Caribbean Commute

Whenever we go away on holiday, we take time to notice the locals and their lifestyles. Sitting sipping coffee in the morning we watched many locals drive to work across the blue bay in front of our Barbados hotel. It looked like such a relaxing way to commute to work, and compared with the congested drive in near darkness which I returned home to, it seemed like heaven. The soft morning sun warmed their bodies and the fresh sea air swept through their hair as they steered their way through the waves and around the reefs of this beautiful ocean.

Some were so relaxed they even had on board coffee to sip, waking up into the day, surrounded by nature and all her beauty. It got me thinking about the lifestyles we chose in order to live the lives we dream of. Many of us move out of crowded cities looking for a more relaxed life closer to nature and open green spaces filled with fresh clean air. Yet a frequent irony is that in order to work and live in these greener places, there is often a daily commute. Commuting has been shown to decrease all sorts of well being measures, and the longer the commute the less well we feel about ourselves and our lives. Commuting has also been shown to increase stress levels and all the negative health effects that brings. The longer the commute the more negative the impact on our well being. However looking at these guys commuting across the water each morning I felt that rather than reducing happiness, this sort of commuting might actually be life enhancing.

Sitting just below our window was a little speed boat which would take us wherever we wanted, and so one morning we left early and joined the island commuters, heading across the blue water, out towards the deep blue sea hoping to see some of the famous flying fish. The skipper helped us aboard, and as we moved away from the sand fringed coast he spread his arms in a wide sweep and said “welcome to my office”. He talked about the life he had given up back in Britain where he had studied and worked for several years, and about the relaxed way he was now living. Working outside, surrounded by natures beauty each day, governed by the weather and the tides, he felt utterly content. It was a great example of a life enhancing lifestyle choice. He had looked at his world and at himself and had understood what made him happy, what left him feeling fulfilled at the end of each day. Then he had acted to bring his life into line with his real needs.

Speeding over the sparkling waves with the sun warming my skin, I mulled over some of the changes I had made to my working life. Recently I had been questioning my choice to work only three days, wondering if I was just being lazy. It was as though the norms and expectations of society had slipped unnoticed back into my thinking. Here on the blue sea I came to know again that my own wisdom had been right. Getting the balance between life and work right is hard, commuting only to the point where it doesn’t impact negatively on well being is a challenge, but I knew that they were struggles worth making. This happy Barbados commuter had helped me come back to my own wisdom……

Learning to make the time to be mindful of ourselves can feel difficult, but it will be the best spent moments of your day, helping you steer your life from your own heart.

About greenmackenzie

Hi, I'm Seonaid, and I share my home on the shores of Loch Ness deep in the Scottish Highlands with my husband, my son and a couple of dogs. I love art which is here now and gone food and nature...but also have a passion for vintage and the ancient past! Nature is my favourite muse, with her wild ever shifting seasons. I have been using and teaching mindfulness and relaxation for over 12 years, and have yet to become any sort of expert :-) I'm a Psychotherapist and Cancer Support Specialist in Maggies Highlands
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47 Responses to Caribbean Commute

  1. Leya says:

    you must have had a wonderful time over there – and you’re well worth it. Sometimes a meeting like that, with that man, is necessary to get into perspective again, just like you say. I’m planning to retire next year, in fact. I have given it much thought…and I cannot see why I should go on with this stressful life if I can survive anyway and live a fairly comfortable life.

    Now our Edinbugh tickets are getting closer – released December 1! Looking forward to seeing you in August!

    • Can’t wait to see you again, and if life feels unbearably stressful then it’s definitely time to make some changes. Choosing what we need now, really need, rather than saving or waiting for an imaginary future…..that to me feels like a real plan ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Leya says:

        It’s strange how easily we fall back…as you described so well in your post. But, I have lost dear friends and collegues shortly after their retirement…and even before. Hopefully I will have some years of joy and thinking, some light and some “doing nothing”…if I retire now.

      • Perfect decision then….as we really don’t know what the future holds. I have seen something similar so many times, putting off the life they want to live, and then either not being well enough or not living long enough to enjoy.
        Living well today is such a beautiful gift we can give ourselves ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. ladyfi says:

    It looks heavenly.

  3. Dilip says:

    Beautiful pictures and your take on work-life balance. If we are in a state of equanimity life itself will be in balance. Thank you for a lovely post.

  4. pommepal says:

    Now I enjoy retirement I wished I’d done it earlier. Work and commuting can take up so much precious time…The colour of the ocean is so relaxing.

  5. That water looks so majestic. That commute looks way better than taking the ferry here in NYC lol. Wonderful shots

    • That water is so beautiful, warm and turquoise….I don’t think it could get much better. I’ve been dreaming about swimming in it almost every night since my return home ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. LB says:

    Welcome to my commute!!! How perfect!
    Such a clever post, Seonaid. The photos are lovely and your reflections on the commute, whether across a gorgeous expanse of water or from the country to the city are spot on!

    • Thanks Laura, I love comparing and reflecting on the ways we live our lives all around the planet….commuting is something that lots of working folk have to contend with, and making some positive choices about it, and the effect it has on our well being seem really important ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. poppytump says:

    I’d never really thought of it as a commute as I watched but you’re right Seonaid .. and also with your observation in an earlier comment re the people being so friendly and welcoming .
    Another thought I had when travelling on the local reggae bus ;-D was how marvellous that there are still little dwellings and homes owned by bajans right next to the sea in some places , and they daily enjoy the 5 star position and view that others have to pay a great deal for .

    • They are such welcoming people, the friendliest I’ve met around the Caribbean!
      I loved the reggae reggae buses…so much so that I feel we should have them here in Edinburgh….then I might take the bus rather than drive….the music and the wind in your hair is fabulous, leaving me smiling at the end of each ride ๐Ÿ™‚
      I loved the right to beach access for everyone, and as you say lots of old houses with beautiful sea views!

  8. Tina Schell says:

    Well said Seonaid. I felt the same thing when I retired very early but have never looked back and have loved every moment of my early release from the daily chaos!

    • It’s all about finding a balance which works for us…..too much commuting is bad for the soul I’m convinced of it! You’ve been putting your time to great creative use ever since ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. restlessjo says:

    Well, you know there’s commuting, and then there’s commuting ๐Ÿ™‚ I could give this a shot ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I think most of us might cope well with this commute Jo!
      My mother’s first job after college involved a row across the bay in Plockton to a training college for island girls….I always thought that sounded romantic and wonderful ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Esther says:

    Thank you for the reminder of the importance of balance, put in your own beautiful way. I put your sea turtle post on my blog as a meditation. It was the perfect thing for this cold snap we are experiencing here in the US.

    • Esther, thanks so much for the reblog….I’m delighted that this post was like a meditation….I think I was swept back into the turquoise sea as I wrote it ๐Ÿ™‚
      It’s hard to imagine bare toes in a warm blue sea, as the cold dark nights of Northern winter close in around us now ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. gwynnrogers says:

    It has been about 25 years since I have been to Barbados. It was a lovely experience. I agree with your choice of working three days. Here in the states I’m seeing lots of crime, that I truly believe is manifested due to stress around the working world. Some parents are working too much and the kids are not receiving the attention they need. There are so many issues.

    Living here on the Kitsap Peninsula of Washington state, I live across the Puget Sound from Seattle. I have to take the ferry, a 20 minute ride, to visit my son and family, or my friends. I LOVE sitting and watching the water ripple by with the seagulls and clouds over head, or reading. It beats the hassle of driving in traffic.

    Enjoy your vacation! I love your pictures and your wisdom!!

    • Gywnn, you makes lots of wonderful point with this feedback. Having two working parents definitely can have an impact on family life, and the way that children feel held and cared for. Being there and giving children time is probably the most precious gift we can give them….they are so precious ๐Ÿ™‚
      That ferry ride to your sons sounds wonderful…..for me my love of water means that even cold Scottish seas are soothing to the soul ๐Ÿ™‚
      Three working days feels very sustainable….and perhaps I needed this holiday to confirm it ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. I’m certain that you’ve been reading my mind once again Seonaid. I too have been thinking why I do ‘this’ to myself. Why put up with the stress which I know exists and which I know effects both my health and my state of mind and well being. I continue to do it because not doing it has just a little bit of risk associated with it? I continue to do it because not doing it says to the world that I can’t handle it (which, turns out to be true), or don’t want to. Perhaps the confidence with which you pen this post will give me strength in the coming months to do what I know is right … but which is so difficult. Social norms and expectations also play a role, don’t they? “What will people think?” It’s all so fraught with ‘this and that.’ Why is life always so difficult? Why is change so difficult? On the lighter-side … these beautiful pictures brought a breath of warm (rather than green) air into the kitchen this evening. Our forecast promises a mix of rain, sleet, and perhaps ice overnight. Those blue Caribbean waters warmed this Pennsylvania evening just a wee little bit. Thanks. D

    • The risk of not giving our all to work is something which I feel is dripped into us from a very early age. The Protestant work ethic has a lot to answer for. I grew up believing that unless I had something productive to show at the end of a day I had wasted the day….I have had to unlearn this, and it’s has been a struggle and has taken time.
      Now I trust myself enough to know that what I need to feel healthy and happy lies in my own hands…..not in my productivity, but perhaps in my creativity!
      It’s not even just what others might think of me working a three day week, it my own thoughts about the security and money I might obtain from full time work….also some guilt around having the easy possibility of full time hours when so many around me are unable to find full time work…..
      In the end I have to trust myself and my own wisdom… one else can ever know what I really need ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Robin says:

    I think I might go back to work if I had a commute like that. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • But perhaps you can commute like this without needing to work at the end….that sounds even more delightful ๐Ÿ™‚
      I think you make wonderful creative use of your retirement Robin ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Gaye Abbott says:

    This is the kind of “commute” that everyone should have. A reminder of the life giving natural world….

    • Indeed Gaye, nature is the best nourishment and the best healer for frazzled souls. A traffic free, wave washed commute would be wonderful…..but perhaps there are ways of improving our daily lives even if we can’t move to Barbados!

  15. ordinarygood says:

    Hello wee feet! We visited Rarotonga earlier this year and like you I observed the local people and how they got on with their lives so simply. Small motorscooters were a preferred means of land travel about the island. We loved being able to eat outdoors in the wonderful warm temperatures and oh the colours of the ocean at our door…..just as you had. Your posts are reminding me to think back and soak up that goodness we enjoyed….thank you.

    • It’s so lovely to get back to the simple things in life, to notice what’s really important and what we don’t really need. Becoming such an urbanised society risks removing us from the nourishment of nature and the simple pleasures….so holidays soaking up nature are a wonderful counter balance. Rarotonga sounds heavenly….

  16. Lucid Gypsy says:

    Well my commute is a 15 minute walk but even so the destination isn’t nurturing

  17. Rachael Charmley says:

    It’s interesting how we sometimes need to put ourselves in another culture to become more conscious of our ‘selves’. This is one of the many aspects of travelling I find useful… ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Yes, finding ourselves is sometimes easier when we are out of our usual context. I always come home with a fresh sense of myself and the world. All the everyday distractions are removed and we can see clearly for a while….holding onto this sense of self is the challenge ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. I’m sure that going to work by boat, must be far more relaxing than battling through traffic on the roads. That skipper sound as though he is very content with the choice he made. Good for him! I love that photo of your feet in the speedboat. You should send it to

    • I think it would be a lovely way to commute, but it haven’t worked out a route for a speedboat into Central Edinburgh yet! The skipper was a very relaxed and contented man, lovely to meet him…..and I’ll send the toe shot on ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. Amy says:

    Beautiful! Taking time to notice the locals and their lifestyles is a wonderful way to spend time during vacation. ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. (Continued) although the ferry sounds pretty good compared to my current five freeways each way. Nice move on the 3-day program.

    • Five freeways makes me feel stressed just picturing it…..I had commuted for years and it was beginning to have a very bad effect on me. Three days is manageable, but on bad traffic days even that seems crazy!!

  21. That looks nothing like any commute I’ve known. Even the ferry in the SF Bay doesn’t come close,

    • Looks good doesn’t it, but I can’t figure out how to commute into Edinburgh by speed boat yet….I’m working on it though ๐Ÿ™‚
      A ferry though does sound like a nice daily journey….

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