Wanderlust – I knew that I had to honor it in 2020.  150 posts later, I am only beginning to understand how it brought me on a journey to peace.  I suppose that is the purpose of this blog – to figure out how my life could be transformed.

I refer to the self that came here from Canada as the “Old Sheri.”  She was anxious and deeply dissatisfied.  I had been shedding parts of the Old Sheri for years.  The transformation didn’t come from moving to Barbados. Yet, it took an extreme event, like the pandemic, to make the big changes.

When people ask me how the New Sheri differs and how she came to be, I think of three big things:

Sunset yoga at Sweetfield Manor

1. Comfort Zone

Freedom is the value that I hold most dear.  It is closely aligned to adventure.  This is not the first time that I have packed up and moved overseas, but it is the most profound.  I knew that I could do it, but this time was different.

COVID literally wiped my slate clean – my work, my play, my security, and some of my friendships. It left me with time and space to face difficult conversations.  I was deeply uncomfortable.

My comfort zones were allowing me to hold onto beliefs that no longer served me and made me miserable.  There is nothing like moving to a foreign country and culture to question everything you thought you knew.  To decide what you believe going forward.

Lorena, Conrad, myself, and Nick at Ilaro Court, home of the PM - but I have yet to met Mia!

2. Environment

It became abundantly clear when living in Ireland that I am hugely affected by my environment.  I believe that I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder and the darkness makes me sad.

There is a Tim Horton’s commercial in Canada that shows someone screaming at the first sight of a red autumn leaf.  It is meant to be a joke but is exactly how I would feel.  I did not seem to be able to appreciate the beautiful fall colours because I knew what was around the corner.  I would spend all winter dreaming of escapes to warm climates.

In Barbados, I wake up to sunshine almost every single day.  I watch the tourists by the pool baking and think of my youth when I used baby oil on my skin.  Surfing is the only time that I allow myself to be in direct sunshine; the sun exposure is worth it.  I used to think that I didn’t like water, but it turns out I just don’t like cold.  My relationship with the sun and the ocean has been transformed.  My body is happy.

3. Community

I think fondly of my high school years. My family had moved to Goderich, a small town in Ontario.  I saw my friends every day at school and weekends.  I played basketball and volleyball with many of them.  I had community.  When my father died, they were a huge comfort to me.

I went away to university, followed by many years of living in the metropolises of Canada and Europe.  Ironically, it was the anonymity of the big city that allowed me to explore who I was.  But I traded it for my sense of belonging.  I gave away security and comfort for what I thought was freedom.

Turns out, freedom is about being who you are truly meant to be.  It helps to be in a place that fosters the real you, surrounded by people encouraging you to be your awesome self.  This is what I found in Barbados – my community, my tribe.

Rave in the Cave - Bottom Bay, Barbados

There could be a fourth overarching element – timing.  After years of searching through books, retreats, and therapy, it clicked into place.  I found peace and became comfortable in my own skin again.  This transformation might have happened in Canada eventually.  I think that I had to move from Ottawa.  I believe that the pandemic gave me the kick in the pants to change the things in my life that were not working, and maybe that change would have presented itself in my home country.

And just maybe, if you are reading this blog, change is coming for you.  This time you might consider jumping out of your comfort zone to let it in.  Your freedom could be on the other side.