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How Outlander Changed My Life – Guest Post

How Outlander Changed My Life – Guest Post

Beyond the Books

This week it is my pleasure to introduce you to Lee Ann Monat.  She and I first met online over a year ago, when I posted my first recipe from the Outlander series over on my other blog.

We’ve been friends and mutual fans ever since.  Over at Lion Art Creations Lee Ann shares her photography, art and her thoughts on changing her life’s path and re-creating it with intention.  She began this journey years ago, inadvertently, when she opened her first copy of Outlander…a parallel journey to my own, which involved quitting my job and walking into a bookstore…but I’ll save that for another time.

Because today the spotlight is on Lee Ann, who recently began a much-sought-after tenure as a volunteer in the Abbey kitchen on the Isle of Iona in Scotland. Just the latest stopping point in a very interesting life, that has really only just begun…

(The following photos and words are Lee Ann’s.)

Way back in 2001, while living in New York City,  I was gifted the first 4 books in the series for my birthday. As you can imagine, I was totally hooked (as most Outlander fans tend to be). So, when a week-long trip to London in 2004 turned into a two week UK road trip, I asked if we could pop into Scotland for a wee bit since the books made it sound so pretty.

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Fast forward 8 years and I am currently volunteering in the Abbey Kitchen on the beautiful Isle of Iona, Argyll, Scotland for 5 months.

Right now, I’m jotting down ideas for this guest post while sitting on a stone slab next to the amazing ruins of a Nunnery…birds chirping and the sun out in full (The Nunnery sort of reminds me of when Claire goes to Beauly Priory in Outlander [I’ve been there too!]…but I digress).

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When I stepped off the bus in Edinburgh all those years ago, I knew deep down in my bones that I’d found a missing piece of myself. I still can’t really put my finger on it, but there is something in the air and land here that makes me feel at home and at peace.

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I didn’t find 18th Century Scotland when I arrived, of course, but I did find a new time and pace and way to live. I definitely stepped through some metaphorical standing stones.

It took planning and in the meantime, a lot of cooking, 2 Iona pilgrimages, debt reduction, reiki training and an herbal apprenticeship (I swear, the herbal medicine is a total coincidence…I don’t have any intentions of setting broken fingers by fire-light or performing emergency surgery on the dining table).

It also took a lot of courage and faith. Claire risked it all for love…and in my own way I’ve done the same….wherever that love will take me.

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For more of Lee Ann’s life on Iona, check out her Pinterest Boards:  Scotland & Iona.

And don’t forget to leave her a little comment below…we’d love to know:  How Outlander has changed your life?

35 Comments

  1. Yassrock
    July 12, 2012 at 4:47 am

    I listen to the series. That’s about a working week of blissful pleasure each book. Suddenly I love long drives and as happily do housework and gardening. Lost in the world Diana transports me to…

    • Theresa
      July 12, 2012 at 7:35 pm

      it`s an escape whether you read or listen, that`s for sure!

  2. OutlanderFan
    July 12, 2012 at 6:30 am

    I LOVE talking about Outlander and finding ways to weave it into my everyday life- I’m addicted!
    Lee Ann, I can’t wait to take a look at your Pinterest boards- I plan on making it over to Scotland one day soon!

  3. Lee Ann
    July 12, 2012 at 6:53 am

    Thanks for sharing my story Theresa!

    • Theresa
      July 12, 2012 at 7:35 pm

      No, thank you for the beautiful story and photos!

  4. Jen C.
    July 12, 2012 at 7:15 am

    Amazing! What a wonderful adventure. 🙂

    • Theresa
      July 12, 2012 at 7:34 pm

      Lee Ann has a truly adventurous spirit. 🙂

  5. Pamela
    July 12, 2012 at 7:23 am

    I discovered the Outlander series while living in the bush of Alaska over 25 years ago. I subscribed to a monthly library service from Anchorage that sent me a large box of books, music and movies. I received Dragonfly in Amber first, realized it was a series and requested Outlander. Reading these books saved me from so many hours of loneliness and sent my imagination soaring. I, too, vow to visit Scotland and complete my journey full circle. I am still re-reading and will forever!

    • Theresa
      July 12, 2012 at 7:34 pm

      Those books must have been a real escape, Pamela!

    • Pamela
      July 12, 2012 at 8:48 pm

      The story got me thru some interesting times of my life. I listened to the radio in the background and certain songs to this day. take me right back there. Bittersweet, to be sure.

    • Theresa
      July 15, 2012 at 4:26 pm

      I have an Outlander soundtrack too, Pamela…includes a lot of Beck for some reason. LOL

  6. Susan McNaughton (@2edinburgh)
    July 12, 2012 at 8:24 am

    Love it when other people discover Scotland – but don’t all come at once, we’re only a wee country 🙂

    • Theresa
      July 12, 2012 at 7:33 pm

      We`ll stagger ourselves for sure, Susan!

  7. Victoria
    July 12, 2012 at 9:04 am

    Thanks for the lovely post and photos Lee Ann. I’ve felt the same way in Florence and the south of France. Haven’t been to Scotland yet, but it calls to me too (a trace of Scots-Irish in my heritage).

    How has Outlander changed my life? I think for all of us it is a very personal question. Romance, adventure, history…finding a need fulfilled, albeit through a fantasy. I so enjoy all the online opportunities to connect with others via these books – I guess that is the most “tangible” gift I’ve gotten from them. Is the internet “tangible?” Whatever it is, it is very real.

    • Theresa
      July 12, 2012 at 7:33 pm

      I too have found an online Outlander community, Victoria…I love it!

  8. Bree
    July 12, 2012 at 10:02 am

    I found the books, when there were only four, through a friend. I’ve been madly hooked ever since.
    It opened up a love of Scotland that I didn’t know I had and spurred me to work on my family tree; I’d always known we were a bit Scottish. I found a lot more than just a bit of Scottishness though. My family tree on both sides traces back to Scotland to the 1600’s (so far) and they were Jacobite supporters. After the war was over, they either immigrated to America on their own or were shipped over by the crown against their will. But that is how my family came to America.
    I think, for those of us that love these books, that they are more than just good books – they are a life of their own that we all want to be a part of.
    🙂

    • Theresa
      July 12, 2012 at 7:32 pm

      You are so right, Bree…anything that gets us a little closer to the Outlander world is a good thing.

  9. Marlene
    July 12, 2012 at 10:03 am

    Wonderful story. I will be traveling to Scotland next month! Can’t wait although it will be a short visit as we are cruising around the British Isles. So great that you are living your dream!

    • Theresa
      July 12, 2012 at 7:31 pm

      That sounds like a pretty dreamlike vacation too, Marlene! Have a great trip. 🙂

  10. Ann
    July 12, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    I felt the same away about Troon Scotland in Ayrshire where my father was born. It was “home”! I get “homesick” for Troon, but never for the town in Pennsylvania where I was born. Someone told me it was genetic memory, and I firmly believe it. I’ve been to Scotland three times and wish I could go again.

    • Theresa
      July 12, 2012 at 7:31 pm

      One day you will, Ann!

  11. cynditefft
    July 12, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    I know just what you mean about finding a piece of you that you didn’t know was missing. Reading the Outlander books turned a key inside me and opened up a love for Scotland that continues to blaze. I’ve written two books featuring my own version of Jamie Fraser and taken two trips to Caledonia. I even signed up for ancestry.com to try and find some Scottish blood in my lineage. I had to peel back the branches all the way to the 1600s, but I found one! As I tell my husband, Scots are strong and proud, so it only takes one drop. 🙂

    Outlander most definitely changed my life!

    • Theresa
      July 12, 2012 at 7:31 pm

      Wonderful story, Cyndi!

  12. Erin R
    July 13, 2012 at 4:43 am

    In 2002 I went to Scotland to volunteer at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with a friends company, Rocket Venues. I had just graduated from college and I didn’t have a full time job. When I finally stepped foot in Edinburgh, in the Grass Market, I knew I was home. When I called my mom to let her know I had arrived, she heard it in my voice, because she asked if I was coming back. I had the opportunity not only to get to know the city, but to live there. I lived on Lady Lawson, I walked past Edinburgh Castle on my way to work every day. I even got to see Diana there. I of course traveled with my Outlander series, how could I leave them at home, and had one of the books laying on the counter. I was online and punched in Diana’s website and low and behold she was going to be at the Waterstone’s on Princes Street the upcoming Thursday. So I demanded that I have the afternoon off for the book signing. I had to buy another copy of her newest book at the time The Fiery Cross, not that I minded, and she signed it for me. I was in complete awe. Here I was, in this country that I have loved for a long time, meeting an author who’s books I haven’t stopped reading since I first picked one up in 1997…It is still held as one of the best times of my life and I miss Scotland every day. I walked down the Royal Mile thinking “Jamie and Claire walked here!” I looked for the places mentioned in the books. Towards the end of my trip, I was able to take a bus tour around the Highlands seeing Fort William, Loch Ness, Inverness, Culloden and other such lovely places. I WILL go back. I just don’t know when. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to share. *sigh* 🙂

    • Theresa
      July 15, 2012 at 4:25 pm

      Thank you for sharing, Erin! Lovely story.

  13. Bri
    July 13, 2012 at 9:26 am

    What an inspirational story! I love hearing about people who buck tradition and follow their hearts, I hope to find the courage to do the same someday 🙂
    Lee Ann, you take beautiful photographs. My best friend and I are currently planning a trip to Scotland for next summer and I am so excited!!

    • Theresa
      July 15, 2012 at 4:24 pm

      You’ll love it, Bri! We are returning next April/May. Can’t wait either!

  14. ML
    July 15, 2012 at 7:06 am

    Thank you for your wonderful story and the beautiful picturs. I find it so amazing how so many of us all have a link through a series of books. And how we do not find it all strange how we will pick up things from the book in our lives. My garden keeps growing each year, I have an infant orchard. Gone back to canning, bartering with local people for eggs or something I do not grow. Taken up home cheese making. That one was a big step, and Claire our wonderful heroine has not been depicted making cheese herself but when taking inventory of the food stuff’s on the ridge there are wheels of cheese gotten in trade. I look at my basement with my canned goods and cheeses and root veggies and think Claire would give me a thumbs up for my preperation for colder weather. This year I want to plan a cold frame so I can grow my own greens during the cold months.
    So thank you again Lee Ann & Theresa for this wonderful site where we can all share these books that have changed our lives.

    • Theresa
      July 15, 2012 at 4:20 pm

      How wonderful, ML! I want a tour of your operation! 🙂

  15. AlysL
    July 15, 2012 at 10:35 am

    I found Outlander on the shelf at the bookstore in about 1997…I think Drums of Autumn (paperback) had just come out, because it is the first “First Edition” that I have of the series. I have always loved historical fiction, but this book/series grabbed me like no other. I have since measured all books against this series, and very few have measured up to it. How has it changed my life? Well, my first love at age 16 was Rhett Butler…his strength, non-conformity, bad-boyness, and sense of responsibility became my idea of who my future love would be. After I met, Jamie Fraser…Rhett became a memory, and Jamie became my ideal mate! LOL…see why I am single? It’s hard for real men to live up to these standards! LOL I also identified with the women of these books, Scarlet and later with Claire….practical, strong women, who did not depend on men for everything. Scarlet didn’t have the capacity to love outside herself till it was almost too late…but we know in our heart she got Rhett. Claire, being more mature, accepted her love of Jamie. Hopefully, I’ll find my Jamie and not be too stubborn to know it!

    • Theresa
      July 15, 2012 at 4:19 pm

      You and your Jamie will find each other, Alys! I have no doubt. 🙂

  16. deniz
    July 17, 2012 at 6:01 am

    Great post, Lee Ann! Sounds like an awesome job you have too. I’d love to visit the islands someday – I haven’t been further north of Edinburgh. Yet!

  17. Sheila Moline
    December 28, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    I want to go to Scotland beautiful

  18. Katie
    July 6, 2015 at 3:15 pm

    Outlander (Claire) inspired me to go into the medical field. I start a new job at my local hospital soon!

  19. jean
    October 3, 2015 at 10:35 pm

    my husband of 51 yrs wonderful marriage died 3yrs ago. Both fathers from the Highlands!
    Getting lost in the lives of Claire &Jamie have helped so much. On to my 3rd reading!! Find something new each time!
    Ever grateful to Diana G.

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