Book Review: “Women Of Scotland: A Journey Through History” by Helen Susan Swift

Howdy!

Recently I was scrolling through new free books on Amazon and I came across this little beauty. It is called Women Of Scotland: A Journey Through History by Helen Susan Swift. I am prone to love books directed towards women and their everyday lives, and it doesn’t matter on the time period, I just like to learn what they were up to; so when I read the description of this, I became even more curious to learn about them.

I actually wasn’t going to do this review, but I wanted a nice get way to talk about my reason to why I decided to read this book. I just figured I could kill two birds with one stone! So, let’s get started with my explanation and ultimately talk about why I enjoyed this, but still gave it three stars on Goodreads.


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A historical survey of Scotswomen from earliest times to the 21st century. This book looks the huge number of women who have been the driving force behind this small but dynamic nation from the dark ages to the present day. As well as warriors and scientists, fish wives, seawomen, the factory workers and authors are included.

taken from Goodreads.


For Christmas, my dad received the AncestryDNA kit. He’s always talked about doing it, but is really paranoid about these things. However, once he did it, it was like he was a kid again, all excited and giddy with every new notification. It was so adorable!

He has known about the Scottish and Welsh roots, but wasn’t really sure about the percentage. Once the results were ready, he found out that he a greater amount of both heritages but with the addition of Irish, British and Germanic, which we are still unsure about anyways, so if you know this means, please explain it to me so I can tell him too!

For me, I have always felt more Irish than Scottish and that was the big reason why I decided to get this book, because I thought maybe it would inspire me to accept this easier. In the beginning, it really helped and I was even saying to my mom, “these are my ancestries and I am descended from these strong women!” So, it became a great investment in both ways as my dad was discovering his family tree and I was learning more about the history of Scottish women.

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I feel like I should mention that I got this, a little bit before he received his results back. So, whether or not he was right about his family folklore (because we found out another tall tale was wrong!) I think I would have continued to read it. I say “I think” because there were some chapters that were incredibly boring…

Since this book was about women, the author really dug deep and found some extraordinary women and girls to discuss in each section. We start off learning about the Romans, Vikings invading early Britton. As it continues talking about the Celts and their ways, like how they revered the women from their beauty to rules of marriage, divorce, and ownership over lands.

One story in particular that I remember in a chapter was about Lady Devorgilla. The name differs but the way Helen used was “Devorgilla” so that’s how I’ll call her. I don’t really remember much, because of the amount of other’s stories I learned while reading, but she was the mother of a King of Scotland. She created a college located in Oxford (Balliol College), an Abbey called “Sweetheart Abbey”, and a notable bridge called Devorgilla Bridge.

One interesting fact that I just adored was that even though she was betrothed to her husband John Balliol from a young age, she clearly loved him dearly! After he passed away, she commissioned an Abbey to be made so she and the nuns could endlessly pray for her husband’s soul. She apparently had his heart embalmed and locked away in a casket so she had a piece of him every day and night. This is why the name of the Abbey, is “Sweetheart Abbey”.

There were a lot of individual stories included in the book. Since it literally goes in order of history, you have many tales of medieval royal women. She does talk about Mary, Queen of Scots, but tries not to dedicate too much time to her which I liked a lot because I hope to read a book dedicated to her only. However, there were also just ordinary women included too. Some who maybe made a name for themselves outside of Scotland.

As you come to the 19th and 20th Century chapters, you will learn about women who did not abide by the rules of the time. They traveled all around the world like the men of the time. One by the name of Helen Gloag was an regular young women wanting to explore new worlds but her boat was captured by pirates and was forced to change course to Morocco.

At the point, the sexes would be separated, while the men were killed the women on the ship were sold as slaves and she was brought to the ruler, Sultan Sidi Mohammid ibn Abdullah. He obviously liked her unique features and took her in and eventually married her, thus becoming an Empress of Morocco.

The chemistry between them must been mutual as they had two sons and she was able to write to her family back in Scotland about her new home. She was also able to persuade the Sultan to release any person captured by the pirates that came into their kingdom. When her husband died, she was removed of her place and title as one of the Sultan’s older sons had his younger half brothers killed and there’s a possibility that Helen lived the reminder of her life in exile as she disappears from history afterwards.

These women were wonderful to learn about, but I did give a three star rating on my Goodreads profile for a reason. It was because there were like four or five chapters in a row that discussed how women dealt with life as a peasant I guess, and I do feel awful about this. I really didn’t like the discussion about how women were treated during the times of war, although learning that some wives and entire families would flock among the camps of soldiers! Imagine bringing in a new baby to an actual war zone?! The other part was when we got into the lives of fisherwomen and working in the salt mines. It just wanted to drag on and on, but I am glad I continued though.

A part of me thinks this is a great book full of references a person could use if they are after a Women’s Studies degree. It has a lot of material that could be useful for feminists, as it talks about the Scottish suffragettes in the later chapters. It could also be a great motivational book, as it really helped influence me into thinking I am a strong woman myself, and since I am descended through many of these different women and their histories, I definitely felt influenced but loved as well.

Have you read “Women In Scotland” by Helen Susan Swift yet? If you have, what were your thoughts about it? Did you have any favorite stories too?

snowflake

March Playlist

Hello!

Welcome back to another monthly playlist! I hope you are doing good, and finding your isolation comforting and possibly a little fun here and there.

I started this month on the right foot, as for the last four years, March has become more of a sadder time for my family and I since my papaw’s death. I try not to bring it into my playlist but it’s like my brain likes to have softer sounds around. The first week was nothing but Ingrid Michaelson, Plumb and a little of Dido mixed in there too. If you were to see the collection of songs I put into my Spotify playlist, the first four songs are all in gray/white so I’ve been secretly calling it the “gray” playlist.

Towards the middle of the month though, I found upbeat tunes and wanted to listen to some of my favorite albums, ones that I knew I liked all the way through and this brought me back into my rock phase for a little bit. I listened Halestorm, Icon For Hire, and Within Temptation. I also realized I still had a three hours worth of old school hip hop music videos I could be watching on my DVR, and I started adding some of my favorite tracks like “I Do!” by Toya, “Right Thurr” (Remix) by Chringy featuring Trina and Jeremaine Dupri, and “Snap Yo Fingers” by Youngbloodz featuring Lil Jon, Sean Paul, & E-40.

How about I just give you my Top 20 songs instead of talking about the process? It might be less boring for you too!

Open Hands by Ingrid Michaelson featuring Trent Dabbs
Chocolate & Ice Cream by Plumb
I Choose You by Sara Bareilles
You Will Become by Glen Hansard
Fire Breather by Laurel
Beautiful With You by Halestorm
Don’t Think I’m Not by Kandi
Queen by Loren Gray
Good In Goodbye by Madison Beer
Say So by Doja Cat
Baby, I’m Back by Baby Bash featuring Akon
A Mili by Lil Wayne
Carry On by Ashanti
AM To PM by Christina Milian
Imagine by Ariana Grande
Our Last Gloomy Dance by Diabulus in Musica
All Is Found by Evan Rachel Wood
Zipper by Jason Derulo
Sluil a Run by Ella Roberts
Nobody Wants To Be Alone by Christian Reindl featuring Atrel

I hardly ever play favorites when it comes to my own playlists–especially the monthly ones, but this one just feels different compared to the others. It’s calmer but you can sense the shift on where I was emotionally; for example I associate the month of March with my papaw of course, March Madness, and listening to lots of Celtic Woman. I have my mom to thank for that because a couple of weeks before my papaw died, she found PBS was airing the newest Celtic Woman concert (Destiny) and hearing them sing always gives me a sense of peace.

This month I was allowed to watch some of my favorite Disney movies, but honestly I just wanted to watch Frozen II on Disney+ and now that I have, I am sort of taking advantage of the opportunity and watching classics like Bambi, Alice In Wonderland and even the newest live action film: Aladdin. By the time, this post goes live I’d probably watched the rest! Back to Frozen though, I absolutely loved it! The wait was so worth it, and yes. I am as obsessed with the soundtrack like I am with the first one. I have already learned both “All Is Found” and “Show Yourself” like a pro! I did not know that Evan Rachel Wood could sing so good!

If you would like to check out my Spotify playlist, click here and you’ll hopefully be directed back to my profile. If not, please let me know so it can be corrected!

What are you listening to this month?

snowflake

Music Monday | 10 Years Of Apperciation!

Howdy!

So, I have some exciting news to share with you today.

Last year, I celebrated 10 years of blogging and talked about various disability topics. It was fun and I seriously thought I was done and was going to have a nice break for a while, but then back in February, I realized I have been a high school graduate for ten whole years! If you feel old, don’t worry I’ve never been more afraid of sliding into my thirties this much in my life! Although, I don’t think they are considered “old” (hell, I don’t even think fifty or sixty years old are elderly anymore!) but everyone close to me will certainly feel their age and I don’t necessarily feel that bad about that! 😉

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If you have been following me for a long time, you might remember my ‘Tune Tuesday’ summer posts I did for a good three or four years in a row. They were about music from all around the world. It was exciting to share with my family, friends and audience of new and old acts are based in places they’ve never expected before. Some people were really surprised by this and it made me really happy! I hoped I gave everyone a shot on discovering something different each week!

Unfortunately, I am not comfortable to mess up my new schedule just so I can publish on Tuesday, but I had a clear version of everything coming together nicely (we’ll see about that!) so I thought about using the start of the week, like my A-Z challenge and I have seen other blogs use it before and it’s even trended on Twitter in the past! The last two Mondays’ of the next six months will be called ‘Music Monday’.

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Now let’s discuss the theme of this new journey.

I’ve been getting the idea to go this route back for a while. I know I don’t talk about this a lot, but after I graduated from high school I was supposed to study Audio Recordings, and hoped to become a record producer one day.

One of the classes I had to take was one called “music appreciation”. Now, I have to remind you of the fact that I only lasted about a month or two, before I quit the whole thing, so I don’t really remember the main objective of the class itself. However, I feel like it would have talked about finding the genius in various genres and the masters that created each piece. If it ever turns into a special on PBS, I would probably end loving it!

I have selected 12 people that have inspired prior to making the decision to study this and the others were found while I was doing my own course into appreciating all forms of music for the last ten years. I am hoping to explain a little more into why I gravitated to discover something different and how I evolved with each new act I collected overtime.

I am really excited to do this series and hope you enjoy every post that I publish in the next couple of months.

Who are you hoping to see included in my new series?

snowflake

Dear Papaw IV

Dear Papaw,

It is me again.

I decided to do this letter while I sat on the edge of my bed staring at my fairy lights hanging down around the only window in the room while listening to sad love songs. They’re bright like your spunk, and I miss it dearly. I’ve been looking for an endless supply of laugher as it has become the best form of medicine for me lately. I am also finally understanding why you liked to sit in the quiet. It’s hauntingly peaceful.

Lots have happened since I wrote to you last, and I’m sure you know everything. The new house. Dad’s watching basketball again. He watched majority of this season, going between Butler and IU. There were a few times that we both agreed you would be furious about, especially since each team had a good start but once the conference games began all heck broke loose. And then to top it off, the Coronavirius outbreak. We were furious but yet not surprised by the cancellation of all games–men and women! They even cancelled my NBA games! Last Thursday, we had a Butler game (which is how I found out about the NCAA announcement) earlier in the day and then I was suppose to have both Rockets and Lakers games. I hadn’t watched a game for about five days and the one time I was ready, this happens!

Emily has graduated and hoping to start her journey to get her master’s degree. And you were probably apart of the journey with Brittany to visit nana and everybody up north last fall. Thank goodness I did not throw up in her car! She probably wouldn’t let me back in that car again… I’m hoping you’ll be part of the mini adventure coming up too. No pressure or anything, because you know how loud we can get sometimes!

You would love to hang out with Nolan. He is fun but has a lot more energy than anybody else! He is interested in cars and trucks. We haven’t exactly introduced trains to me yet. He has his own sound effects that are absolutely adorable! He can say several words, I think the last count was over 40! Apparently trying to say “Meggie” or just plain Meghan is a little harder to do, but I am a naturally patient person so I will wait for the day he comes out of his mouth and when that day comes, I’ll probably cry right in front of him!

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Another thing he loves is music. I don’t know whether or not you’d be proud of an almost two year old knowing all of the words to “Cool” by Jonas Brothers. I mean, they’re no Stan Kenton, but he does sound cute whenever he does the chorus. Oh, and the dancing too! He definitely has some rhythm in his bones, even if they like hurt every other day. I think you’d wonder why he has pains like an elderly person (this was as good as you’re going to get. I mean, I could have said someone in their 80’s, but I think nana would feel offended!) but also still feel bad for him. He’ll be the only one in his age group, who will know every time the weather changes.

Okay, I think I am done ranting about things. Although, I think you like hearing how things are going lately. If I can remember, maybe I’ll write to you again on your birthday. We’ll have to see how everything goes first. I wonder if you’ve become a patient person. It seems a bit weird saying that out loud, but I am a little curious.

I hope you’re doing very well wherever you are right now. Keep watching over everybody if you can. We love and miss you lots. Bye.

Your granddaughter,

Meg-han.

Life Lately | Tulips, Royals, & Blog Schedule

Howdy!

It has been a LONG freaking time since I’ve done one of these blog posts. I always tell myself I need to do more of them or at least have mom buy a thick spine journal so I can get things out but it never happens!

Here’s the interesting part of this, I thought about writing this first than getting to work on Friday’s post, which will be a diary entry directed to my lovely papaw. For today, I am focusing on good things–not saying talking about/to my papaw isn’t good–and I am hoping to unleash a lot of things that have been roaming around in my mind lately! It will be separated by three sections so I hope everyone enjoys themselves and give me your thoughts at the end.

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Spring Is Coming!

I like winter, and always have, mostly because snow makes me happy although I never go out and play in it or run through with my wheelchair. This year, we haven’t had a lot of snow and like my mom mentioned to me the other day, she said since we didn’t have a bunch of snow like in previous years, the bugs will be awful because they didn’t necessarily die. I am okay with the occasional fly or in our case, ladybugs but yeah, I could do without the wasps! I’m not a fan of bees either, but we need them to survive apparently!

One thing that I definitely missed during the colder months is my mom buying flowers for our house. I guess we kind of got into a routine of having new flowers throughout every two weeks. I am actually fine with fake flowers, but having something like fresh flowers can really help your mood. At least, it has in my case when my mom bought me some very beautiful tulips one day.

I am not just obsessed with sunflowers, I like a variety of flowers like daisies, roses and tulips. I do talk about my love of sunflowers quite a bit and because of that nobody really knows about the others. So, after my mom found out that I adored tulips, she found these $12.99 tulips in a fairly large vase. My dad didn’t really like the price of them but since then we have all become a little obsessed with them. They change every day. They continue to flourish but we’ve been watching one of them because it’s been a little overzealous on how high he becomes that for a while he began to lean down and we have started to make jokes about it like “I’ve stood up all day. I need a break!” My mom and I can be a little weird sometimes

Since having the flowers in my room, I have been looking forward to spring. My room is located by all of our trees and I have really missed the greenery that surrounds me, but I have enjoyed seeing the moon through my window at night.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex

I know you’re probably tired of seeing everybody discuss the royals right now. If you want to ignore this section, you can. I don’t want to spend a lot of time talking about the drama, but I do want to talk about my thoughts on it.

I have been following the British Royal Family since The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were married, so around 2011. My mom has been reading up about them since Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer. And yes, she absolutely hated Camila, The Duchess of Cornwell. I actually do not, mainly because I am a supporter of Anne Boleyn, as she was also a mistress to a senior royal.

For the case of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, I always felt they would be different. They would move into the modern world as royals, but I did not think this would happen at all! When The Queen gave Harry and Meghan the title of “Duke and Duchess of Sussex” was interesting because the last time a royal was given this peerage was Queen Victoria’s uncle Prince Augustus Frederick. Although he had the title of ‘Duke Sussex’ neither one of his wives were allowed to be called a duchess, but what is interesting is that they were not given permission of the crown which at the time of his first wife, George III was still alive. Prince Augustus and his first wife welcomed two children, but were not recognized so they were not awarded any titles as their many cousins.

Prince Harry asked the queen for permission to marry Meghan, but their son Archie does not carry the title of Viscount like say Harry’s uncle Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex’s son James, as he is known as a Viscount.  I understand their right to want to lead a more private life for Archie’s sake, but the separation of leaving as senior royals threw me for a loop! To me, I think this would have been easier on everyone if Harry declined the title of Duke when he and Meghan first married.

When Anne, The Princess Royal first married her first husband, he was offered a title but declined thus their children: Peter and Zara, along with their descendants do not have royal titles. A lot of people will say this happened because Anne is a woman, but at the time of the marriage, Charles was not married at all. She was the only child of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh to wed. Here we have Prince William as the oldest son of The Prince of Wales, married with three children. All three were present when Harry and Meghan married, so why didn’t he say no? A part of me wonders on the fact of possible backlash to the world if Meghan, a biracial woman, wasn’t allowed to be called a duchess. Shrugs.

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The Blog Schedule

After what happened while I was doing my A-Z Disability Challenge series, I honestly wanted to give myself a massive break. Since I can’t stop blogging, I figured I needed to find a solution to make it easier and also keep it fun for the both of us. Once January began, I took off for two weeks and do other things that were not related to blogging. It was relaxing, but I did not envision to keep this trend alive for as long as I thought I would. However, I have quite enjoyed myself in these breaks, mostly because I can focus my attention on reading my books in my off time.

The schedule (including a post for Mon, Tues, and Wed) will continue this way until I decide that I need another week for more posts. As of right now, two weeks is doing really good for me. I am still skeptical of this, but I am getting the hang out of it.

I think I am done writing this post now. I thought I would add a few more things about my life, but as I said above, I also have my papaw’s letter to do as well. I think I will include bits about my nephew Nolan in there because I know he’d enjoy it. Well, I hope you are having a great week!

snowflake