Tides for our 6 month anniversary. Nick is the most wonderful addition to my life in Barbados.

Three years ago today, on my birthday, I sold my house and packed up my remaining possessions between a storage locker and two travel suitcases.  I drove to Toronto and waited for the next flight to Barbados, November 26, 2020.

I was running from the pandemic and an inevitable winter lockdown.  I also felt as though I was running towards something and had a deep sense that it was the next right thing.

In the three years since, the top three things I have learned have everything and nothing to do with Barbados:

1.Connection

Brene Brown says that we are hard-wired for connection – shame keeps us from it and vulnerability is the key to attaining it.

I have experienced plenty of shame and discomfort through my choice of paths.  I never had kids and never married.  It prevented me from FEELING part of the inner circle, especially in a town like Ottawa that was a “good place to raise a family.”

I was one of many that came to Barbados on the Welcome Stamp without a family or partner.  Many view my move to a foreign country on my own in a pandemic as badass.  There was no shame in doing it on my own and plenty of vulnerability in reaching out to others to help me in this bold move.

There are many of us that came alone, and it necessitates that we take care of each other.  There is always a sense of community around me.

I moved to Barbados alone but have not felt lonely one day here.

There is power in connection.

2. Resourcefulness

In Barbados, it is often not what you know but finding the person that knows it.  If you take “no” for an answer, then you will go without.  There is no shiny website full of information and guidance or next steps.  There are very few helplines that you can use to get someone on the phone that can serve you.  No ombudsmen to take your complaints.  There is only your ability to be resourceful.

Barbadians revere friendliness, almost to a fault; yet, if you are kind and foster a community, you will find that one people that can help.  But you cannot only take from the resources – you must also give back.

You reap what you sow.

3. Nature

As an adult in Canada, I chose living in dense cities and traded the nature I had found as a child playing in a pile of autumn leaves, or in a winter snowbank.  In Barbados, I can load up my surfboard and within 10 minutes jump in the ocean.  I am a kid again.

There is something that happens to me, on a cellular level, when I paddle into the ocean.  As my surfboard crests the waves on the way out to the surf break, I can feel any stresses wash away.  As I ride down the first wave of the session, the exhilaration replaces any loneliness or doubt that I may have felt.  It is not the sport of surfing, but the juxtaposition of peace and power that the ocean represents.

Surrounded by nature, you cannot help but feel free.

Loneliness used to be a theme in my life.  Connection, community, and nature is my elixir.  That and a whole lot of therapy over the years, but that is a different blog post 😉

These are life lessons, not Bajan lessons.  Sometimes I wonder why they took me so long to learn.  I suspect that one does not have to do something as drastic as move country to learn them.  They are available to all of us.  Some of us need a big push from The Universe to get going.  Mine was a pandemic and a beautiful island in the Caribbean offering a visa called The Welcome Stamp.

What is yours?