Missed My Own Birthday!

Dearest Better Lifers, hellooooooooooo!  I know I’ve been remiss about writing for quite some time.  But, it makes for pretty significant neglect when . . .

I missed my own Blog birthday!

February 23, 2014 marked 3 years since I returned to the island, and two years since this Better Life blog was born.  And I missed it.  Yup.

Last year, I celebrated with an Anniversary Roundup, followed by a giant Thank You, a reflection on how the blog came to be, and more – all in my anniversary/birthday week.  This year, nada.  I guess I was busy living Life, just not writing about it. 🙂

So, anyway, happy belated!  THANKS to each and every one of you for continuing to join me on this amazing journey, and for your patience during my blog absences!

And why so absent?

Well, reason #1 is that I remain committed to keeping as much “balance” as I can. Thus, when things get busy, as they often do for all of us, I focus on taking care of top priorities and squeezing in everything else where I can, but not at the expense of losing that balance.  So, I still am pretty good about shutting down the computer in the evenings, and, if I’m traveling, I am even more offline.

Reason #2 has to do with one of my own personal quirks . . . I find that I don’t feel inspired to sit down and blog unless I really have the time to be thoughtful and reflective, incorporate pictures (island beauty and all!) and give you the time you deserve.  I am not one to just “bang it out” for the sake of doing so.  Quality instead of quantity, I guess you could say is my goal.  But the longer I remain silent, the harder it is to jump back in and catch up!  I’ll have to work on that. 🙂

And now . . . for the meaty, juicy, substantive reasons of what’s been keeping me so doggone busy . . .

 

First Major Development:  A Boat!

Last fall, Beau and I traveled to Florida to pick up a new boat! Or, well, a boat new to us.  She’s an old girl, born in 1978.  When Beau emphasizes how old she is, I remind him to go easy because she is younger than me!  🙂

The boat is a trawler-style, live-aboard cruise boat.  Yes, Beau is an avid sailor, but he’s always dreamed of having a boat to cruise in, and we’re looking forward to taking some leisurely trips to even farther flung corners of the Bahamas.

Although old, the boat was extremely well-maintained and delivered to us in “turn key” fashion.  However, we still had numerous tweaks and adjustments to make.  Not to mention all the shopping to provision and stock up while we were in Florida.  And then there was “the crossing” – leaving Florida to cross the Gulfstream and enter the Bahamas.  It was my first crossing, and it went well, though it was certainly not without notable adventure.  I promise that adventure deserves its own blog post one of these days!

Meanwhile, here she is!

Beautiful Boat

Gorgeous photo, taken by a friend of the former owners.

The 34′ boat lives large inside, with a small dinette table and settee (couch), along with a small galley (kitchen) and head (bathroom) and main cabin berth for us.  It’s cosy but comfy.  Here, Beau has his 6 foot frame stretched out between the galley and head (with his feet into our cabin, over the extra water bladders in the floor) to check on our water storage as we were learning the boat and preparing for our crossing . . .

Water inspection

Water inspection.

Once we had a teeny-tiny weather window, we headed east early one morning, out to sea in our new boat . . .

Heading out to sea

Our first voysge.

In Nassau, just after our 18-hour crossing, I practiced my boat driving skills at the flybridge helm on a squally day.  I am happy to leave the Captaining to the skilled expert, but good to know the basics.

Captain Dawn

Captain Dawn??!

And then we brought her on home to the turquoise peace of the Exumas.

Boat safe and sound at our dock

Boat safe and sound at our dock.

So, between learning my new first mate skills (Facebook followers will remember I was working on mastering knots!), researching a whole variety of boat-related things, shopping and coordinating delivery of replacement parts, etc., and simply spending time on the boat for organizational and enjoyment purposes, it’s kept me busy!

Second Major Development:  A House!

When I first came down to the island, I started staying in our family home here.  Gradually, and with my happy encouragement, Beau moved in with me.  His home, nearby in the Village, was crowded with a bunch of men (relatives, workers) and had become a bit of a hard-lived bachelor pad.  Not the best environment to bring your woman. 🙂

(And, as a fun aside, my family home on the island was actually built by Beau himself 20 years ago.  That’s when we first met, but I digress . . . )

As these things go, however, our intent to stay just for a year, quietly slipped away as other projects kept us busy.  More recently, however, Beau has put his time, attention and crew to his own house project!  His home renovations, started and stalled long before I returned, are now well underway.  His relatives, having built their own homes during this time, have moved on, and the house is experiencing a total gut rehab.

Early stages of gut renovation

Early stages of renovation.

Kitchen in process

Were it not for the departing fridge, could you even tell that’s a kitchen in the works?!

So, that’s been keeping me busy as we’ve had to select and coordinate delivery of kitchen cabinets/counters, bathroom cabinets/counters, bathtubs, toilets, sinks, floor tile, ceiling fans, lighting fixtures, building materials, paint, furniture and appliances!  No small feat.

But it is super duper exciting, and we’re anxious to get moved in.  The major work is done.  We need to install tile, and then bring in all the rest!  WooHoo!

Getting closer!

Getting closer!

So, plenty busy, but plenty wonderful!

And now, lest you think I live a fluffy Pollyanna existence or am somehow immune to the challenges of Life that we all encounter . . .

Third (and Last?!) Major Development:  A Surgery!

After a flurry of fun travel in the islands, I dashed back to Florida for a week to be with my mother for her final surgery.  (She’s doing fantastic!)

As it turns out, however, one week turned into three, and one surgery turned into two – mine, that is.  While in Florida, I squeezed in the usual island errands and appointments.  Due for my annual dermatologist check, I knocked that off the list and kept going.

Until the doctor called with the results of a biopsy of a little spot he didn’t like.  Skin Cancer.  Melanoma.  Whaaa?

To make a long story short, all is well!  It was a Melanoma In Situ, caught very early, 100% curable if removed.  The growth was only horizontal and had not become invasive.  However, they pushed me to have surgery for the full removal as quickly as possible.  So I stayed to take care of it.  Because of the prominent location (by my neck) and size of the cut, my dermatologist wanted a plastic surgeon to do the removal and stitch-up.  Turns out, we know a good one from my mother’s reconstruction after breast cancer!  In a surreal change of circumstance, I headed back to the hospital where I’d been with my mom just the week before – this time, to go under the knife myself.  I mean, really! 🙂

Since then, I’m healing well.

Scar

I need to come up with a good knife-fight or shark-bite story to go with the scar.

Best of all, the pathology report shows they got it all, and I am clear.  Of course, I’ll be on close watch from here on out.  Check-ups every 3 months and the like.  Yikes.  And, while I’ve been good about sun protection while on the island, I’m stepping it up there, too.  At least I was relieved that the docs did not think this was caused by my move to the tropics or island lifestyle.  Rather, it is a manifestation of prior damage.  Lovely.

And That’s That

Happily back on the island, I am scurrying around with house renovation stuff, usual homemaking tasks and catching up with lots of friends around during this “high season.”  I am thankful for my health (and that of my family), and I remain so blessed with the boat, new home, good man, good friends and family, and this oh-so-special island life.

What about you, Better Lifers?  What have I missed in your lives?  Have you ever cruised on a boat?  Ever renovated a home?  Ever had a melanoma?!

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