It’s been exactly one year since I announced my “Leap of Presence” right here in Island Jane Magazine–twelve months since I followed the callings of my heart and stepped away from my 18-year career as a first-grade teacher; 365 days since I started growing my own business and working from anywhere there has simply been a good wifi signal and a phone line. There are days I have worked hard, and days I have hardly worked, but “somehow”, the Universe has fully supported me on my journey. I like to think that has everything to do with honoring the callings of my soul, because, let’s be real, there is nothing more real than the constant longings of your heart.
One of the greatest driving forces for creating this change in my life was to be where my heart has continued to be called—right where the sidewalk ends, in Key West. I think it’s safe to say, I manifested some serious time in the Southernmost City this past year, and, if I didn’t feel at home already, there was no way my snowbirding experience in the Conch Republic this past winter was going to leave me without an even deeper connection to my little island paradise.
“Travel is like love, mostly because it’s a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end.”
~ Pico Lyer
One of my favorite things to do in Key West, is to “walk the rock”. Whether heading down to the Historic Seaport to catch Happy Hour with some friends or simply getting out of the house for some sunshine and fresh air, the time I spend walking from Southernmost Point A to Southernmost Point B always, ALWAYS, makes me feel like a million bucks. More often than not, it is exceptionally difficult to wipe the permanent, “feeling-ever-so-grateful”, smile off of my face and to keep myself from literally dancing in the street, headphones in place, one foot after the other. If I’m not listening to music, (and giving not a care in the world that I may or may not be singing out loud—in broad daylight, no less) the time I spend walking is generally still headphones in, on the phone with friends and family back home. Except on one “unfortunate” night, when the battery in my phone decided to pooch…
This particular incident couldn’t have come at a more interesting time. After spending the winter in the Keys, I had hopped back onto the island for another shorter extended stay when I was en route back North after my writer’s retreat in Old San Juan. It was June and my friend was in need of a cat sitter for his own summer vacation off the rock. Key West? Cats? I mean, how could I resist? These really are a few of my favourite things. A thought had come to mind, however, that somewhere along these repeated travels to the Keys, it was going to lose some of its magic. You know, where the extraordinary becomes ordinary? WRONG!
Just when I thought I couldn’t possibly love Key West any more…FRANGIPANI! The smells from the blooms on these trees were so alluring I could wander the island just in search of all of these intoxicating trees. And on that particular night, that is exactly what I did. With no music in ear or any distractions from an otherwise fully charged phone, I remember looking up at the stars and thinking of how fully charged I felt as I “walked the rock” for well over the hundredth time this year. I walked down William Street from tree to tree, zig-zagging from one side of the street to the other, pulling down the branches to reach my nose, and collecting the blooms that had fallen to the ground, breathing in the real essence of Key West. By the time I got back to the “kitty” condo, I had a small bouquet that I was able to place on a dish and enjoy in my room for the next several days. And so, this magical love affair continued.
I have always paid close attention to the seemingly “little things” as I’ve meandered through the streets of Key West (with or without headphones), but, after this last visit, it was even further validated that I can’t go anywhere on that tiny rock without some kind of sign from the Universe that I am exactly where I am meant to be. From the heart-shaped markings in the sidewalks, to the meaningful graffiti and artwork scattered about the streets, it always seems that I look in the right direction, at just the right time, for this little island to let me know that, even after all these visits, it still loves me, just as much as I love it.
Although I’ve had to say a somber farewell to my soul place for the next several months, I don’t have any doubts that Key West and I will pick up right where we left off, as soon as I return. And, I can’t wait to see what this great love has in store next, when I do!