This year we are celebrating the holiday season in new and different ways; ways that do not include huge amounts of stressful preparation culminating in an avalanche of activity of seismic proportions. This lack of hurriedness gives me time to reflect and be grateful on this day of Thanksgiving.
This is a time of deep, lasting change for us as a couple, as individuals, as a family. Anyone who is considering taking up cruising should read that sentence again and let the meaning sink in. It’s not something to skim over. The depth of the change is something to realize and hold; to observe and accept with as much grace as possible. We are saying ‘goodbye’ to what we know in almost every way on almost every level. While that is exciting, it also fills me with awe for the power of the hold our comfort zone has over us.
It’s very easy for people to say, ‘ Oh how exciting for you! Just do it! Go Now! Just drop everything and go! Just sell the house! Just trust that it will work out! Just…just…just.’. But when you have worked a lifetime creating a life you already feel good about, disentangling oneself from that life is going to take time and perseverance. I get frustrated when other people minimize the physical and emotional toll this life change takes. Then I get frustrated with myself for making this harder than it has to be; at least I think I do that sometimes. This is not about complaining, or wishing we’d made another choice or not believing it’s worth it. It’s just about being real about it and not sugar coating it and acknowledging how hard it is. Want to go cruising? Have a traditional home and family life you’ve invested in all your adult life? Don’t have 30 more good years ahead of you where you have time to regroup if you make a mistake? Get ready to ride those waves of uncertainty and fear for a long time.
I’m writing this so that in the future, when another middle aged couple meets us and says, ‘We want to go cruising, too.’, I will treat this wish of theirs with the respect it deserves and not short change their experience by denying the depth of it. I don’t ever want to say to someone, ‘Just drop everything (you’ve ever worked for) and go.’ Because on some level that denies how rich and wonderful the life they’ve already been leading has been; as though they have made some kind of mistake by living it that way. If your life sucks, it’s going to be real easy to say goodbye to it. But if your life is good, don’t expect it to be that easy until you get to the other side of the divide.
No life is perfect, but we’ve had it pretty good. For me, the gratitude I feel is in direct opposition to the emotional roller coaster. I’m ready to get off this thing. I’ve never been crazy about roller coasters. They feel dangerous to me. Still, as we near the end of our 5 year cunning plan, it sometimes amazes me how far we’ve come and all the things we’ve accomplished. I still get astounded by the prospect of actually pulling this off. Also terrified. Astounded. Excited. Terrified. Happy. Grieved. Exhausted. Ecstatic. Over and over and over. Can I just stop already? It’s bloody exhausting having all the feels all the time.
As we gear up to move aboard the week before Christmas, I am soaking in the goodness that is being home with our kids for one last holiday season before the big transition to the cruising life. We have both of our offspring home with their significant others. The house is crowded, but happy. The sounds of laughter, the jokes, the cuddles on the sofa, the walks with the dog, snuggles with the demanding cat, the cooking of food, the view from the windows as late season light filters through leafless branches, the sheer beingness of togetherness… all these things and more I want recorded permanently on my soul.
I am so grateful we have the freedom to make this change, that we are some of the lucky few in this world who have the resources, both external and internal, to go and explore. I am grateful for my hard-working visionary husband, without whom this would absolutely not be happening. (Can I put that in all caps?) He’s a brave renaissance man. Without his sticking it out at his job for over 20 years, we would not have the money to go cruising until social security kicked in. We don’t want to wait that long. Life’s already a gamble.
To be free of jobs to go sailing at this point in our lives does not come without risk. I am grateful that we’ve both had careers that, for the most part, we’ve enjoyed. I’m trying to be brave in the face of a considerable decrease in income for some years, and trusting it will be enough. I recently let go of my professional website, which went without much fanfare but which marked a considerable turning point for me. We’re both ‘short timers’ now. It feels weird. You don’t want to be in my head on that one. I’m just sticking with the gratitude on this and ignoring the chorus in the background.
I am grateful for my family, who is supportive and understanding of the fact that we need to do this. I am grateful for my mom, who wants us to go because she didn’t get to and she understands what drives this dream. I am grateful for my sister who also understands and has plans of her own to live on a boat some day. I am grateful for our children, already world explorers themselves, who have led the way for us and keep us assured they will be alright. I am grateful for their partners, Dan and Jill, who give them love and companionship in what is sometimes a hard world.
I am also grateful to the Universe for providing us with the lovely, sturdy, safe S/V Galapagos. She’s an awesome boat and she already knows her way around an ocean or two. Truly, when we were looking at boats, a boat like Galapagos was beyond my wildest dreams. Some days I still cannot believe it.
I am also grateful for Foss Harbor Marina, a place we will be calling ‘home’ shortly. I am grateful for the friends we already have there and look forward to being their neighbors. I appreciate so much that the marina folks have found a spot for us just at the right time. Mike’s commute will be so much easier from Tacoma, and I won’t have a commute at all since I work from the boat.
Our plan is to begin our move aboard on December 21, the darkest night of the year; the winter solstice. It’s a significant day as each day after that sees more light of the sun. I always think of this as the start of the new year, a chance for a new beginning, regardless what the calendar says. It’s fitting that we make this move on such a night, when the shadows are strong and dark and filled with possibilities.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, wherever you are, however you celebrate. I really appreciate you, the people who willingly take time to read our blog and say hello.