On Being a Short-Timer

We are starting to think of ourselves as ‘short timers’ ; people who have very little time left until they leave for the next assignment, or retire, or something like that. Ever since we made the decision to leave a year early, we have been living life in a strange combination of ‘fast forward’ and ‘pause’. It is really mind twisting, gut wrenching, just a little off-putting, and in a word: stressful. Oh, and here’s another word: emotional. Stress and emotion. Yes.  A year sounds like a long time until you begin ticking off all the things that need accomplishing during that amount of time.

Spring Frittilaria in the garden. Only one more year to take garden photos. So be prepared.

I know lots of our readers have “been there, done that” and I wish, every single day, that we could just take that experience out of their brains and insert it into ours so that we would not have to go through this part of the transition. That would certainly make things a lot easier, but we all have to experience our own suffering on this earth.

“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must           walk the path.” Gautama Buddha, Sayings Of Buddha

Apparently there are no short cuts, so have patience while we suffer out loud on our blog. And also while we share the moments that are less about suffering and more about excitement, or at least peace and contentment.

Pulsatilla in the rock garden.

It’s true what the Buddhists say: all suffering is about attachment and about NOT living in the ‘now’.  So very, very true. I am trying to stay mindful of my own process of attachment and letting go and let me tell you: it is exhausting. On the one hand, I am holding an attitude of gratitude every day that I have had the opportunity to own this beautiful home, to sit in comfort in any room I choose, to have a garden that is lovely to behold and a joy to all who experience it.

On the other hand each time I fill my heart with that gratitude, thoughts come in about how difficult it is to keep this home clean, that I am tired of noticing what work needs to be done, that the garden is really too big for me to easily maintain anymore, that our children will never want to own this home for themselves. And mostly that my husband has to work full time in order for us to afford to live here. And that leads me to the ‘knowing’ that we will have to let it go somehow.

A giant cement leaf. I made it years ago.

So I wander room to room asking myself the one simple question of each item: does this bring me joy to own? And as time goes by, there are fewer and fewer objects that really do bring me joy to own. And I guess that’s a good thing. Maybe by the time we are ready to move out, it will be easy.

It’s interesting, this setting of a date of June 2016. It is a little like getting a death sentence. Not that anyone is going to actually die here, but in that suddenly I began to feel the reality of this decision in a way that makes me want to hurry up and do the things I’ve always wanted to do in my land life, as though I will never have another one. Completely irrational, but there it is. So I began taking voice lessons, which I have been loving. I started playing my piano again, which I am loving. And I started doing art again. Also loving. Don’t ask me what I’m going to do with all these huge canvasses when we move aboard. I have no idea. But I was feeling like I was living life ‘on hold’, waiting until that day we untie the dock lines.

And that’s just stupid and it made the suffering/attachment part of this whole transition much worse. All work and no fun. Bad idea.  Life is for now. I’ll figure out what to do with the canvases later. So I began saying ‘yes’ in my heart to all the things I had been saying ‘no’ to because we would someday in the future be leaving. Our future is not guaranteed. I do not want to die having not sung my song, or painted my painting. To me, that is just as important as doing our trip. And if because of some horrible twist of fate our trip didn’t happen, I would still have my art and my music.

It’s possible my Virgin will be in storage. I’m not yet ready to let this go.

And what is Mike doing while I am meandering through my own mind gearing up for the day we dig ourselves out of this place, sorting things out, doing big yard projects, painting and singing? He is working like a dervish on Galapagos, getting her ready for the trip this summer, which, by the way, cannot come soon enough for us. Last time you heard from Mike, he had his head down in the refrigeration space. That little project is stalled temporarily because the holding plate was just a fraction of an inch too large to fit in the space provided. So he had to send that back and the Cool Blue people are making one specifically for our space. Their customer service so far has been so good it has given us hope for the human race.

While he was working on that, he assigned me the sanding and painting of the top of the hard dodger, which I completed. Thank God he feels free to assign me tasks, a new and useful concept in our marriage. Otherwise I would stand helplessly just trying not to get in his way. Once the paint was dry enough, he installed our new solar panels from Renogy. They are lovely to behold but now the handholds for the dodger top will need repositioning. I’m sure he will get a post in about all of that in his spare time.

Mount Rainier, in pink.

In yet another money-spree we’ve measured for a stack pack, which we are ordering from Jamie Gifford of Sailing with Totem fame. Jamie is a sail maker and he helps support his family of 5 aboard their boat S/V Totem by selling sails and sail covers. We are glad to throw business his way and hope he can help us out with other things in the future. We will both be thrilled to have a stack pack sail cover for our huge mainsail. While Galapagos has a full set of canvas, it’s a PITA to take the cover off and put it back on. We will be much more likely to use that mainsail on short excursions if we don’t have to wrestle that sail cover to the ground first. Plus, no storing it below. YAY!

Measuring for the stack pack.

So we are both busy with life. Every day I do my best to remain grateful for both the home we have and for the boat we have and the trip that is in our future. Every day I am amazed at Mike’s focus and how he works all day, then comes home and does other things. He will sleep for a month when this is over.

I do wish I could fast-forward to the place where we have adjusted to life aboard, don’t really miss our house, have said all the goodbyes that will break our hearts for awhile, and are excited about the adventure we are on. But since that is not possible, I just put one foot in front of the other, believing with all my heart that someday I will arrive at that destination.

On a February day.

On a February day.

22 thoughts on “On Being a Short-Timer

  1. Boy, do I understand! While I didn’t have a problem with “letting go” of the house and selling it, I can’t wait to get past the last downsizing from our condo that we’re renting to the boat .. and like you said, I can’t wait to get through the “see you laters” with friends and family. Mainly … I can’t wait to get past the time in the boatyard and the projects! See you out there someday!

    • You guys are much further ahead now than you were this time last year! It’s nice that your daughter is married and settled. I think that must help in the transition. Yes, hopefully we will see you out there some day! I have to remember that when we leave it’s not ‘goodbye’. It’s ‘see you later’. Occasionally that truth is kind of lost on me.

  2. Another lovely and thought provoking post. Plus a flower picture – yay! I liked what you said about being assigned tasks and that was a new thing for you guys. Its been a new dynamic for us at times too. We’ve always had separate jobs before, but now we have to work more as a team and often one person needs to be in charge and delegate.

    • I totally need to be told what to do in terms of getting this boat ready. I’m beginning to come to terms with just how very much Mike is going to be ‘in charge’. That is a huge challenge for my oldest-child-Leo self.

  3. I’m so excited to hear about the progress you guys are making towards leaving! It has been incredible out here so far and I just know you are going to love it. We have met soooo many people who will be like you and retired out here having a blast for years and years and years while just sailing around to different places. Many of them talk about leaving their new found friends only to meet up with them again somewhere else.

    I read your blog whenever there is a new post and i’m really sorry for not commenting more frequently. I know how much I like comments on our blog and you deserve the encouragement too! It incredible that once we left we realized just how little we really need. We don’t even need everything on the boat right now. But you have set a date and that is SOO exciting:) I hope we get meet up one day, in Mexico or maybe in the Pacific.

    Stay with it and give Mike our best.

    Take care,
    Dani (and Tate)

  4. Have you read Marie Kondo’s organizing book? It’s the one that’s been sitting on the best seller list lately. A lot of what she says is “as expected” but when she gets into the emotional side of letting go of stuff she starts to get interesting. Highly recommended for helping to make those harder choices! She’s brilliant at re-defining things. http://www.amazon.com/The-Life-Changing-Magic-Tidying-Decluttering/dp/1607747308/ref=lh_ni_t?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER

    • Hi Sue, Yes, I have read that book and found it to be well worth the read. We had slightly different ways of phrasing ‘the question’, (I think she says ‘Does this item spark joy?’. a much more poetic way of saying it I think) but essentially it’s the same question. I like how she wants people to actually put their hands on each object and make that choice immediately, not thinking too hard about it. I also was a little chagrined to read her chapter on not loading friends or relatives with your castoffs because they don’t need them either. Great book and not your usual organizing book at all. I fold my sweaters much differently now!

      • (For me, it’s that I fold my socks differently now, haha) I also like the touching each item idea as well as her discussion on the energy or state of the unloved items.
        It’s actually hard NOT to give family things-especially if they want to be helpful. I ended up with lots of extra stuff I didn’t really want when my MIL was downsizing and sad no one wanted her things-so I took home more of them. It’s a PITA now, but it made her feel good at the time…I had some interesting discussions about this with my family when I was sorting my mom’s stuff out.

  5. Great post that comes at a time when I’m suffering from similar symptoms: fast forward and pause, trying to balance frustration with the gratitude-attitude and TRYING to stay zen as we prepare for a new boat and a launch date that seems to be continually disappearing over the horizon. It’s impossible (or at least in very poor taste!) to complain to family and friends about these sorts of luxury problems, so it is comforting to read that we’re not alone. Bon courage ! – Maria and Patrick, soon (?) to be on S/V Mareda.

    • Thank you for posting and I look forward to reading your blog. It’s nice to know that others are in a similar transition because yes, you are right, it’s a little hard to complain about what we are doing since it is definitely something most people cannot relate to. We are fortunate that everyone in our ‘sphere of influence’ is completely supportive of this and encouraging when the going gets rough emotionally.

  6. It’s so exciting to read your blog and realize all the things you have to do to get ready for this adventure! You and Mike will have so much fun! Who knows, this could turn into a new journey or a new nomad existence where your boat is your home, as is each port you stop at! Lifetime wanderers of the world! So fun!

    • It definitely could, Mary. Many people begin to think of their boat as their home. It will certainly be ours for awhile. Who knows for how long?

  7. I can so relate. We bought our boat last May, and are trying to divest ourselves of the land based stuff right now. We were just commenting on how scary, yet exciting this time was. I have feelings of “what the heck am I doing?”, and “I can’t wait to get back to the boat!”. Each loved item that is sold, or given away, is an emotional tug, but it’s getting easier to let go as the momentum increases, and the floor space in the house seems to get bigger. The goal is to leave an empty house behind with the realtor, and we get permanently installed on the vessel. Our timeframe is flexible, but we want to be onboard in early May.

    Galapagos is a lovely boat, I enjoy seeing the improvements others are making to give me ideas. Also thanks for your insightful posts.

    • Thank you so much for your lovely comment, Donna! We do love to hear from people who are going through the same transition as we are. It helps to know others understand the choices we are making and are ahead of us enough to offer encouragement. We hope to move aboard next spring, so we have another year in the house, but your goal sounds like a good one. I hope if we sell, which is the likely scenario at this point, we will get it done before we leave. Actually we will have to. Looking forward to seeing your blog!

        • This is always discussed on the women’s sailing Facebook group as well. sometimes it feels a little like if we don’t just dump everything and go then we’re not really serious about this thing. But I prefer to do things my own way and don’t want to start over from scratch at our age if we decide after a year or two that we’ve had enough. By the way, if you are interested in joining Women Who Sail let me know and I’ll have an invitation sent to your email address. It’s a pretty decent group and very active, for women only, and everyone is a boater of some kind. Glad you enjoy the blog! I have subscribed to yours and wanted to leave several comments, especially on your lovely boat, but the comment form would not work.

          • I joined the Women who Sail on Facebook yesterday! Thanks for the information. And thanks for letting me know about the comment problem, we will definitely look into it. Partner in crime thinks it may be limited to Google +, so we will see what the settings are. I really WANT to receive comments from readers.

  8. I’m glad you have your blog as a space to share the roller coaster feelings you must be going through! And that you have access to so many folks who have walked this path ahead of you. Having a dream come true is powerful magic!

    Let us know if you need an extra set of hands!

    • Thank you, Kristin! I am hopeful that 2 years from now i will read this blog and think ‘why ever did I make that so hard?’. And speaking of extra hands, I believe you will be moving down here soon! So let us know, too, what we can do to support that!

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