The Shift and The Rock

Mind Soul Island


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Three Months

When I think about it, three months is really such a short time.  It’s really no surprise that my mind is just blown by all the experiences we’ve had.  And even more daunting to think about are the many adventures ahead of us.  Roughly ninety days, but to me, it feels like so much longer!  Here are some of the things we’ve been up to.

We’ve been really enjoying ourselves and soaking this way of life in.  As I’ve written about before, we did a LOT of research before moving here.  We knew we would never make it if we came in blind.  We had many expectations, one being this was going to be real life and all the things that go with REAL life – up’s, down’s, topsy turvy.  Just in paradise, with a view, and added island challenges.   These expectations are fulfilled daily with instances like our Jeep having some issues and is in the shop for the second time, a friend had an accident and we spent an evening in the ER getting stitches, our pets have had injuries and illnesses, we (all the islands) lost power one day for over 8 hours during a crazy storm.

A typical week day for us goes something like: I take him to work, and pick him up in the evenings.  During the day I take care of the house/chores/stuff, catch up with friends back stateside. We run errands, go to the chiropractor, come home and make dinner, catch up with each other and maybe watch a little tv before heading to bed.  On Monday nights we have taco night down at the beach.  The Hideaway is nestled in clusters of palm trees just off the beach.  The floor is mostly just sand, brightly colored paint peels off the railings and walls from being weathered by the sea and the seating is picnic tables or patio tables and chairs sprinkled in.  A couple of pool tables hang out in the back flanked by a couch and book shelves with books waiting to be picked up and read at the side of the ocean.  You pick a table, and sit with the first few friends you run into and as the night progresses, more friends arrive, gather and go.  The tacos are always good, but never the same twice.  The bartender pours heavy, the drinks are cold and the breeze makes it a perfect spot. On Friday nights, we go to our favorite restaurant, Thirteen, and sit in the lounge or bar, and enjoy the best pizza on island.  Thirteen is in an unexpected little building.  The long L shaped bar is positioned up front and wrapped in a metal, geometric patterned, screen over the open windows letting the wind spill through. Just beyond the bar is a cozy little lounge with a couple of high top tables and a living room like seating area, various little tables a glow with candles and clever throw pillows tossed around. The main dining room sits just behind the lounge with an open wall that faces north over the silvery blue ocean at dusk.  The ambiance here is warm and inviting, the groovy ladies who run the show have become island family and the food is phenomenal. Much like taco night, there is a rotation of friends throughout the evening. These have become our rituals every week.

On the weekends, we go all out. After getting all the ‘adulting’ out of the way during the week, we are all ready to explore, relax and enjoy all the gifts of island living.  A few weeks ago, we all decided to go explore more of STJ.  Our island crew overloaded one of our SUV’s and hopped on the car barge/ferry. After we stopped at a local market to stock up on snacks and lunch, Sean sitting in the ‘trunk’ with all our gear, we were on our way around the winding roads and lush hills to Salt Pond Bay. We hiked for about 15 min weighed down with our gear and coolers, but we saw red hermit crabs, some really cool ruins and believe me, it was worth it.  Salt Pond Bay had blazing hot white sand, calm,  crystal blue water, tide pools and the snorkeling was fabulous.

Speaking of beautiful beaches, I finally made it to Jost Van Dyke and White Bay.  Before I get ahead of myself, let me tell you about the greatest day ever.  Our friends, S2 and R2 invited us to join them and a few other friends on a lovely boat, CrewZenII, and spend the day visiting other islands in the BVI’s.  This would be their last Caribbean boat adventure…for ‘awhile’, as they are heading back to the States.  First stop was Sopper’s Hole Marina in Tortola for customs check in and stamp.  This was a charming marina lined by rows of buildings painted in bright colors, contrasting shutters and roof tops, all decorated by white balconies and gingerbread trims.  Tortola seems to me, to be gigantic.  The lush green mountains just loom majestically over you as you come into port.

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After getting those passport stamps, we headed out to a little islet formation called ‘The Indians’. When you see the formation from a distance, the rocks look similar to an Indian head dress.  The snorkeling here was stunning.  After jumping into sapphire blue, open ocean we didn’t even have to swim close to the Indians before seeing an entirely new world.  There were so many kinds of fish, so many colors that just seemed unreal and coral in all shapes, sizes and colors.  We saw squid too. We swam in a circle around the rocks, explored the different sights and some even swam through a cave about 10 feet deep.  All that swimming in the wild ocean will make you HUNGRY, so we climbed back into the boat and headed to Cooper Island.

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The Indians

Cooper Island is quaint and the little resort there was so cute.  We ate lunch, chatted and explored the shops for a few minutes.  The sun was so hot that day.  S2 and I had to play hopscotch down the path as our shoes were on the boat, and the boards were so hot they scorched our feet.  We rewarded our survival of the hottest sidewalk ever with a giant salted caramel macaroon that sparkled.

Next stop was the Willy T at Norman Island.  Basically it’s a double decker, pirate-y-ish, boat aka, floating bar.  The back of the boat has platforms for you to ‘walk the plank’ or basically fling yourself off into the purely clear, turquoise water below.  I had reservations about this, safety, fear of heights…but I climbed up, walked straight to the back of the boat and sailed off without a second thought, and then repeated this off the top level.  It was incredibly fun. We all jumped and then quickly headed back out to sea for our last stop.

I don’t think anything could have made me happier as I sat with my legs swung over the side of the boat, sun on my face, with the wind through my hair and Jost Van Dyke on my horizon. I’ve dreamed of going to Jost Van Dyke for the longest time, to my extreme delight it did not disappoint.  As we glided across the water to anchor, I could hardly contain my excitement and launched myself off of the boat and into the prettiest water I’ve seen so far.  The white sand beach is dotted with little beach bars that you can wander in and out of, the most famous I suppose is The Soggy Dollar.  We tried several of their ‘original’ painkiller cocktails, and yes they actually are the best I’ve had…and I may have tried quite a few these last few months.  We sat in the sun and enjoyed each others company, saw a TV celebrity and we might have even joined a yacht party for a few stolen moments.  I stepped away solo for just a minute to savor the moment and give gratitude for yet another dream/goal met.  On the way back to STT, we stopped again, just in the open water and we all jumped in one last time, just because. This day was perfection.

I guess it’s fair to say that there is never a dull moment here.  These past months have been full of adventure, growth and evolving.  A lot of letting go too, and it feels good.  We have had a lot of ‘firsts’.  Our first visitor, one of my most favorite people on the planet traveled down and stayed with us for several days.  I took her to all the favorite spots, we ate lots of mango and other good food, spent time just being quiet on an empty beach and laughed. So much laughter and reconnecting.  She was so good for my soul.

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So much love.

We went on our first hike.  We hit a trail that wound through a forest of mangrove trees and up a hill strewn with majestic palms, saw a ton of lizards and one small brown snake. We climbed all the way up, some of it was pretty steep, and then back down and cooled off at the nearby beach.  Later that same day, we went to STJ and hiked again to a gorgeous little beach with a few amazing people.  We let time slip away on that beach and later while snorkeling we saw a couple of stingrays, and that was my first time to snorkel with one.

Sadly, we’ve also had our first good bye.  Usually, I am the one leaving friends and moving somewhere new so the sadness that came with this first ‘moving off  island exit’ surprised me.  S2 and R2 have headed home for ‘awhile’ and we enjoyed sharing time with them over the last couple of weeks.  S2 was an inspiration to me by sharing their island stories on her blog, Islanders from Iowa. They both welcomed us here with open arms, taught us everything they knew about Island living and became cherished friends.  Although I feel the vacancy left behind everyday,  I’m forever grateful for them and looking forward to future adventures with them…soon-ish.

Time continues to drift on by just a little slower here, but still in the blink of an eye.  I continue to be just as enchanted with this environment now as I was the first time I was here.  We are blessed and surrounded by amazing people we consider family.  I can’t see myself anywhere else right now, which is new to me, and I feel like I can simply just be.  I’m looking forward to many more adventures, more guests and more incredible life lessons. 

Love and happiness.

 


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All about the shift.

When I chose the name for this blog, moving to an island was a still only a lifelong dream.  I originally wanted to write about the entire process of getting to our rock and how it felt, what it looked like, the good and bad, the ugly even.   I chose ‘The Shift’ to reflect on how my life, mind and soul had to change and shift in order to get here, and ‘The Rock’ because I had no idea what island I would end up on.  I never started writing back then, but I wish I had.  It took year or so before we actually had the opportunity to move and somewhere in that space, I realized that the last several years were all about the shift for us.  Here is how and why my shift happened.

I don’t often share how I got to here.  It was painful, messy and so incredibly personal.  On the other side of it now, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that every little thing had to fall into place to get me here. I know somewhere out there, there is a chance someone needs to hear my story, and that maybe it will lend courage and bravery where needed.

In early 2011 we had a major family blow out.  The kind that burns bridges so badly, even the water evaporated in the heat so there is no going back, not even by boat.  I could spend hours telling you all the things, but in the end, we had to disengage ourselves with some toxic people who never brought any kind of love or joy into our lives. We lost an entire family in one quick swipe. Shortly after this, in July, one of our close friends was killed in a terrible car accident.  As we were starting to wrap our heads around this loss we had another one. Two weeks after our friend died, my younger brother died from a heroin overdose leaving behind his family, including my four nephews.   It is still so very painful to even type those words and for a long time I couldn’t even tell people what really happened to him.  He called me the night before to tell me how much he loved me and how I was the best sister he could have ever asked for, and then he left me forever.  I spent days laying in an empty bath tub sobbing or I would sit in my closet and hide from the world.  The level of broken I was cannot be described.  I was hollow, yet every part of my insides felt shredded, I was lost and life was impossibly pointless. Of course, the world goes on and you heal enough to keep living.  Just when I felt like I was out of the woods, a string of awful things happened in two short years. Dan lost his job, my Father had a heart attack on Father’s Day and we almost lost him, and he had to have a bypass. Dan’s grandfather passed away.  Our cats died with in a month of each other.  It never seemed to end.

And then came the blow that nearly took me out. My Mom unexpectedly passed away two days before Christmas.  Suddenly, I was drowning at the bottom of an ocean, intense pressure crushed my chest and body, I was seemingly unable to breathe or think, there was no light or life, everything moved slow and I couldn’t take even one step forward.  I got sick…so sick, I hallucinated things like my Mom talking to me. I don’t remember much else around the time after losing her.  Nothing mattered, my tether to life was severed, I was a zombie and I wanted to disappear.  My Father picked up and moved away shortly after. I felt abandoned and alone as my family of four was now a party of one. Six months later, one of my close friends died after complications with lung cancer.  Within the year, my cousin passed away and this past November, my Uncle was killed in a terrible accident. Our family was once again, left in staggering, raw pain and sorrow.

Somewhere in there, a shift happened.  It happened deep inside my heart.  I had to change my thoughts in every way.  I began to let go of the aggravated and angry version of myself. I learned that I could choose to be miserable, or I could choose to be in a happier disposition, I could look through eyes of love and compassion.  I made my personal mantra ‘I am light’.  Either choice was difficult to make everyday, but only one would set me free. I started working on my health, I started eating clean and exercising, I spent more time outside in nature and less time in front of my tv and laptop, I found a really good therapist to help me. It was not easy, and some days, a lot of days, I failed and often still get tripped up.  I accepted that there is no ‘perfect’.  I will always be a work in progress, and that is ok. I try my hardest to always find the lessons in the hardships, and to know that there will be so much goodness and joy, and equal amounts of pain and sorrow.  You cannot have one or the other…you have to have both.  I could not be sharing this now, had none of the above happened.

After my mind and soul started shifting, so did everything else slowly over these last 5 years.  We started purging everything in our lives.  Everything.  People, things and stuff, beliefs, thoughts.  Everything.  We began to shed anything that was no longer good for us.   We purged our house at least 4 times before we moved.  We stopped engaging with ‘friends’ and family that were toxic and we made our circle small and full of amazing people.  It is because of these people that I was able to rise from what felt like years of darkness.  These people, who all know who they are, they are my family- a few by blood and the rest chosen.

Life is still complex with challenges and I carry some broken pieces with me.  There are still some people who I would love to be able to communicate better with.  I know wounds will mostly heal, at least serve a greater purpose, important relationships will be mended. I try very hard to keep it simple, and very hard to see things with compassion and love.  I try to be abundantly grateful for all of the gifts I have been given, whether the gifts were wrapped in fun, joy and love or sadness and loss.   As I peel the layers back on who I am and who I want to be,  I am learning to just let go, and just let everything be as it is.  There is no control except how I act and react.  It may have taken moving across an ocean to a tiny little rock to drill this in my head, but it is ok to be genuine to me.  I do not have to engage with people who are not good for me, I do not have to apologize for everything I do/say/think/feel.  I can take a compliment.  I can say no whenever I need to.  I AM enough.

We’ve been on Island for two full months now and so much has changed and evolved.  I’ve somehow become a better version of myself.  Sometimes when I am driving alone, just taking in the beauty of this place, I catch myself smiling so big my cheeks ache, and other times I still get choked up in disbelief that I live in paradise.  It is in these private little moments that I taste true happiness, that I feel a sense of calm and serenity.   I am slowing down, letting life unfold, letting myself just be where I am, mindfully, emotionally, soulfully.  I don’t believe that saying ‘time heals all wounds’. I do believe we can heal ourselves from the inside out, if we give ourselves the grace and space to do so.

In case you didn’t know, you are more than capable of anything and you can make your dreams come true, you are enough, you matter and whatever you are feeling or going through is/will be, ok.  You are a beautiful being of light, even when it feels as though you are plunged in darkness for eternity.  You will rise, you will shine.

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The Quiet Life

I’ve found it hard to get back to writing lately.  I sit down with good intentions, and find myself lost in the sway of the palm trees coming from the balcony.  It draws me in until I am forced to walk out and plop down, let the breeze gently flow over and around me while gazing at the endless blue sea and sky.  I lose time here in my new space.  It’s quiet, less the wind in the trees, the tinkling of my wind chime and an occasional rooster/goat/cow call.  Last week, I actually fell asleep out there with my legs draped over the side of the chair.  It was blissful.

Our place is finally feeling like home.  I spent a couple of days unpacking our boxes, cursing my pre-island self for bringing ridiculous items. Who needs 20 pairs of socks when you only have 2 pairs of closed toe shoes?  I brought multiple pairs of leggings, two pairs of skinnies,  two pairs of denim capris and two sweaters.  WHAT WAS I THINKING?  The week we moved in was so hot and muggy, the thought of pulling on a pair of skinny jeans or leggings in my head went something like putting on leather pants while in a sauna.   But I got it all squared away and within a few days had everything as put away as possible.  After having a large home to store all of our collected stuff (junk) in,  I have been very careful and picky about what we bring into this new space.  We purged so much, that I can’t bear the thought of having any clutter here, simple is the name of the game, and I don’t plan on spending a ton of time inside anyway.  Honestly, the last pieces of furniture I’ll want to bring in will be a desk and maybe another bed for our last bedroom.  My favorite part is I have lots of room ready for guests!

As I suspected, life off the resort compound has changed significantly.   The first few nights here were hectic, hot and challenging.  I couldn’t sleep through the night for several days. New bed, new place, new environment, power outages.  I used to spend my days walking around to all the shops in the resort compound and visiting with friends.  I didn’t need to drive anywhere as everything I needed was within walking distance.  The compound had a generator, so there was never a power outage longer than 30 seconds, there were no animals on the grounds, no bugs, A/C, and lots of lights outside at night.  Here we do not have AC (except in the bedroom), it has been very humid, the roosters crow at all hours, there are mystery animal calls throughout the night, power outages and all kinds of critters.   When we lose power here, we cannot use the water or the lines from the cistern will go dry.  If the lines go dry, you then have to go on a little adventure outside, down around the bottom of the building, into a basement-ish room, under a wall into a crawl space, find the light and reset the pump (no thanks). I say a little prayer to the WAPA (power company) gods when I step into the shower, that the power won’t go out.  I can just see myself midway through washing my crazy hair, the power going out and having to jump out of the shower to adventure down there.  I plan on grabbing some gallon jugs of water to keep under the sink just in case.  As we have put things in their place and made this home, I am happy to report I sleep like a rock most nights, the weather has been mild and enjoyable- no ac required, the critters don’t bother me, the chaos of moving has gone and I’ve melted into our new life, in this incredible home, here with a grateful heart and clear mind.

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First night provisions

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Sunsets from Home

Driving has been….interesting.  I take Dan to work every morning and then go and run whatever errands I have.  I drive all over the island and where I was once terrified, I find myself very much enjoying it now.  I am not afraid anymore, except at a few hairpin, totally blind turns here and there, and mostly I feel like an island badass now when I scale the driveway and back in to our spot like a boss. Traffic signs and laws are more suggestions here, than requirements.  Here are a few things I’ve learned: Never ever think the other person at the stop sign is going to stop, because they won’t.  Everyone drives in the middle of the road to avoid the ‘my car will disappear in there’ pot holes.  There are no street signs. There are at least different 3 ways to get anywhere. Four corners is a four-way stop that leads everywhere. Going 30 mph is way too fast.  Tailing people is a sport here.  Never get pulled over, the cops will berate you on their loud-speaker in front of everyone.  NEVER have your phone out.  Creative driving skills are a must (20 point turns).  The cow will move when it is ready.  The speed bumps are camouflaged. If you can’t see what’s coming around the bend, honk your horn, take a breath and go for it.  Stopping for a chat with a friend on the side of the road, with traffic lined up behind you is totally ok.  I remember being on the interstate in Nashville with all the craziness thinking, ‘I cannot wait to slow it down and be on the island where it will be SO MUCH safer’….well.  It’s just a different crazy here, and safety is a relative term.   Today I was in front of/behind a guy driving in reverse down the road for at least three miles.  He randomly pulled over at a ditch and jumped out of his car as I passed.  Not sure what that was about, but I can tell you it didn’t surprise me.  The other day I saw a ford truck with a gigantic metal gate in it.  It was bigger than the truck itself, but it’s ok because they tied it with one rope and the guy in the back was holding it in the truck. All the way up the mountain.  Safety.

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We felt very lucky this past weekend to have two beach days.  Saturday we started out at a new little breakfast place, Frenchtown deli.  We wandered in and found a table after ordering our food in what kind of felt like a convience store.  The air was filled with the aroma of waffles and coffee. Sitting to our left was a Rasta and a young man sipping tea and reading the paper, their peace only broken by small bouts of local tongued conversation.  To the right of us, a large group of people speaking beautifully in french. From my broken understanding I knew they were impressed by the coffee, and they really liked the fresh squeezed orange juice. In front of us were two older gentleman discussing boats and land over their eggs and coffee. One had wispy hairs on his balding head and big goofy glasses, the other a ball cap and when he spoke, he whistled a bit. They seem to be long time friends, although they sat at separate little tables.  Patsy Cline was falling to pieces on the radio and it was all delightful.  The coffee was the best I’ve had on Island.  We then headed out to Funday Saturday with the Framily at Magen’s Bay.  It is the largest beach here and is nestled in between two peninsulas.   The sand is super soft, the water is as clear as a bath and barely laps at your feet.  You can just stand knee-deep in the water and watch a show of fish gliding all around your legs, or gaze out onto Outer Brass Island in the distance.  It is stunning and reportedly one of the World’s most beautiful beaches.  Sunday was Mother’s day, hopefully for you all a celebration and time well spent with family.  For us it is a sad reminder that my Momma is gone, and it was really hard to swallow all the overwhelming emotions.  So Dan took me to a fabulous brunch and then we escaped to an off the beaten path beach.  It was completely ours for several hours, a little bit of peace where no one knew about the tears I shed, and the heaviness in my heart despite being in paradise.  There was no beach bar, or any establishments, and it was like being on a deserted island.  The sand held many treasures of shells, rocks and thing  and the water was so clear you could pluck colorful sea glass right off the bottom.  It is completely wild and free there, the palm trees form a jungle and grow right out over the water.  We even took Callie with us and let her dig in the sand and swim a little, until some friends arrived and we all just relaxed with some sangria and enjoyed each other’s company.  These are the moments when I can step back and look at the trauma I have experienced and know that every single thing has brought me to where I am today, and I am grateful for the heart aches, the challenges, the messy because it all leads to something, somewhere that is beautiful.  And it forced me to jump instead of standing somewhere at a safe distance from all my dreams, from life itself.   Things are not perfect.  I have some broken things still in my life, but these things, relationships and situations, they are out of my hands.  All I can do is give my love to those who accept it, and silently wrap all the rest in love in light, and as the waves lap the shore, I toss a few more of my sorrows in and let the ocean take them from me, knowing I am going to be alright, because we are all doing our best, and we are all going to be ok.

I have to leave you for now, because as I type, one of my soul sisters is on a plane, somewhere over the ocean on her way to me.  I am beyond excited to share this place with her, and to revel in her excitement as everything here becomes new again through her eyes.  She doesn’t know it yet, but I will be waiting with a pain-killer in hand and a bursting heart to be reunited once again.

Love and healing light, from my heart to yours.

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Magen’s Bay

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Treasures

 

 

 

 

 


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One month, one week

I’ve mentioned before that I was more of a terrifying, grumbling monster, than a chipper, morning human prior to moving to the Island.  Waking up here I jump out of bed and run out on to the patio to greet the smiling sun, endless blue skies and ocean, and check out what ships are in port.  These things make for glorious mornings here.  That is until Betty Crocker arrived with her grayness, cloudy outlook and 90% humidity.  Fifteen days. FIFTEEN DAYS of rain and little sun.  Of broken dreams and …. ok I may be getting carried away here.  You get the picture.  I’m sure at least one of ya’ll out there understands the weather vs mood struggle, but we have made the most of it.

Dan’s company hosted a carnival walk through for all of its stakeholders that let us meander lazily through the Village before a ton of crowds showed up.  The Village is basically the ‘fair grounds’ for the carnival.  There is a huge stage for all of the live music and a rectangular perimeter of food and drink booths.  Just outside of the main grounds is the kid’s and ride area, bustling with fair style games and basic fair rides.  The entire place is canopied in colorful bunting flags and bright lights, and the delicious smell of fried bread hangs thick in the air.  I am so amazed at the planning and prep that went into this event, it was really fantastic.  At each booth we were allowed to sample their best selling or favorite item.  I think my two favorite samples of the night was a drink called ‘Coquito’ and a shrimp dish.  Coquito is a Puerto Rican, rum and coconut drink that is traditionally a holiday drink, much like egg nog is in the states.  I hope when the Holiday’s roll around, I can get my hands on this stuff because it tasted like magic sprinkled with cinnamon.  My second favorite sampling was simply named ‘butter shrimp’, and that is exactly what it was.  Shrimp stewed in seasoned butter.  There were a variety of local soups and stews sampled including one called ‘goat water’ which I passed on.  (Word on the street was it was spicy and delicious) My least favorite drink was the Cane Rum.  Upon first hearing this I thought, sweet, home-made rum, but it was basically Island Moonshine.  My face says it all in the pic below.   Despite the rising temperature as more people arrived, the steel drum music was loud, smiles were worn brightly and everyone got in a bit of dancing.   As we left, we were all full and a bit thirsty.  It was muggy and hot so we stopped by a local bar that was teeny tiny and latin.  No one here spoke English and the 4 people in the place pretty much watched us in amusement as we tried to order a drink.  Nonetheless, the music got me dancing, we made friends with the patrons as best we could and everyone was smiling and enjoying the evening despite the thick, muggy air.

 

The rest of the week was normal, with one half day of sunshine.  On that day I took myself to a favorite beach called ‘Morningstar’.  Since the weather had been so stormy, the water was very different.  Let me tell you, nothing makes me feel like a care free kid again more than giant waves to jump and play in.  My friends and I spent the better part of the afternoon floating over, jumping into and laughing with the waves.  We watched iguanas saunter around in the hot sand and even built some sand castles.  Not a bad Wednesday afternoon.

We had made big plans for Saturday to run downtown and catch some of the parade and then Island hop to St. John (STJ).  When I jumped out of bed that morning excited for our adventures, I was stopped in my tracks by the completely condensation soaked doors to the patio.  And behind them, the black clouds and pouring rain.  Guess who’s back, back again….Betty Crocker, ya’ll, and her super moist weather.  We decided to watch the parade on a live stream for a bit, but still catch the ferry over to STJ.  As the morning wore on our STJ party group dropped out one by one, until the only crazy people still going was Dan and I, and our friends, the Sherman’s.   So in the pouring rain we set off, to get on our first ferry.  I am pretty sure no one should be as excited as I was to get on a boat, in a storm to go walk around another island in the rain.  But I was so excited I could not stop grinning despite the thunder!  I was surprised at how fast the ferry was and within 15 min we arrived in Cruz bay, STJ.

STJ has a totally different vibe from the moment you put your foot on the dock.  Maybe it was the rainy day, but I felt it was way more relaxed here.  It was still raining when we made our way into the little shops, but it wasn’t 15 min later the rain stopped and the sun started making an appearance.  We spent an hour or so exploring Cruz Bay, we picked up a few little treasures and then made our way back to Joe’s Rum Hut. and met up with the Sherman’s.  Now this is a super dangerous place. It is right on the water and has a ‘You call it’  Happy Hour – and everything, yes EVERYTHING, is $3, for two hours.  We tasted a myriad of cocktails while enjoying the sun, the view, laughing and sharing stories.  We quickly decided we all needed Thai food and STJ had just the place – Rhumb Lines.  This may be the cutest little place I have ever been.  It was in a practically hidden garden canopied in green palm trees and plants.  Tiny windchimes and paper lanters hung all over so when the breeze came through, the entire place swayed you further into relaxation and peace.  As the evening wore down we wandered back to the ferry.  The sea had calmed, and the island was glowing with light.  This was one of my favorite nights, I laughed until my cheeks and gut hurt, I was blessed with wonderful company and as we drove home I felt happy and relaxed, and that all was good in the world.  It’s funny how your day can go from storms to joy, just by refusing to let the clouds get in your way.

 

Sunday Funday started off with brunch at this little, tiny, open air hut called SOS.  Our friend ‘Zo’ met us for blackberry mimosas, giant waffles, banana bread french toast and breakfast tacos.  And the creepiest land crabs ever.  As I was sitting there in the booth, minding my own biz, I happened to glance over and see a pretty large crab just chilling in the side garden.  This crab had yellow eyes and was perfectly content staring me down…and into my soul.  After a few minutes of this, I realized this crab had not moved a hair since I noticed him.  Was he dead? Is this a joke? The more I thought about it, the more concerned I became.  I eventually came to the conclusion the owners put him there to play a joke on the customers.  Right?  Because 10 minutes later, no movement.  Not even his weird yellow eyes.  I even asked the waiter…what is this? He confirmed they were indeed real and would scatter off if he sensed movement. Lies.  This crab was a stalker crab and I knew at any minute, he would come at me like a spider monkey.  Now, I am not afraid of crabs…I was more just concerned that this crab was dead…and I don’t need that saddness when I am eating happy waffles.  And then the next time I looked, he was gone.  Just poof. Gone.  Zombie crab lives, and hopefully in his hiding spot and not in my bag.

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After our food coma, we all headed down to Abi beach.  This beach is defintely off the beaten path and was super low key and relaxed.  The storm clouds stayed just off the shore and we spent the day lounging and playing games.  Our beach day got cut off short when our neighbor sent us a message that our smoke alarms were going off at the new place so we had to call it a night and head over to fix the issue.  This was beyond frustrating, but we handled it and hopefully an electrician will be coming to take care of the electrical issue soon.

Today, the sun is shining and my blue skies are back.  I’ve learned a lot this week about myself, and about Island life.  After I finish posting this, I will be packing up our last bag and Callie’s things, and turning in the keys to the Trickery (Resort) Compound.  Living here was a gift and I am so grateful for the experience. I have met so many people here and had so much personal reflection during our first month of life here.  The Island is both hard and soft.  There are parts of the island that feel not so great, and others that make life feel perfect.  The water can teach you a thing or two about life if you let it.   The lapping of the tide can calm your soul, large swells can bring out your playful inner kid, but when it’s rainy and choppy it can seem unforgiving and impassable, and after rain, the water is murky.  If you peer into the water on a sunny day, it is crystal clear with layers of color and life, but at night is inky black with no visibility and no direction.  Yet no matter the conditions, the tide continues to go in and out, the water always reaches the shore and the sun will always come back out.  Much like life, all things are temporary. A new chapter and true Island life begins today, and I welcome all the clear and the murky things that we are about to embark on.

Peace, love and light.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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One Month

As I sit here typing, it is pouring rain outside.  We have the doors open, only the softest lights on just listening to the music from carnival downtown drifting across the harbor and bouncing back off the mountain.   It dawned on me that tomorrow we have lived here for a full month.  While I feel like I have a year’s worth of experiences crammed into such a short time, we are not even close to being out of ‘newbie’ status yet.

The past week-ish has been all over the place.  Some ups, some downs, a little bit of incredible and a little bit of ‘I might snap’. Basically, it has been pretty well rounded.  We have had quite a few challenges this week, especially with banking.  There are no ‘big box’ banks here, just local ones.  We haven’t opened an account yet, so anything relating to banking basically feels like I am standing in a room surrounded by red lasers- impossible.  But we got it settled eventually and I am happy to say, we now own the cutest little, bad ass Jeep wrangler!

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We still have not completely moved into our new place yet, what can I say…Island living got in the way.  We have plenty of time to get there, so we took some much needed time to just hang out, explore and relax with friends.  I even adventured out on the roads alone and stumbled upon the cutest place called Tillet Gardens.  It’s this cute little hidden garden surrounded by fun little artsy shops, vintage store and a bar and grille.  There were huge bird cages filled with many colorful birds, art and animals around every corner. I absolutely loved exploring the shops, brought home a few treasures and met some really interesting people there.  And I found it all on my own, even drove there unsupervised!

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Most places around here have a jazz night, and I love it!  We try to go listen to as much music as we can around here before we head up on to the mountain top.  One night we went into a little place to catch a super talented chickadee sing.  We picked a quiet spot and listened to her sing her Savannah soul out.  This girl is talented…she plays clarinet, banjo, saxophone and I don’t even know what else.  As the night went on our little party grew.  We met a professor from the University here, who introduced us to her friends, a local reggae and jazz artist.  Then the singer came over and started chatting with us.  Before we knew it our little party of two was a huge group of amazing people including an energy healer/shaman, an aerialist, a sail maker and the musicians.  It was an amazing night. You really just never know what is in store here, or who you are going to meet.  It makes me so happy.

Last week I mentioned how stunning the weather had been.  This week the weather has been strange.  Thick, gloomy clouds have gathered, clung to and hidden the tops of the mountains, the breezy sway of the palms has stopped, and the dampness has settled into every bone and pore of my body.  I thought it would surely clear out tomorrow, day after day, but it still remains sitting on top of us.  Ya’ll. It’s Betty Crocker up in here.  SUPER MOIST.  I know, I said it.  Go ahead and cringe.   It’s now been like this for 5 days and it wears me down.  Remember how I said in my last post I was ready for real Island living? Well you know what they say…be careful what you wish for and my fairy godmother has been on point this week.  Getting into bed the other night was very similar to wrapping up in damp towels, rather than crisp sheets. Then the power went out. No fans, no A/C, no breeze, damp towels for covers.  We purchased a dehumidifier the very next day.  I hear that the next phase of weather will continue to get warm and dusty.  That’s right, the Sahara Desert dust is coming.  I’ve heard it’s terrible for allergies, but great to keep bad storms away.  I’ll keep you posted on how this goes.

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We spent the weekend with our Island Fr-amily.  None of us felt ‘happy’ with the weather so we ditched our chores and errands and went straight for mexican and margaritas. After stuffing our faces and quenching our thirst at Greengo’s Cantina, we wandered a bit through the shops in downtown Charlotte Amalie. Usually it’s full of the cruisers and tourists, but we had it mostly to ourselves Saturday.  When we had enough we hopped in the car to pick up supplies for Sunday Sunday and our Rum Punch off.  We didn’t make it far when the other half of Fr-amily called and said to meet them in Red Hook on the East side of the Island.  On our way I tried to convince the guys there was a secret beach on the way and of course they didn’t believe me.  So we made a pit stop, driving down a crazy, pot hole road down to another dead end road that looked like it is mostly a dead boat grave yard.  Convinced I had brought them there to leave them forever with the boats, I forced them to follow me to Scott Beach.  A teeny, tiny little place a super sweet friend had shown me a few weeks ago.  We made our way down the beach and searched for sea glass and other treasures.  Something about the waves finished off the doom and gloom we had all felt from the yucky weather and we felt good heading in to meet the rest of our crew.  I think at this point we were trying really hard to embrace the moistness of our new lives.  (yep I said it again)  We spent the rest of the evening cutting up and being silly with each other, and then checked out Duffy’s.  We ordered the largest drinks in history, something about a Volcano, and was lit on fire, and a fish bowl full of plastic sharks with 151 shots in them.  We all got lei’d and shared our mega drinks before finally making it to the store for punch off supplies in which more silliness ensued.

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Sunday Funday this week was at Honeymoon Beach on Water Island.  We all hopped onto a ferry for about 10 min, then piled into a taxi bus that dropped us off on a beautiful white sandy beach with calm, clear water, lined with palm trees.  I dropped my stuff off, immediately grabbed my snorkel gear and hit the water. Within 5 minutes I had spotted my first sea turtle, and in a few minutes was swimming with 4 more.  This is real, ya’ll and it was amazing.  I love watching them glide gracefully through the water and come up to breathe.  They were not bothered by my presence at all so I stayed and floated with them for awhile.

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We are in full swing Carnival here and the Island is just vibrating with exciting energy. Tomorrow we will be going to our first Carnival event, hosted by Dan’s company, and will be touring the Village.  I cannot wait to meander in and out of all of the booths and be in the middle of all of it.  Every night you can hear the music all over the Island.  It still brings the biggest smile to my face.

Hopefully, we will finish moving all of our stuff to the new place sometime in the next few days, but I keep reminding myself we are on Island time, so it will get done when it gets done.

Love and positive energy to you!


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Three Weeks

It has been absolutely stunning here this week. The sky has been bluer than blue, the water still like glass, and the horizon so clear, you can see St. Croix lighting up the horizon at night and during the day Culebra, Vieques and Puerto Rico. I am stunned. In fact, I stay mostly in a state of awe.
While I have spent a lot of time wandering around here in a beauty drenched daze, Dan and I have also been going 90 miles an hour.
On Friday, we started ‘officially’ moving into our place. So that meant we had to get some traction on our furniture situation, and after running all over, we successfully found a few more pieces to add to our collection. It has been fun but also tiring. Dan’s free time has been spent going to furniture stores, or picking this up or that, getting keys made and having power and internet squared away. We will be really glad to be more settled that’s for sure.
I think it was Thursday afternoon I was just done, and told Dan I needed to chase the sunset and just be still to watch it sink in the sky. So that is exactly what we did…we chased the sunset to a new beach we hadn’t been to, Brewer’s Bay. It is a beautiful beach on the Caribbean side tucked neatly back against the mountains. The sailboats dotted the horizon along with cotton candy pink clouds and the sun slowly dipped behind the lush green rolling peaks. As we walked in the calm surf, we found piles upon piles of the tiniest shells, rocks and treasures. I could have spent hours there combing through all of it. This beach is very close the the University, which is beautiful on it’s own, and is off of a main road where locals come set up a folding chair, sit and socialize together right there on the sidewalk. I have noticed this kind of thing around. Just random spots where you bring a chair, a brew and chat it up with your people. I adore the community I see. Not saying it’s perfect here, there are challenges in the community and among people here just like you can find anywhere. You see it bleed onto the local facebook pages and message boards. But for me, I starve for more immersion in the local culture, and I also embrace my newness here. It’s all new, it’s all exciting, but I know it will take time and experience for me to blend in. Hopefully finding our own ride will help with that…driving a rental with a big ole ‘DRIVE ON THE LEFT’ red arrow sticker on the windshield kind of blows my otherwise, incognito cover.
Speaking of, I have been driving more and more. Everyone thinks I am nuts because I prefer to practice at night. What can I say. It just feels more manageable to me. I have been getting out during the day and next week I will be dropping Dan off at work and keeping the car for myself to explore and hopefully work on our new place.
Our new place is coming together. I’ve spent some time there cleaning because it sat empty for awhile and also because I just need to know I cleaned it to live in it. There have been two additional incidents. There are several sets of sliding glass doors, but for some reason the spiders really love the one that faces east and they congregate there just to torment me. (4 total so far) This door shall only be known as the ‘spider portal from hell’. This last spider was large enough I could see his eyeballs…all of them, all googly and shit. Normally, I would not kill them, just have Dan set them free far away, but this guy had a high five to the face with a shoe. Someone find me that bristle spider catcher thing, STAT! And NO, i will not be taking photos of these spiders, are you crazy? One night I also I saw a tree rat hanging in a tree. I was less afraid of that then the mutant spiders hanging out at the portal. Good news. Dan and our friend B have sprayed the house down twice now. Bug Barrier, check. Now to figure out the cistern situation and attempt to drive on the roller coaster drive way. Baby steps.
In more exciting news, Dan’s company hosts a monthly guest speaker series that spouses and families of the stakeholders are invited to. This month, of course, is all about CARNIVAL! Even as a newbie, I can feel the island vibe changing quickly. Everywhere you go, you hear festive, up beat carnival music, over hear people chatting about it, see posters, or even hear the steal drum bands practicing. It is awesome. The speaker they invited was a historian and he outlined all the different, daily events and how they came to be tradition. We had a master steel drum artist come in and share the history of the steel drum and he even played for us. There was music and story telling and I am sure my eyes were like saucers the entire time. I soaked it all in like a sponge, could barely keep my booty in the chair and it is all just fascinating. When all of this awesomeness was over, there was more! We all went out into the gardens where they had costume pieces on display, food and beverages. Everyone just started hanging out and enjoying local food like saltfish fritters, johnny cakes and fried banana fritters. Ya’ll they even had a sno cone truck. Anyone who knows me well knows I love a good SOUTHERN style sno cone and these were legit, they even had cream. Wait, this is a work event? YES! I even spent some time talking to the president of the company who was as friendly as could be. Mind Blown. And then, if that wasn’t all fabulous enough. MOCKO JUMBIES and a baton twirling show happened. It was a teeny tiny taste of what is to come. And ya’ll better believe I’ll have on my glitter and will be out dancing and welcoming the rising sun with the rest of the community!
After all this fun, we closed the evening down with our Fr-amily at Hull Bay hideaway and then spent our first night in the new place.
It was all fun and games until 4:45 am ish when every single damn rooster on the island started letting us know the sun was ABOUT to come up. But as every down side has an up, the sunrise was GORGEOUS and i didn’t have to move from my pillow to witness the entire thing.
This is where its going to get good ya’ll. I know it. For now, we are living on what i like to call the ‘Trickery Compound’. I love it here, I can walk everywhere, it’s beautiful, we have generators for power outages, A/C, no bugs, the parking is flat, you have to have a key card to get in and there are maybe 3 chickens here. Life here is resort living and grand compared to what we will experience ‘out there’. I have loved most every single moment here minus the Sloppy Turtle DJ night when its like the DJ is in the bedroom from 10pm – 1am. (nobody stays up that late here anyhow?!?!) But I am really looking forward to our place too and I can’t wait to share it all with you as it happens, the good, the bad and the crazier.
We closed out Saturday dining with some seriously awesome new friends and indulging in the most delicious dinner at Thirteen, which happens to be less than a minute from our new place. DANGER DANGER. They have pizza, ridiculous desserts and FAB cocktails. I guess when the spiders come out, I’ll carry myself here. Winning anyway, spiders.
It’s past my bedtime, and tomorrow is Sunday Funday. I’ll be sending out the sunshine vibes, positive energy and love to you all. For now, it’s lights out for this Island gal. XO


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Day Eighteen

So far this week has been very low key. Normal life.
I am liking my schedule of cleaning everything on Mondays so that I can have the rest of the week to do whatever. Plus it’s the day after Sunday Funday/Punch off and cleaning doesn’t require too much brain power, so it works out nicely.
I decided after 3 weeks off of working out and eating clean and healthy, it might be time to get back on the wagon. I have really enjoyed indulging in things I normally would not, eating out, cocktails, fried fish tacos, pizza and chocolate. Even one of my besties asked ‘Who are you?’. Having so many new places to eat and explore makes this very challenging. I want to try everything! But my body is letting me know we need a break so back on the wagon we go, with some modifications: I can cut loose on the weekends within reason, as long as I keep it together during the week. I feel this is fair….even though all the never ending happy hours here are tempting me with their small plate specials and fancy pants drinks. Also, $12 bottomless mimosas are a thing here.
Dan is getting more settled in at work and there is already talk of him traveling soon. This will be a change for us. I am excited he will be back stateside frequently though, as I keep a running list of things I’ll need him to bring back to me. I feel this is a win win situation.
After he comes home from work, the search for furniture and general exploring continues. Last night we checked out Price Smart. A small version of a Sam’s or Costco. I was pleased to see many things I thought I’d never find here available there. And Ya’ll, it’s $15 a year. I’m in.
As we explore our little rock and try and settle into routines, I’ve noticed a lot of things have changed. Normally, I would never ever take a nap. Now I enjoy an occasional afternoon snooze…and wake up refreshed. Plus it helps me stay awake past 9pm. Which is another thing, I’m an early bird now and I am ashamed to say, both of us fell asleep 15 min in to Fear the Walking Dead the other night. Who are we? I do not wear make up except maybe a quick layer of mascara here and there. My perfume is a lovely blend of sunscreen and bug spray. My clothes are cool and comfortable. I don’t wear jewelry, past only my wedding band. My hair stays pretty much a beach hair mess, and I really do not care at all. In fact, I think my white wise lady hairs are starting to show, but the sun has lightened my hair so I don’t even notice that much. My pedicure is now 3 weeks old, yet I am not phased by the chipped polish enough to go have them redone. Why bother? Instead of buying all kinds of new beauty products, I’m just looking for the best quality suncare products I can stock up on. There is a line from a Kenny Chesney song that says:
‘Ambition fades with every wave, for the finer things in life.’
That about sums it up. I spent my adult life thus far working my ass off to be treated sub par, to earn money for a house that was too big, a car that was fancy, and to have a certain lifestyle, that I was always too wrecked to enjoy. None of those ‘things’ or ‘jobs’ validated me, but at the time I sure did let them define me. After all, if I was not climbing the ladder and earning an extra dollar, surely my life didn’t amount to anything. There was no balance and it took me years to recognize this. Most of you know, the last 5 years have been brutal and I realize now, with a grateful heart, that is NOT the life for me. Breathing in fresh, salty air, spending endless hours on the beach with Dan and my fr-amily (friend family) laughing and enjoying our view, exploring and challenging my limits, giving back, doing something I enjoy and that doesn’t take over my being. Living with balance. Because we are only promised right now, THAT is where I want to be, and what I promise to strive to achieve here.
Love and Light coming at ya!