By Dr Jillian Storr
It is indeed Better in The Bahamas!
I was born an American citizen. I grew up in Grand Bahama and became a Bahamian citizen. Until the age of 17, The Bahamas was all I knew. We all aspired to “go off to school in America” – to live the American Dream!
So I did that. Between 17 and 33 years old, I attained my degrees, became a Dentist, and worked in the private and corporate worlds. I also got married, had children, and bought a home. I lived more American dreams than many Americans had ever dreamt. I was content and comfortable for many years. I understand the desire to live in the US. I understand how things appear: the efficiency, technology, education, professionalism, cleanliness, luxury, opportunities, diversity. However, all of those things come with a price – really….an actual price! One that grows.
My degrees left me with $440,226.37 of debt. With a family of 5, no amount of dentist-ing could pay off that debt while paying all of our bills, maintaining a happy marriage, feeding our children healthy food, consistently giving each other quality time, and cultivating a sound spiritual life. Even if my school debt didn’t exist, the demands of work limited the time left for what was most important to us.
Stepping back and evaluating what matters, our peace takes the #1 spot. We learned that when ‘money’ is the goal, everything else gets compromised – no matter how diligent you think you may be. So, after 16 years of living the ‘American dream’, we made the vow to never make a decision based on the value of a dollar bill, but instead consider our peace. Is it the convenient or easy route? Nope. But for longevity and a sound mind, it is the best option for us.
Both my husband and I were living our career dreams. But that left very little time for each other and our children. Thankfully, we were able to re-adjust our lives before it took an irreversible toll on our marriage. Our love for each other outweighs our long-time love for the careers we dreamt about and achieved.
Being health conscious and admittedly a skeptic of the medical and pharmaceutical industries (yes, even as a Dentist), I believe what we eat holds the most importance for our overall health. Researching the food industry in the US, we became distrustful of what was being fed to us – literally. Again, when ‘money’ is the goal, everything else gets compromised – even if it costs lives. People are dying exponentially from heart disease, diabetes and cancer in the US; whether you live a vegan lifestyle or choose organic meats or only eat home cooked meals is up to you, but we must agree that what we eat is a strong determinant of that outcome. My husband is vegan and I am a pescatarian transitioning to veganism – living on an island, we have a bigger variety and more control over the nature of our foods.
Politics – anywhere and everywhere – it’s shady! Do I need to say it again? I will: when ‘money’ is the goal, everything else gets compromised. Some countries balance better than others, but the US historically has never been the best at upholding the creed ‘for the benefit of all’. Simply put, my husband is a very dark skinned, tall, black man. The chances of him being in a position where he is disadvantaged, disrespected, or killed are higher living in the US just based on those characteristics. I refuse to accept the normalcy of having a conversation about the colour of your skin and how that will affect you negatively with my children. I grew up in The Bahamas not even knowing my own race until I was almost in high school. Speaking of school, I shouldn’t have to worry about if my children might get shot dead during Science class. That’s sick! I’m used to fire drills, not bomb threats or school shooting drills. US laws are deeply flawed and mental illness is a major issue. For a country that claims to be the ‘best’ in the world, how does it rank as one of the most depressed?
When I left the US, selling our home, saying goodbye to wonderful friends, I was also saying goodbye to the conveniences of any and everything I wanted at my fingertips. I had become accustomed to a life of entitlement. Honestly, I was hesitant. What if it’s 1am and I needed to go grocery shopping? What if I needed a cute outfit at the last minute? Where would I go for my massages?……..so many first world concerns! Well, almost 2 years has passed and I grocery shop between the hours 7am – 9pm – imagine that! I wear whatever is in my closet to that last minute event- imagine that! And guess what – I found the best massage therapist on this side of the Atlantic Ocean right here in Grand Bahama! I still maintain my first world needs – wax appointments, workout trainer, pedicures, and indulging the best desserts on my cheat day(s), to name a few. My point is, I am not missing out on anything!
This is my story. This is where we find peace. We co-own our business with a mission and atmosphere that allows for positive quality time with family. We date frequently, finding some of the best restaurants from Bahamian sushi spots to Italian cuisine and some of the coolest activities from scuba diving with the sharks and kayaking through the mangroves to a 4D movie theatre experience. Our children are adopting the Bahamian culture – the discipline and education, the colourful music, the tropical food, the beautiful dialogue and dialect. They are getting sunburned while building sandcastles and learning to swim in our clear water turquoise beaches. They are understanding that the world is much bigger and more complexed than just one country or one point of view. They are learning to empathize with others from many walks of life, not seeing any one way the superior way. They have a fair chance at life, living with no worries, as they should.
Hurricane, pandemic, or apocalypse, I will forever choose The Bahamas!