Doggone It

My dad used to use this phrase when he heard bad news. It came to mind today as I was walking the steep climb up Montagne Posee Road. I got the latest rejection email yesterday. I am beginning to refer to them differently however. I am not a big fan of negative reference terms so they are now filed in the Those who do not see my greatness recycling bin. Doesn’t that sound better? I have always been fairly realistic when hiring others. If it was not beneficial for both parties it was not going to be fruitful for business. The same holds true for myself. If someone does not see my value it is not my path. Sounds simple but of course I am human so it still stings.

I utilize this walk to ground me. If you are not familiar with that term it means that you are present in your body and connected with the earth, allowing you to feel centered and balanced no matter what’s going on around you. It is one of the reasons Minnesota is not a great home for me. I need to be outdoors year round. I need to breathe in the green and feel the miracles of nature to rebuild my self esteem. While the ocean is also very therapeutic in that way today was definitely a time when I just needed to sweat it out to clear my head. My stray posse helps tremendously!

When MC and I began walking this road after our return from the US it was a huge struggle for me. I am used to flat land exercise. This is a heart racer and calorie burner. We picked up a few stray dogs the first time. I guess I should say they chose us. They joined us without invitation and began wagging their tails showing us the way. I have never met a dog I did not love. These animals are often difficult to see however. It breaks my heart that there are so many strays in the Seychelles. From what I understand it is a common problem on islands. With no government regulation or intervention and very little education here it seems an insurmountable task to bring the population under control. My mind is puzzled with that issue amongst a thousand other conundrums.

Anyway, back to the present which is the purpose of grounding. On Sunday our posse grew to seven dogs. It becomes somewhat comical. At one point I pointed out to MC that they were walking the center line as if taking a sobriety test. It made us laugh as it appeared as though they were trained to do so. While I do not carry my phone on walks I decided to today so I could capture the silly phenomenon.

Here is the true beauty of animals. I always learn something from them. They know exactly how to keep life simple. They are happy to go from point A to point B. They are not in a hurry. They stop to smell and investigate. They are only thinking about exactly what they are currently involved in. Like me, they are motivated by food and love a great cuddle! In the current absence of a place for a pet I am feeling pretty privileged to have this little dog walking gig. Ironically, I think they know they are walking me!

The real reason for this quick post is to remind you that it is okay to have a rough day. Be kind to yourself, do something that feels like a treat to raise your spirits and by all means do not hesitate to reach out to a friend. I know that is not easy to do. I always feel like a burden when I do it yet I am also always grateful that I did. We are not meant to do it all alone. It helps to have someone to listen so you can unburden yourself, if only for a minute or two. Life has it’s ups and downs. We need to remember that the downs make the ups more treasured. You are never alone. Thankfully my posse reminded me of that today!

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A Star is Born

I am sorting through my overwhelming thoughts from these past few weeks so please bear with me…

My residency as a dependent of MC was recently approved. I am incredibly grateful as it allows me to take a deep breath of fresh air and also brings about the realization of what I have let go of since I arrived. Oh that girl was stubborn and impatient! That is what she was taught to be. She was conditioned to break her back and sacrifice everything for success. Perhaps the biggest flaw was the corrupted definition of what she considered success to be.

In my deepest darkness a small piece of me still hung on to the ideals of the so called American dream. That I would arrive, start my own company and share with others my wealth of knowledge on how to operate a successful business. I started my own consulting business. I even bought business cards! These two cost me around a hundred dollars. Then I studied, listened and learned everything business here that I could get my hands on. It turns out they do not operate businesses even minutely the way Americans do. Quite frankly there is much I enjoy about how they do things. Their business hours are not 24/7/365. They still believe Sunday is a day reserved for family and religion. Most businesses, retail included, are closed after five PM weekdays, Saturday afternoons and Sundays. In other words, they have balance. Hence I had far more to learn than to teach.

My knowledge and innovation has resulted in a commissioned oceanic study that is still, after two years, in progress. They estimated six months. Welcome to island time! I have received that one yes and encountered about fifty other no’s for various contracts and positions. Thankfully along my Fortune 500 journey in the US I was gifted a book entitled Go for No! It is a very short read that I highly recommend. Basically it recounts how we are born fearless and slowly learn this horrid trait that holds us back from everything wonderful that we deserve in life. My favorite analogy from it is the little boy that wants a cookie. He will ask his mom for a cookie relentlessly without a trace of shyness a hundred times if that’s what it takes to get a cookie. He does not doubt his ability to give his mom sweet little eyes that melt her defenses, strategically negotiate or worse case throw a tantrum. He will fearlessly do whatever it takes to get that cookie.

I have always believed I grew up too fast. I am now living the childhood I forgot to enjoy. I am playing more, napping more, learning more and also reteaching myself to be fearless. The funny thing is everything I thought was so safe was causing my unhappiness and anxiety. Job security, insurance, 401k contribution, and the list goes on. What I have learned being abroad as most do is that all of these things are fear based. Job security certainly does not exist. It is an oxymoron. Insurance is a business solely based on fear of what we cannot afford to repair or replace and 401k’s were introduced because our tax dollars were wasted so we need to make up for ineffective leadership if we want to survive in our golden years. Over the last two years I have slowly unraveled from this anxiety over the future and learned to live in the present. Like a child would. I am okay with that. Actually, more than okay. Incredibly blissful and grateful. I get to dream and enjoy life with only 2% worry. I am working on that as well. In other words, I have gone back to school and I am mastering in me!

What does my future hold? Well, if history repeats itself everything I have considered and applied for is nothing remotely close to what will transpire. Did I think I would meet my husband here or film a highly rated television show upon my arrival? Not in a million years. I am quite certain the reason for this is that I, like most people, underestimate myself. It is as though I am thinking on the level of Boy it would just be nice to have an evening out with a guy where there is no pressure and we can just have fun, intelligent conversation. Meanwhile, I can just picture the laughter going on above. After all these years she still does not have a clue! I think we will place a handsome man in front of her that loves food, travel and laughter and see if she will believe in herself enough to not screw it up! My life has been filled with the most success in the unknowns. Do you know why? Because it is in those circumstances that I know so little it is impossible to be afraid! I have to rely solely on my instinct and that has never failed me.

The one fear I knew I would need to overcome was being in front of a camera. I have loathed the idea since I worked for a home shopping channel back in the 90’s. I was determined to face that anxiety so I could enjoy the moments of being on one of my favorite shows and also to share this beautiful country with my family and friends back home. Photos do not come close to doing it justice and seeing me moving about healthy and happy I am certain made a difference for many. (Any live video conversations are more frustrating than fruitful due to the internet quality in the Seychelles.) The bonus was having an amazing director and cameraman that made it easy. It gave me the boost I needed to continue my personal growth.

That experience came in handy (coincidence I think not!) in the last few weeks as I decided to self master homemade pizza in order to produce a one minute application video to become an in-home pizza tester. The gig involves a free professional grade outdoor pizza oven. How cool is that? Never mind that I had never made a pizza from scratch in my life! I love learning new culinary skills and since the best pizza in this country is an hour ferry ride away the challenge was truly dual purpose. Let’s just say you can literally watch pizza dough rise in the tropics!

The first creation was an organic roasted tomato sauce with homemade ricotta flavored with bigarade. This little citrus is one of my secret weapons. The flavor tastes like a cross between a lime and a tangerine. I paired it with a spicy Italian sausage I concocted from local pork mince, garden fresh herbs and MC’s favorite Scotch bonnet peppers. The second was Seychelles on a pie. MC’s creole sauce made with curry and cinnamon leaves, tomato, onion, garlic, turmeric, lemongrass, ginger and chili topped with local chicken, onions, tomatoes and coriander. We could not decide which we liked best so we gobbled them both up like ravenous teenagers. I practiced the timing and message about fifty times alone on Friday and with MC’s skills behind the camera and loving support we nailed it in two takes in four seconds under their limit on Saturday morning. It gave me a whole new respect for food produced media to prepare two pizzas that looked as good as they tasted while getting camera ready in two minutes so their appeal did not fade on film. Whew! I then downloaded an app to condense the file which for me was almost more challenging and rewarding than the whole pizza experience itself. I have emailed it off into the universe to see what becomes of it. I enjoyed every second of the adventure and we now have gourmet pizza on our revolving home menu. With this view, of course it tastes better homemade!

There are many other books I have read and revisited over the years. I think reviewing them occasionally is the key as something that did not make sense a year ago may be exactly what you need to hear today. While Who Moved my Cheese, The Happiness Project and What Color is Your Parachute are favorites I have to say that Ask and It Is Given is the one that has most influenced my life. While I have not personally read The Secret I am familiar with it and would say the two messages are quite similar. The former however describes in depth methods for producing the abundance we are meant to enjoy in life. The book is a treasured gift from my girlfriend in San Diego. It is probably not coincidence that I began reading it just months before my departure from the US! It has reshaped my outlook and given me the confidence to strip away anything and everything in my life that does not bring intentional purpose. I am also convinced it is the reason that traditional opportunities are no longer making the cut in my life. It has allowed me to almost confidently walk away from my gainful occupational permit. I know in my heart it is the right path for me now, particularly because it scares the shit out of me. Letting go of fear. It is always the path that sets me free. Surrender. After seemingly exhausting myself at every turn it is when I surrender that everything seems to fall into place.

So here it is. My goals remain soley to be happy and healthy. I have arrived. Huge accomplishment! My passions lie in food, adventure, travel, the ocean and animals. Where will my surrender lead me next?

A. Will I be a pizza tester with a breathtaking ocean view?

B. Will I become the Bob Barker of the Seychelles and find a solution to the incredibly sad overpopulation of dogs and cats in this country?

C. Will I continue to travel and write with the love of my life on new culinary and cultural adventures?

D. Plot Twist!

E. All of the above

C is really a given however the trick is going to be to figure out how to do more of it since we are making up for lost time. I am leaving that puzzle up to the universe to solve. While I am grateful for whatever comes my way I am hopeful for E and my instinct tells me there will most definitely be a D or two along the way. Stay tuned!

By the way, in an effort to help you understand how important it is to me to inspire others to live their best life I am going to share a little secret with you. I am not independently wealthy. If you can imagine cutting the majority of your expenditures you can make this or whatever your dream is happen for yourself. When I first arrived I was terrified. I was buying toilet paper one roll at a time. No joke! I would Google the rate conversion of US dollars to Seychelles rupees on every single purchase. You would think it would become more terrifying the longer I went without a paycheck. You would be wrong. Over time, challenging time that is, I developed a confidence and trust in knowing that everything is working out for me. This is my path and I trust in it. I am not going to waste my precious life worried about things I cannot control. I have unique gifts to offer this world and I am being rewarded for them in ways far more valuable than money. I am inspired by neighbors and friends who offer free garden treasures. I am gifted with little girls smiles. My heart is overwhelmed with MC’s precious outlook on life. No expectations. No stress or tears. No timeline. Loads of love and laughter.

The same Fortune 500 company that gifted me the Go for No! book also gifted me a small number of stock as part of my compensation. Thankfully I was brought up to be conservative and have always lived below my means. It has allowed me to be debt free. While I know every financial advisor in the world would have said to hang on to that stock I chose differently. I no longer wanted to be a part of a company I did not believe in. Despite being thankful to have a job I left them on principle and holding on to the stock was a thread that needed to be cut. Instead I am using the small amount after incredulous taxes to invest in myself. To break down the walls of conditioning and find the core of who I really am. My soul journey. Ironically, and this truly is serendipitous, it is being funded by others excess. That company profits enormously from belongings others cannot bear to part with so they lock it all up in storage often to never be seen again. To those out there that have unknowingly funded my adventure I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I also strongly advise you to let go of that crap you have not touched in years as you will thank yourself for it. It will set you free and make room for more love and abundance in your life.

MC and I recently enjoyed the new blockbuster A Star is Born. I keep listening to the theme song and connecting closely with its lyrics:

Tell me somethin’, girl. Are you happy in this modern world? Or do you need more? Is there somethin’ else you’re searchin’ for?

That certainly depicts my thought process as I moved abroad.

I’m off the deep end, watch as I dive in! I’ll never meet the ground. Crash through the surface where they can’t hurt us. We’re far from the shallow now.

These words strike a chord with this particular week. Diving in to a new beginning. Scary and exciting. I know I am in the right place at the right time. I am blessed with an amazingly supportive husband in a home that inspires my creativity and provides a breathtaking sunrise reminder every morning that life is what you make of it. I am making mine more beautiful one step at a time and thoroughly enjoying the crazy ride. I am, in essence, slowly shining my light like a newborn star. While I have never been comfortable in the limelight, the galaxy feels like home to me!

I would like to dedicate this post and my new beginning to my friend Paul and his family. Paul passed away a few weeks back. A vibrant man is his thirties who left behind an amazing mother, a beautiful loving wife and three incredible boys under the age of six. I would not have had the opportunity to film with House Hunters International had I not met Paul. It was his idea and encouragement that prompted me to apply for the show. It constantly amazes me how random people effect our lives so intensely. Thank you Paul for shining your brilliant light in my life. Thank you Debbie and Mariah for sharing your precious memories and raw grief. Your family inspires me daily to be the best human being I can be.

Live fearlessly. Love fiercely.

Make every sunrise count!

https://www.gofundme.com/39fx9-paul-sandoval-recovery-fund

Full Circle

I recalled today my original intention over two years ago for starting this blog. It was to keep my family and friends in the loop on my move, reassure them of my safety and to introduce them to a world we had never seen. To share my experience with them. What I did not want to do was post beautiful photos of the beach and ocean and pretend everything was perfect. There is always more than meets the eye. And so as I attempted to put words together for this latest blessing in my life I questioned it myself. Have I come full circle and I am posting pictures of my stunning view? Yes I am. Here is why.

Never in my wildest dreams did I believe my blog would be read in over a hundred countries. To be honest I have never considered myself that interesting. Never did I believe I would be blessed with meeting the love of my life and have a simple yet picturesque wedding on the beach of a remote island. Never did I imagine I would travel through three new countries and back to the US with him with more adventures on the way. Never did I consider what I would find here nor the obstacles I would face. For every mountain we climb, there is a view. The reason I feel I need to share it is for the many who have or are where I have been in life. Fear, stress, confusion, grief, exhaustion are just a few adjectives that come to mind. I know I am not alone and yet it is a path to find yourself that each of us much walk alone. We are all different. So when I looked out at this stunning view for the first two weeks I was confused at how I got here and whether I deserved this. It feels surreal just as the other experiences have along the way. Yet when I dig deeper and see what I have accomplished to better myself in two years I can wipe away the tears and think Damn right we deserve this!

We need to learn to celebrate our blessings in gratitude without feeling vain. We need to give ourselves more credit for our journey. We need to not hide or fear what others think. (I am really speaking to myself here.) We need to take responsibility for our own happiness and let go of what others around us are doing. As they say in Meatballs, It just doesn’t matter!

I am motivated to celebrate because I do not want to wallow in the frustration of what it took to get us here. I am human. I feel it. I do my very best not to let it get to me. It does on occasion. MC can vouch for that. If there were a true reality version of House Hunters International I would have loved to have shared the countless ads I responded to over three months that included no pictures or prices. The days spent driving all over the island to find the craziest of layouts, the loud neighborhoods, the lack of any price reference for their asking and the landlords who did not want to rent to myself or MC. It was an adventure for sure. That fateful night he reassured me during our walk that we would find a place we returned exhausted to our interim tourist cabin of sorts. As he scrolled through Facebook he said Honey, Did you see this one? I laughed a tad sarcastically as I recall. Had I seen it I would have cried tears of joy. An open layout, modern design, spectacular view, peaceful neighborhood and a beautiful airy kitchen with an ocean view from the sink. You have no idea how rare this is in the Seychelles. It was us. It was what we had both dreamt of and did not believe was possible. Actually it was well beyond our dreams. Long story short the miracle continued with a woman who responded quickly to my request for viewing and was lovely and kind enough to agree to hold it until we could sign the lease without showing it to others. Again, I cannot stress enough how insanely serendipitous this was.

You could not have found a five man moving crew that would have moved us faster. Despite my serious progress in patience since arriving in the Seychelles there is still nothing that holds me back when I am excited about a project. The load of stored items I moved while MC was at work. That night we transported a second load. Intentions were good to finish until we saw the full moon. It stopped us in our tracks. We gave in to the lunar trance and the beautiful breeze that crosses our veranda. The following day I shopped all morning and then moved the rest except the kitchen. MC came home to help pick up the heavy load and we arrived exhausted and exhilarated. Every day since has been spent in awe. Our bedroom has the perfect view of the stars at night and the sunrise over the ocean in the morning. We can hear the waves hitting the reef. I may never sleep in again as each dawn is a new masterpiece. My phone is running out of memory. I will try to control myself but honestly, no promises. I feel as though it is too beautiful to keep to myself.

MC calls it our luxury hotel and I do not disagree. Food tastes better in our kitchen than it has in months and our bed feels like a cloud that we are floating on. With the exception of two small windows that remain covered there is total privacy and at any given spot you can see the ocean. I kid you not. The washing machine is having balancing issues. Do you think I mind sitting on it to keep it from jumping around the kitchen? Nope. Ocean view from there as well! We are blessed. We are blissful. We do not want to leave our first together home. It is a lovely start to year two of our marriage!

As I introduce you to my new inspirational writing view I would like to remind you that we only have a finite number of sunrises in our time here. If you are not living every day of your life to the fullest consider making a change. Walk away from anything in life that does not bring you joy. Weed out the need to be so busy that you do not take time to enjoy nature. Keep the faith when you are ready to give up hope as that is, in my experience anyway, exactly when miracles unfold. Live happy, live grateful and love deeply. Travel and delicious food is optional but I highly recommend it!