I’ve always been different. It took me a decade to admit it, another to accept it, a third to find the courage I needed to follow my dreams and be proud to be me.
I’ve always been a dreamer, head in the clouds. Dreaming, for me, is an opportunity to see more, experience more then tell stories about what I’ve discovered.
I’m an Estonian who first visited Scotland almost a decade ago when I worked in a birthplace museum for a famous Estonian author, A.H. Tammsaare (1817-1940). Two of the connections between Tammsaare and Scotland stood out for me: Tammsaare translated Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe into Estonian and Tammsaare was inspired by Scottish author Thomas Carlyle.
Inspired, I organised a study tour to Scotland to learn more about how literature has been incorporated into other sectors like tourism. Those five days sparked a dream.
When we were visiting Carlyle’s country home in Galloway and Dumfries, I remember standing in Craigenputtock fields, mud up to my knees, cows the other side of the fence, and saying out loud: ‘If I’m ever going to live and work abroad, it’s going to be Scotland.’
I loved living in Estonia and never thought about moving anywhere else until then. My sister had been living in Ireland, and I had visited her, so I thought I knew a few things about life abroad. But life moved on and, although I took away many great ideas, nothing happened at first.
But, a few years later, during a time that was tough for me and my son, I remembered my dream and asked him how he felt about visiting Scotland. He liked the idea so we went on a road trip. It was such a special experience and we learned to love ourselves again. Not only that, we also fell in love with the Scottish people and felt so much care torward us in return. We were sad to leave.
When we touched back down in Tallinn, we looked at each other and, before we’d even got off the plane, he said the sentence that I had in my mind too:
‘Let’s go back to live there.’
I spent time researching the move, thinking about it, dreaming, delaying. After some time, a friend asked: ‘Birgit, how long are you going to wait to create the life you’ve always dreamed about?’
It was a breaking point. Time to wake up.
It took less than two months, after that, to make all the arrangements, sell my home, rent a new one and sort schools. Mid-winter, we arrived in Aberdeen. Just the two of us, with two suitcases and two bags, in a city, we had never visited before. Yet we felt at home, inspired and loved.
I’ve done many different jobs over the years. I’ve been a journalist, teacher, museum worker and more. I’ve created opportunities to write in every role because I’ve learned that it’s writing that makes me feel alive, no matter the genre, the language or topic.
Now I’d arrived in a place I loved, I knew I could give more time to my writing.
Writing has made me the person I am today. It’s also been a therapy when I’ve needed it, for example when I suffered from post-natal depression. I think best when I’m writing. It clears my thoughts.
Inspiration is always chasing me now. The other day, I sat down with my lunch and, by the time I’d finished, I’d written half a chapter in my head. I love having the words there ready to be written.
The urge to write has grown with every year and I’ve found that inspiration and ideas are everywhere. Recently, I discovered how the pictures I took with my smart phone created something special in my mind. It was as if words aligned with them.
I kept my project secret for some time but eventually shared it with a therapist who encouraged me to publish it.
‘These are much needed,’ she said.
I laughed inside at first. My mind was full of doubt. But, within a couple of months, my beautiful photos, as well as my thought-provoking prose and poems, became my debut book: #õnnelikteekond #becominghappy.
When copies were delivered from my publisher in Estonia, I remember peeling back the brown paper, my hands shaking, my heart filled with gratitude.
I call this book my unicorn, a symbol of dreams coming true. It reminds me every day of the power of self-belief, of dreaming.
My dream now is to inspire people to follow their heart. Find your ways of becoming happy, and share it, so it can be multiplied.