Top 5 Reasons to Leave Your Stuff Behind

How does moving to an Island nearly 3000 miles away, versus a city 1000 miles away, change things?  We’ve moved across the country a time or two now….but this was going to be different.

We had a lot of questions at first. Do we take it all?  What would that cost?  If we don’t take it all, what DO we take?  Life was going to be different in St. Thomas….moving from a high desert to the humidity of the subtropics, a different lifestyle, culture, activities…rented housing vs. owning a home…possibly different priorities and concerns, i.e. sun, open windows, trade winds, potential hurricanes, power outages, lack of freshwater, did I mention humidity?

Deciding what to ship was a never ending stream of arduous judgment calls, but it got much easier with a little practice.  Working through my attachments, first intellectually, and then viscerally, I was eventually able to release each with a sense of wholeness rather than emptiness.  With every attachment I let go of, I seemed to recover a small piece of myself, rather than feeling each time like a small piece of me had been torn off.

The attachment I struggled with most was my beautiful iMac computer. With its deliciously glossy 24” screen, sleek aluminum body, it was my personal portal to the wonderful worldwide Interweb that helps beckon my soul to eventual manifestation as words on the page.  No matter what airline I ended up flying, I knew there was no way I could fit that miraculous machine in an overhead compartment, or under the seat in front of me.  I became concerned when I realized I was having trouble imagining pulling the plug and putting it in a box, not knowing exactly when we might be reunited.

I clamored for alternatives.  I considered everything, including trading it in on a laptop that I could carry with me.  With my data transferred to a laptop, we would never be separated, and  I could stay connected.  Symbolically, it was starting to resemble a security blanket, and I wasn’t sure that was a healthy sign.  Unfortunately, even when accounting for shipping costs, I couldn’t swing a net-zero trade, and I couldn’t justify spending additional funds on a “security blanket” at a time like this.

Again, the Universe conspired FOR me, and the day before I planned to ship my beloved iMac, I lost my Comcast High-Speed Broadband connection.  As frustrated as I was, with so much still to do, I recognized it for the blessing it was, and pulled the plugs, packed her up just like she was from the factory, and set her in the queue near the front door to go to Pak Mail the next day.

My advice to anyone considering a move to these islands is…. Leave your stuff behind and be prepared to make a fresh start of everything!

What happened next brings us to Reason #1 for leaving it all behind…..

Reason #1

This is what my iMac looked like when it arrived.  (I’m gratefully using Marty’s PC laptop, not without its frustrations, however…<urggghhh!> , which he hand carried down here, of course.)

I first packed it in its original manufacturer’s packaging. Then I took it to PakMail of Littleton, where they were to place that box in whatever their expertise dictated it needed to get to St. Thomas safely.

Fun facts:

  • FedEx is the only carrier that will allow high insurance limits.
  • FedEx considers shipments from the U.S. (Mainland) to the U.S. Virgin Islands “International.”
  • International shipping charges (including insurance) were about $400.00.  I’m hopeful I’ll receive a refund from PakMail.
  • Insurance values above $2,500.00 USD require the shipper to obtain a “Harmonic Code.”  It seems that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security wants to know when anything of a higher value is leaving the Country.
  • Getting said code was taking way too long in this case, so I reduced the insurance value to $2,499.00 to keep the process moving.  I should be able to replace it

Reason #2

The USPS considers the USVI a part of the United States.  Anything sent from the mainland to St. Thomas is considered a domestic shipment, and qualifies for Domestic Flat Rate Shipping.

Fun facts:

  • Free Boxes!
  • Largest Box: 12” x 12” x 5.5”
  • Same rate up to a maximum weight of 70 lbs.
  • Postage: $14.50…. $13.95 if you create the label and purchase postage online (Tip: only enter one package at a time.) This was a plus for me because I was shipping a dozen boxes at once.
  • You can schedule free pickup from your location.  This really made life easier.
  • The (free) boxes are crap!   The long trip to the USVI seems to be brutal on just about everything we shipped.

Reason #3

We didn’t feel like spending thousands of dollars to have our stuff moved to and then palletized in Miami, put in a shipping container, put on a cargo ship, only to show up weeks or months later, if at all, potentially battered, bruised, or worse, at which point we would need to get the container up the mountain and down the steep, winding road to our place. In retrospect, I am glad our Mikasa China service for 8 will find a new home via the estate sale.

Reason #4

We realized we would have to repeat the same miserable exercise to get our stuff OFF the rock the next time we move.  In our case, this was paramount .  What if the airline suddenly reassigns us to a different island base? Or what if we decide we want to switch islands…give St. Croix a try, then Puerto Rico…????  What if, in a couple of years, Marty wants to fly around the Maldive Islands in the Indian Ocean?  What if we decide to move back to the mainland?  (It could happen????….)

Reason #5

The most important reason, to me, for leaving it all behind, is…..It’s just stuff!  For the last month I was on the mainland, the only thing keeping me away from my husband, turquoise water, and sunshine was….you guessed it, STUFF!  Sorting through and shipping or otherwise disposing of stuff consumed a lot of time and energy I would have preferred to have used elsewhere.

Never again, my friend.  I am finally willing to acknowledge that I have the spirit of a curious gypsy.  All I have to do is to start living like one, so that the next time Marty and I look at each other with that twinkle in our eyes that says, “I’m ready for a change.  What should we do next?”  we each will be able to pack one suitcase and set sail toward our next dream.

Who said this would be easy????

As you might imagine, the phrase,“I’m moving to the Virgin Islands!” comes up often these days.

“Great! Piece of cake!” is not, however, the usual response. In fact, this is the one response I haven’t heard.  Is moving to the Caribbean easy?  Not so much.  Wonderful?  Yes.  Exciting?  Absolutely!   And, along with all of the wonderful excitement is a surprising amount of… pain.

I don’t know about you, but I hadn’t drawn a line between the word columns in my head associating ‘paradise’ with ‘pain.’  Joy, happiness, abundance, unspoiled beauty….these are the words that first came to mind.  I even anticipated ‘challenging’ and ‘discomfort’ (i.e. “you’re going to feel a slight pinch.”); however, when conceiving Project Paradise, ‘pain’ wasn’t one of the contingencies.

But I’m not IN paradise yet.  As it, and my husband, patiently wait for me to join them, I’m still in the process of getting from here to there.  And what feels like a dull ache has been with me since I put the first pair of pumps in the box labeled “Donate.”

Some days, the process seems endless.  Since we’re selling, donating, or gifting at least 95% of our earthly belongings, it’s not the actual packing that’s difficult; it’s the sifting.  Consider that when you self-fund a 3000+ mile relocation, and more than half of those miles are open ocean, you end up taking very little with you and letting go of everything else.  And deciding what 5% to keep is a lot like sifting through a mountain of sand, one grain at a time. (“Like grains of sand through the hourglass, these are the days of our lives,” says a deep voice in my head.)

Put another way, it’s a bit like having your life flash before your eyes, only in really, really s..l..o..w, agonizing motion.  At the end of each day, I feel like I’ve attended a funeral…emotionally drained, with a lightness of being that comes with finality and closure.

Before I continue, I can hear some of you groaning, “Is she really complaining about moving to the Caribbean?  Giving up a pair of shoes? Are you kidding me right now?”  (And the rest of you are smiling and laughing because schadenfreude delights you. You’re welcome.)

Believe me, I get how absurd it sounds.  But don’t give up on me yet, because if the whole idea of ‘paradise’ turns out to be a crock, and I’ve just made the biggest mistake of my life, don’t you want to know? At least so you can save yourself and trade it in for a better dream?

I’ll admit to griping a bit.  At the same time, I’m doing it with a sense of gratitude (there should be a word for this).   And I’m willing to bet that griping is exactly what you would be doing if you were in my shoes.  And that is part of the point, wouldn’t you agree?  A chance for you to walk through the experience and figure out where reality matches the dream, and where it doesn’t?

So, true, this part of the journey isn’t easy. We all know it as a ‘transition,’ and, if we’re very fortunate, we are blessed with many.  And we all know that loss often goes hand-in-hand with transitions, which is why we rarely consciously sign up for them.  Instead, we usually come barreling up on them at 100 miles per hour with our eye on the prize.  Soon, we realize we will have to empty our hands of something we hold dear before we are able to pick up something new.

While this particular leg of the journey is turning out to be miles longer than it looked on the map, it is the road I chose.  So even on the day I was pummeled by the gut-grabbing news that our beloved cat’s health is probably too fragile to make the journey with us, I was able to re-center myself in a place of gratitude and acceptance for “what is.”

“Is it all worth it?” someone recently asked.

“Absolutely!”  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Share 

Ever thought about moving to paradise?

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to leave it all behind, move to a tropical island, and live your dream?  Well, we have, too.  Now my husband and I are in the middle of relocating to the Caribbean. You know…. turquoise water, white sand beaches, palm trees, perpetual summer…..yes, there!

You may be thinking, “Who really does that?”  Of course, everyone is in love with the idea….but it’s nearly a violation of a sacred trust to actually do it.

Sure, like most of you, we’re aware that their are plenty of reasons for leaving well enough alone.  We were happy, living in a beautiful city along the front range of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. Good jobs, majestic mountains, four seasons, 300+ days of sunshine, good friends and family. Life was good!

Admittedly, our decision may not have been rational… it’s something other… a decision informed by things like dreams, intuition, instinct, and “callings.”

So, if you’re also in love with the idea of moving to paradise, or you’re one of those special people who believes in dreams coming true, then you’re in the right place to explore the possibility without all the mess and fuss.

I’ll save you the trouble of quitting your job and having your friends and family question your sanity. I’ve already left my job (with all of the mixed emotions you might imagine) and defended my mental health, and Project Paradise is full speed ahead.

Please, stick around!  I invite you to join me on the journey. I’ll do all the heavy lifting, and you can try it on, risk-free, and find out if the reality is anything like you imagine it.   I can’t promise that it will be, but I can promise you a true life story unfolding in real-time… a candid recounting of my experience leaving a conventional American life to explore the possibilities on a tropical island and ‘living the dream’ with the love of my life!

Come on, let’s order up a round of rum punch and have some island fun!

Share 

Living our Dreams 2.0

Our normally scheduled programming was just interrupted, yet again, with an opportunity for a new adventure!

Marty was selected to begin Ground School Training for Seaborne Airlines on the island of St. Croix (USVI), followed by Simulator Training in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. God willing, he will then be employed as a First Officer flying inter-island routes for Seaborne Airlines!

If all goes well, come February/March, Bridget will be busy with the relocation; purging ourselves of most worldly possessions, packing up and shipping what’s left, and fixing up and renting or selling the house. We hope to be together again, in the Caribbean, in a few short months.

What we do know is that it is Bridget’s life-long dream to live on a tropical island, and it’s Marty’s life-long dream to fly airplanes. To be able to do both, together, is the opportunity of a lifetime.

Share