The joy of giving back to Bermuda
On May 12, nine years ago, I first came to Bermuda while working on a cruise ship.
The day I came ashore, I fell in love with this stunning and exquisite island – and my future husband. It was love at first sight.
On the ship, I had visited many islands before but not one of them struck me like the lightning bolt of Bermuda. It touched my soul. It spoke to me as nowhere ever had before.
On my first day here I was driving to the beach along South Shore Road with Bill and his daughter, Ava. When I saw the windblown rows of pink oleander bushes on one side of the road and the glistening turquoise water on the other, I literally screamed with delight! Overhead, two graceful Bermuda longtails danced in the pure blue sky, and that was it! The beauty of the island poured into my heart where it still resides today.
Now, after all these years, I love both the island and my new family more than I ever dreamt was possible.
So what changed in me in the last nine years?
The most important is this: I now feel that I belong here among the wonderful community on this spectacular island.
I feel I belong when I play drums with the 30 fabulous women of the Coral Beats drumming group. I feel I belong when I am walking on the street and someone I know honks at me, and waves out the window; or when I go to the store and people know and greet me. When neighbours invite me for a tea or swimming group, or when someone writes me a complimentary e-mail about my articles or says it to me in person; I feel I belong.
I never had this before in my life. When I was living in Soviet Siberia I always dreamt of escape. My free spirit did not belong there. I realised this when I was very young. Later, when I moved to the USA for graduate school and then emigrated to Canada, I still didn’t have this feeling of belonging. I tried hard to fit in, but I couldn’t. I was still an outsider, a Russian immigrant.
Everything changed for me when I came to Bermuda. I felt welcomed, accepted and appreciated. I felt the warmth and kindness of my neighbours and the support of the community. It is a wonderful feeling that nourishes my soul.
With that sense of belonging came further change. Now, I love to give back to my community. I so enjoy making Bermudians happy – whether it is at my free Laughing Club, my cancer support groups or with uplifting articles in the newspaper!
Since coming to Bermuda, I have learnt that belonging starts with giving. The more you give, the more you are recognised and appreciated. And so, begins a lovely circle in life, giving and receiving, that soon you cannot live without.
It often begins with the smallest gestures, yet over time it flowers into the most meaningful part of you. Bermudians welcomed me and, in return, I do what I can to create even more happiness here for them.
I am so grateful to belong here! I searched so long to find this!
Nina London is a certified wellness and weight-management coach. Her mission is to support and inspire mature women to make positive changes in their body and mind. Share your inspirational stories with her at www.ninalondon.com