Letting Go of Expectations

From hectic life in the USA to island life as a stay-at-home-wife, this blog follows the musings of an anxious Type-A as she learns to slow down and tune in to the important things in life

 

Tag: island life

Updated: Pot Hound Love

Meet foster puppy Madison! She is five weeks old, weighed 1.02kg at her last checkup, and is ferociously teething. She is a pot hound puppy!

three week old pot hound puppy

What is a Pot Hound?

“Pot hound” is the name for mutt dogs on the island of Grenada. Many of them are strays, and you’d be hard pressed to walk anywhere without encountering at least one pot hound.

By my guess, most of these island dogs are about 40 pounds and a lot of them are brown, but I have seen pot hounds that are white, black, biggish, littleish, brindle, and everything in between. Sometimes they will follow you as you walk down the street – or beach – and are really sweet and friendly when you offer them a scratch behind the ears.

brindle female dog with floppy ears sitting on grass

This lovely lady greeted us at a bus stop one day. She was quite happy to accept the pop tart that someone there offered her!

Most of the dogs in Grenada that aren’t strays are kept for home protection, not as pets in the way that most people in the States have dogs. They may bark when you pass by their house, though I’ve only ever met one pot hound that harbored any true ill will (I’m talking about you, Sugar the dog!) Sometimes you see them roaming around with sun-bleached collars on, indicating that they have a home to go to, but they are still free to wander most of the time.

Many of the pothounds here, even the ones with owners, are not fixed. Which is how little Miss Madison, and many other puppies and kittens like her, came along.

The beginning of Madison’s story is not a happy one. She was found at about two weeks old alone and covered in maggots. Luckily, she was taken to the Grenada SPCA Animal Shelter, where she got fed and cleaned up and eventually came to us as a bottle baby to foster!

pot hound puppy

Always on the move!

Future Foster Fail?

Madison is now healthy, playful, and sassy! She likes to sleep, wrestle with little toys, and has a tiny little bark. I am completely unable to call her by her real name most of the time, and her nicknames to date include Sass, Squeak, Little Miss, and Miss Maddie May, but only if you say it to the tune of the song, “Down by the Bay”.

If you don’t have that song stuck in your head now, I applaud you. If you do have that song stuck in your head…sorry!

Having an adult dog and a bottle baby puppy has been as close to having children as I could imagine in any of my life experiences so far.

blue heeler puppy sleeping

Not to be outdone by adorable pictures of Madison, here is a picture of Tryst as a puppy!

I will be feeding Madison, and our dog Tryst will all of a sudden need to go out, so I will need to juggle both of them to make everyone happy. Or, I will be playing with Madison and Tryst will feel left out and beg for cuddles. We are making sure he gets lots of love so that he doesn’t get jealous, but sometimes cuddling him and playing with Madison feels like patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time!

Taking care of such a young puppy is also a really great way to kick start those motherly instincts… but that’s a whole other story!

While we are having a great time fostering Madison, we are hoping not to become a foster fail. She is going to be really, really hard to let go, but our plans for the next few years are tentative, and traveling with one dog is enough of a circus!

pot hound puppy sticking tongue out

Who could say no to this face?

Looking to Adopt?

Madison is available for adoption in Grenada, but it would be possible for her to travel to her forever home if someone off the rock wanted to adopt this little ball of fluff! Although it will be really bittersweet when she gets adopted, I plan to volunteer more at the GSPCA and foster again in the future.

You can’t foster if you keep them all, right? At least that’s what I keep telling myself. Can you have too many dogs though? Well, probably, but we only have one right now…

It sounds like Madison is hungry again, so I guess that’s my cue. I’m off to snuggle some pups!

*Adoption Update!*

As of today, Madison has a forever home! I held out for as long as I could, but Husband and I fell head over heels for this sweet little girl. We just signed the papers, and she will officially be staying with us!

The moment I heard her name I knew she was going to be hard to give up. Madison is my hometown and the city where Husband and I met. Now, we’ll always have a piece of Madison and a piece of Grenada with us, no matter where in the world we are.

Our adventure in fostering is over – for now – and I completely understand why there are so many foster fails. Really though, it’s not such a bad club to be in!


Want to see more adorable puppy pictures and pictures of my adventures in Grenada? Follow me on Instagram!

The Grenada SPCA does so much for the animals here. They shelter neglected and abused animals, provide affordable veterinary treatment, and are working hard to get more of the animals on the island spayed and neutered. If you’re interested, check them out and maybe send a donation their way. With all of the animals that they help, I know they could always use it!

Learning to Live on Island Time

When we were preparing to come to Grenada, many people warned us about “island time”. They said that everything was going to take longer, from receiving a call back to getting food at your table in a restaurant. We prepared ourselves as much as we could for things to take more time than they did in the hustle-and-bustle of the US.

We even experienced island time before we got to Grenada when we were looking for apartments. Some rental companies seemed aware of the culture of instant customer service that most students coming to the island were used to and replied to our inquiries right away. Others, however, took days to hear back from, if we got a response at all.

It turned out that we were apartment hunting at the same time as a lot of other people, and places were filling up quickly. This, combined with slow response times from many of the people that we contacted, led to my anxiety-fueled fear that we would never find a decent apartment.

As is the case with many thoughts that are a product of anxiety, this fear of not finding a good apartment in time did not turn into reality. We did, in fact, find an apartment that we like very much. However, this first encounter with island time left me a little apprehensive about living with it once we got to Grenada.

Now that we have been here for a few months, we have had plenty of encounters with island time. One of the first things that another student told us was to multiply any amount of time that someone gives you by three. For example, if someone says that they will meet you in 15 minutes, expect them to be there in 45. I was skeptical of this at first, but it has proven accurate so far!

Another aspect of island time is that places might not be open when you want them to be. Coming from a college town in the US where you can get any type of food you want at 3am, I was surprised when people here boasted about the restaurant (yes, singular) that offers 24-hour takeout.

After I finished grieving the loss of easily accessible fast food and considered the relative size of the college town here compared to the one I was used to, it made sense that there were fewer places to get a quick bite to eat any hour of the day or night. At least places would be open during the day at their regularly scheduled hours, right?

Wrong.

One of the first restaurants that we went to was closed on a random week day with no indication as to why. There was a holiday earlier in the week, and my guess is that they decided to take a couple extra days off. Oh well, if you can’t go to a restaurant, at least you can always rely on the grocery store, right?

Wrong again.

The grocery store’s recent floor re-surfacing project, which already involved limited hours compared to their regular schedule, ended up being extended about an extra week. Their hours became more limited, and they even opened later than their already delayed start time on at least one occasion.

Any one of those things happening when I lived in the US would have driven me crazy. Now, though, I just have to laugh about it.

You see, the key to living with island time is living on island time. This might seem obvious, but as a person who always kept busy and had a rigid schedule, I wasn’t sure that I would be able to make the transition. No doubt living the stay-at-home-wife life made it easier, but I don’t feel like I had to make an effort to live on island time. Island time found me, and it has been incredibly rewarding.

When I bought a vehicle from a local, what started out as his gracious offer to help me get car insurance turned into an all-day affair where I got to try authentic oil-down and see beautiful parts of the island that I wouldn’t have otherwise. That was only possible because I allowed myself to be on island time.

Not being able to get groceries when you set out to could easily make your day worse. But when you’re not rushing to get things done based on some pre-determined timeline, you have the opportunity to think about the things that are truly important – the things that really need to get done – and you are able to prioritize those. Maybe you can even prioritize something that you want to do.

I realize not everyone will have the opportunity to experience a slow, purposeful life lived on island time. It is hard to slow down when commuting and work and exercising and running errands and social engagements can take up so much of your time. I know that after two years on island time, I will return to that life, and it will be hard to hold onto the lessons that I’ve learned here while slowing down.

However, the three things that I have learned on island time and hope to keep with me throughout my life are: 1) Make it a priority to leave a little time for yourself each day. Do something that you want to do, not something that you have to do. 2) Don’t feel like time spent relaxing is time wasted. Those moments spent in slowness, either by yourself or with others, are likely to be the things you remember most – and most fondly – later on. 3) Live deliberately and with purpose, instead of just reacting to what life throws at you. This will make even the mundane moments more worthwhile and vibrant.

I can’t take island time with me, and while I’m inclined to be sad about that, that would go against the true meaning of living on island time. Island time is, at its essence, about being more mindful and present in the current moment.

And that’s something I can always take with me.

Long Distance Friendship

This might come as a surprise, but I tend to form expectations about how things will turn out in the future. Shocker, I know. I especially do this with things that I haven’t experienced before, and then I cling to those expectations for security. I don’t like things that are surprising or unfamiliar, so having a clear picture in my mind of how things will unfold can be very reassuring.

Coming to Grenada with Husband, I had an expectation about how the relationships that I had with friends and family back home would change. So far I have been proven absolutely wrong. And I am really glad about that for a change.

Don’t get me wrong, coming to an island where everyone I’ve ever known is hundreds of miles away across a vast body of water certainly did change my relationships. It was just not in the way that I predicted.

What I’ve learned so far is that when you live near people, it can be hard to make time to spend with them. You tell yourself that you are too busy, or too tired, or that you will see them next week. Definitely. Probably.

You take interactions for granted because you will see the person again at work tomorrow. Maybe you don’t make the time to talk to someone as often as you should because, somehow, living in relative proximity makes you feel more connected to them than you really are.

When you live far away from your friends and family, though, there is no proximity, no chance to visit them easily, no thinking that you will probably see them soon. While this can put strain on relationships, it doesn’t have to.

Luckily, we live in a time when it is possible to communicate with people all over the globe almost instantaneously. Thanks in large part to this, my relationships with friends and family haven’t stagnated as I feared they would. Instead, they’ve just changed, and not for the worse.

Now, when I communicate with friends and family back home, those interactions seem more deliberate and meaningful. The scarcity of their company makes those emails and messages all the more important to me, and I don’t take for granted the words that we are able to exchange like I did before.

When you are able to spend a lot of time with someone, oftentimes the conversations become diluted with filler just to pass the time. However, when you are no longer able to interact with someone frequently, the conversations become distilled and you find yourself talking about the things that are truly important.

Distance can even open up fun avenues of communication that you probably didn’t use when you lived close to friends and family, such as writing letters. Maybe it’s because gifts are one of my love languages, but when I take the time to write a letter and put it in the mail, it makes me feel much closer to that person. It is also nice to receive something in the mail besides bills!

I’m not going to lie, staying in touch can be difficult. Sitting down to write to your friends is not nearly as fun as spending a Friday night out together. For those of us that are bad at answering texts or messages under normal circumstances, there can be an added layer of complexity when that becomes your only form of communication.

The effort that it takes to stay in contact with people will cause some relationships that were tenuous before to falter, but the effort required to maintain relationships, especially over distance, is not always a bad thing. On the contrary, if you put the effort into maintaining a relationship when you live far away from someone, it will only make that relationship stronger.
Another thing that I’ve come to realize is that living farther away from someone can even increase the amount you communicate with them. The person that I have experienced this the most with is my brother.

Growing up, we were always close enough. As we entered the bustle of college and adult life, we would see each other at dinner nights with our parents and all the extended family functions, but we rarely contacted each other just to talk.

Now that we’re in different countries, I’ve talked to him more on the phone in the last few months than I have in the past year, and our conversations are much more in depth than they used to be. I think that we used to feel closer to each other than we really were because we lived near one another and would see each other fairly regularly. Distance gave us the perspective we needed to see where we wanted our relationship to go.

I don’t think that you need to move to an island away from all the people you know and love to experience this change in communication and relationships. All the change in location did for me was give me a different perspective, and you can change your perspective wherever you are.

All it really takes is a bit of reflection about the relationships that you value, and making a commitment to not take them for granted. Make a commitment to see people more often, even if you just had to work late. Make a commitment to call you grandmother more often. Make a commitment to put even a little more time and effort into the relationships that mean the most to you.

It won’t be easy, but I think it will be worth it. After all, what fun would life be without the people who give it meaning?

My Biggest Expectation

Growing up, I always thought about what my life would look like when I was older. I think most people do. We fantasize about the job we will have, the person we will marry, where we will live, the places we will travel to. While this is all well and good, it can put a lot of pressure on your adult self to live up to the life that you dreamed of having when you were younger.

My own dream life goes something like this: go to a great college, get a job changing the world where I am constantly engaged and paid well, meet the man of my dreams and get married, buy a nice house, save money for traveling the world in my free time, have two kids and watch them grow into well-adjusted members of society, and eventually retire and grow old with my adoring husband, children and grandchildren. Because I was horse-crazy, my dream life also included owning a small farm for my horses (plural) and competing as far up through the levels of Eventing as I could.

Even with these grand ideas about how our lives will unfold, we know that we will encounter some bumps in the road. Relationships are hard work, and it’s not always going to be easy. Having kids leads to countless sleepless nights, a messy house – and finding cereal where you would least expect it. Maybe you won’t get the job you want right away. Maybe you will have to move farther away from your family than you would like to. It sounds cute, from a distance.

But even my young-adult self thought, surely things will go mostly according to plan, right!? And for a while things did. I graduated from college, but I did not continue on to a higher degree as I previously thought I would. I got a job in my field right out of college – which I feel extremely lucky about – but it wasn’t a job where I felt like I was changing the world. I did meet the man of my dreams and get married, but then the future quickly became murky.

As we were planning our wedding, he was also applying for medical school. When the dust of the medical school application process settled, it was clear that we would be moving. To Grenada. An island. In the Caribbean.

Fast forward and here we are, married and living in Grenada! How cool is that?! While I fully realize how lucky I am to be living on a Caribbean island for the next couple years, it also threw a huge wrench in my ability to meticulously plan out every last detail of our future. Where will we be in two years when we return to the US for clinical rotations? Where will we be after that for his residency? With Zika spreading and the impending mountain of student loan debt that we will be in, when will we be able to start trying to have kids?

Another wrench that the move has thrown into my ever-important plans is that it’s really hard to get a work visa in Grenada. Which means I am, currently, a stay-at-home wife. Woe is me, right? But on the other hand, it has forced me to come face-to-face with the fact that I didn’t feel like the job I had before coming here was right for me, and that I don’t even know what I want to pursue as a career path.  The whole basis of my future – getting a job that I find fulfilling, where I am helping others, and that ideally pays well enough so that my family can live comfortably – doesn’t exist. I feel like I should have accomplished that by now, or that I should at least be on a clear path to getting there. But I’m not. And I’m going to try to be ok with that.

I’m going to try to be ok with that because sometimes, I think the biggest expectation that I have for myself is living up to the timeline that I created for my life. It is my biggest expectation, and also the one that causes me the most grief. Right now, my life is not on the track that I thought it would be on, and in some ways I feel like I’ve failed because of that. What I have realized now, though, is that if things went the way I thought they were supposed to go, I would not have had the time to reflect on what career I want to pursue. I also probably would not have had the opportunity to live in another country and get to know it’s culture and people. And I definitely wouldn’t be living somewhere as beautiful as Grenada. It can be hard letting go of your perfectly formed plans, but once you’re done lamenting their loss (and by all means, take that time), take a look around. Because it’s possible that the new direction that your life has taken you will give you just as many – if not more – opportunities than the path you thought you were supposed to be on.