Saturday, December 8, 2012

Two Years Ago Today, Part 3

The leader of the band is tired
and his eyes are growing old, 
but his blood runs through my instrument
and his song is in my soul.
My life has been a poor attempt
to imitate the man.
I'm just a living legacy
to the leader of the band.
- D.F.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Two Years Ago Today, Part 2

Two years ago today I was startled awake early on Black Friday morning after sleeping off the Thanksgiving feast by a phone call I had been dreading for years.

My sister-in-law had just had a phone call from the paramedics. Dad was en route to St. Joe's. He had called 911 just a short time before, saying he was short of breath and not well. By the time the EMTs reached him he was unresponsive and had been oxygen deprived for much too long. He was alive, but just barely. They found Dad's phone and called one of the last numbers in it, reaching my brother and sister-in-law.

We had just had one of the nicest holidays I could remember. After my little "incident" two weeks prior, things were actually looking up. The entire family was at Thanksgiving; Mom and Ray, my brother and his family, our dear friend Eric, Kate and her new boyfriend Mike, and Dad. It was happy. It was fun. An early snow had threatened the day but everyone trudged out despite the snow and ice. Dad commented how nice it was that we were all together and spending the day with each other. He told me how much he liked Mike, and how Kate seemed to be really happy with him. The dogs ran around and played with everyone. It really was a perfect day. If I had known that was the last time I'd see my Dad awake and alert, the last time I'd talk with him or hug him...

I got the curls from Dad. 
The next time I saw Dad, on that Black Friday morning, he was strapped to a gurney and having his core temperature dropped in an attempt to save his brain. They were inducing a coma and he may or may not wake up...but it was the only real hope we had at saving him. At first I really thought that everything would end up fine; Dad would wake up in a day or so, we'd chastise him for not taking better care of himself, and we'd take him home. The man was only 57. I was only 28. That's entirely too young to lose your dad, right? He still needed to see his grandsons grow up. He needed to see Kate get married and have babies. He needed to see me do something worthwhile with my life, to make him proud. As we sat there in the ER listening to the doctors give us a very grim prognosis, I couldn't help but feel that my issues in the 2 weeks prior had contributed to Dad's heart attack. I'd stressed him out too much, I'd added to his already overtaxed system. I know he wouldn't want me to think that, but that's something I'll always live with. 

The weekend before Thanksgiving Dad came over to my and Kate's house to have dinner with me. Those that know our family well will not be surprised that we had nachos (which were awesome, by the way. He taught me well.). We laughed and talked about celebrity gossip (Dad was always well versed in it) and I played some music for him that I thought he'd get a kick out of. I also sat down and helped program the new cell phone my brother and sister-in-law had purchased for him. Sometimes I got so frustrated with Dad's lack of technological know-how, but I showed him how to use the basics and programmed important numbers in. We talked about my car and he asked if I needed any parts. He said he'd bring the needed wipers and air filter to Thanksgiving. Later, after Dad had passed and we were cleaning out his car, I found the bag with the parts that he meant to give to me. He always thought of us and made sure we were taken care of. 

I'm so grateful that we had that Thanksgiving together. I thank God all the time that he gave Dad that one last holiday with everyone. I'm grateful too that my dad loved me enough to come see me when I was in the recovery center, and that he called me everyday for the two weeks after to check up on me, and how he actually talked about my situation instead of around it, like so many other people were doing. At one point he said, "Steddie, just promise me you'll talk to me if you ever feel that way again." I promised him I would. 

But two years ago, we lost him. He was there physically in that hospital bed, but Dad was gone. At first there was the glimmer of hope that we'd get him back but as those 12 days in the ICU wore on we began to face the facts. 

I'd like to think that Dad could hear us when we were in the hospital with him. We talked to him, and laughed, and told jokes, and cried - shit, we cried - and played his favorite music, and we prayed. I hope he heard when we told him how we loved him. But if some of his last cognitive thoughts are from that Thanksgiving, then I'm ok with that. The part that eats me up is thinking about how scared he must have been calling 911 that morning, and how he was alone. There were times when I was alone with Dad in the hospital in the week and a half following that I told him I'd do anything to take his place. How I wished it was me in that bed instead of him. 

My dad was the sweetest, kindest man. He was a friend to everyone and rarely had a bad word to say about anyone. He was funny and goofy and he never made me question his love for me. All he wanted in life was to see us kids happy. He had been dealt too many painful blows over the previous 10 years or so, including losing his own Dad only the week before. It was so fucking unfair. 

Time has a way of flying by. It blows my mind that it's been two years since I last talked to my dad. I'm starting to forget what his voice sounds like, and that scares the shit out of me. The last two voicemails he sent me are saved on my computer and I play them periodically just so that I'll remember his voice. I keep his glasses in my glasses case. The blanket on my bed is the one my old boss made for him when he started dialysis. I'm clinging to some small hope that by having these pieces of him here with me, he is here with me. 

Dad would be so proud of all of us. How smart and clever his grandsons are. Kate's wonderful job and her upcoming wedding to the man of her dreams...who Dad only got to meet that one time. Eric's success in his career. And his middle child, his sensitive child...she put her life back together and is happier and healthier than ever, living 4000 miles away and making the most of this precious life.  
Two years ago today, I lost a piece of my heart that I'll never get back. Dad, I hope you're rocking out in heaven. We miss you more than words could ever say.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

What I'm Thankful For

  • My family, and their health. 
  • My health! I'm in the best shape of my adult life and only getting better every day, and I feel amazing. Such a change.
  • The 28 Thanksgivings I had with Dad. These last two have been hard but I'm grateful for the ones I had.
  • Massage school; it changed my life in a direction I could have never anticipated.
  • Indoor plumbing. For reals.
  • Wine.
  • Ting. And vodka. And the two of them put together.
  • My amazing spa team back at Solei. I miss my girls and am lucky to have worked with such a great group.
  • My team here at Sole'. They have been so welcoming and patient, and I once again have the privilege to say that I truly love my job and look forward to going to work.
  • Jenni...for 8 million different reasons.
  • Toni. This transition has been so smooth largely because of my boss. I love that when I tell people I work for her, they immediately light up and go on and on about how great she and her husband are. It's nice to know I work with the best kind of people.
  • My best friend, my PIC, the gin to my tonic - my sister.
  • That I come from a country where I have the freedom to think, speak, act, worship, etc how I want and believe. 
  • That I had the opportunity to move to a foreign country and start my life over...and it's actually working out!
  • The kindness of others. I have been so blessed with the best people in my life, both friends and strangers, and I don't take any of it for granted. 
  • Marian. :) 
  • Scully's awesome foster family. They LOVE her and it sounds like she's happy as a clam. 
  • Sunshine and warmth every day. God, it is glooooorious!
  • My roommate Rob. He's a good guy and an easy person to live with. Perfect match!
  • Rob's impressive movie/tv download collection. We're working through Game of Thrones right now. Soooo good.
  • Facial guests with massive extractions. YESSSS.
  • Friends back in the States.
  • New friends here in Tortola.
  • Having Sundays off.
  • My impressive lung capacity and breath control (Mom, all those years of singing and training did pay off!) which is helping out with my diving.
  • All the babies that are being born to my friends and loved ones! You guys are killing me with the cute pictures and countdown calendars. 
  • Never having to wear socks (unless I'm running). 
  • Being able to see the water every single day. 
  • Being able to go to the beach just about whenever I want.
  • Happiness.
  • Internet! I love that I was able to virtually hangout with my whole family this afternoon on Thanksgiving. 
  • New beginnings and second chances. 
  • Roti.
  • That I finally seem to be getting my "island blood" and the bug bites are decreasing. Not gone, but at least it's better!
  • That what most people call a vacation, I now call home.
Happy Thanksgiving from the Caribbean! I was able to celebrate with a shit ton of other people at a friend's place and had a fabulous time. Turkey, stuffing, potatoes, pie...the whole works. While I missed being with my family, and I miss my dad even more, I would say that my first holiday as an expat went off without a hitch. 

We'll see how I feel when Christmas rolls around...

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Oh There’s No Place Like Home (?) For The Holidays

Whoa, next week is Thanksgiving. How did that happen? Is it really the holiday season? It’s a very weird feeling here; with no real change in weather to signal fall/winter (as well as a lack of American Thanksgiving hoopla, obviously) it doesn’t really feel like the holidays. There will be no white Christmas on Tortola, and Santa’s sleigh is an island beater pulled by chickens and is full of rum and coconuts.

Just kidding.

I’m not complaining, mind you. Anyone who knows me knows how I detest snow and cold weather. A sunny, 85 degree Christmas is a-ok by me. Dressing for Thanksgiving dinner in a sundress and flip flops is my kind of holiday. It’s just going to take some time for my brain to really register that we aren’t living in perpetual summer months.

The difficult part to the holidays as a single expat is not being with your family and being alone. I’ve spent holidays away from them before, but I was always with another family or had the promise of seeing mine soon. It’s not quite as painful that way. Now, I’ve built a life where I will honestly not get to spend Thanksgiving or Christmas with my family for a long, long time…if ever. That’s a sobering thought.
Sisters! Christmas 2011
Logistically, it’s practically impossible for me. Thanksgiving is just another day in the BVI, so there is no long weekend or time off for traveling. It also falls at the head of our busy season. Traveling back to the States for Christmas? Not a snowball’s chance in Tortola. That’s high season for us, not to mention airfare is stupid expensive. Nope, if I’m going to see my family at the holidays then it will be via the magic of the internet or if they choose to come to me.

I knew this was a part of the bargain. It was no surprise to me that I’d be spending the season 4000 miles from my family. I’ve accepted it, and I’ll learn to make the best of it. Fortunately I’ve made some amazing friends here already and yes, I do have plans for Thanksgiving dinner this coming week. I will not be alone for my first Thanksgiving as an expat. No worries there!

My nephew Ethan (Dr. Doolittle himself) and Scully, Christmas 2011 
However, it’s still going to be hard for the first few years. Thanksgiving is one thing, but Christmas will be another. Almost all of my 30 Christmas Eves have been spent having aebleskiver with the family, going to church, listening to Neil Diamond Christmas albums (don’t hate) and preparing for Christmas Day together. This year I imagine I’ll Skype with my sister and parents while attempting to make aebleskiver on my own…if I can find a monk pan on island. I suppose I should start hunting now. At any rate, I’m sure my carefully crafted strong exterior will crack and I’ll break down like a little sissy girl. My roommate will find me blubbering into my doughy balls of heaven, whimpering Christmas tunes to myself while It’s A Wonderful Life plays in the background.

The first one will be the hardest. I’m sure that every year after that will get a little bit easier. It has to, right? 

Aebleskiver. I'd kill a man over these. You think I'm kidding...

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Two Years Ago Today, Part 1

Two years ago today I was not a healthy person - physically, mentally, or emotionally. On the outside I seemed fine. Over many years I had mastered the art of pretending I was ok, and no one would have guessed just what was going on in my head and heart.

Two years ago today I sat in my townhouse, alone, on a Thursday night. After trying so hard for so long, the sadness and darkness inside finally swallowed me up. That horrible voice in my head became louder and louder, telling me that it wasn't worth it any more. I wasn't worth it any more.

Two years ago today, I spiraled so low that I thought life wasn't worth living. Anyone who knows the real me knows how dark a place that had to be, as I am often the sunniest, most ridiculously optimistic person you'll come across. I wrote letters. I said goodbyes. I took pills in amounts that one shouldn't ingest and swallowed it down with entirely too much alcohol. I made decisions that can only be made in the depths of depression and helplessness.

I'm lucky; I had someone that figured out what was going on and intervened. They called for help, got in touch with my sister, reluctantly got me in the ambulance. The night is much of a drug-induced blur for me, but I remember the sobbing and protesting and the feeling of complete and total failure. I couldn't believe that, in addition to all of the other things in my life I had effed up, I managed to eff this up too. In that moment, I really felt like things would never get better; that I would always be stuck in that dark, dark place.

But two years ago today, I was given a second chance. In the days and weeks that followed I experienced so much love and support that it made my head spin. I had no idea that I was that loved. Sometimes you just can't see the forest for the trees.

When I think back now on that night two years ago it blows my mind. Comparing where I was then to where I'm at now, on multiple levels, is night and day. As awful as it was, I needed to hit that rock bottom place in order to climb back up. As I sit in my bedroom in the Caribbean, listening to the sounds of the island, feeling the balmy night air through my window and reflecting on all the amazing experiences I've had over the past two years, it's hard to believe I ever felt that this incredible, beautiful life wasn't worth living. Every day I thank God for the second chance, for the people in my life who lifted me up and carried me through that ordeal and the following month...which would turn out to be the worst month of my life.

I know this next month is going to be hard. I know I'm going to feel sadness and loss and regret. But, I also know that I have come so, so far in the past two years and that I never plan to go back to that horrible place.  Two years ago I'd have never, ever guessed that I'd be living in a foreign country, doing what I love and being happier than I can really remember. I'm just so grateful that I was given the opportunity.

The past two years have taught me a lot about myself. Now, being in this place, I know that it was all worth it. I wouldn't be here if I hadn't broken down. This move, this new life, is my panacea. The ocean is my therapist, the sunshine my medication. I look forward to what the next two years have in store.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Things I Have Learned In My First Month On Island

  1. You always say good morning (before noon), good afternoon, or good night (when it's dark) as a greeting. Good night is a greeting, not just a way to say good bye.
  2. I can hitchhike, and pick up hitchhikers, and not get mugged or murdered.
  3. Driving on the left side of the road is much easier than anticipated.
  4. For the first time ever, I'm a minority.
  5. No power = no water at my house. Our cistern pump is electric. I discovered this when I went to shower this morning (thinking, "Hey, no power, but at least I'll have cold water!") and the water ran out as the shampoo was still in my hair. Lesson learned.
  6. Roosters don't care what time of day or night it is. Those little effers will crow whenever they want.
  7. Hanging your laundry to dry on the line is actually quite nice. Although I will be taking my towels and linens to a laundromat to dry them. I can't handle the fuzzies! 
  8. Spiders like to hide in clothespins. :(
  9. My hair LOVES the humidity. It's behaving quite well.
  10. Hearing your UK friends do their best stereotypical American accent is a guaranteed laugh.
  11. Sometimes you have a stove/oven that you have to light with a lighter. That was a new one for me. Now I'm cookin' with FIRE!
  12. I can survive without a Starbucks.
  13. Always have a plastic grocery bag or two in your car for wet flip flops/towels/bathing suits.
  14. Bugs are inevitable. 
  15. Suck it up and use nasty bug spray, at least on your feet and ankles. 
  16. A smile and boobs get you far, no matter what country you're in.
  17. I can survive without constant Internet. SHOCK OF ALL SHOCKS, I know.
  18. When it gets dark here, it gets daaaaark. :( 
  19. Vodka + Ting = a "cool summer breeze", in the words of my friend Jake. Mmmm. Vodka Tings. 
  20. It is possible to meet people and make friends in a totally natural and organic way. I just had to get out of Seattle to do it. 
  21. In some backwards parts of the world, a bathing suit is called a "swimming costume" or just a "cozzie". I laughed my ass off at that one. 
  22. I've barely done any official working out and I haven't counted a single calorie...and I'm down 12 lbs in the month I've been here. Here's to happiness being the true key to weight loss!
  23. Hair and nails grow faster in this climate. It's weirding me out.
  24. Making out on the beach in the rain is quite possibly one of the coolest things to do. I mean, not that I DID that or anything...heh heh heh...
  25. Most non-locals you meet here fall into 1 of 4 categories: lawyer, "I work for a trust company" (what IS that, btw?), boat captain/crew, diver. I swear, that's 98% of the people I meet. 
  26. Kicking off your flip flops before hitting the dance floor at Elms is definitely preferred. 
  27. People like to buy other's drinks here. What goes around comes around!
  28. What do we do with our garbage? Tie up the bag, put it in your car, and dump it in one of the dumpsters on the side of the road all around the island. Yup!
  29. Even when I'm feeling a little down, I just look out on the water or go to the beach and everything is right again.
  30. Moving 4000 miles away did not allow me to escape how much I miss Dad. In fact, it's magnified here. Every day I want to call him and tell him all about this adventure. 
  31. THERE ARE SPIDERS THAT JUMP. Thank God my housemate was around to take care of that one!
  32. Sunshine, booze, and the white sand beach out at Jost will lead you to a sunburn, even if you think you're being diligent about reapplication. 
  33. Halloween is a "white person thing" here. Ha. 
  34. I miss my family, I miss my friends, but I've not had a single "crying my eyes out in my apartment all night" episode. I've had one breakdown (Dad related) and that's really it.
  35. I am much stronger, braver, and capable than I ever gave myself credit for. In my first month here I secured housing, bought a car, got all my paperwork finished, opened a bank account, got a cell phone, braved the Elevator (crazy ass steep hill that is terrifying), successfully passed my BVI drive test and got a license, started my dive certification, made friends, and transitioned smoothly into my new job. I feel freaking awesome.
  36. Some of the kindest, warmest people are here in the BVI. I'm truly home.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Little By Little

Quickly, as my battery is dying and I'm sweaty and need a shower before I go to bed:

- I'm official! All my paperwork was approved and stamped yesterday. WOOHOOO! I have a BVI Social Security card and am considered a work-permit resident. Yeah! Good for another year!

- I got my bank account set up yesterday, and my BVI cell phone done today. It's starting to feel more real.

- I DROVE ON THE LEFT! It wasn't too terrifying. I even went up one of the worst hills on the island in the little rental car and survived. Now if I could just find a car to buy...

- Cooper Island didn't happen this week. :( Maybe next. I'll get out there one way or another eventually!

- Just three more days of work, then I get Sunday and Monday off as Monday is a holiday in the BVI (St. Ursula's Day).


Monday, October 15, 2012

Cross One Off The List

Woohoo! I have a place to live!

It's the top level of a house in Pockwood Pond, a good central location between town and the West End and also close to Nanny Cay and some good ex-pat hangouts. For convenience sake I'll stay in my temporary housing until the end of the month then make the move. My housemate is a super cool Canadian guy who is very CLEAN and laid back. I'll probably only stay for 6 months until I get adjusted, then look for a place on my own that will take Scully once I get her. But! In the meantime it's a great deal and a good place. Whew!

Next up is to finalize my paperwork tomorrow, then I should be done and legal. I hope. Ugh. After that will be obtaining my Social Security card, getting my BVI phone set up, opening a bank account, and getting my drivers license. Oh, and buying a car. I NEED A CAR. Like now. I'm a liar, that's at the tippy top of my priority list!

On Wednesday I might get to go out to Cooper Island to do outcall massage on a catamaran. WHAT?! How cool is that?? We're just waiting to confirm with the guests, but I have my fingers and toes crossed that it happens.

Thursday is my weekday off this week. Originally I was going to go over to St. Thomas to see my best guy friend who was supposed to be in town, but the wedding he was attending got called off last minute. :( Sad, no? Doubly sad because I don't get to see JR. So now I think I'll spend my day off doing the necessary errands stated above and going in for a very overdue adjustment by one of my first BVI friends, the new chiropractor on the island! We met up last night for a drink at Myett's down in Cane Garden Bay in the POURING rain (oh yeah, the tropical storm we were supposed to get? Nuthin'!), then waltzed over to the Elm for Caribbean barbeque and the same band I heard play last year! It was a blast. I had a great night and am excited to have made a friend. We discussed maybe hitting up Jost Van Dyke on Sunday and drinking at the beach bars there all day, as Monday is a holiday here on island. Ah, island life.

The spa is fabulous. My coworkers are nice chicks, the guests are great, my boss is amazing. She's no Jenni, of course, but who could be? :) At any rate, I'm happy. Honestly, truly happy. Even with all the ups and downs and road blocks and new things and such, I'm happy. Of course I miss everyone (and Starbucks, not gonna lie), but I really feel like I'm at home here.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Don't Tell My Sister...

...but I successfully hitchhiked for the first time tonight!

Granted, I got passed a BUNCH before it happened, but it was late and dark and I am an unknown white girl. But still! I could have hoofed it up the giant hill, but I'd had a delicious dinner of conch fritters and a Painkiller (oh, and some key lime pie) at Myett's and I just didn't want to hike up after that. So, I walked a bit then stood at the bottom and hitched a ride up. GO ME. I'M A BIG GIRL.

Two exciting things today:

1. I'm almost completely thought the immigration process! I successfully picked up my papers from the clinic today, then went to the Labour department (no issues) and the Immigration department (one small hiccup, but we corrected it on-site). They kept all my shiz and told me to come back Tuesday to pick it up. HOPEFULLY there are no issues and it will just be a matter of grabbing my papers and being done. My coworker was not so lucky. She's having some issues and her time is running out, as we only have 2 weeks to be on the island and get our papers in order before we're supposed to go back off island and start again. She got here a week ahead of me and has had a few other issues. It should all be resolved and Immigration told my boss she could get an extention, but it's still been very very stressful for poor Toni and C.

2. Someone came by the spa and said hi to me! Before I came down I had corresponded a bit with the new chiropractor on island, as he sent me a nice welcoming message after I posted to the BVI board on Facebook and offered his assistance and advice. So imagine my surprise when my coworker told me a man was there to see me...and it was Dr. B! How nice. He said he was walking through and figured he'd come say hi and see how I was doing. He offered to put me in touch with his realtor and his mechanic to assist with my apartment and car searches. I have a friend, y'all!

Tomorrow night after work I'm meeting up with a guy about a potential house. It's a great situation, but I'm learning that I might not want to live in that area. But, it might be a good option for the first 6 months. We'll see. Saturday will be at the spa, of course. Then I'm off on Sunday! C and I are going to snorkel in Cane Garden Bay, weather allowing. We're supposed to have a tropical depression roll in which means a ton of rain, apparently. Go figure. Oh well...I'm still in the most amazing place and I'm going to take advantage of it. I'm from the Northwest; a little rain can't hold me down.

However, I have got to figure out something to do about these bugs. :( Toni said to take a B Vitamin complex with garlic in it. And to stop scratching. Easier said than done!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

On Being The New Girl

Not gonna lie, going from knowing EVERYTHING about your job and how it operates to knowing jack squat and having to flop around like a fish out of water is tough. Luckily Toni and my coworkers are very cool and I do have a lot of experience under my belt, but it's still weird to be in the trainee position and have to ask things like, "Where do these towels go?" I'm trying to be as sponge-like as possible and soak up all that I can while leaving aside my previous habits and the obnoxious "well I did it THIS way at my other spa" mentality.

My new little corner of the spa world! The BVI's #1 choice. 
The upside to being new (and having another newbie at the same time) is training on each other. C gave me a salt scrub today (I gave her one yesterday) and I did a clay wrap on her (which I'll receive tomorrow). Sweeeeet. I love working in a spa.

Our lobby, looking towards the door.
While Toni was driving me to the grocery store tonight she said, "I really hope you like it here. I think you're a really great addition to the spa and we need your upbeat, positive energy. Besides, you "get it" and we think so much alike!" That made me feel like a rockstar. We are both very guest-centered; apparently that hasn't always been the mindset of all the therapists. She appreciates my managerial background and I'm glad that my work ethic and commitment to service are so obvious.

Tomorrow afternoon I have my first two guests! Well, after I spend the morning (and most likely ALL morning) at the government health clinic for attempt #2 at getting my papers signed off. If we're successful, we'll try for the Labour and Immigration offices. We'll see how much luck the island gods grant us.

My mom laughed at me last night for saying "tinned tomatoes" instead of canned. Shit. It's already begun.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012



Sunday night, after a painful and tearful goodbye to my family, I hopped on a plane for my new life. 19 hours later I arrived in Tortola. My flights were fine, for the most part. The first leg was AMAZING as I upgraded myself to first class. That's the way to fly, holy moly. I had so much leg room and a lot of wine! Once I was quite drunk I slept like a baby until just before we landed in Miami. The flight from Miami to St Thomas was a bit rough at times and I wished I had some Xanax, but we survived and made it onto the runway in one piece. Yay!

The ferry ride from St. Thomas to Tortola took FOR. EV. ER. (say that in The Sandlot kid's voice) as there were a bunch of drunk airline people with a bajillion bags and crap for a big sailing event that goes on every year. I ended up sitting next to a nice guy that works for Delta who told me all about it. Interesting. But! I made it to the Road Town ferry terminal, my papers got me through, and I met up with Toni (new boss) on the other side! She ran me by a grocery store to grab food to get me through the next morning, then I came to my temporary home, unpacked, ate a bowl of granola, and PASSED OUT.

It was dark when I got to my place last night, but when I woke up this morning and looked out my patio doors I was greeted with the most amazing view of Cane Garden Bay. Pictures to come soon, I promise. Blue water, green hillsides, dazzling sunshine...yeah, I made the right decision. I love it here.

Toni took C, the other new therapist, and I took the government health clinic at 8:30am to attempt to get our exams completed. :( They took our papers and told us to come back Thursday morning, and told me that I needed another form from my doctor for my TB test. UGGGHHHH. I had to call my doctor and get them to do a document, scan it, and email it to me. I opened it tonight and, of course, it's missing a very vital piece of information (that I KNOW I very clearly told them I needed about 4 times), so I left a message, emailed back, and will be calling as soon as they open tomorrow to have them send that back to me as soon as possible so I have it for my 8:30am attempt #2 on Thursday. We can't do any of the Labour & Immigration stuff until the health exam is done. Welcome to island life!

After our failure at the clinic, C and I walked over to Sole' and I worked my first day! I didn't think I'd be working so soon, but we started training and everything. I have guests on the books for Thursday. YAY. I'm ready to rock. I gave Toni a massage at the end of the day so she could experience my hands (she said it was amazing, for the record) and then we cleaned up and took off. We ran by the store again as Toni needed something, so I picked up some food items to make dinner and lunch for the next few days until I can do a big shopping trip.

C and I decided that we needed to hit the beach tonight, so once we got home we promptly changed into our suits and hiked down the giiiiaaaaant hill to Cane Garden Bay and got our happy asses in the water. Ahh. This is my life now! The only bummer is that we had to hike back UP the giiiiaaaaaant hill, but I just looked at it as an awesome workout. Glass half full, right?

Now I'm sitting outside of the motel office, the only place we can pick up the wifi signal, and enjoying the balmy evening. Through the magic of the internet I was able to talk to my sister for a few minutes, and hopefully I'll talk to Mom tonight or tomorrow. Tomorrow I might try to get my phone set up if I can do that on my lunch hour. I'm hopefully looking at a potential apartment/house this week or weekend, and I'll contact a rental place tomorrow to help with the search as well. In the meantime, I'll continue to thank God for the amazing opportunity and embrace my new home!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Puppy Love

Tonight, I said goodbye and gave my last snuggles for awhile to my dog nephew, Mulder. I also had to say goodbye to Rudy, my sister's fiance's wonderful dog.

All the cousins! Mulder, Scully, and Rudy.
Now I'm lying in bed (yes, with my computer. I'm single. Whatevs.) with my little Scully curled up under the covers in her favorite spot behind my knees...and this is the last night I'll have her for a long, long time. Tomorrow night she goes to her foster family, where she will be loved and snuggled and adored until next August.

Sleepy Scully

Cousin Love <3

Shit's getting real now. Leaving my little girl is so hard. She's been my buddy through a lot, and she brings me such happiness and love every single day. I will be counting down the days until I can get her down to Tortola with me. She's going to be in very good hands, but I'm going to miss her so much.

Be good, little girl! You'll be in the sunshine with me soon enough.

Monday, October 1, 2012

One Week From Right Now...

...I will be getting ready to land in St. Thomas. My new life will be starting. I'll be 4000 miles away, completely on my own, and scared as sh*t. My entire life will be packed into 2 suitcases, a carry-on, and a backpack.


So yes, it's here. The time is very VERY quickly approaching for me to fly off to paradise and become an ex-pat. These past 6 weeks have been a blur, especially considering I've been waiting and planning for 18 months.

On August 27th, I talked on the phone with BVI Boss about where we were in the permit process and if we could set dates. She said not yet, but that we were close.

On August 28th, I got out of my hot yoga class and had a message from her. I sat in my car, sweaty and disgusting, and played the voicemail...then promptly burst into tears when I heard her say, "I have good news! Your permit has been approved!" Tears probably aren't the most accurate descriptor. Sobbing, bawling, "ugly crying" as my sister would say, would be a better term. Through the tears I called my mom, sister, and Jenni to let them know. IT WAS FINALLY HERE!

On August 29th, I purchased my airplane tickets. Sunday, October 7th at 9:40pm. BAM.

So since the end of August, my life has been madness. I've done a bajillion massages trying to get all of my beloved guests in one last time, worked a ton of hours, cleaned/organized every item I own, given away even MORE stuff, received my final paperwork and got my police records and health exam completed (I don't have syphilis, TB, or parasites in my poop. Yay!), sold my car (*tear*), had a minor freak-out over dog fostering which was then promptly squelched by awesome people in my life, partied with friends, visited people, driven up to my sister's place numerous times, and had more than one breakdown.

I found out in early August that I wouldn't be able to take Scully with me at first. This whole time I had planned on having my dog with me and had started working with the vet to get her ready, but my boss informed me that I couldn't have her in the temporary housing I'd be in for the first month. Besides, she said, it'd be much better for me to get there and get settled, then have someone bring her or get her when I went back to the States for a visit. Completely logical, but of course I started to stress. I knew my family couldn't take her. A friend then offered if I couldn't get anyone else...but then 2 weeks ago she realized she was having issues with care for her own dog while she was at work and said she might not be able to take Scully. I completely understood, but freaked out a little again.

Luckily a guest (and friend) of mine had offered to be a back up if something went wrong with the first person. So! Scully will be living with a wonderful family with 3 little boys and another little dog and she is going to LOVE it. I took her over there last week to meet everyone and it was perfect. The boys ran around and chased her and threw things for her and she had a blast. They promised to snuggle her and let her sleep with them. S & T, the mom and dad, are amazing people and I feel completely at ease about Sculls staying with them. S assured me that Scully can stay as long as I need. Considering that might be until I come home for Kate's wedding next August, I was/am completely floored by their kindness. The boys apparently keep asking about Scully and when she's coming to live with them. :) Scully will be going to her extended vacation on Thursday evening (so they can take her out of town to Leavenworth this weekend. Lucky dog! I've never even been!) and start to get her acclimated. I am going to miss my little girl SO MUCH, but I know this is the best and most responsible way to handle the situation. Once again, I have the most amazing people in my life. I'm so blessed!

One of the other most difficult things for me was saying goodbye to Solei. I had my last official shift last Sunday (minus a massage I did Thursday night that couldn't be rescheduled earlier), and it was painful. I wouldn't be where I'm at, I wouldn't be doing what I am, I wouldn't be the therapist I am, without that place. I know it's in good hands and my guests will be well taken care of, but I still have a very strong sense of responsibility and pride. That's been my home for the past 4 years. My rock. I've seen it grow from the ground up. I'm the last original team member. But, every baby bird has to leave the nest at some point. Time to fly on.

Which brings us to my last week here. I have SO MUCH TO DO, but it will get done. I have plans with friends this week, errands to run, crap to pack, and parties to attend. While I'd love to say I'm totally ready for everything, I'm not; I'm completely terrified. Full on freak out mode. But it's ok! It's all ok. The control freak in me is having a hard time with all the unknowns but I just need to trust and have faith and let it go. Everything will be fine.

I suppose I should shower and actually get my rear in gear...

Monday, June 11, 2012

Hurry Up And Wait

The first round of my work permit paper is gathered, signed, and sent back off to Tortola. Now I wait for Labour and Immigration approval so I can quickly get a health exam and TB test, police records, and whatever else they need and send it back as soon as possible again.

Gaaaaaaaaaah it's the waiting that kills me! I just want everything to be approved so I can buy my plane ticket and actually have an official move date. The control freak in me is having a hard time letting go and trusting in the system. Unfortunately I have no other choice. Just have to hurry up and wait.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Next Step

What am I doing at 11:52pm on a school night? I'm photocopying my massage license, certificates, and passport. Why?


Yeah, I might have cried a little bit. It feels so exciting and overwhelming and real now. This year-and-a-half process is starting to come to a close. Actually the hard work is just now starting, but at least the end is in sight!

I had to sign a bunch of Labour and Immigration documents for my permit, as well as my contract with Sole', and have to send off copies of my license/certificates/passport/etc. In addition I'm required to send 1-2 character reference letters. I guess this is so they know I'm not going to come on island and murder a bunch of people while smuggling drugs and mooching off the government? I dunno. At any rate I asked Jenni to write one (her response: "But I don't really like you." Ha. So so funny!) and for the other I asked Angie, my best friend from high school who has known me the longest and the best. Of anyone, she can give an accurate character analysis. I know that I could have asked numerous people for references and they'd have jumped at the chance. I'm so damn lucky!

Tomorrow during lunch I'll get the passport-sized photos that are requested, then I just have to tweak my resume a bit and wait for the letters and I'll be ready to mail it all back! We're shooting to FedEx it out on Monday. Then we wait for the approval from Labour and Immigration. After THAT, I have to get a health exam and TB test, as well as my (non-existant) police records from every city I've lived in the past 5 years. Then we wait. Again.

To think that in roughly 4 months I will be living in the Caribbean and starting an entirely new chapter of my life is just mind blowing. I am not looking forward to the numerous and painful goodbyes I'm going to have to make, however. It already breaks my heart every time one of my beloved guests says, "I'm going to miss you so much!" or "What am I going to do without you?" or "I guess I'll just have to come to the BVI for my massages now!" I'm trying to get in as much Sister Time as possible, because I know that I'm going to be sitting in my lonely apartment in that period of time before I have any friends or social life bawling my eyes out because all I want in the world is to be hanging out with my sister. The time I spend with my friends and family is precious. There are so many people I want to see before I go and I worry that I won't have the time. I suppose it's on me to make the time.

My tentative plan is to go for two years or so, then perhaps come back to a really good opportunity that's been presented to me. However, there is the understanding that I may get to Tortola and never, ever want to leave. I know what happens when I try to micromanage my life; it falls to shit. Instead, I'm going to leave my options and my heart open to whatever presents itself. If that means coming back to the PNW, fantastic. If I'm led to stay in the BVI, then so be it. One way or another, everything turns out the way it should in the end.

And to all the people who keep telling me they're going to come visit me - DO IT! I want visitors!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I Don't Need Anything That I Don't Have

I've got a list of "Things I Need/Want To Do Before I Leave The Country" going. Seeing friends, spending time with the fam, visiting favorite places, eating favorite foods, yadda yadda yadda. This weekend, by the grace of God and pure dumb luck, I was able to cross a very important one off my list; see Glen Phillips again. 

Glen @ The Triple Door
the same weekend I graduated from massage school and turned 26. Yeah!

Tortola has a very vibrant music scene and I'm super stoked for the bands and musicians I'll be exposed to and fall in love with while I'm there. However, I have a deep and passionate love for a few musicians and artists back here in the States and I was worried I wouldn't get the chance to see them again before I took off. In February I got to see Jonathan Kingham, one of the dudes on my list. It was a fun show and it introduced me to another phenomenal local musician named Ryan Shea Smith (I was HOOKED from the start, kid you not. He's goooooood. In addition, he's a super nice guy and very, very handsome. Swoon.). 

Then, this past Friday, I landed my great white whale; I saw Glen Phillips perform live one more time. Glen, as most of my close friends and family know, is my very very favorite musician. His music was introduced to me by one of my dearest friends (who has turned me on to most of my favorites, now that I think about it) and I like to say that Glen provides the soundtrack to my life. I started listening to him during an extremely tumultuous time in my life, full of change and hurt and heartache and uncertainty. I often felt, and still do, that his music is speaking directly to me. Through good times and bad, for almost any mood or experience I'm having, there's a Glen song that fits. I have seen him live 7 or 8 times (I think, and that doesn't count the 4 times I've seen him play with Toad The Wet Sprocket!), most of those by myself, and they are honest-to-goodness religious experiences for me. I've met him a few times and he's as genuine as his music. I just hoped and prayed that he'd come to the PNW one last time before October 2012. So when he posted to Facebook that a Seattle show had been scheduled, at the Triple Door no less (where I saw him and Jonathan in 2008), I immediately bought a front row ticket for myself. Prayers answered!

Me and Glen! 3 years (and 50lbs...whoa) ago @ Urban Grace Church, Tacoma WA.

The show? AMAZING. I posted to my Facebook that it was probably one of the top 10 evenings of my life, and that's no joke. The concert was perfect. I had an amazing seat right at the lip of the stage, ordered some wine and the duck entree that Kate loves so much, and prepared myself for the experience. Jonathan was opening which I knew about and was SUPER jazzed. Then he came out and said he had his friend Ryan with him and I about peed myself. The night just got better and better! They were spot on, as was to be expected. And then...Glen. Sigh. He was in perfect voice, did many of my favorite songs, was witty and weird as always, and it was so soothing to my soul. I had the biggest grin plastered to my face all night. 

At first I was mad at myself for forgetting my camera but then I decided that no, I wanted these memories to be all mine. Just for me. This night meant so much more to me then just another concert; it was the rush of memories that come with so many of Glen's songs, the excitement when I can tell what song is next by the first chord or notes, the laughter at Jonathan's rapping about my embarrassing outburst to the attractive pianist during a song, the camaraderie of being with other true fans and knowing that they feel the same kind of excitement and happiness that I do...I didn't want to share that with someone who didn't "get it". I have those all to myself, forever and ever. Or until I lose my mind. Either way. It was a perfect evening for me, and I am so glad that was the last Glen concert I'll see for most likely a very long time. 

Ryan, Jonathan, and Glen. ALL TOGETHER. Jeezy Creezy!
4/13/12 @ The Triple Door, Seattle WA. Photo courtesy Sean Bendickson.

At the end of the concert he came back out for an encore and did one of my absolute favorites, which could not have topped off the night any better:

I've got gardens growing, quiet days
Clothes on my back and food on my plate
Got friends to help me if I call for them 
I don't need anything that I don't have

Got eyes to see this beautiful land
And feet to take me where I want to stand
If there's work to be done there's these two strong hands
I don't need anything that I don't have

Some years the rains don't come
And some years floods clear out the plains
But if those waters wash this town away
I would still have enough 
If she was with me

I've got a roof overhead, the stars if I choose
But I've got no itch to fly, got no need to move
I've got almost nothing 
But I understand
That I don't need anything that I don't have
I don't need anything that I don't have.

- Glen Phillips, Don't Need Anything

Once again, a home run by Mr. Phillips and crew. I left the theater feeling happy and alive and satisfied and excited. I know that no matter what happens in the next 5.5 months, and no matter what I encounter in my new life on Tortola, I can turn to my trusty iTunes playlist and all will be well. 

And maybe if I'm reeeeally lucky Ryan will come through on his idea to come play in the BVI. :) I think they'd really dig him there!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Running Away

A few weeks back I was talking about my move with someone when they jokingly asked, "So what are you running away from?" Of course I laughed it off and assured them I wasn't running from anything.

I lied.

Here's my confession; I'm totally running away. From a lot of things.

Mainly I think I'm running away from all my failures. My numerous, inescapable, soul crushing, painfully obvious failures. All the would-haves and should-haves and didn't-dos. Because for all the successes I've had in my life, all I can still see are the things I screwed up.

College. Relationships. Marriage. Career paths. Friendships. One thing after another, the reminders of who I didn't become are enmeshed in this area. In no way am I saying I would change anything that's happened; I wouldn't be who I am or where I am today without them. I'm saying I want to be free of the weight the memories hold on me.

By moving away, really moving away, I feel like I'll be able to breathe. Maybe figure out who the hell I am and what my purpose here just might be.

It's a clean slate. Completely new people who know nothing about me or my past. New places to discover and make memories. I don't have to worry about running into my ex-husband and his girlfriend at the grocery store. I don't have to see the look of pity and disappointment on the faces of people who knew me growing up when they find out I didn't go on to become the Next Great Music Educator or whatever it was I was supposed to do according to everyone else. I will have a 3500+ mile buffer between myself and the beautiful families my friends are building, which just stokes the ache in my heart that in all reality the same is probably not in my cards. It's selfish, but I will be able to love and see them through the impersonality of Facebook and email. If I don't hold their adorable babies, it doesn't hurt me quite so much. I don't have to be the odd man out in all my family and friend outings, the only one without a partner and playing 3rd or 5th or 7th wheel, all the while putting up the front that I'm tooootally ok where I'm at and being perpetually single. Not driving past my dad's old neighborhood, or his old shop, or any of the 8 million places that can bring me to tears in 4 seconds flat just by being in their vicinity.

I'll happily admit that I'm running away from my horrendous dating and relationship life here. Now I'm not the world's most beautiful woman nor am I so scintillatingly clever that I should expect the gents to fall at my feet. For being an intelligent, somewhat humorous, decent enough looking woman who is not completely bat-shit crazy I have had the most awful experiences. My heart has been broken, smashed, stomped, and pierced way too many times. Have I made bad decisions? More than I can count. Do I have regrets? Of course. I'd like to think I'm better than I have been treated by men. That gets harder the more I get hurt. In Tortola, it's a completely new beginning.

I don't want to reinvent myself. Honestly I do like who I am, for the most part. But I'd be a giant liar if I said that part of my motive for this move wasn't to escape, to run like hell, from part of myself and my past.

Friday, March 23, 2012

I'm Supposed To Be Studying...

...but instead, I think I'll post.

In the span of a week at the end of February I moved into my new place, started school, changed my work schedule, TURNED 30, and took a weekend trip to Disneyland to celebrate said birthday. I am happy to report that everything is going swimmingly. Things could not be working out better at my new short-term home. Marian and her daughter are so easy going and fun to be around and they are amazing with Scully. In fact, Scully adores her new "second mom" Marian so much that she often chooses her lap over mine if we're all hanging out in the living room. Adorable. I am incredibly grateful for their kindness and hospitality, especially since 3 days of the week I'm gone for 13-14 hours. I've always believed that things happen for a reason and people come into our lives for a reason. God works in mysterious ways!

My original home for my cat didn't work out. I was stressed out beyond belief for about two days when my ex-husband saved the day and agreed to take her. His condition, however, was that he take her for good. :( I agreed as I know he will love her and take very, very good care of her but it still broke my heart. He's keeping me posted on her and will let me see her when I'm home on visits. I still feel like a turd. Then again, what if I'd taken her to Tortola and she was miserable? Cats are not quite as adaptable as dogs, and she's no spring chicken. Like I said, things happen for a reason and I'm so thankful for Charlie's kindness, but it's still hard. I miss her a lot.

I can't even explain how effing awesome my 30th Birthday Disneyland Extravaganza with Mom and Kate was. There are no words. Best birthday ever, hands down. And now I'm officially 30 and I officially feel old but oh well. I'm 30, I'm awesome, suck it. I can't wait for Kate's 30th in a few years and the ridiculousness that it will entail.

Esthetics school is a kick in the pants. Tomorrow marks the completion of 5 weeks and I'm a bit shocked at how fast it's flying by. My class is a very cool group of ladies (well, for the most part), my instructors are great, and the curriculum is MUCH more to my standards than it was at the other school. Luckily a lot of the material has been review or at the least familiar to me, being as I work in the spa and skin care industry, and I'm not having to put in too much outside study time as of yet. We're already putting together nearly complete facials (minus extractions...can't WAIT to start those!) and before I know it we'll be out on the floor taking guests. Crazy crazy times.

Even crazier is that I'm only a little over 6 months away from my move. HOLY CRAP. It hit me hard last week when 2 shows that I wanted to get tickets for were posted, but I realized that I would not be here for them! Weird. There is so much to do but I can't really do it yet. Grr. I need to get my permitting paperwork going (that will be in July), buy a plane ticket (once we decide what part of October I should be there), get my doctor appointments lined up for my health exams, get Scully going on her health exams and start working with the vet on how best to transport her and start her parasite meds, figure out exactly what I'm taking and/or shipping...the list goes on and on. Most of this will probably be done in the summer and the 2 months between when I finish school and when I move, but I'm a planner and want to do it noooow. Must. Be. Patient.

The bummer to working and schooling 80 bajillion hours a week - aside from having no social life (not that I had much of one to begin with) - has been completely missing out on the Lenten season. I didn't make Ash Wednesday service, I've not been able to go to church on Sunday in months, and I've only made one Wednesday Lenten service since I usually have private clients those nights. I haven't even watched Jesus Christ Superstar ONCE this season. Usually by this point I'm on viewing #12 or so. Disappointing. I will be able to make Good Friday service, which is my favorite service of the year, and of course Easter as the spa will be closed. Easter is like the Superbowl for our Christian church year. Then after church I'm looking forward to spending my last Easter, and major holiday, with my family on US soil for who knows how long. Shoot, it will be nice to have two days off in a row!

I think I've sufficiently procrastinated. In fact, I think I'm going to join Scully in bed and just get up a little earlier to study. Poor puppy is fighting an ear infection and looks like she needs some snuggling. Who am I to deny her?!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

It's All Happening!


So, due to some unexpected circumstances, my sis and I are getting out of our lease a month early. Awesome because it saves us some cash, not awesome because I have to be out of my place in about a week and a half from now. Pooooooooop. Packing has gone into SUPER WARP SPEED MODE. Luckily, the awesome woman I'm moving in with in the interim is totes cool with me moving in early AND I found someone to foster my cat Forte until I move. My new housemate and her daughter have pretty bad allergies and I didn't want to burden them with me, my dog, AND my cat, but I was a little worried for a bit about what I was going to do with her. But, because God is good and He answers prayer (and I have the most amazing people in my life), my boss' mom is going to take my kitty. Forte will be in Heaven and will probably forget all about me. At any rate, all the pieces are falling into place...just much sooner than we were originally planning.

In an attempt to avoid packing all my shiz, then having to go through it all again over the next 7 months before I move international, I'm trying to do as much of the big purge now as I can. Gotta's quite freeing. Everything I touch I have to think, "Will this go with me? Do I want to store it for who knows how long? Or can it go?" A dear friend of mine is having a yard sale to benefit the Northwest Rett Syndrome Foundation in the spring and I now have BOXES of stuff to go towards that. A couple of my young spa ladies are coming over this weekend to take some small furniture and kitchen stuff. We're trying to sell the couches, tv, and Kate's ginormous bed set. Everything is going. It's weird.

As for what I'm keeping, it's not much. Only my bed, desk, and desk chair are going to my new place which I'll then either sell or give away come October. Clothes (paired down after tonight), toiletries/necessities, and a few pictures. I'm trying to keep it as simple as possible. I'll be buying some Rubbermaid-type totes for the stuff I'm storing at Mom and Ray's place; books that I really want to keep or were gifts or have sentimental meaning (the yard sale is getting a snot load of books, too!), my Eeyore collection, art/framed pictures, my memory box, and that's about it.

For many, many years I could move my entire life in my parent's minivan. It's both exciting and scary to be getting back to that place. On one hand, I sort of feel ridiculous. I'll be 30 on the 24th. Shouldn't I be settled? Shouldn't I own matching furniture? Shouldn't I have a full linen closet and a ton of crap in my garage? On the other hand, I'm THRILLED to be free of the stuff. Life isn't about the material things one owns. I'll have no fear of showing up on Hoarders, although my crush on Matt Paxton could lead me to forcibly become a hoarder just so I could get close to him. Mmm. Matt Paxton. Anyway. When I leave for Tortola in October I will have my dog, my cat (or she may wait to come with me on my first trip home if Foster Mama is ok with it), my massage table, and a couple suitcases. That's IT. I'll probably ship a few boxes with some books and mementos ahead of me, but in all likelihood I'll show up on Tortola with whatever I can carry on the plane.

I heard from Toni at Sole' and she's as excited as I am that I'm still planning on coming down. They have a lot of people flake out, so when someone actually follows through - especially someone she REALLY wants - it's a big deal. Hah. She said she just hired someone and it took just over 2 months to get the work permitting paperwork through, so we're going to start my stuff in early July so that I'll be good to go by October. I've been refreshing myself on the process and starting to try to piece together a timeline so that I get all my requirements completed and holy CRAP it's going to come up fast! The other night I was reading the BVI Newbie site (so, so, SO informative...great Facebook page as well) and looking at some pictures of Tortola and I got so excited and emotionally overwhelmed that I started to cry! Ridiculous, I know. Sometimes I still can't believe I'm really doing this. Also, I cried because I wanted to call my dad and talk to him about all these big life changes that I know he'd be really proud of me for. It just fucking sucks that I can't share this with him. Well, I know I can and I do, but you know what I mean. It's just not the same.

This post was my break from packing. However, it's 11:51pm and I have an 8am appointment with my trainer and a very full day of work tomorrow. I think packing is finished for the night. Seeing as Scully is already passed out on the bed, I'd say she agrees.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


A lot of people ask me, "Why?"

Why are you going?

Why the BVI?


Well, there are a lot of answers.

I've always loved traveling. The thrill of a new place, new people, new sights. Unfortunately I haven't had the opportunity to do nearly as much as I'd like.

From the very beginning of massage school I knew that I wanted to travel with my new career. At first I thought maybe cruise line or resort work, something to get me moving around and seeing more of the world. There were SO many opportunities! My instructor (Jenni) lived and worked in the Caribbean! Holy cow!

I survived the crazy year of massage school and started seriously thinking about my future. This was prior to the spa opening, so I was working on my own out of a little studio space in Tacoma while also working part time at a law office and going to school. Oh, and I had gotten married and bought a condo with my husband. Lots and lots of changes in a short amount of time.

Although my life was feeling pretty settled, I still had the itch to take my hands on the road. My ex and I had discussed the possibility of me doing massage on cruise ships or elsewhere; he knew it was important to me.

A fellow LMP friend tipped me off to a job posting he found for a massage gig at a lovely resort on Guam. I emailed the place. I heard back from the hiring manager. He liked my credentials and my attitude. We set up for a Skype practical interview. He said it was looking very good. We discussed contracts.

Then my husband flipped. He didn't want me to go alone, he didn't want to come with me, he didn't want me to go, period. So, I dropped it. The opportunity slipped through my fingers in the name of marital bliss.

Well, as you most likely know, forever-'til-death-do-us-part didn't exactly happen. We split in late 2009. I spent much of the next year kind of putting my life back together - emotionally, physically, spiritually, mentally - and I was fortunate enough to be working full time at the spa and enjoying the little bit of routine and normalcy that was returning to my life. I thought that nursing school was the answer to my uncertainty about my future. I debated looking into massage gigs in other places now that I didn't have the ex holding me back, but my dad's health was not well and I had the constant worry that I'd be away when The Call came. I'd never forgive myself if that were the case. So, I stayed put.

In late 2010 I returned to classes, started working towards RN prereqs...and then I had a massive mental break down. Three weeks later, my dad died.

My dad died. My dad died. I was 28, I was divorced, I'd tried to end my own life 2 weeks before, and my dad had a heart attack the day after Thanksgiving, went into a coma, and died 10 days later. I thought my world was crashing around me before Dad's heart attack. Then he wasn't there to talk to and bounce ideas off of and laugh with and he was chained up to that hospital bed with the tubes and machines and the beeping...

The night Daddy ended up dying, I had been invited to a grief service at the church of an acquaintance.  Before I left for church I asked my family if I could talk to Dad alone for a bit. I told him how much I loved him, how lucky I was to have him as my dad, how I'd always love him.  I tried to say all the important things I thought needed to be said. Then I told him if he wanted to go while I was gone, that it was ok. That I would understand. Less than an hour later I had texts from my brother and sister that I should come to the hospital immediately. Knowing that I was always the sensitive one, Dad chose to go while I was not at his side and really tried to slip away with no one noticing. He was that kinda guy.

I'll never, ever get the image of my daddy, lifeless and cold, from my brain. To say I lost my shit would be an understatement.

2010 came to a close and I made the choice. It was either let my grief and pain swallow me whole or rise from the ashes and put my life back together. I chose to rise, to thrive, to let my life get bigger and better.

2011 rolled around. As I dealt with my grief (which I am still very much in the middle of), I started to think about what I truly wanted from my life. It became very clear that spa work is my life's passion. After praying and thinking and asking people I love and respect, I decided not to go back to the RN schooling path and to instead commit to the spa industry and further my skills there. Also, I decided it was time to live my life for me. Not for anyone else, not dictated by anyone else. For me.

A dear friend told me she was thinking of moving to the BVI, and the wheels started to turn. I'm relatively young. I'm single. I don't have kids. I don't have a mortgage (I gave him the condo in the divorce). I no longer had the overwhelming fear of getting The Call about my dad keeping me in the area. I have this amazing career that can take me anywhere. I finally had the opportunity to spread my little wings and fly.

So, that's why. Because I can. Because I deserve it. Because Dad would want me to. Because life is too short and precious to not take big risks.

The BVI is safe, it's a spa hub, it uses the US dollar and English is the official language, it's GORGEOUS, and I'll never have to worry about de-icing my car or freaking out about snow. I feel happy and at peace there. I feel close to God, and close to Dad.

So, there's some of the answers to the "Why?" question.