This is Where We Live

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I’m writing openly and vulnerably about the realities of life on a small Caribbean island, and my journey as I use three mediums (watercolor, writing, and jewelry design) to build a social impact brand that supports women’s health, safety, and dignity, and how I am learning to use mindfulness and spirituality to guide me through the deepest struggles and most trying times.

I don’t know how other entrepreneurs do it. I wish there was a road map that illustrates the route that every successful person takes to reach the moment when the struggle segues into comfort. Join me, as I travel blindly, in search of this particular moment, while working to reach my 2019 goal of donating 300 Love Necklaces to women receiving care in women’s shelter, through the one-for-one giving campaign.

I opened Mpulse Studio in the summer of 2014, when I realized that my office job was killing my soul. In 2016, I softly launched The Love Necklace Campaign after I lost my dream job in a sexual harassment scandal. I am 38 years old. My work has taken me from Austin, to Dallas, and now to San Pedro, Belize, where I reside with my fiancé, Lovey, a boat captain and fisherman—one of the most well respected in San Pedro, and his two children who live with us part time.

I have published one novel, six short stories, have been commissioned to create art for prominent hotels in Texas and Belize, and am the founder of The Love Necklace Campaign. From everything I post on social media, it would be easy to assume that I’m living a blissful life in the tropics. Sometimes that is true, and sometimes Lovey and I scratch our heads trying to figure out where our next meal is going to come from.

Our apartment is a blessing, and something he and I work hard for. We are both entrepreneurs and our success is contingent upon the support of others. Our landlord is extremely patient with us as we often struggle to make rent on time, and that stress has caused an itchy rash to break out along my neck. I’ve been waking up more exhausted than I am when I fall asleep, which I’m assuming is stress related as well.  Lovey handles stress differently than I do, but at the end of the day, we set all of our anxieties aside and remind one another how lucky we are to have a roof over our head.

We live in a two bedroom apartment in a part of the island called Boca del Rio. Our balcony overlooks the eastern shore line of the island, facing the Caribbean Sea and the MesoAmerican Barrier Reef System, the largest living reef in the world. It’s heavenly, to say the least.

Our view of the water is obstructed by the fronds of a grand coconut palm and the canopy-like leaves of a banana tree. They sway and dance in the wind and where they break along our roof line, an infinite starry sky is exposed. We also have an almond tree and hibiscus flowers that grow on the property. This home is everything to us. I work from a small table that sits against the northern windows. I work with the windows open so I can breathe in the island’s magic, and when I get lost in my thoughts, I gaze out beyond a line of coconut palms, and watch the white caps along the reef tumble upon one another.

My work is comprised of an online art shop where I sell my novel, my original watercolors, limited edition giclee prints, and of course, The Love Necklace. It’s been 23 days since I’ve sold a Love Necklace, or anything from my website, for that matter. When I moved to San Pedro, I had budgeted to sell 25 necklaces per month, which was roughly what I was selling in Dallas. I was a bit off in my projections. Last week, I was commissioned to paint a small watercolor inspired by Carl Sagan’s book, Pale Blue Dot.

It’s been over a week since Lovey had a boat tour. Though San Pedro is beautiful this time of year, everything on the island is slow right now. Typically over Easter weekend, the island is at capacity. That’s not the case this year. It’s quiet, and it's only about to get quieter.

To say ‘the struggle is real’ would be an understatement. There is a significant disparity between the money that comes to this island from the expats and the tourists, and that earned by locals, whose culture is what offers the allure to the Caribbean, that and the year round warmth, crystal turquoise waters, and the tropical vegetation.

As for my work, I don’t know why my sales came to a sudden halt. From the moment my feet hit the ground in the morning, until the time I crawl into bed at night, my attention is focused on The Love Necklace Campaign, but, in the words of Albert Einstein, “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, is the definition of insanity.”  

I recently launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money to cover my overhead costs, and I received .018% of my goal. Asking for help has not been working, so I am taking a new approach by illustrating the day to day life of an artist, traveling between San Pedro and Dallas in efforts to grow The Love Necklace Campaign, so that I can support myself, my family, and the countless women who are on their own unique journeys to heal from abuse, and come into a place of love and light. My goal is to sell 300 Love Necklaces in 2019. So far, 29 have been sold. We have 249 days left in the year, and 271 Love Necklaces to go.

I hope that, as you join me on this adventure, you find inspiration learning about the life and the magic on a small Caribbean island, find hope in the realities of meaningful entrepreneurship, and develop a sense of compassion for those of us who are willing to risk everything, to make an impact on this crazy world.