“How could you leave paradise to move back to Calgary,” I’m often asked, with the added brilliant observation, “You must be nuts or something!”
I’d like to defend myself, and my decision. I’m not nuts – or at least I don’t think I am – and paradise just isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. But the story of Bequia and whether it’s paradise or not is best left to the novels I’ve been writing about the small Caribbean island. Besides, any place can, and should, be paradise. That all depends on what you make of a place while you’re living there. Currently, Calgary is my paradise. No, really!
What I’d prefer to talk about in this post, though, are the life lessons I learned while living on Bequia most of the time between 1996 and 2008. This concept came up briefly on Tuesday when I met with a business coach, Adrienne Furrie, who was recommended to me by my most-excellent editor, Rachel Small of Faultless Finish Editing. (unpaid advertisement that…) I explained to Adrienne that the one concept I came away with from Bequia, one that has stood me in good stead for living in North America again, was Patience. Nothing happens on time, and sometimes never, in the Caribbean, so you quickly learn to wait for everything. What else can you do? Some things are more important to wait for than others – you also quickly learn to sort out the difference between the two. As a result, I can sit in a traffic jam without nerves, not fret if I, or someone else, is late or just doesn’t show up at all for an appointment, and I no longer wear a watch. I use my cell phone to tell time, and clocks are usually plastered all over the place, anyway, so a watch is not necessary. The exact time just doesn’t matter as much as it did before I moved to the Caribbean, where we learned to tell time by the sun or how hungry or tired we happened to be. I’m in the habit of waking by 6 a.m. every morning, even without the benefit of hungry cats – although now I do manage to stay upright a few hours later than 8 p.m.
So I surprised myself by going to the store yesterday to make the big purchase of an alarm clock. (The cell phone I have is super-basic.) When talking with Adrienne I realized that, if I were to reach my goals and get everything done that I must do with my business and in my life, I had to give myself an extra hour in the mornings. Unfortunately, I forgot to buy batteries for the clock, so my new regimen must wait until tomorrow to begin.
The one trait, if I ever did possess it, that flew out the Bequia windows was a sense of discipline. Oh, and organization, too. I’ve always been big on the ideas, but actually sitting down, planning out and executing those ideas in an orderly and timely manner has never been my strong suit. So the hope is that, by working with a business coach, I will be more effective in running my business, and will also allow myself time in my life for what I really want to do – write, exercise, read, and hang out with friends (and so I don’t feel the need to justify to myself that every coffee date is really business). Adding one extra hour to my day should help, but so should setting up a realistic work-day, one where I sit at the computer and really do work. So no more playing around with Facebook or Twitter, sigh!, unless it’s business-related, and more dedicated hours in my day to write, read, exercise, and meet with friends. Possibly even guilt-free time for running away for brief escapes from the computer and my business altogether, if I feel the need to do so.
IF I can give myself permission to follow whatever new organization of my time I decide on by working with Adrienne, I should be able to surprise myself by eventually becoming more efficient, effective, and productive, by getting my own writing out there into the world, and lose these 60 or so pounds that have haunted my body since I began spending far too much time every day sitting at this damn computer! These changes won’t all happen overnight, but I do know it’s going to happen, and it starts today! Or tomorrow morning, as soon as I buy an AA battery for that alarm clock.
As for the two other lessons I learned from living on Bequia… they’re best left to another post, because right now I’m getting on with my life.