMyLove

Bendability. The twists-n-turns I took with Ep09 #MonstersandHeroes

Imagine.  Writing a whole blog, over 5 hours of thoughts, feelings and analysis only to say “Nope. Not good enough.” – I didn’t leave it to ponder about but hit delete. Done. Over.  I did that last night.  I spent most of the day Monday, off and on, putting my thoughts about Monsters and Heroes here, on this identical template I am staring at right now. It was complete. All except for those annoying GIFs that I add to drive ya all crazy but they add my boneheaded personality.

I deleted it because I struggled with it. It felt pushed, unnatural and well, obvious. I usually wouldn’t even tell you what I wrote about but I will. I wrote about friendship. See? 🧀 anyone? It felt overdone, it felt sappy and it felt so NOT me.  Not because I don’t have friends (I know, SHOCKIN’, I can count at least 3! ) but friendship is a concept we all understand for the most part. I don’t need to write a whole farkin’ blog about it, and I did. 😨 LAME!

This topic though, bendability, I hope isn’t. I could have taken the path of publishing the blog that everyone would have easily identified with.  That would be the easy way out. Choosing to be a little uncomfortable, to stretch myself in another direction, do something different…that makes more sense to what I try and accomplish with my blogs.  Will it work?

Time to stop blathering and get on with it shall I?

The title of the episode “Monsters and Heroes” can be seen in direct connection to the title of the blog. These don’t have to be two separate entities, they can be the same person, to the same people at different times in their life. We opened with that situation. Claire and Marsali. Marsali, she first saw Claire as a monster. She only knew her from the perspective that she grew up with, shown via her mother and the life experience she had. Marsali is a strong-willed, determined and sass-laced woman.  There was as much likelihood she would have dug her heels in and not accepted Claire or simply ignored her existence. Marsali used her ability to bend to see her own truth. If I were to venture a guess where this trait came from I would say it was the influence of Jamie through Fergus.

Her direct experiences with Jamie likely were clouded by her mother’s perceptions of the relationship. We heard as much from her early discussions with Claire. She and Fergus doubtlessly have had a long relationship. He grew up at Lallybroch, not far from where Marsali did. Fergus is the epitome of adaptable and that virtue, not only admirable, tends to rub off on those closest to them.

We’ve witnessed Marsali view Claire as a monster in her world. When she transforms into being her “Ma”, it’s special. She now sees her as someone she learns from and admires. A heroine. That, my friends, is bendability.

I wonder how many people we have had in our lives that we have written off because of the stories others have told from their perceptions of them, through their experiences, one-sided. We may have labelled as unworthy of our time or bad people simply because someone we knew/cared about, hated them.  Our lack of bendability may have shut out someone that may not have been such a monster after all.

There will be times in our lives that we have no choice but to bend.  The reason being if we don’t – we will break. There is no alternative. Roger and Jamie were placed in this position. Their relationship of tentative tiptoeing around one another with passive-aggressive taps-n-shots wasn’t going to get them through the crisis they found themselves in. Jamie, in need of rescuing and Roger in the position to save him.  The pair were forced to bend to the other’s reality.

Jamie’s snakebite set in motion events that created a bromance we will enjoy for years. Seriously though, the dynamic that mess brought on was instrumental in the Roger/Jamie bond. Not many have seen Jamie so vulnerable. We KNOW no one has ever sucked on his leg like that.

Roger had every reason to resent this red-headed brute of a man. From the first moment Roger laid eyes on him, to that very morning being the cockblocker he was. Yet, there was this man doing everything he could to save his father-in-law and keep his spirits up. Without handing out spoilers, Roger may very well have found his purpose on this dreadful excursion.

We went from two men circling one another warily, wondering where they stood in each other’s life to two people who found a comfortable, mutual respect and even a playful place with one another. Where there was trepidation the day before…a father and son connection was born. It took devastating circumstances forcing them into an uncomfortable space to do it but I am not certain anything less would have forged that relationship these men would need for the future.

How about that not so Young Ian? He has shown us we have the ability to not just bend but sway and twist. In fact, he knowingly steps into situations that will force him to bend.  Being a young lad in he left his small community and made way for adventure. Getting much more than he could have dreamt possible or wished to have. This young man chooses to evolve, with new people and lifestyles, knowing it is him that is going to have to do all the adapting.

In this episode, he set an example for someone who is supposed to be much wiser than he.  What we saw here was Ian saying the hard stuff.  That in itself is bendability. It’s not comfortable, for anyone. These conversations takes us out of our comfort zone of supporting and holding up those we care about. Knowing deep down that those are the words they need to hear takes an extra push, a lot won’t manage due to how difficult it is.  The ones that do get the words out, almost always feel bad.  That’s because they have a heart and they love. It isn’t supposed to feel good to say something severe to people we care for.

When the person is open enough to hear us, yes, bendable themselves, the message will strengthen the bond we have.  When saying the tough things, as hard as they are to say, they are hard to hear.  Jamie took the shaming well.  Had he the energy to fight back, I am not sure he would have. The truth of Ian’s words hung in the air for some time after he left the room.

Not everyone is so receptive to the truth on occasions such as these.  I admittedly am not always a fan. I have had the truth face me down and sometimes the first reflex is to defend. When that is my reaction, it’s often my clue I’m on the wrong side of things. I REALLY hate that. Being defensive indicates I am not confident in what I am arguing about. I use this as one of my life check-points to stop being rigid and look for the place to squeeze in that bendability.  It isn’t comfortable, it isn’t easy but, it’s more often right than it’s not.  That is where Jamie ended up. It took him time and pride but he got to where he needed to be.  He didn’t end up losing his leg, thank goodness.

Brianna is our used car lot balloon lady bendable, physically and emotionally.  You know, she’s having some ale on the porch and in a split second facing a charging 2000 pound buffalo to save her son and BFF. She is questioning if she can use her intelligence in a world where raising babies, making candles and dying day is considered the “life”. The need for Bree is to bend reality. The reality of the world she lives in. She had to stop seeing herself as fitting into the 1700s and just be Bree. Where an opportunity arises to use her engineering background, she will be taking it, as she did with creating the syringe for her mother out of the snake’s fang. I am sure this is only the start of Brianna putting her creative mind to work to make life easier on the ridge. 007

A big “Monsters and Heroes” take away for me was to loosen the hell up. Come on, I literally deleted a whole blog because it wasn’t ‘good enough’. True, it showed some bendability but it also showed I’m kinda an ass.  We are all under extra stress right now, some more than others but that never takes away from what each individual goes through.  It is times like this when we should do our best to let some of our austerity go. When we are feeling anxious, stressed and we add our own rigidity to it, we get so wound up it makes us feel all the more confined. If we bend it, allow it some slack, we allow ourselves some room to breathe.

 

It’s my hope you have the room.

Until next time,

Sher xo

Don’t forget we live tweet with the Canadian airing of Outlander on W Network Sunday nights at 7 pm MT. using the hashtag #OutlanderCAN. We would love it if you would join us. Only 3 more episodes left!

 

The Answer Within. I heard a few during S5E08 . #Outlander #FamousLastWords

I am becoming a broken record this season with these ‘not a recaps’.  Each episode is completely different from the last but in my view, each has a punch in the gut effect that stays with you long after.  And with that, as the credits rolled on #FamousLastWords, that duet with Richard Rankin and Sophie Skelton – COME ON! I found it breathtaking. Each time I watched the episode (4 times, so far) I let it play and sat back to listen.  I have never done that before this episode.

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Nope. Never. Not one time. Zero.

Once again, faced with so many topics to write about. All of them struck cords that I could go on about forEVA but I don’t want to do that. We seem to have nothing but time these days but I’m not going to take advantage of you. Not like that anyway. #winkawinka

There were questions of worth, grief bursts, traumatic flashbacks and worry all wrapped up in the characters we love so dearly.  We were with all of our favourites, in all of the moments we needed to be with them. Whether we were hearing them or observing. The voyeurs in us were on high alert.

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Watching is such sweet sorrow but I…can’t…stop.

We saw once more, words aren’t needed to convey emotion. This time, it was Richard Rankins’s turn. Without a word or a whisper, we felt, deeply, what Roger was experiencing. His eyes, shoulders, neck muscles, brows and the set of his mouth gave us everything we needed to know about what was happening inside his head, heart and rooted within his soul.  The people who love him, Brianna in particular, could see it too. She was especially in tune with what he was going through because she saw herself in him.

While trying to get through to Roger, Brianna brought up how she too, faced darkness and ugliness. I believe this moment was a catharsis for Brianna even though she was attempting to shake something loose in Roger. He still wasn’t in a place to hear her words. The wall he had built around himself was as impenetrable as his voice was stifled.  Brianna though, for all of the times she sat in silence, fighting her demons, keeping them silent and masking the trauma she went through for the sake of others, she let it out. She put it in front of Roger that she is fighting. Every day. For her family and those words were what she needed to hear.  Without realizing it, she was giving herself the advice she craved.  The words Bree had been waiting for were within her, she only needed to say them out loud.  She was directing them towards Roger however when we say things out loud, that is when we finally, truly, catch on. We, more often than not, won’t notice how we self-heal through our love of others.

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Give it…and eat it back up. 

There is one common thread each person on this earth shares. We all will lose someone we love. Sooner or later, it happens. In tandem, others will reach out to comfort us. When our grief is deep, there are no words, actions, cliches or casseroles that help. Making things better is contrary to reason.

Jamie asked Claire if there was a medicine in her time for grief.  Time was as close as she could get, and even that isn’t a cure.  We only get adept at integrating the grief into our everyday.  We also must be honest, as shown in this episode. Grief is not reserved for the dead. We grieve people we lose that have not died but are no longer in our life, whether that is by our choice or theirs. We grieve parts of ourselves that we have lost, due to trauma or illness. Grief changes who we are and that is o.k.

Even though grief is something nearly everyone in this world has in common, it is as unique as each person and the relationship they have with the person/piece of them who/that has died. There may be ‘stages’ of grief but none of us walk them the same or follow the path the way it may be expected.  We may think we know how someone feels but we can’t, not genuinely. We can empathize with their pain but knowing it would mean we know every corner of their heart/mind and that is impossible. Allowing someone their personal grief journey is a gift. Grief heals. Roger was grieving pieces of himself. Ian was grieving his tribe and more, Jamie grieving Murtagh. In the end, Claire was honest with Jamie. Letting him know there was nothing she could do, nothing anyone could do. Being a healer, she used the expression that brings her comfort. Time heals all wounds. To a degree of course. Scars are always left behind.

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Literal and figurative, both

This is something we will all find ourselves doing.  The words that bring us the most comfort, we share with others, hoping they have the same effect.

I want to touch on a brief and beautiful moment between Marsali and Young Ian. Marsali came to sit with Ian, speaking to him of their youth in Scotland. She reached out, reminiscing of family, siblings. It appeared that Marsali sensed Ian was moving about, untethered. Like a balloon about to fly away unless someone grabbed hold.  She connected with him by chatting about her jealousy of his bustling Murray family.  Mentioning how he must miss them, grasping at that string to pull him back.  We saw the flicker of light appear in Ian’s eyes as he spoke of his sister Janet and when he admitted he did indeed missed his family.  As Marsali’s pregnancy became more the focus in the conversation, Ian’s heaviness returned. Marsali knows family, her center is love and comfort. She did the best with what she had and I believe the seed she planted did help, a little.

That is why, no matter what we believe someone is going through. It is always good to find a step to sit on with them.  We have moments we wonder “Should I bother?”, “They don’t seem receptive.”  If you think a loved one might be hurting but you have a feeling you may be overstepping, say it – “I may be overstepping, and if I am, I will apologize. Today, I want you to know that I love you, that I am thinking of you and I’d like to hear how you are doing.” Is it always that easy? No, it isn’t. Many things in life aren’t but for those we love, we can take the chance. Marsassy did it.

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And so can we…

Seeing Roger and Ian amid dual struggles was both heartbreaking and became heartwarming. Both men, in very dark places, grappling with their pain to the point of not wanting to face it another day. Neither able to grasp how to move it out of the way. Roger was at what could have been his final moment. Facing the memory of being hanged, blacking out, almost strangled to death and Brianna’s face appeared to him. It wasn’t only Brianna, being his wife, that pulled him from the edge. It was his realization that on his previous brink of death, it was her, his love for her that he was bound to. In living colour with a powerful brightness, he envisioned this woman, whose love never wavered.  A familiar saying comes to mind “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.”

We often learn lessons at the perfect time and it seems to me this is what happened for Roger and Ian.  They were moving in parallel through much of the episode.  Once it was obvious what Ian’s intentions were, collective hearts were breaking for him and then, Roger comes in for the rescue.  An unlikely hero, given the circumstances. Ian angrily says so when Roger interrupts his plans to end his life.

Roger doesn’t know what Ian’s story is but he knows what matters is that Ian lives. The reason being, he sees Ian in himself and HE wants to live.  When Ian is unsure that he has the strength to carry on, Roger fortifies them both.  He pleads with Ian to pick up his weapon, it doesn’t mean he has to use it, just pick it up to go home with him. One day he will be strong enough to fight again and together it will happen.

This was Roger’s way of gaining strength from his own words, just as Brianna did with him.  We may get turned around and twisted in agony over the things we feel we should do, or have difficulty coping with.  We feel lost and wonder how in the world we’ll make it through another tragedy or manage another day.  Yet, someone we care for will be in that same head-space and we will have this astonishing amount of compassion for them. We will share uplifting stories of times we have pulled ourselves from the depths of despair or regale them with tales to lighten their heart.  What a beautiful thing it would be if we would take that same time and compassion for ourselves when we felt ourselves getting turned around.

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Today is every day. 

It is easier to give advice than it is to take it.  It is especially easier to give it when you see yourself so clearly in the person you are sharing the advice with.  Ian twice had moments of “you are one to talk” in this episode, first with Jamie – when he was trying to get Ian to open up to him.  Ian clapped back with a ‘Hey pal, you and Claire have secrets – back off and let me have my own.’ Point made. Then again with Roger for stopping him from doing exactly what Ian figured he was about to do himself.  The reason I bring this up is I think it’s a great life lesson moment.

When we are giving those bits of advice out to those we care about, it’s often because we see ourselves in them. It’s a good idea to be sure we have followed our own advice.  Being truthful to ourselves is being honest in our actions.  I assure you, if we haven’t, the one we are sharing with, may call our ass out on the carpet.

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Gotta cut the crap, sometimes.

We learn a lot about ourselves when we listen to the advice we share.  Our actions speak loudly about our character. I think we can see that with the characters I spoke of in #FamousLastWords.  You and I, we identify with these characters on this TV show owing to their stories aren’t so different from our own. Sure, their arc is more dramatic on the whole yet, at the heart of it all, the feelings at the core. We get it.

That’s why we keep coming back.

Sher xo

PS – I need to add a note about John Bell coming back. I squealed, jumped out of my chair and was just THRILLED to bits.  I slapped my husband’s leg so many times he was forced to finally say “OK, that is starting to hurt now.” to make me stop.  Where John used to bring us smiles and much-needed levity on screen – we now are seeing the true depth of this young man’s talent.  I am not sure I am ready for it but I am really feckin excited.

Join us Canadians for Live Tweeting with W Network on Sundays at 7 pm MT using the hashtag #OutlanderCAN

 

 

 

How to Predict the Future. What I picked up from #TheBalladOfRogerMac

I will say that I have started and stopped this particular ‘not a recap’ half a dozen times already.  I even wrote nearly a whole blog with another topic and trashed it. It’s not only because I was struggling with what to focus the blog on but because my thoughts were so all over the place, I had a difficult time wrangling them. I finally gave up and said, “What the hell, I’m just going to start…and keep going until I am done!” So, here we go.  Fingers crossed this shit makes sense at the end.

I don’t have to go into how emotionally draining this episode was because so many others have, I am pretty sure there is online debriefing amongst fans due to the mass breakdown. Which went in a couple directions. I usually pull on a thread that catches my attention in the episode and unravel the why.  This blog is a bit different than that.

The Ballad of Roger Mac came with loads to unpack, at first, I did struggle. I wanted to talk about control and how we truly have none except that over our own self.  I wrote about the breakdown of one’s spirit.  Nearly 1000 words in and I deleted the whole fucking thing because I was depressing myself. I did NOT need to feed to you – especially now. I closed my laptop and watched the episode, again.

Here I sit with thoughts of preparedness for the future. How that is more a concept than anything. We can prepare physically for what may happen but we are never truly prepared for how things make us feel. The wild, crazy ride of life that becomes intensely personal and all ours.

One way we can predict/prepare for our future is to assess our past.  We don’t have to be psychic or psychotic to think we can see what is in our future.  Our past behaviours in similar circumstances can lead us toward that vision.  Often, the lessons we may have learned from situations can be helpful to determine what actions would be logical (or not) next time around.

Roger is attempting to unload a wagonful of burden before leaving Jemmy and Brianna.  Thoughts of his father dying in WW2 enable him to picture himself in both his father’s shoes and Jemmy’s wee booties.  He is more concerned about Jemmy not remembering him than he is about dying.

Brianna knows Roger more than anyone.  She recognizes Roger’s pattern of behaviour. He puts his own safety in jeopardy to help others. “Act first, think later’ Roger. He has this horrible luck of not having a chance to think later because he’s been forced onto a ship, beaten silly, or tossed back into the idiot hut. You know, those things.giphy-3                                          We know, Rog, we know…

The worry Brianna feels as Roger heads out is not just because of the impending war but because she knows him to his core.  He is a pacifist, she knows he will protect those he perceives as vulnerable, putting his life on the line without a thought. Bree knows Roger’s future will be filled with the compulsion to intercede on behalf of those suffering. Which as we have seen, given the closing scene of The Ballad of Roger Mac, may cost him everything.

Caretakers, we see you.  Perhaps you aren’t as ‘idiot hutty’ as Roger manages but getting lost in moments where safety, whether physical, emotional or both are put aside in order to safeguard others, is commendable.

We are seeing this right now, all over the globe. Without proper PPE, tired and frustrated health care workers are going into work, missing their own families, to save the lives of others.  I promise you, the caretakers doing this, their families will tell you, it is no surprise. These caretakers have been reacting to situations their whole lives with little regard to themselves.  Their past predicted their reaction to this crisis, not the crisis itself.

Jamie has been on the wrong side of the law for as long as we’ve known him. In The Ballad of Roger Mac, we saw him move from the flimsy side of the crown to full-on rebel.  Given his history, this wasn’t hard to anticipate. In the past, he turned his body over to save his wife.  He plotted with his sister to give him over to the crown for the good of those at Lallybroch.  As an indentured servant, he extended his life as a stable hand to be around his illegitimate son. He lived under a pseudonym, as a respectable printer to distribute seditious material and smuggle contraband. Jamie created a life of playing the game in order to achieve what he needed or wanted.

Murtagh was a man who was always prepared to die for what he believed in. Yes, he hated the red coats and undoubtedly believed in the regulator’s cause. Above all, he loved Jamie.

It wasn’t the oath that made Murtagh save Jamie’s life or that made Jamie want to save Murtagh’s.  It was love.  Jamie had lost his father – he had killed his Uncle – Murtagh was the last man standing that could show him. Show him what, you might ask. The ‘what’ are those now unknowns that we can never predict. It is needing their guidance of having lived ‘the whats’ and their ability to share them with us.

Even at 50, such a loss isn’t easy.  It is like our foundation is shaken out from under us.  We believed we knew what the world was going to look like and then someone strikes it with a hammer to shatter it into dust.  How do we fix that?  Is it possible to reimagine it? Will looking back help us see the future here?

It is deep breath time. Acceptance that living through it is to know it.  This is the experience to learn from. This is the hurt from which we heal.  Healing does not mean getting over or moving on or any of the thousand clichés we use.  Healing means being present in our grief, giving it room to breathe while discovering our new normal.  Creating a space for a new relationship with those we have lost.

That is how we can predict our future after a loss. It’s never easy. It’s messy and it hurts. People on TV will go through it in hyper speed but us? We need to do it our way.  How we look at our loved ones in life can be what helps define that new every day we establish.

Claire, over and above, is reaching back into the past to straight-up create her future, hers is full of penicillin.  Technically she’s reaching into the future (but it’s her past – it can get crazy confusing – especially for me who is easily confused 😋).  Bringing her knowledge from becoming a surgeon further contributes to her life-saving abilities each day she spends in the 1700’s. There are lives she preserves simply by teaching folks basic hygiene.

How many of our ancestors do you think would still be alive if they didn’t have poop fingers? That’s a legit question, friends.

When Claire sees Jamie off to fight, their departure has a much different feel than Bree and Roger’s.  She is his wife, of course, she has concern for his wellbeing. Claire is also exceedingly pragmatic. She puts complete trust in his word to her.  In order to concentrate on what she needs to do, she puts her worry into his hands.

This tactic is one that many of us could learn from.  Especially chronic worriers. I know they are out there.

I am validating the incredibly difficult times we are in right now.  I am going to urge those struggling to go the way of Claire.  For those overwhelmed by worry about those they love.  Ask questions.  Do you trust their intelligence?  Are they capable human beings? If you answer yes to those. Trust them.

Tell them you are concerned and ask them to share their experiences with you.  We tend to get so carried away with random thoughts we disconnect from the reality.  Claire understands that Jamie has said, today isn’t the day we part for good. She trusts him and his words.  Claire focuses on the things she can control, which are medicine and healing. She can not control each outcome but she does her level best with what she has.  That is all any of us can do.

Imagine we could predict our futures to the letter. Having the information of when we would lose someone or we could foresee falling in love…we could never be truly prepared.  We might picture the physicalities of the situation however the feelings we experience will always be new. Emotion is the element that can not be nailed down.

Claire used her knowledge of how wounds are created, faced off with that skeezy Lyle Asshat Brown. She accused him of shooting Isaiah Morton in the back.  His manbaby ego is battered so badly he smashed her one and only syringe, like a toddler.  Keenly aware of the consequences of his actions, Claire is horrified into silence.

Jamie knew he would be battling against Murtagh in this fight.  He always knew there was a chance his Godfather could be killed, yet, when the moment came that he was. Grief took over.

Brianna wrestled with her fear that something terrible happened to Roger when he did not return to camp before the battle. She knew he was missing.  Her worry was colouring everything in front of her. When faced with her husband hanging from a tree. Shock overcame her.

Emotion. Emotion. Emotion.  It will often be the curve in the path to foreseeing what is ahead.  I believe the key is to feel whatever it is you are feeling.  Anger, fear, sadness or shock. Allow it to take its course, validate why it is there and know it’s all right. The less we suppress or deny our emotions, the sooner we move towards the future we envision.

I am sending you all love and hugs- virtual hugs because those I can give you, up close and personal.

Sher xo

ps. I try to livetweet every Sunday with W Network’s airing of Outlander at 7 PM Mt. using the hashtag #OutlanderCAN