In order to survive this two year experience, I knew I'd have to become my own best friend, motivator, inspiration, nurturer, and support system 24/7. And I’d have to maintain some seriously grounding rituals; from filling my journal with words as they poured from my heart uncensored, to working out six days per week. I knew I'd have to stay rooted in my body and my emotions in order to maintain a positive mindset in this challenging new lifestyle. So even my nightly routine of freshly popped popcorn felt cherished and important, as did my weekly trips to Provodenciales, the main island (re: civilization). I'd spend my day off there, sitting in my favorite coffee shop with a coconut scone, black coffee, and my laptop. And, sadly, social media became my social life, my greatest sense of connection, my community, and my window to the world.
My daily walks with Brooklyn were a source of levity. She would find newness and excitement in the same stretch of the island we walked everyday. In the midst of sniffing every inch of grass and dirt, she'd spontaneously insist upon a game of chase and we'd find ourselves runnin', jukin', and jivin' around Shambhala Lake located within the Staff Village before stopping to visit the docile Nurse Sharks who would wait for human visitors with their snouts peering out of the water in anticipation of being fed fish from our five-star restaurant. They were spoiled sharks and, thus, friendly sharks. Brooklyn seemed enamored with them. I was intrigued by their mild nature but mildly freaked out like an overprotective mother who's afraid to let their child test the boundaries of their independence. It's just that Brooklyn is far too friendly for her own good sometimes, trying to make friends with everything in the animal kingdom that's significantly larger and more powerful than her. In New York, she'd try to introduce herself to the understandably bitter Clydesdale horses pulling carriages who had no time or interest in playing chase with her pint-sized little butt. And in Turks & Caicos, her fascination was with sharks. Why she took no interest in the skittish little lizards, I have no idea. But Brooklyn’s natural curiosity, her desire for exploration, and her ability to find fun anywhere was constant reminder for me to approach life on this resort island similarly.
I made the same three minute commute to the Spa multiple times each day which is the equivalent of three NYC blocks minus the billboards, storefronts, and constantly changing window displays. Minus the tempting aromas circling food trucks, the entertaining street performers, and unpredictable encounters with strangers. Minus all the usual stuff that would keep my mind darting and senses hightened. By comparison, my three minute commute to the Spa was monotonous. Mundane, in fact. Unless, that is, I approached it in the same way as Brooklyn; noticing something new every day. So I made it a point to start exploring nature more conscientiously, like a walking meditation. That became my newest ritual. I'd notice the ever-changing voluminous white clouds making cool shapes or ominous grey ones in the distance warning of impending rain. And how the island colors would change hue after a tropical shower, often ushering in a rainbow that appeared to reach from one end of the island to the other. Or the way the island becomes repopulated with blood-thirsty mosquitoes after a storm, pinching my skin and leaving itchy reminders of their annoying existence. I would notice the sound of my footsteps in the stillness of the air, or how the wind would strip trees of their leaves or topple branches onto the white pebble road that leads to the Spa. I'd watch long-legged birds stealthily creep up on their prey and take them by surprise, or sit atop tree branches and sing their off-key mating calls. And the way swarms of dragonflies would flit nervously around bougainvillea bushes as if they had someplace important to be but couldn't quite remember where. With conversation at a minimum for me here, I let nature tell me stories and entertain me.
But as much as I was learning to appreciate stillness as a way of immersing myself in my senses, I still missed the sensory overload of New York. The city's frenetic energy can feel overwhelmingly exhausting, but so is being your own best friend, motivator, inspiration, nurturer, and support system 24/7.