Last year, on this day, we were further south on our sailing trip than we are this year. This year we are planning to sail south as soon as a weather window appears. But this year we are only planning to get the boat to the Norfolk area, put her to bed in a boatyard, and fly back to Colorado to fix and flip a fire-damaged house that we bought while we were there in October. The house is in Grand Junction and has been unoccupied since May. It needs a lot of fixing, but we feel up to the task. When it's all fixed up and ready to be occupied by humans again, we'll sell it and either look for another house to fix and flip or go back to the boat for some more sailing adventures. This is nothing like our original plan when we sold the house we were living in back in May of 2016 which feels like an entire lifetime ago. One of the main lessons I've learned in the past year and a half is that plans .... change. A lot. And that's OK.
That night, 15 years ago, when I ran down the hill from my little Glenwood house to Farland's coffee shop in a froth of excitement mixed with abject terror to tell her that I was going to meet this guy for dinner that I had had such a devastating crush on for some time, but that it wasn't a date, I couldn't have imagined this life. My entire being buzzed with fear and excitement whenever I saw him, but I thought that was just attraction hormones. Maybe it was, but maybe my future self was sending me messages--- your life will never be boring with this guy.
It's October 6th, 2017. It's been 15 years and 2 days since my first "not date" with Adam. I'm sitting on a sailboat in Maine. It's raining and cold outside. Adam is working on a small diesel leak on our new-to-us Sprinter Van which will be our future land home (it gets 3 to 4 times better mpg than our old RV, which we sold last week.) As soon as we get the van travel ready, the boat all buttoned up, and our clothes and personal items packed, we'll be headed for Colorado, as quickly as we can. The boat will stay here in Maine while we are in Colorado, at least until early November, when we hope to be back and starting our sail south. We had tentatively planned to spend the winter in Puerto Rico, but we don't know yet if Puerto Rico will be feeling ready to have visitors. So, I know what my future looks like for the next, oh, say, 4 weeks. After that... who knows. Sailing south for sure. Probably. Maybe. Most likely.
Right now, what we have is:
* our love for each other
* our health, creativity, ingenuity, curiosity, flexibility, & mostly good attitudes most of the time
* the love, friendship, kindness, and encouragement of so many wonderful friends and family members
* a very strong, well-designed, sea-worthy sailboat & all the things we need to live in it & sail it
* a sprinter cargo van
* a jeep (for sale)
* camping gear - tent, sleeping pads, sleeping bags, jet boil, assorted camping cooking items
* two folding Brompton bicycles (they really help when traveling by boat, each place you arrive without ground transportation- it can be so nice to have them)
* our phones, cameras, & computers
* personal affects - clothes, toiletries, etc
* some books, art supplies, musical instruments, and a darn good yoga mat and a couple of yoga teacher certifications
* a collection of sailing stories
* passports, driver's licenses, social security cards, etc (these matter more than we often think about - it's tough to be a human without the proper documentation these days)
* insurance - health, jeep, sprinter, renter
* a lot of stellar AirBNB reviews
* a good start toward Captain's licenses for both of us
* 78 acres of undeveloped land in the Wet Mountain Valley of Colorado (for sale)
* a modest self-directed IRA retirement account
Things I really wish we had:
* an actual insurance document from the boat insurance broker who said (last week) that he would send me a copy of the policy and an invoice
* an answer from the seller of a fixer-upper house in Grand Junction, Colorado that we made an offer on, for retirement investment purposes
* just a smidge more liquid assets, to contribute toward a greater sense of security (security -- what an illusion, but I still crave it now and then)
I know it's taboo to talk about money and assets in some circles, but I needed to do an honest accounting of what we have and people ask me all the time, "How did you do it?" We haven't really done it yet. We are still doing it. We are pretty much out of the liquid funds that we had from selling the house. Selling the jeep will help. Selling the property could help with liquid funds and build up the IRA a little, too.
Traveling by sailboat isn't as super cheap as I imagined it might be. Dock fees or mooring fees can add up. Boat insurance for this boat is not cheap. And income is, so far, sporadic and somewhat meager. We want to go through the Panama Canal sometime in the next year and that will be a big expense too. So, at the moment, we're OK, but I do have some anxiety about how we are depleting resources we maybe should be saving.
I have started to put up photos on some stock photo websites. I have written a few good sailing stories, but not submitted them to any publishers, yet. We are still working toward Captain's licenses so we can do crewed charters in our boat in the future. I created a Patreon account, but haven't figured out what exactly to do with it... ideas welcome.
It's been an astounding 15 years together. I can't imagine life without Adam, who all my friends and family members love too and who can fix almost anything (including some of my dark moods) with his special blend of patience, steadiness, curiosity, and ingenuity.
I can't imagine what the next 15 years will bring. And then the next 15. And the next. I only hope and yes, pray, that our love for each other mixed with our synergistic blend of curiosity, spontaneity, patience, and mostly good attitudes most of the time, will take us amazing places we haven't yet even imagined. I know there will always be friends waiting in those places. Strangers turn into friends so quickly in this life and old friends turn up in the most unlikely places. We'll be watching for you. ❤️
PS. There will, one day, be an addendum to this post, with a photo album full of memories, full of friends.
Do you feel that ache too? The one that arises when you are faced with some unspeakable beauty in the world while simultaneously being aware of several unbearable cruelties? All I can do is feel it and keep breathing. It feels sometimes as if it will break me, but my heart keeps beating.
Dear, dear humans, please, please, please be kind to one another and to the other species, too. There is such magic in kindness. Wherever you are, I wish you wholeness and a sense of belonging so strong that you cannot ever be made to be unkind.
Goodnight. I wish us all the best wild beautiful dreams. Perhaps I'll meet some of you in one.
I dreamed about Robin Williams last night. He was deeply sad with flares of anger. All of his jokes had a flavor of bitterness.
The setting was a trailer house with add-ons. My whole family was there. It was a kind of family reunion in a barely passable space, but we kept finding small good details to guard ourselves against the general dismalness of it.
None of us asked him the obvious, "We thought you were dead, Robin? Why are you here?" He just kept showing up at random times and when he did we all just listened gently. He was angry and sad about a lot of things: mostly greed and unkindness... the kind that show up as polluted water sources and suffering children, indifference to refugees. He was so bitter it was painful to be near him. You wanted to hug him and make it better, but he wanted greater action than that.
He wanted all of us to insist on, demand, real change.
I don't want to disappoint dream Robin Williams. Or my granddaughter who turned one year old just the other day. I want to be able to tell her the story of how we rose to the challenges and found ways to really care for each other. All of us. All 7+ billion of us.
I want to tell the story, one day, about how our hearts grew several sizes, like the Grinch. How we began opening borders and welcoming each other in. How we learned to grow abundant gardens of the most delightful and nourishing foods alongside wild flowers next to impossibly beautiful forests. How we built longer tables with the wood we had been planning to build fences with.
I want to tell the story, one day soon, about how we stopped using single use plastic the very second we found out that it was polluting our drinking water and becoming more ubiquitous than life in the oceans.
Next time Robin Williams shows up in my dream, I want to be able to cheer him up.
When my granddaughter is older, I want to be able to tell her how we became a more compassionate and caring society, not offer her excuses about lack of funding or political will.
To that end, what can I do, right now, today? Who do I need to ask the obvious questions of? What are we going to do about these very real, very big problems? Which doors I have to knock on? What numbers do I have to dial? Who do I have to bring with me on this quest? What riddles will we have to solve?
One little thing I can do today....
I vow never to forget my water bottle or coffee cup or utensils again. And if I do forget them, I'll go back and get them. No more single use plastic. Not even coffee cup lids.
And dammit, I'm writing a letter to every restaurant I ever see that puts straws in the water glasses. Ggrrr.
But that's just the low hanging fruit. What else must I do? Must we do?
How do we convince each other to fight for public transportation and safe bike lanes and higher fuel efficiency standards with the same passion and dedication that the NRA fights for gun rights?
How do we grow our hearts and our courage and let our passion for each other and the planet infect those who want to stay small and scared?
What if we applied the energy that it takes to debate what makes a perfect dry cappuccino to the problems of climate change?
I really don't want to have to face a bitter Robin Williams in my dreams again.
Who will go on this quest with me? We've got to protect the life support systems and morale on our Earth space ship. Let's get to work.
What is the point? Of traveling? Of leaving my beautiful, comfortable, safe home & stunningly gorgeous community? Of taking myself away from my sister, my niece, nephews, son, granddaughter, mom, & dear, dear friends?
I've spent the past year seeing new places, meeting new people, learning new skills, & quite often longing for home & safety.
What is the point? I ask this sometimes during moments of frustration with boat life and constant traveling. Sometimes I ask it of Adam with a note of accusation in my voice, like this is all his fault. (It's not. We decided together to do this.)
What do I miss? Partially I miss the knowing what my purpose and place was. What did I know about my purpose? It was to Love. Not to feel love, but to love- verb style. To love the kind of love that is a synonym for listening and seeking to understand rather than just seeking to be understood. To love the kind of love that stands up for those less fortunate than I. To love the kind of love that seeks to protect the wild and lonely places, the kind of love that cares for all sentient beings.
And just now, today, reminiscing about what was really so great about my old, Colorado life, I realize that my purpose is still the same. It sometimes seems harder to love "strangers" and "strange" places, or to love when I feel out of sorts, but it's not impossible.
I asked Adam, "What are we really working towards?" What's the point? I asked just a few days ago. I've been internally struggling with various versions of this question for awhile... feeling superfluous, extra, unnecessary.
Just this moment it came to me. My purpose is still the same. To Love. Verb love -- Listen, Learn, Care. That's all.
We have a home base for the summer. We're tidying up the boat, getting it guest ready.
Yesterday I realized, again, that a few of the people I count as absolutely indispensable friends, we met through AirBNB. It made me excited to wonder who we might meet this summer. And it helped with boat cleaning motivation.
Thanks to facebook for the memory of where we were one year ago. (Lake Dillon , Colorado, Prospector Campground) It sparked some good reflections and some new insights... still mixed with the pain of longing. Which, I realize, might never go away. How could I have such a love affair with a place and it's people? And why would I turn it into a kind of unrequited love, on purpose? Not just for novelty. I used to profess my love for the whole planet and all it's sentient beings. And I did that without even having been to all the places or having met all the sentient beings. So maybe the point of all this is to make my love bigger and deeper and stronger and truer? Maybe.
Thank you, Jeannie and Tay and Mary, (and Tammy and Jordan and Vi) for helping me find these insights through some recent conversations we've had. I love you each, very specifically and exuberantly.
I just spent hours, yes hours, trying to figure out how best to get this video from my big camera onto the internet. Ah, technology, how I love you, and how you challenge me.
I also looked back through all my old blog posts. The first blog I posted on this domain (www.circumdance.com) was posted on April 2nd, 2016. That was about a month after I bought the domain and set up a SquareSpace account, in the hopes that we would soon sell our house and start our big adventure. At the time, we had a goal to get our house on the market by April 11th, 2016. Instead, we sold the house on April 11th. (Oh, sh*%! This just got real.) I didn't have any travel stories or sailing stories to tell on that day. Instead, I had an idea. It was the Confabulation Challenge. (https://www.circumdance.com/dawnsmusings/2016/4/2/confabulation-challenge)
"So what's the challenge?
Just for today (or for as long as you like) tell yourself something fabulous about you.
You are a creative, wise, witty, lighthearted, healthy, strong, flexible, loving, creative, sexy genius.
Now spend the rest of the day "remembering" all the ways this is true. Prove it to yourself."
Last Sunday, I made this video, while we sailed from Boston to Kittery Point, Maine.
In the time between that first post and this one, I have collected some travel stories and some sailing stories and some new, wonderful friend stories and some heartbreaking stories, too. But one thing remains the same...
I still need to choose my mirrors wisely, and to take them all with a grain of salt.
You know what I mean? Yes, I'm talking about the physical, shiny mirrors and storefronts where we all catches glimpses of our physical forms. But I'm also talking about the human mirrors -- the people I surround myself with. The ones who help me gauge how I'm doing in life. No mirror is a perfect reflection and none can show the internal processes that show up in our physical form and our behaviors, but some are definitely more accurate than others and some are just fun. Like this air vent on the boat.
When you watch the video, look at the way the ocean and clouds move in the vent and then in the background. Try not to get seasick.
I actually giggled when I made this video, I was so pleased at the effect.
Which of your human mirrors make you bubble over with glee? Have you carved out any time in your life for them lately?
Having not made significant progress toward our original destination for reasons which I will not detail at the moment and upon reconsidering the weather forecast, we have decided to spend a few days in Portsmouth. And then do smallish daysails up the coast until we arrive at Southwest Harbor, weather permitting.
We are going to call this "being smart & flexible" rather than "failing to reach our goal". Its a matter of framing and perspective. And patience.
Non-attachment, will I ever learn to embody you with ease? Boy could I use a restorative yoga class right now.
Even if meditation gives me nothing else, it gives me permission to do nothing except notice what it is like to simply be alive. It gives me time. And when I have the experience of having time, I get access to excitement about being alive. And that gives me enthusiasm for whatever it is that I am going to do that day. It gives me enthusiasm for doing whatever "have-tos" need to be done, enthusiasm for finding creative ways to do them. And it gives me access to the want-to's. It gives me time and psychic space to meet life on my own terms. <---- this paragraph inspired by just a few minutes of meditation this morning
I’m a Rocky Mountain girl becoming intimate with the Atlantic Coast of these United States of America one beach walk at a time. I’ve heard about horseshoe crabs — how they are ancient, prehistoric creatures, how they were around before the dinosaurs. I’ve heard that they cover the beaches at certain times of year. I’ve even seen a horseshoe crab or two at an aquarium. I get very excited when we are walking on a beach and we see one. But thus far, we have rarely seen a live one. The other day, while strolling down the beach in Lewes, Delaware, we saw one. Alive! But upside down. So, we helped it get righted and back out to sea. see videos
Note: I have completely rewritten the following paragraph because I was wrong about what Melanie was trying to convey AND I was utterly wrong about whether rescuing horseshoe crabs matters. It does, I thought it didn't because it was the end of their lifecycle, but I was going to keep doing it anyway. It turns out they have a 25 year life span and return to the same beach over and over again to mate. Here's a link to an article about why rescuing them when they are stranded matters: http://www.nj.com/cumberland/index.ssf/2014/05/volunteers_return_the_favor_for_horseshoe_crabs_and_shorebirds.html
The next day, I told our new friends, Melanie and Miles, about our horseshoe crab rescue and Melanie told me about a time when she and her daughter spent a week at Slaughter beach rescuing horseshoe crabs and how devastating it was to see so many of them in peril. Here's a link all about Slaughter Beach and the horseshoe crabs: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slaughter_Beach,_Delaware
Today, over a yummy vegan burger at Aleathea’s Restaurant in Cape May, New Jersey, I read a rather informative article in a local magazine, called Exit Zero, about how horseshoe crabs are crucial to the well being of certain migrating birds called Red Knots. See photo for the full article (Sorry, I don't have a photo of a Red Knot, yet). It reminded me of our rescue operation and got me excited to visit as many beaches as possible this month — a couple of hours past high tide. I’ve simply got to see this phenomenon. Stay tuned for updates. When I see more horseshoe crabs, you'll be the first to know.
Lewes, Delaware has these great bike fix-it stations at various places along the bike paths. This one came in handy for us this morning because we didn't know where the Allen wrenches had gone and Adam needed to adjust the brakes on his Brompton.
Good morning, world. Adam is having a well earned sleep after standing watch from 1 am to 5 am and I am sailing. I put up the genoa all by myself (usually Adam is at least in the cockpit with me). Feeling a wee sense of accomplishment. Perhaps we'll make a sailor of me yet.
It's sunset and we've traveled a little less than 70 miles since sunrise. No matter the wind and sea conditions on our boat at sunset and throughout the night we reef the sails (make the sail area smaller) or use just our small jib and the mizzen. If conditions change at night it can be dangerous to go on deck to take the main sail down. All night we will take turns on watch. Hopefully our trusty Monitor Wind Vane will do most of the steering, but we have to keep a lookout for other boats and hazards. We had some practice with heaving-to today when some 30+ knot gusts took us by surprise with a lot of sail up. Once we got the big genoa furled and the mainsail down we took about an hour to just chill while the boat gently rocked in the swell. All in all a good day and a pretty one. Here's to an uneventful night, just about 3 miles offshore.
Sailing offshore for 3 days and 2 nights was.....
Very hot some of the time
Quite cold some of the time
Exceptionally wet sometimes (fog)
Uncomfortable in one way of another lots of the time
A little lonely some of the time
Extremely challenging some of the time
Monotonous some of the time
It brought home in a very visceral way that the only constant is change -- that making a friend of Uncertainty is one good path to Deep Peace & Deep Joy.
The plan is to set off again tomorrow to sail offshore up to Lewes, DE. Hopefully arriving there on Thursday.
Looking forward to seeing Stephanie's Moms, Judy & Mary, and Richard & Shirley, and maybe we'll get lucky and Alex will be in town.
From Lewes, we'll look for good weather to sail to Block Island, I think.
My morning meditation was preceded by reading parts of Thich Nhat Hanh's book, How To Love
Immediately following my meditation I jotted down these notes:
How to love ---deep listening and loving speech (action) ---
Ask the loved one, do I understand? Listen.
In meditation, when legs go to sleep... do I understand you legs? Listen, learn, be skillful. Do I understand sitting meditation anatomy enough.
Instead of good and bad, more or less skillful.
Standing meditation - pain in low back (and at helm of boat and sometimes in museums or at any work that involves long periods of standing) - what do I need to learn? Do I understand low back anatomy well enough?
If the loved one is my own body, my immediate environment, my community, my state, my country, my planet, etc...
Listen deeply, communicate lovingly,
Ask, what do I need to understand? Help me understand. What would you like me to better understand? Keep asking questions lovingly and listening deeply.
Sometimes the answer is deeper than or other than words.
True, false, both, or neither?
"We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give."
This question brought up more questions for me.
* If the quote was followed by a name, would it affect our answer to the question of truth? Would it affect the thought paths or forests our individual minds would wander through? (My guess... probably.)
* How much does what we get affect what we give and vice versa? Example 1: If during our formative years we are rarely encouraged to follow our curiosity, will we be more or less likely to offer encouragement to others. Example 2: If we offer a sincere smile to everyone we meet, are we likely to receive more smiles from friends and strangers?
In our travels I've noticed that people who feel deeply secure tend to be more generous with others.
It doesn't seem to matter how much they objectively have, but how comfortable they *feel*. I've met stingy billionaires and generous paupers. And stingy paupers and generous millionaires. And mostly very generous and kind people who are neither exceptionally rich nor particularly poor.
But I'm not just talking about material wealth.
Those who are generous with their smiles and conversation and even their judgements of others' behavior or character are generally those who feel secure.
Even in myself: I have noticed over the years that I am generous with my time when I feel I have plenty of it. If I feel rushed or hurried, I can be quite inattentive of the needs of my loved ones.
Somehow all of this feels related to a struggle I've had with my own internal voices about how much I do and how important the things I do are in the big scheme of things.
Which brings me round to the question...
What do I have to give, right here, right now? What can I do right now to remove the obstacles to offering up whatever that is?
One of my obstacles is an internal judge and jury that says things like, "Not good enough. How dare you? Who do you think you are?"
On that note, I think I'll leave this here and do a little yoga and meditation now. Those voices often seem quieter after a contemplative practice.
Having an indoor day after a week of so much fun in the sun that our skin is begging for shade. Internetting. Searching for a great dock slip for our boat (and us) to call home for the summer near Acadia National Park. Exciting to think about hiking and biking and paddling and sailing in a place with ocean AND mountains this summer! Also, wondering who will come along for an offshore sail or two when we head north.
One thing I love about my life today: waking up early and watching the sunrise. I could hear the sound of the channel entrance buoy, which is at least a mile away, along with all the birds.
What's one thing you love about your life today?
Q: Where are you now?
A: Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina
Q: How long will you be there?
A: We have to be north of the Chesapeake by June 1st for insurance reasons (hurricane season). Otherwise, we have no agenda except to sail whenever/wherever we feel like sailing. It's really nice here right now, not too hot, not too cold, not too many biting bugs, and the day sailing and paddle boarding has been great this week. So.... maybe until mid May, or whenever it seems right to get sailing north.
Q: Where will you go next?
A: Most likely Maine for the summer. Looking at marinas there so maybe we can do some boat AirBNB. We might sail mostly offshore to get up to Maine.
Looks like we will be in the Wilmington area for another little while, waiting for yet another version of my new contact lens. The very lovely eye doctor that I am seeing here is not happy with the fit of any of the lenses that have been created so far.In each case she has measured, ordered, and waited for them to be delivered. When the lens arrives, I go in to her office and she looks at how it fits.All of them have touched the graft from my corneal transplant (2007) and in each case a slightly steeper lens was ordered. Today, a fourth lens was ordered and she also ordered one from a different company.
We had planned to be in Wilmington for less than a week. It's coming up on a month now.
The good news is my eye doctor really cares about the health of my eye. If I leave here wearing a contact lens that is touching my graft, it could create a scar in the long run and that would compromise my vision badly. With some things perfect is the enemy of good enough, but in this case it's worth the time it takes to get it right.
In other news, boat interior decorating is happening.
explore one word descriptions in foreign languages
listen carefully, and carelessly
* learn guitar & Uke
* learn to spell ukulele
* reread sociology textbook
* find that one radiolab episode and share it
* reread the chapter involving Andrew Jackson from The People's History of the United States, & also the part about WWII
* reread the Fall part of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
* get a yoga mat
* get a guitar strap & a book about learning classical guitar
* get a sensor brush for the camera
* learn how to sell photos and writing
* learn how to write a book
* get Neil Gaiman's book: The View from the Cheap Seats
* listen to classical guitar songs
* practice juggling
* tree pose, chair pose, plank & side plank
* make a video for Jasmine
* get that YouTube channel in order
* make a link from circumdance dot com to the YouTube channel
* read your email
* send photos to Jamie Lynn & Coach Andre from the boxing gym
* figure out how to use Lyft to get back to the boat
* practice knot tying
* learn celestial navigation
* get rid of several items from aft stateroom to make more room for guests
* clean the bilge again
* brush up conversational Spanish
* find out the rules about going to Cuba
* subscribe to New Yorker, Yes! Magazine, High County News, & ?, as soon as we have some income (submit photos / writing to ...?)
* figure out where would be best to AirBNB the boat for a couple or few months
* make a boat AirBNB listing
* boat registration / documentation
* travelers health insurance?
* read Outline and In Transit, by Rachel Cusk
* Seven Seas Cruising Association membership
* reread everything at Indivisible dot com
* get a better / deeper / broader understanding of why the US & Russian both can't keep their militaries out of Afghanistan
* call Mom
* call Jordan
* send that book to Kaysha
* thank you cards
* love letters
* conversations with elected representatives
* learn how to read newspaper and magazine subscriptions on kindle
* reread Beautiful Trouble
* read something by Helen Keller
Breathe. Love. Play. Sing. Dance. Laugh.