Paradise: Not for the Faint of Heart

We are now nearly six weeks into our trip and time living in our first stop, Sayulita!

We’ve grown very fond of this charming surf town, and could picture ourselves here for much longer than our allotted time. I’m inspired and livened by the vibrancy all around me –the tastes, the music, the colour. It’s pure food for the soul. I’m soaking up the warmth of the air and the Mexican people, as well as the easy-going feel of this town. No one is rushing. People seem content.

During these few weeks we made it through a hurricane and stomach bugs (the “Mexican cleanse” as someone called it) and have lived in four different homes. We have done extensive taco, tequila, and guacamole tasting, and are formulating our list of town favourites. We have made friends with locals, released baby turtles, fallen in love with countless cute street dogs, and savoured many stunning sunsets. We have taken salsa dancing and Spanish lessons, ridden the bus to explore nearby beach towns, bargained for local crafts, and have marvelled at the Mexican appetite for celebration.

We also had the unexpected treat of many friends from Canada visiting and staying with us for a few weeks. This was wonderful and motivated us to do a lot of exploring of our new home. On the flipside, it also delayed me from settling into any sort of sustainable work routine.

Since the last ones headed home, signally the end of the “honeymoon phase” of our trip, I have had to face the reality of self-employment. There is no one giving me direction. I have no set schedule. I don’t have to be anywhere at any time. I have no money coming in on a regular basis.

It’s alllll up to me.

WHAT HAVE I DONE?!

Despite having a generally free-spirited, go-with-the-flow personality, I’ve quickly realized that in order for me to feel grounded in life and be even remotely productive with work, I need routine and structure. This is the farthest thing from what I’ve had these first few weeks. My boyfriend, on the other hand, moved here with his existing job and is working out of a co-working space with other digital nomads. Although he likely envies my sleep-ins, wide open daily calendar, and little responsibilities other than walking the dog, I envy his sense of purpose, direction, and the fact that he isn’t functioning like I am … as a team of one. Trying to build an my intuitive healing business from the ground up, with the credentials but no roadmap.

Simply said, all I want is to feel productive and do meaningful work. But I’ve also felt unmotivated and resist leaving the sunshine, palm trees, and activity happening all around me in an attempt to work. Can you blame me? Coming from a place that is grey and rainy for so much of the year, I feel like it’s programmed into me to want to take full advantage of every sunny day that comes my way. On the days when I have actually managed to sit down and work here, I wind up feeling overwhelmed and uncertain of how to begin.

Maybe this is because I haven’t even found a consistent place to work, one that is quiet enough that allows me to remain focused, but also not feel like I’m totally shut off from the world and human interaction.

Maybe this is because although I have the certification and skills in intuitive healing, this does not mean that I know how to come up with a marketing plan or feel comfortable with self-promotion.

Maybe this is because I’m struggling with the reality of what working remotely actually entails: a great deal of time spent on the computer and phone, and a lot of time alone. Because the truth is that I feel most alive and authentic (and also receive the most positive feedback about the impact I’m having), when I’m connecting face-to-face with people. One of the reasons why I wanted a change from my last administrative job was that it involved so much time on the computer, and yet here I am now relying even more on one to make a living! Funny, isn’t it?

Or maybe it’s the fact that I’m currently in the midst of two massive transitions, even one of which would be challenging enough on its own. Moving to a developing country and starting full-time self-employment in a very alternative area of work.

I think we underestimate the impact that a significant change in diet, exercise options, social life, climate, and housing, will have on us. It’s massive! Yes, we are exceptionally adaptable beings, but without feeling settled in life, it is nearly impossible to be productive with work. I’m realizing this quickly.

Along with all of this change I’ve also been feeling caught between battling voices and philosophies in my head:

My spiritual Self, comfortable with the unknown and totally trusting in the Universe to support me on this adventure:

“Work doesn’t need to be hard. Attracting clients doesn’t need to be hard. You shouldn’t do anything that doesn’t light you up. Don’t force it when you’re not feeling it. Get outside and have fun. Live with an abundance mindset. Meditate. You can’t see the plan that the Universe has for you. Keep your positive attitude and it will all work out more easily than you believe. Trust. Trust. And then trust some more.”

My logical self, fearful in periods of uncertainty and focused on achieving financial security:

“You need to put in long hours. You need to have a plan. Set goals. Rewards come to those who work hardest. Stop with your airy-fairy beliefs about the Universe. The only person who can support you is yourself. If you don’t have things to show for at the end of the day then you are wasting your time. Get hustling, girl.” 

I have decided that I am committed to the path of trusting and not forcing, but let me tell you it is not necessarily the path of least resistance. It requires constant self-talk and quashing the negative, doubting thoughts that continuously pop into my head. It’s a real test. Sometimes I fall off the wagon.

As a result of growing up in a work-centered culture that prizes productivity and achievement, I’ve felt guilty, disappointed, and even embarrassed at the end of days when I haven’t had much to show for from a business standpoint.

I’m currently grappling with questions like “Who are we when we don’t have our successes to identify with?” and “Can we feel valuable enough just by being loving human beings practicing the art of being truly present?”

I’ve realized that using typical standards of productivity and success as my meter against which to judge my worth on any given day clouds my ability to be grateful for the gifts and beauty all around me in this beautiful town. I’ve been feeling that I need to have something to show my boyfriend at the end of the day so that he doesn’t think I’m just sitting around on permanent vacation. I don’t want him to lose respect for me and think I have no work ethic. But the truth is that sometimes all I can do is just sit and be still, because I’m feeling a bit lost right now.

I don’t know how I want to spend my days. I don’t even know where I want to spend my days.

But that’s OK.

It does not mean that leaving my life in Canada behind was the wrong choice. Far from it! Rather, this period of time gives me the opportunity to work with many of the life lessons and truths that we know about but often never fully experience…

To practice self-compassion. To be patient. To re-define what success means to me. To gain new insight into what makes me tick. To learn to be content by just being present, not as a result of what I’ve produced. To spend ample time savouring the pleasures and beauty around me without guilt. To resist the tendency to compare myself to anyone else and their journey. To develop a strong spiritual practice, asking for continued support and guidance. And most importantly, to learn to overcome doubt on a daily (OK, hourly) basis and fill that space instead with steadfast faith in the timing of the Universe and the belief that everything is going to happen when it’s meant to.

The fact of the matter is that transitions are hugely stressful, even if we are in “paradise.” They can unsettle us, bring us to our knees with fear, and cause us to question our entire sense of self.

Instead of being my greatest critic and basing my self-esteem on my productivity over these past few weeks, I should be showing myself abundant self-compassion and patience as I navigate through this time of seriously big change. I should focus on being proud of things like making big strides in learning Spanish and actually sustaining my commitment to daily yoga and meditation practices for the first time in my life.

So if you’re in transition yourself, are also experiencing impatience and doubt because things aren’t happening as quickly as you’d like, or fear that you’re on the wrong path and destined for financial failure, let these words sink in:

Everything is unfolding perfectly. The Universe is working on your behalf behind the scenes. At this very moment. All it asks of you in return is for you to trust it.

Repeat, repeat, repeat as often as you need to. For me, it’s constantly!

Consider for a moment:

How much of what you’ve experienced in life have you been able to predict?

Has anything you’ve experienced ever happened exactly the way you thought it would?

We can know the desire, the vision, whatever it is that we want to attain or achieve, but we can never actually know the how or when. In fact, manifestations usually happen when we least expect them and in ways that we could never have predicted. So the quicker we can get comfortable with putting in work, but also trusting the process and having mega faith, along with showering ourselves with all of the love regardless of what we’ve achieved in a day, the better off we’ll be.

As much as this conflicts with what I think I “should” be doing in order to consider my time well-spent, I’ve realized that what is even more important than putting together a social media marketing plan, writing another blog post, or trying to develop partnerships, is developing more self-compassion than I’ve ever had and ditching the comparisons as I adapt to this very new way of life. I’m loving Mexico, I’m loving this adventure with Chad, and I’m also learning that being self-employed and living in a tropical beach town may sound sexy and romantic, but it’s not for the faint of heart!

I’m going to make a schedule for myself that will help me feel more grounded and increase my productivity. But I’m also not going to beat myself up anymore when it takes me four days to do something that normally would take only one. Instead, I’m going to focus on staying rooted in a mindset of excitement for all that is going to unfold in front of me that I cannot yet see, but I know will be wonderful.

I’m going to commit to doing more of the things that nourish me emotionally, spiritually, and physically. My theory is that creativity, motivation, and clarity will much more likely flow into a being who is grounded and full of joy. In other words, radiant!

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Wherever you’re at today, I challenge you to be a little nicer to yourself, as I’m doing with myself. Feeling in a funk and facing road bumps doesn’t mean you’re doomed. Have some more faith in the Universe and the mysterious timing of your life. You’re wonderful and so many beautiful things are waiting for you!

With light and love, Sarah xo

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