Six months ago on March 9, 2017 I booked a one-way ticket to St. John in the USVI. My plan was to spend six months at home saving money and to move on September 9, just three days ago. (I recently wrote about my decision to move and preparing for it here.)
I had everything set in place to go. I had saved money, quit my job, changed my phone plan, found an apartment and signed a lease. I shipped some belongings down, celebrated the start of my new journey with family and friends and went back to my parents’ house to start packing. On top of this, there was an entire string of challenges with getting things in order for the move. I went through roommates, living situations and three different apartments. I finally was set and committed to an amazing two bedroom right in town and walking distance to the beach. I found a roommate who had already lived on the island, shared mutual friends with my St John friends and had the same outlook on travel and living as I do. Our landlord was kind and trustworthy. Not matter what it took, I wasn’t going to let setbacks change my plans. I was committed to figuring things out for myself. At the end the ups and down, things worked out so perfectly in the end and I was in the best position to leave. There was nothing left for me to do but live.
Just when you think you are in control and have it all figured out, life has a funny way of reminding you that you don’t. (How silly of us to think we can make such concrete life plans and expect nothing to step in our way?) Devastating Hurricane Irma smacked the island three days before I was able to call it home. This past week has been an emotional roller coaster to say the least. My nerves were at an all time high worrying about the lives of the people on the island I loved. I still have friends there who had to endure the hurricane and are currently coping with the aftermath. I am a part of a Facebook group of thousands of people Stateside who have ties to the island. Every minute of everyday people are posting updates from friends and families, as well as their fears, worries and emotions about watching the island we all love endure complete devastation. There are tons of videos, photos and stories shared everyday. It almost becomes too much to handle because it is so sad to see what people are going through there. But seeing how much people care about each other and are willing to help in a time of need is comforting. The sense of community on that island is nothing short of amazing and unlike anything I’ve seen before.
SCROLL BELOW TO LEARN HOW TO DONATE TO ST JOHN AND THE USVI
I felt so guilty worrying about my own situation, while I am the one home safe, with a standing house and neighborhood. I have food, power, water and no scarring trauma of dealing with this firsthand. But I couldn’t help feel the sadness of not being able to live out my dream of moving there. After allowing myself two days (ok maybe three) of acting helpless and sad, I decided to change my attitude and move forward. I found gratitude and happiness that everyone I know on the island is okay. I decided to trust that life has a better plan than I ever did for myself and am grateful for the opportunity to be home with family and friends. I will be able to get to see beautiful fall season at home (and hopefully escape the winter). Things are actually not bad in my life at all, because I am choosing to roll with it and thrive on. Being scared to move forward when things get hard is paralyzing. I don’t ever want to let fear or challenges get in my way of living the life I want. Instead, I will become more courageous and creative in the way I do things.
So, what am I going to do now?
First, get myself out of limbo. One reason I was so helpless is because I felt I had nothing left to live for here and everything in my life was set to move. I am going to get a bit comfortable here for a while while I prepare for my next step. I’m going to use this as an opportunity to get super grounded and mentally stronger. I am not going to let this stop me from living how I want. It may be a minor setback in the physical plan, but I feel it is a step forward for me overall. I have a lot of reevaluating and researching to do. I plan to make a move in the next few months and act on whatever feels right. I know nothing can be forced, and there is calmness in just rolling with it.
There are lessons in every situation in life. Your mindset is what dictates anything that happens to you. Setbacks become opportunities and times of sadness become times of growth. Being able to see the light in the darkness is really what life is all about. You can let outside circumstances control you, or you can control how you react to them. I’m choosing to move forward and feel optimistic about where I’ll end up next.
While I can easily speak of choosing to think positively and turn tragedy into opportunity, it may not be so easy for those actually dealing with the devastation of this hurricane. People lost their houses, their jobs and for now, the island they call home. It is harder for an island like St John to cope with a natural disaster because they lack the resources and funding we do stateside. They need help. The links below are legit fundraisers you can donate to. There are different causes and ways to donate. Choose the source that resonates with you most. Every dollar counts <3
As far as where exactly I’ll end up next? Some plans are brewing. Stay Tuned 🙂
Kenny Chesney is like a family member to the island. All funds donated will go to rebuilding the island and to the people of the USVI and BVI.
People aren’t the only ones affected by the hurricane. Animal lovers donate here.
St. John rescue is a volunteer organization strictly dedicated to helping the St. John community.
This gofundme is being run by my favorite restaurant on island. All funds will go to feeding the hurricane victims on St. John.