Secret to Island Living

I now know the secret to living happily ever after on your island. It’s actually not to be perpetually laid-back and to just go with the flow, although that probably would help. The secret isn’t to avoid having one too many rum drinks, although that will clearly help your waistline and your decision-making skills. At least for this island girl, I recently discovered that the secret to island living is to, well, get off the island.

After five and a half months as a resident of St. John in the US Virgin Islands, I will admit that I was starting to think I’d had enough… Enough of the heat and the hills and the mosquitoes and the general craziness of living on an island in the middle of tourist season.

I was longing for shopping malls and dishwashers and time with my friends and family.

Island girl goes to Charlotte

I was feeling particularly fluffy as a result of my diet, which has changed quite drastically since I moved to St. John from Charlotte. I started a gluten-free, caffeine-free diet upon my departure, but that’s a story for another day.

Wolfgang Puck Charlotte gluten-free

With the fluffiness, I was also really missing my workout classes that brought me so much joy.

prescription4change with energYve Fitness

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I longed to feel chilly, so that I could hop in a warm bubble bath.

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Wish granted. Scarf, check. Sweater, check. Hot tea, check. Hunter boots for the cold (and rainy) day, check.

prescription4change winter weather

I wanted to meet my friends’ new babies and snuggle with my furry loves who reside in the states!

prescription4change meets new babies

prescription4change westie

prescription4change yorkie

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After eight days of being in Charlotte and Kannapolis, I observed that my friends are just as sweet as ever. My family still misses me, but they are excited to see me living out my dreams.

I found Whole Foods to be blissfully unchanged.

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SouthPark Mall and the surrounding boutiques were still dangerously addictive. That said, I found myself slipping right back into my same old habits. I felt like I needed to spend lots of money and acquire more things. I shopped and I shopped and I shopped.

E Martini Charlotte NC

Lululemon Charlotte SouthPark mall

Tory Burch SouthPark

Luckily, since I don’t have my six-figure corporate America salary anymore, it was refreshing to find that I didn’t see much that I really needed or even that I really wanted (with the exception of a swimsuit and coverup from E Martini and a couple new Lululemon pieces… justified by functionality). I may be crazy, but thank goodness I was rational enough to know that buying things that made sense in Charlotte weren’t worth the space they’d take up in my luggage. My life on St. John is simpler, and it’s best to keep it that way.

Back to Island Life

I’m beyond grateful for the opportunity to go back home. I’m equally grateful that after eight amazing days, I got to come home. I have two homes now. Both have their merits; both have their challenges. And you have to constantly be on the lookout for what makes people and places so special. If you’re not, you just might take them for granted.

It turns out, the secret to island living is actually the secret to living a good life. Sometimes you have to find a way to put things in perspective. Wherever you are and wherever you go, it is up to you to create the experiences that make your life unique and magical. Traveling with your joy will always fill a bigger, more important space than anything you can buy at the mall and stuff in your check bag.

secret to island living

I already feel like I’m a better island girl. Getting off the island did wonders for my heart. And The Lord welcomed me right back to my island home with the most spectacular gift.

Sunset St John USVI Secret to Island Living

Ashley Cates
St John, USVI Blogger

  • Ron Uszenski
    May 28, 2016

    Sorry, I missed during your short hiatus!!! Hope you and Sean are doing well and, more importantly, living YOUR dreams! Keep in touch!

    • Ashley
      September 14, 2016

      Dr U!!!!! I miss you very much! Things are going well on St John. Who knew my calling was to be a fitness instructor? I thought I was meant to sell drugs! LOL! Hope all is well with you!

  • Sue Hannan
    May 31, 2015

    It was so nice meeting you at Grande Bay, as I got my coffee every morning. Glad you enjoyed your trip home to the states. I’m looking forward to being back on the island in July. Can’t wait!

    • Ashley
      June 1, 2015

      Sue, it was a pleasure meeting you as well! Thanks for reading, and safe travels next month. See you soon!

  • Worldly Girlie
    April 17, 2015

    Your blog is great! You’re a true inspiration. My Mom and I are considering the huge move as we have traveled to the Virgin Islands quote frequent over the last 30 years. We are native “New Yorkers” that seek a change from the hustle, commute, fog, landscape of big city. Leaving the luxurys that go along with being an executive in corporate america is quite scary but the headaches are not.
    Would love any suggestions on transitioning and finding a balance
    Thank you for sharing

    • Ashley
      May 5, 2015

      Hi Wordly Girlie! Thank you for your kind words and thanks for reading the blog! I can’t even imagine how big of a change St John would be from the hustle bustle of Manhattan. It’s certainly quite a change from living in Charlotte. I’d love to talk to you more about your upcoming plans! Good luck!

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