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I believe, from my experience, that it is to lift up & to strengthen the community by being honest, kind and generous. With oneself as well as those around us.

‘Try’ was inspired by my gradual realisation: that as I was growing up, lots of people in my community covered up a lot of their personal hardships. There was a sense of shame or burden-to-others in making them aware of illness, financial hardship or domestic unrest.

Now, as a grown-up Highlander I have suffered all of these hardships, and only began to see things improve by being ‘open’ and seeking support in my new home of Glasgow.I definitely held a bit of resentment towards that community’s collective way of thinking and irritated by that stubbornness in hiding one’s difficulties.

However, over the last few years, my ‘stoic Highland parents’ have both suffered cancer diagnosis and endured traumatic treatments, financial difficulty and worked through the stress that inevitably comes with these situations.

I was surprised but encouraged and extremely proud of them both (individually) for breaking out of their ‘private’ mindsets. They have both been honest and open with my sisters and I about their health, have leant on & supported one-another and have openly sought support from, & raised awareness to their friends, colleagues and employers.

I am especially proud of my father who has worked very hard to fight through his own stubborn, Dingwall “man’s-man” identity! He’d undertaken hormone treatment which was very difficult BUT he prioritised his mental and physical health and (sometimes through gritted teeth) spoke so openly with us about his difficulties. Even if to others that might sound like the obvious and healthiest thing to do, I know it was a tough undertaking.I’m sure I’m not the only person who has experienced this, especially over the past year or so. It is a story changing attitudes. Of looking inward to appreciate what you have, and how looking after that not only benefits you, but ripples out into the community.

If you need a short answer - there it is!

Image provided by Paul Reich / Northport

Image provided by Paul Reich / Northport

Image provided by Northport

I was wrong in my judgement on my home community and the apparent ‘stiffness.’ I see that people can change, attitudes can shift and that the willingness to try for the sake of yourself may at-one-time have been seen as ‘selfish’ or ‘weak’ is now seen by the same folk as ‘selfless’ and ‘strong.’

This massive change I’ve seen, in the attitudes of my own parents and those around them has given me a new found respect and pride for the people and the place. It has challenged my own ‘close-mindedness’ and made me reconsider perhaps moving back to the Highlands to practice my work, and want to re-integrate with the community there.

Laura Wilkie