I am leaving for Scotland and Ireland for 2 weeks in 4 days.  It is officially time to start freaking out!

I have been planning and dreaming about this trip for over a year, maybe even two and its almost here. I have never been out of the country, let alone out of the country by myself. Don’t worry, I’m meeting with a friend in Edinburgh who has taken the reigns and knows where we are headed.

She has convinced me to attempt this trip with a carry on and backpack only.

When I went for 5 days to New Orleans, I checked luggage.  I wouldn’t consider myself high maintenance, I just like to be prepared and I love to sleep with a fan. For the record, my checked bag came in handy when one of the girls wanted to bring back a souvenir, so it wasn’t a total waste.

The carry on arrived yesterday and I was able to fully absorb how small that bag truly is.

I am a photographer and wanted to take a small tripod.  I may not be able to swing this unless I opt to be naked most of the time.  With the high during the day around 55, that isn’t really feasible.

I will have to pull a Joey Tribiani and likely wear my hiking shoes, fleece, and raincoat to the airport to make room for important things like medication and underwear, or maybe this will be the time to embrace going commando, will let you know on Wednesday.

I bought packing cubes and we will see how life changing that proves to be.  Everyone says it’s the way to do it, so I gave in to the peer pressure.

We are planning on hiking and pubbing our way across Scotland mostly with a few days in Ireland. I am hoping to do a considerable amount of forest bathing.

“Forest Therapy is a research-based framework for supporting healing and wellness through immersion in forests and other natural environments. Forest bathing has both physical and mental health benefits. Forest bathing can boost the immune system, increase energy, decrease anxiety, depression and anger, and reduce stress and bring about a state of relaxation.”

This is the purpose of my trip. A full system reboot. I plan on photographing and writing my way across this gorgeous countryside and to let go of all the things that have weighed me down. I believe this time will truly change the next 40 years of my life. I am grateful I have support at home that will even allow me to do this. Major props to Patrick, Jessica and Erin. I owe you big time.

Taking this time feels selfish and decadent and necessary.

This trip is a lesson in going with the flow and traveling light from the eyes of a chronic over thinker, over worrier, and over packer. That one life lesson is worth the trip. Not trying to play the long game so much will free up space in my brain better used for creativity, enjoying the adventure along the way, and finally learning to be fully present in the moment.

So on Monday I am going to start getting my bag packed making sure I have all the necessities.

I will channel my inner Marie Kondo and pack the tiny bag, after spending time searching for my shrink ray gun in vain. If you have one I can borrow, hit me up in comments below! I have never taken the time to really fold a t shirt like that. Thank you t shirt for covering my nakedness and allowing me to be socially acceptable in public. Here’s to embracing new experiences!

Anyone who knows me, knows that as long as I have chapstick, lotion, yoga pants, and a camera, I’ll be alright. I may look like one of the Wildlings, (just call me Ngrite), but I’ll be alright. Lucky for me, those items will fit.

I also have an app that replaces the fan and lulls me to sleep with sounds of the ocean over brainwaves for relaxation.  I will have all the books I need on the ipad and have a keyboard for the ipad so I can continue to write and journal. Everything else I will figure out on the ground in Scotland.

What extra weight are you carrying that you could choose to put down and walk away from?

XOXO Ninya

PS. If you love these blog posts, help me keep the lights on and Doritos in the pantry for my teenager, by checking out one of my books below. There's something for everyone. "Velvet Guild" is naughty and explicit. (Erotic Romance), "Scotland with a Stranger" is a memoir of my trip to Scotland last May and "AnaStasia" is a parallel lives story (Women's Fiction) 

Velvet Guild

Friends Don't Let Friends Stay Vanilla

Desperate times…call for sexy solutions.

Aimee is panicking, feeling like a middle-aged failure, barely scraping by, raising a teenager alone. She is also a submissive who yearns to be dominated in the bedroom.

Could she introduce couples to the BDSM lifestyle through a house party format? Instead of game night, it could be blindfolds and bite marks.

Scotland with a Stranger:A Memoir

“Who goes to Scotland for two weeks with a stranger they met over the internet?   I did.” 

At forty-three, Ninya was depressed, out of shape, and filled with crippling anxiety after addiction, cancer, and divorce had destroyed nearly everything. One day, she received a message from a stranger. This woman offered to lead her on a self-healing trip hiking through the Scottish highlands.

It seemed like a sign.


This is the story of one life, lived two different ways.

In one reality, “Stasia” is the beloved daughter of doting parents who spare no expense in supporting her ambition and talent.  Adoring not just their daughter but also one another, their home is full of celebration, warmth and love. 

In another reality, “Ana” washes dishes at a nursing home to buy her carefully-budgeted art supplies, waiting until her alcoholic father passes out before creeping downstairs to paint.  Ana must survive her father’s nightly verbal abuse without any help from her silent, cowed mother, until she can retreat to the only place she feels safe, in front of her easel. 

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