Getting Back in the Blue

Getting Back in the Blue

Hi, internet. It’s been quiet around here lately. Truth be told I didn’t feel inspired to blog over the holidays . . . I was in a strange head space and the words just weren’t flowing. BUT, I did something very exciting a few days ago and I’m thrilled to share it here.

I went scuba diving! For the first time in 5 and 1/2 years! And I had such a great time!

I got my PADI Open Water certification when I was living in Cayman in summer 2011, and went diving a few times during that season, but I hadn’t been since. I didn’t have any dive buddies in Victoria, and zipping into a drysuit to brave the frigid Canadian waters somehow didn’t seem as appealing as the bikini-clad Caribbean dives I had grown accustomed to (spoiled, I know. Excuses, I know). So, somehow FIVE years passed, until I signed up for a Dive Refresher course and finally got back underwater.

My day started out at the pool at the Westin. I was the only one taking the course that day, so the morning theory and pool session were very brief. It was also one of the coolest days I’ve ever experienced in Cayman, and my tiny instructor wasn’t too keen on being in the pool. So after practicing some basic skills in the pool for approximately 10 minutes, she declared that I was good to go and she would see me at the Red Bay dock in 3 hours for our boat dive. Just like that! Yikes.

I fuelled up with a delicious, nourishing lunch at Island Naturals, and read up on some more diving rules and tips online. I didn’t feel adequately prepared after the morning session, so I felt the need to do some more research on my own.

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Study fuel & diving fuel: Green curry over quinoa, washed down with beet & ginger juice.

I was somewhat nervous as I got to the dock and joined the group, but as the boat took off I relaxed & my excitement grew. (I’ve always felt at home when I’m on a boat. The men in my family are sailors, sea captains, and fishermen. And anyone who’s lived on Vancouver Island knows the familiar comfort of BC Ferries). There were 3 first time divers on board, so us novices stuck with the instructor.

We dove at a site called Bullwinkle West, and I loved it. The meditative breathing, the simultaneous sense of calm and adventure, the absolute magic of experiencing a different world. It’s awe-inspiring.

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Can you see the excitement in my eyes?!

I was buzzing with happiness and adrenaline when we got back on the boat.

Ever since I’ve moved back to Cayman, I’ve been feeling somewhat lost. My close friends are in Victoria. My mum is in Victoria. I rely on rides to get around everywhere because I don’t have my own car yet and this place is so un-pedestrian friendly it’s insane. BUT, this felt right. Diving felt right. And I feel motivated to keep going, keep learning, keep experiencing that magic. 

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Post-dive bliss. Mask indentation on my forehead. LOVING LIFE.

I’ve been YouTubing diving videos and reading dive blogs all week. And I’ve set a goal of doing 50 dives in 2017. This is big for me, as I’m not usually a quantifiable goal type of person. But, in the spirit of the New Year, I figured I’d put it out there and challenge myself to follow through with a measurable, action-oriented resolution.

So, if you’re a diver and you’re in Cayman, hit a girl up! Let’s be dive buddies.

See you underwater!

-Jess

Full Moon Feelings

Full Moon Feelings

On Tuesday’s full moon, I went to a yoga class at Bliss and it was beautiful.

On a rooftop, overlooking the banana trees from the nursery next door, giant silver moon rising in front of us.

It had been five months since I had gone to a yoga class and I was feeling slightly apprehensive- would I be clumsy and off-balance? (That little voice in my head, nagging me with fear and doubt.)

The voice quieted as the practice began. As we moved, I was focused, I was in the flow, I was strong and confident and grounded. It just clicked.

And then! At the end of the practice, in Savasana, something wonderful happened. I usually get distracted in Savasana; during my practice, I often feel much more present when my body is in motion, rather than in stillness. This time, however, was different.

As I laid in stillness, names and faces of people that have been in my life this year appeared in my head. I thought of old friends, of former coworkers from the restaurant, of people who I may have only shared space with a few times, of family members near and far, of the people I’ve connected with on this tiny rock- and I felt a deep sense of GRATITUDE. I didn’t fixate on any one person,or harbour any resentment. I simply saw them, thanked them, and moved on.

I’m grateful for the people that come and go from my life. I’ve struggled with the letting go part – friends I’ve lost touch with, lovers I  don’t love anymore – and have mourned the loss of the connection and intimacy that once was there. But I know that not everyone can be in my life forever. They’re not meant to be. And rather than thinking back on our shared moments with a sense of loss, or regret, it feels so. much. better. to be grateful. To thank those people for those moments, for the joy we shared, for the lessons they taught me (knowingly or unknowingly).

“Finding the good and the lessons in things allows us to move through them and on to new experiences. If you want to stay stuck in the same place and keep getting spanked with the same lessons over and over, be negative, resentful, and victimised. If you want to get over your issues and rock your life, be grateful, look for the good and learn.” -Jen Sincero, author of the equally hilarious and profound book “You Are a Badass” 

Gratitude is a life changer!

Love & Light,

-Jess.

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Weekend Reset

Weekend Reset

Hi, friends!

Just a quick note to share some highlights from the weekend. It was lovely! I had to work late on Friday for an event, then had an extremely busy day at work on Saturday for a family day I coordinated, so by Saturday evening I was exhausted and ready for some relaxation. I started watching The Good Wife (7 years late to that bandwagon) and thoroughly enjoyed an early night of Netflixing. It was necessary. It was fantastic.

On Sunday I was up bright and early to participate in the annual Jingle Bell Run for the Cayman Islands Crisis Center. I chose to run the 10km (you could do 5km or 10km, walk or run) and was a little nervous because I hadn’t run that distance since being in Cayman. The route was a straight, there-and-back 5km stretch, which meant that you just did it twice for the 10km. Despite my feet hurting (I’m cursed with very long second toes and now realise I need to buy bigger trainers) and a bit of knee pain at the end, I felt good (mentally and energetically). It was a really great atmosphere! The whole thing was very casual and community oriented, and was capped off with a post-race breakfast and raffle on the beach at Calico Jack’s. While the whole event felt jovial and festive. . . as mentioned, proceeds supported the Crisis Center, which provides shelter for women and children who have experienced domestic violence, in addition to a 24hr hotline and various outreach programmes. If you’re in Cayman, please consider donating money or goods to the Crisis Center. 

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TIRED and happy!
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Will run for food (and worthwhile causes)
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Sandra won grocery money!
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Post-run breakfast view. What a world.

 

The rest of Sunday was spent recuperating on the beach by the Marriott. Felt like a tourist, fruity cocktail and all. Bliss!

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YES to this Coconut Mule.
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YES to playing tourist for an afternoon

Today was spent with Dad, running errands, going for lunch at Da Fish Shack, and a quick afternoon snorkel. It had been awhile since I last snorkelled. Although I love to spend time  in the water, I’ll admit that regular life stuff often gets in the way. The stereotypical “island lifestyle” isn’t a reality for most people here, myself included (we have jobs! we have responsibilities!), so I cherish weekends like this where I get to spend not one, but 2 DAYS (!!) in the sea.

I’m feeling recharged and relaxed. Participating in a community events + spending time with friends and family + getting outside + eating good food felt so right. My heart is happy. Hope yours is too.

Love & Light,

-Jess.

 

Self Care Strategies: Staying Grounded After an International Move

Self Care Strategies: Staying Grounded After an International Move

Moving to another country is no joke. Even if that country is familiar, it’s still a major transition that rocks you to your core.

Moving back to Cayman meant starting my career, leaving my beloved friends, sister, niece and mum back in Victoria, moving into a house with 5 family members and a chihuahua, and having to rely on other people for transportation everywhere, everyday. To put it mildly: these past 4 months have been intense.

In the midst of all of this upheaval, adjustment, and busyness, I’ve found that prioritising self care has been VITAL for managing stress and avoiding burnout.

For me, self care takes the form of…

  • Listening to podcasts. This is a big one. I usually listen to a self-help podcast when getting ready for work in the mornings to set the tone for my day. Even if work is chaotic and stressful, knowing that I have intentionally invested in some self-love and self-reflection in the morning helps to keep me motivated and grounded. On my lunch breaks I tend to listen to more current events/political shows, as the local media in Cayman leaves much to be desired and is quite conservative (which I am not.) Some podcasts I have on heavy rotation are: The Lively Show, Good Life Project, Another Round,  and This American Life, among others. I’m always open to recommendations, so feel free to leave a comment and share your favourite shows!
  • Drinking a cup of tea and making a healthy breakfast each morning. Which, 90% of the time means a smoothie or oatmeal. Endlessly customisable, always delicious, and so good for my insides. Again, much like the podcast thing: I feel good knowing that I started my day off in a healthy way, even if I end up eating a bunch of jerk pork or chocolate later in the day (both very likely scenarios).
  • Standing on the balcony with my headphones in, listening to this song. I find it very comforting, and something about the music and the breeze feels like magic.
  • Journaling.
  • EXERCISE. Right now I’m focusing on running, with some bodyweight exercises thrown in for good measure. I also take circuit classes at the boxing gym sometimes, which are fun, challenging, and make me feel like a badass.
  • Going to the beach as often as I can.
  • Nightly phone conversations with loved ones in Victoria. Soul nourishing.
  • Experimenting with different homemade/natural skin and hair care concoctions. I think it’s really fun to mix up ingredients like honey, oats and lemon juice and slather them on my face, or soak my hair in coconut oil. I’m fascinated by learning about the healing properties of various plants, ingredients, and oils. Truthfully, I’ve been experiencing the worst skin of my life since moving back here and it’s been pretty frustrating and embarrassing. I don’t know what the exact cause(s) is/are… hormones, climate, stress, diet, products? While my skin may not be great for the time being, I still enjoy the process of creating and applying face masks and scrubs, even if I’m not seeing amazing results.

These are just a few habits I practice to keep myself feeling good. My external circumstances have changed drastically in the last few months, and I’ve realised just how important it is to stay centred if I want to stay sane. I’m aware that I’m in a privileged position to have the time and resources to prioritise these habits, and for that I am grateful!

Tell me, what are some of your fave self care strategies?

Light & Love,

Jess.

Coming back to Cayman

Coming back to Cayman

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“So if you moved away when you were 5, then you’re not really from here.” 

Words said to me by a girl introduced through a mutual friend a few weeks ago. Little did she know, she struck a nerve on one of my deepest insecurities. I’m from here, but I left.

“I’m an Ebanks. I’m from here.” I quickly responded. Ebanks is probably the most common name on island. When I first started my job, 3 of us in our office of 9 staff were Ebanks’s. If you’re an Ebanks, you’re Caymanian.

I’ve got a tricky relationship with this place.

My roots run deep here. My father’s family has been here for generations. They were the sea captains, the rope makers, the fishermen and women who built this island. My grandmother still weaves Silver Thatch palm hats like the women in our family before her; my dad and brother dive for conch and lobster at 6:00 AM on the first day the season opens.

But I don’t know how to do any of that, because I wasn’t raised here. I was raised in Victoria, with mum, where I had a perfectly lovely and happy life. I was socialised in Canada, I was educated in Canada, all of mum’s family is in Canada, I speak with a Canadian accent, I have a Canadian passport.

Whenever I visited Cayman growing up, people always welcomed me home, but I never felt like I was home. How can somewhere be home when you hardly know anyone there?

And ironically, I moved back here to work as an arts and culture educator. I spend my days teaching people about Caymanian culture and history, which is really wonderful and has helped me feel more at home here. I feel empowered by teaching children about our islands’ heritage. We talk about Silver Thatch, turtling, and wompas (old-fashioned shoes made from recycled car tires and thatch). We learn together.

And I do know people here now, beyond my family. I’m making friends, I’ve got awesome coworkers, I meet tons of people in the community through my job, Ive been dating a little bit. I’m making a life here, and it does feel like home.

Coming back has been a difficult transition in many ways, but I know it was the right move. I’m learning and growing all the time. I don’t know if I’ll be here forever, but for now I’m exactly where I should be.

Light & Love,

Jess.