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Greetings from Boracay, Philippines!

This just in: working from a beach is not nearly as glamorous as I imagined. It's hot, it's humid, I'm sweaty, it's too bright, I can't see my screen, and sand is crawling into my keyboard.


Boracay, Philippines 2015 © Ellany Lea

A Matter of Perspective

I'm used to landing in big cities, arriving at my AirBnB early evening, resting, then being ready for next day coaching and/or adventuring.

Boracay was different. I landed, had long bus ride through barf-inducing winding roads, got attacked by ferocious mosquitos while waiting at the port, took another ferry, and needed another taxi. Along the way, got asked "Are you here by yourself?" by the airport attendant, the ferry attendant, the taxi driver, and my AirBnB host.

Hadn't lost my shit yet.

I picked up the guidebook in my room: bbq ribs, booze cruises, couples massages, romantic sunset photos and wedding planning. WTF, I'm at a couples island?!? I hate this place.


Defaulting to blame

Given my soft nature, I don't offload my frustration onto others. My default is/was to silently blame and resent. So I blamed my travel agent for picking this place. (I love you E, you're the greatest, it's not you, it's me.) I blamed Google for showing me photos of white sandy beaches without mentioning that there's nothing else. ​I blamed myself for not following my intuition to go to Cebu or Manila.

And the internet is slow. As an introvert, being connected online is my lifeline. And as a digital nomad with a coaching practice, I need to be online. I hate this place. But I hadn't lost my shit yet.

Friendship makes the world go round!

Amazing Problem to Have

I quickly realized my neurosis and FaceTime'd a friend. M listened with love and responded, "Sounds. Like. An. AMAZING problem to have. Go throw some sand around. Realize it does nothing. Then lay the f*ck down." We both busted out laughing and carried on about our day. 

Lessons Learned:

  • Always give myself full permission to rant, feel frustrated, and express my emotions. Even if it's at the smallest things.
  • Quickly reach out to a loving friend, ask for permission to rant, and get things off my chest immediately. No more festering, no more lone wolfing, no more beating myself up.
  • Friendship makes the world go round! <3


A Watery Grave

I went sunset paddle boarding. I had my brand new iPhone 6s sealed in a high grade water proof case, around my neck. And by the end, my shiny new phone is either in its watery grave at the bottom of the ocean or in the greasy palms of a thief.

<insert inconsolable sob, with side dish of regret, beating self-up, and pulverizing self into a pulp>

Hadn't lost my shit yet.

Boracay, Philippines 2015 © Ellany Lea


People Laugh at the Hopeful

Next morning, I summed up the courage to ask for help. (This whole trip has been a never ending test on asking for help. I hate this place.)

I asked my local travel agent if I could hire divers for an hour. You know, for search and rescue. She laughed.

I went to her recommended dive shop to ask for search and rescue help. They laughed.

The shop pointed to 4 men/divers sitting in white plastic chairs under a palm trees. I explained my situation. They laughed.

Two or three years ago, the laughing would have crushed my soul, crushed my hope, crushed my entire existence. Having been bullied, shamed for being too smart, ostracized for being too accomplished and cut down to size for being fearless, I would have imploded into nothingness.


GirL Vs. World

Today, I just stood there like a buffoon, with ear-to-ear grin of hope and optimism. You can't crush me with your mockery. I see now that laughing is a mask for, "I don't understand you. I won't even try. I wish I was a better person. But I am not."

World: You're being ridiculous. Your phone is long gone. The ocean currents are strong. Even if someone found it, they'll sell it rather than return it to you. The divers will swindling you. They're probably mocking you right now in their mother tongue.

Me: Here's $30 USD. Let's go search and rescue!

The men suited up. More and more people gathered around the plastic chairs. They spoke Tagalog and all I heard was, "something, something, iPhone, something, <insert more laughing>. This repeated for 4 more rounds of laughing before we headed out. I hate this place.

Hadn't lost my shit yet.


Boracay, Philippines 2015 © Ellany Lea

Triggers Are Always Unexpected

Squeezed between the two divers (3 people on 1 motorbike), we rode to the beach, me in a sleeveless sun dress, bare legs, flip flops, no helmet, wind in my hair, weeeeee!

They asked me why I didn't come first thing in the morning. Well, I was too busy crying over the loss of my safety blanket, represented by my iPhone. Let's face it, the world is not a safe place for a female solo traveler.

The loss triggered a memory of when I was 3, which triggered an emotional avalanche of not having felt safe for the last 30 years, which triggered a victim spiral of not having been taken care of for the last 3 decades.


Hope Floats

Once at the beach, they made me rent a paddle board again to show them where the phone was lost. I wasn't properly dressed, no swim wear.

World: You’re being swindled. You know that, right?

Me: (shouting from my paddle board) To infinity and beyooond!!!

In the stillness of the water, with each glide of the paddle, I felt so, so, so grateful that my parents immigrated to Canada so that their kids could have a better life. Their child rearing was pretty f*cked up, but it was a very brave thing they did nonetheless.

I mean, I’m walking on water above Philippine soil. And thanks to my "rice paddies" skin, I didn't suffer lobster-like consequences that my porcelain doll friends (whom I always dreamed of being) would have. Hee.

As I had my communion with the ocean, got lost in the sound of the strokes of water, I felt myself more and more ready to let go... Not of my iPhone, but of hope. My divers said no luck. I sent them back in for another 20min. I wasn't ready yet. They came up a 2nd time, still no luck. I sent them back in for another 10min. I wasn't ready yet.


Boracay, Philippines 2015 © Ellany Lea

Letting Hope Go

And eventually, I was ready. I was ready to let go of hope... the hope that my childhood conditioning could have been different... the hope that my sense of safety and trust hadn't been stripped away from me so early in life.

I all had nothing to do with my iPhone. It had everything to do with what it represneted.

It was about letting go of the hope that it could have been different. It was about forgiveness.

I lost my shit.

Forgiveness is letting go of the hope that the past could have been different.

World: The guy who owns the paddle board shop just asked how much you'd pay as a reward for your iPhone. These scoundrels probably found and sold your phone already.

Me: (shouting from the motorbike) I've made a new BFF with my diver. We're going to tour the island together. Weeeeee!

I refuse to believe the worst in people. I believe the best in people. You can’t crush that belief. Many have tried, and failed. Moot point. Even if the whole thing was a ploy from a group of bored guys, $30 is a suuuuuper cheap way to learn to let go of hope and to forgive what wasn't. I mean, I pay my psychotherapist almost $200/hr for these kind of lessons.


We are feeling beings who think

Brené Brown says that we are not thinking beings who feel, we are feeling beings who think. I'm proud to be a living breathing example of a feeling being who thinks.

It took a $30 round-about way to feel and process my feelings. Then, and only then, was I able to think and call the insurance company, get police reports, go to treasury office to pay for the report, arranging transport various wild goose chase locations, arranging for a new phone, etc.


Miracles Trump Plans

The best part is that my BFF is already booked on a flight to meet me in Bali. So she'll bring me my new iPhone in 4 days. What were the chances?!?

I will sleep so soundly tonight knowing that I tried, knowing that I lived without regret, got out of my comfort zone and asked for help. I'm proud that I honored my process, no matter how illogical it seems to the outside world, identified the root of my emotional rumble.

What a reminder that every time things don't go our way, the Universe is course-correcting us to put friends over isolation, people over tasks, peace over money, self-care over to-do lists, and feeling over doing.

With infinite grace,

xo, Ella

Women who are free will set the world free

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Ellany LeaAUTHOR • When Ellany said yes to freedompreneurship, she had no idea it'd turn into a spiritual quest of reclaiming the 1,000 pieces of her soul.