How Going to St. Croix Changed My Life

Hello Lovely,

I'm back from vacation, but my brain is still in vacation mode, so I'm not quite there yet. Last week I put on the coffee maker to make 12 cups of coffee for myself and a co-worker and waited patiently until it was all done, only to find out that I never actually put coffee into the machine, and all I did was boil water. I’ll get there eventually, I promise. But can you blame me? I spent almost three hours on a plane to get to St. Croix from Miami, so the flight alone has me drained. Then in the first two days of being there, we drove around the entire island! Every day we were doing something or going somewhere so relaxing wasn’t really an option. I wasn’t even allowed to sleep past nine without someone waking me. Even when we went to the beach, we probably only stayed for about an hour before moving on to the next spot. Of course as a group we couldn’t decide on which activities to do when (like whether or not to go out to dinner, or whether we should continue sightseeing or not). It was crazy! That’s definitely not the way I vacation, but it was such a learning experience.

I had never seen mountains before, so the views were absolutely breath-taking and my camera does it no justice. I loved how they preserved their historic buildings so everything felt authentic. Sure not everyone was polite, but you can’t expect everyone to be. My boyfriend’s family was more than accommodating and I really felt welcomed. They made sure that I really saw the sights and made me feel like a native. His mother loved me even though she didn’t always understand my sense of humour, and his brother went out of his way to bond with me, including showing me how to catch their pet chicken (yes people, they have a pet chicken). I was beginning to be hopeful. Until one day when we were at Big Dock…

Something I didn’t understand was the lack of PDA or the apparent forbiddance of it. While we were there I wasn’t allowed to hold my boyfriend’s hand; not because of a law or because his family is strict. It was really because no one else does it, so we weren’t allowed to do it for fear of sticking out. There was a lot of emphasis on blending in, which I don’t believe in. It felt hard to be myself, with his family’s needs and beliefs coming first. I felt like nothing I did was right or good enough. His sister often called out my drinking, like I should be ashamed for having a drink with lunch from a restaurant while on vacation. There were moments where I was genuinely miserable, especially because I thought I would feel at home in another Caribbean nation.  After taking time to reflect on everything I experienced, I realised that St. Croix could never be home for me.

Now this is not meant to say the country is terrible; that is far from the truth. But something changed in me while I was there. With all of the tension and stress from travelling, my boyfriend and I had a HUGE fight; the kind that could really break a couple up. Even after making up, I was still doubtful about a few things, and these fears carried over to our return to Miami. I had officially met his mother. We were official. I mean we were official before, but now it’s really official. Officially official. You know? There’s so much pressure added now from outside forces, on when we’re getting married and when I’m moving. I don’t want to think about any of it. Though the situation is resolved, I was left feeling depressed about so many other things. One thing in particular was an issue in my own family.

While we were there, I received the news I feared the most. My aunt has now been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I am a very practical person, not always realistic, but practical. Pancreatic cancer is the most deadly with no hope, no cure. So I immediately began the grieving process. I asked the age old question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” I tortured myself with memories of our moments together, and chastised myself for getting inpatient or angry with her whenever she made demands of my time. So after learning this, I wanted to make the most of my trip; of my time on earth. I wanted to see everything there was to see and complain less about things not going according to schedule. But the sadness didn’t go away.

Once we left St. Croix, I thought about all of the topics I wanted to discuss on my blog but couldn’t focus on any of them. For days I stared at a blank screen and no words would come to me. Every now and then, something would pop in my head, but I couldn’t make the connection. I had writer’s block and it was absolutely depressing. My boyfriend did his best to be supportive, with foot massages and even buying the water I like (inside joke because I hate the water he drinks). I spent the days watching marathons of Law and Order SVU and Mythbusters but I just couldn’t shake the depression.

Who gets depressed on vacation? Isn’t the point of vacation to unwind to refresh? I was able to recognise the trigger, but not the reason why I was stuck. I felt so worthless when I got back and even worse, I couldn’t talk to my mum about it because she’s with my aunt in Tennessee while she gets her first round of chemo. And that’s when I realised why I was stuck. No matter what, my mum is always there for me. We have a very close relationship. I call her while at work just to give her jokes, or tell her how my day is going, even though I’m going to see her at home. But I couldn’t do this anymore. I couldn’t call her during the day at work and I wasn’t going to see her at home. That’s what changed. Once I was able to recognise this, I started to feel better. I don’t like being depressed. I don’t like feeling trapped inside my own mind. I knew that I was way too old to be sitting at home crying because I missed my mommy. And just like that I snapped out of it. I wrote a post last week on my favourite sunglasses and began to feel hopeful again. I even dressed up on Friday to keep myself in a good mood, went to happy hour and did a little shopping on Saturday that I can't wait to tell you about. And here I am finally writing about my trip.

But yesterday my mum came back with my aunt and we found out it was stage four and aggressive. Just like that, everything I did to feel better didn't matter any more. The amazing message I received in church, my funky new sunglasses, even my newest ice cream that I made to keep everyone's spirits up did nothing to ease my mind once I got that news. I couldn't sleep because I was angry. I ended up crying for about thirty minutes uncontrollably before I finally fell asleep. I wanted to be ready to move on. I thought I was. She's still alive and here I am grieving like she's already dead. I promise I'll find a way to pull myself together, so forgive me for posting less regularly.

It's weird. I went into my vacation with my biggest fear being that my future mother-in-law would hate me. She loved me. But now I'm grieving someone I love. 

At the risk of this post ending on a sour note, I'll leave you with this hilarious video of myself trying to catch a chicken. Enjoy!

XoX,

TRAVEL DIARIES: Abaco

TRAVEL DIARIES: Abaco

On Friday November 6, I travelled to Treasure Cay Abaco for the first time, with the expectancy to return on Monday November 9, but I actually returned on Sunday, one day earlier. It was actually my first time taking a domestic flight. I’ve been to other family islands before like Harbour Island and Andros, but I always took the boat to get there. I went with one of my good friends... 

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Wine Lovers Rejoicenli

POP. FIZZLE. POUR!

I consider myself a wino at heart. I’m not the most versed in the various regions, etiquettes or flavours of wine in general, but I do enjoy a nice glass or five every now and then. I know that doctors claim that red wine is better for women’s health and I’m supposed to be this health nut, but I absolutely despise red wine! This won’t stop me from enjoying a Berry Sangria (I prefer it over white), but I will always choose a white wine or a pink moscato. I like sweet wines that are fruity and not dry.

So when I heard there would be a wine tasting at a local wine shop, I couldn’t resist. For years I’ve wanted to expand my pallet and try wines and other spirits from all around the world! So a free wine tasting seemed to be the perfect opportunity.

Young’s started business in 2011 as a Champagne specialist but over the years our portfolio has increased to include Red and White Burgundy, Italian Reds, whites and dessert wines and Artisanal liquors as well as Evian and Badoit bottled water. They offer private space rental, local retail and distribution and can help you choose wines for gifts, pair wines with your dinner or answer any questions that you might have. The atmosphere in Young’s Fine Wine (located in the Sandyport Plaza opposite Twisted Lime) is archetypal of a French Christmas. It literally smells like Christmas Pine in there thanks to custom scents in their reed diffusers, strategically placed around the room (it even convinced me to one of my own for my desk at work).  The French designs are evident throughout the boutique adding to the authentic feel. It was wall to wall wines and spirits with a beautifully stocked bar and vintage (almost functioning) cash register. The staff is beyond sweet and friendly and could probably convince you to buy anything. The cheese display was lovely with my favourite of the night being the goat cheese with blueberries. It genuinely tasted like cheesecake and paired well with every wine I drank for the night.

Stefon Lockhart, the assistant manager gave me the grand tour. He explained to me the region they import their wine from, the best times of the year to drink particular types and flavours of wine and why they are so passionate about their craft. They carry products from France, Italy and America, but most of the wine comes from Bourgeoisie France. Each supply is replenished by annual trips to the vineyards to handpick each new stock. My favourite wine of the night was the L’oeuvre de Perraud (a French wine) and my favourite spirit of the night (which would make the perfect Christmas present, along with a wine rack) was the Afrohead. Fun fact, the Afrohead is actually a product of Harbour Island (one of our many islands here in the Bahamas). The dark rum was aged 15 years! How’s that for putting hairs on your chest? The best part, it actually gets smoother with age.

I had a great time at the event with my friends. It was fun mingling with the other guests, trading stories and life hacks and listening to old Blue Eyes. It even encouraged me to enrol in a free online course to learn more about wine and wine-making (which I'm doing pretty well in by the way)! I can’t wait for their next event and I implore you to take the time to visit them! You’ll love it! If you’re intimidated by a French wine boutique, don’t think you have to pay French wine boutique prices. There are wines reasonably priced for $15 per bottle. They’ll even put your bottle in a wine crate for an extra special gift!

The boutique is open from 11am to 5pm Monday, 11am to 6pm Tuesday – Friday and 12pm to 5pm Saturday. For more information, give them a call at 242-601-0021 or 242-359-2812 and tell them Life by Olivia sent you!

XoX

Olivia

New Site, New Name, New Look

Hi friends!

I'm trying out a new website again. After using Wix for one year, I've decided to move on. While I really enjoyed the vast opportunities that Wix provided in terms of web design, there were a few troublesome issues that I just could not ignore.

So now I'm on Squarespace just to get a feel for things with a test post. So far, I've found the whole ordeal to be rather confusing, but it was like that with Wix at first too, so I guess it just takes time.

You may also have noticed that the name has changed. This is something I have wanted to do for months, but I'm still locked in with my current domain until February. So what do you guys think? Do you prefer this one or the old one, See Her Handmade? Until I make up my mind, I'll still post to the old one as this one is nowhere near finished. I'm literally starting over from scratch so it's going to take me awhile regardless of which name I choose moving forward.

Don't forget to comment in the comment section below to vote for which name you like the best! Feel free to even suggest one of your own if you don't like either. I could really use your help!

I love you for reading,

XoX

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Olivia

Let it Fro, Let it Fro

Hi Friends!

I guess you could say that I'm in a good mood today. Why? For no real reason, really. If I had to attribute it to anything it would probably be that my fro is free to roam the planet again! Okay that sounded weird. Let me be a little more clear. For the last two weeks, I rocked yarn braids. I did them myself (my first time ever braiding my own hair, much less braiding it with something).

It was a weird experience. And I think it took me a total of 8 hours to do it myself. I felt so miserable with each strand I interlocked, feeling as if I would never make it to the end. They weren't perfect, but they looked decent.

But recently they started to look bad. Like hair coming out the braid, new growth on fleek, kind of bad. So last night, after 2 hours, I took all of the braids out.

                                   Now watch me whip...

                                   Now watch me whip...

Now I'm rocking my fro, and I guess it's giving me an increased sense of self-confidence. I'm also wearing a handmade African print maxi dress, which has me feeling extra royal!  I did a length check last night and my hair at the top, now stretches to my jawline! (Which I also just realised this morning, that I don't have much of. Like seriously, my face goes straight into my neck; not much separation or definition going on there).

                                         Selfie at work!

                                         Selfie at work!

Don't mind the fluffiness of the puff. My hair was moisturised using the LOC method this morning around 7 am and is totally dry now! I've always been cursed with dry hair. Nothing I do seems to work. If you guys have any suggestions, I'd totally appreciate that!

Leave your suggestions in the comment section below and have an awesome day!

XoX,

Olivia