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  • Lindsey Van Wagner

Island journey - One year down

It has been over a year since I made the move to the Virgin Islands. So I don't think you can call me an Island Virgin anymore... HA. My time here has felt like a whirlwind, literally. There were hurricanes... Big ones.

I still feel that I am only scratching the surface of acclimating to this new way of life and I've just been sitting here looking at the cursor blinking, trying to figure out what the hell to say.

I did not just move to another place geographically, it was also about breaking out of my comfort zone, figuratively. The levels of fear and excitement are usually pretty equal and some days one outweighs the other. Today excitement is winning.

These are a few things I have learned, in no particular order.


Be true to you.


At the beginning, I wanted to be friends with everyone. I actually think that it was more about just wanting everyone to like ME. I learned that trying to achieve this turns you into a chameleon puppet, letting everyone else dictate your personality. F that. I like the saying, “If everybody likes you, you are doing it wrong.” Because not everyone everywhere is going to like you. That's just life. People are going to talk about you no matter how hard you try to be the awesome, super sweet new girl in town. So, you might as well cut the people-pleasing bullshit and just be yourself. Then, and only then, will you find your true tribe. This one took me a while, but I am finally starting to get it. And I LOVE the people (and animals) that now comprise Tribe Linz.


Get dirty.

I like doing manual labor in the boiling hot sun! I guess I never had to do anything like this back home. But, here that type of work is plentiful, especially after a hurricane. It was awesome. Putting on my Timberlands in the morning and dragging heavy limbs and tree stumps away from the house. Getting dirty and messy. Feeling all the cuts and bruises on my hands and arms and legs. It is good, hard, honest work, and it does something magical to the soul.


Be grateful.

I am SO grateful for everything I have. The list is endless.

I don’t think I ever thought much about the value of money because I grew up pretty fortunate and then once I became an “adult” with a “real job,” I always maintained a stable and steady income.

THEN, I moved to an island all like, "I don't even care about money! I just want to be free!"

Well, that sounds good in theory, but it is not realistic. I will tell you that it is a very humbling experience having your card declined when you are just trying to buy almond milk, one cucumber, and Jello. (This is a true story.)

I guess what I am trying to say is that it is really helpful to have money and I have a newfound respect for it.

I am and we (anyone reading this) are so so so lucky – for the things we have, our education, our quality of life, food on the table, etc. I know it sounds obvious and we hear it all the time, but I am reminded of it here every day.

Don’t worry about me though, I will figure out how to buy those cucumbers. I have a part-time job now and things are on the up-and-up.


I miss Chipotle.

That’s really all I have to say about that one, thanks.

I. love. animals.

I know a lot of people do, but I have never felt more connected to nature than I do here. On a spiritual level. Next time you see an animal, say hi to them, pet them, talk to them. Send love to every creature you come across, large or small. This is a picture of the horse that lives around the corner from me and I love her SO much that it hurts. Her name, according to me, is Prudence.


In your life, people will come and go.

LITERALLY. While we have always known this, and it is an obvious and inherent risk of being human that some people will not stay in your life forever, I didn’t understand the significance of this until moving here. Islands tend to be transient places in general, with people coming and going, but especially right after a natural disaster. Relief workers all over the place flying in, sailing in, and then leaving. Then a new batch comes. And goes. You might have an amazing conversation with someone and really feel like you are connecting, and then they’re gone. This made me really sad at first. Now I look at it from a different perspective because, well, I don't want to be sad.

I have found it to be true that some people only enter your life as a temporary happiness, and that is okay. My mom said, “People come into your life for a reason, even if only for a season.” So, you enjoy what is in front of you. If you like them in that moment, don’t worry about the future. Be present. Slow dance with that guy on the boardwalk. Kiss him on the beach. Kiss him like it is your last first kiss. And then let him go.


I like a simple life.

This experience has caused a major shift for me - it has shown me how little I actually need to live. And by live, I mean to live happily. For some reason, I thrived in the forced simplicity during the hurricane aftermath. Of course, there were a few moments of frustration, but I was oddly content eating canned food by candlelight and dragging those tree limbs around the yard. It felt savage.

When I got my power back, I started to feel spoiled. It felt like too much and I wanted to get back to the basics. I am still wondering how to balance this, I just don’t know what the alternative is or what that even looks like… do I want to live in a hut in the woods? I guess more will be revealed.

Love thyself.

Now that I am out on my own, I am learning how to take care of myself. For me this includes the following:

  • Silent meditation – 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening (sometimes with incense burning in the background).

  • Journaling – Usually in the morning, letting out whatever comes up, just put it on the page.

  • No rush – I just like to live slowly and take my time. So does everybody else here. Island time is REAL.

  • Nature – Being outside. Following the moon cycles. Walks in sunshine are medicine and sunsets over the Caribbean Sea have special healing powers. There is so much knowledge to be acquired from the wisdom of nature.

  • Eating healthy – This has always been a struggle for me. I am not following any strict diet right now, but it does help me to eat lots of vegetables and fruits and to try to avoid gluten and dairy.

  • Moving the body – It makes you feel better. That's just science and doesn't really need an explanation.

  • Sobriety – Being sober is the only reason that I have a chance at any of this.

  • Me time & plenty of rest/sleep – I am an introvert and I need ample time alone to recharge and reset. Most evenings, I like to just relax with Harley and chill.

  • Feeling all of the things – I love to laugh and humor is really important to me. BUT, so is sadness and grief and letting myself feel those parts of me too. I cry. And I let myself sit with it, and that is liberating. That is courageous.

  • Stepping out of comfort zone and trying new things – For example, I sang on a stage. Like with a microphone. At a restaurant. In public. WTF! Also, just the fact that I am writing this now and posting these blogs is DEFINITELY stepping out of my comfort zone. I have so much in my head every time I start to write, and the fear is paralyzing. Analysis Paralysis. The only way to get over that is to just keep doing it.


So, here I am showing up. And just doing it.

Peace and LOVE.

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