Exerpt from the book
"Sail Into Your Dreams"
My Personal Odyssey
If one advances confidently in the direction
of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life
which he has imagined, he will meet with a
success unexpected in common hours.
—Henry David Thoreau
Surrounded by royal blue water extending beyond the horizon in all directions, no land in sight, I gaze at the path of diamonds dancing on the ocean’s surface. The sun radiating on my skin feels like a warm cashmere sweater. It is August 19, 1998, and I am on my first ocean passage of a life-transforming journey, a journey leading to a more authentic and purposeful life.
My journey to living a more purposeful life began in Seattle, Washington, where I lived with my husband, John. Unfulfilled with our lifestyle of working full time, coming home tired, and crashing in front of the TV with little energy left to pursue our passions, our souls cried out, There must be more to life!
The work we were doing stifled our creative gifts. While we loved Washington for all of its natural beauty—the green trees, freshwater lakes, and snow-covered mountains—and for the outdoor activities like hiking, camping, and skiing, we found the weather gloomy and rarely engaged in these activities. We wanted to experience life fully, not as bystanders at a football game. So, the decision was made. It was time to set sail for new horizons.
Craving more adventure and fulfillment in our lives, we began taking sailing lessons, an activity we both felt passionate about. Spending time on the ocean enlivened our spirits, causing us to dream and see that there were other possibilities for living. As our interest in sailing grew, we read magazines and books about it. Stories about couples who cruised around the world, slowing down to take time out from their modern lifestyles, inspired us. One book in particular, Maiden Voyage, by Tania Aebi, described her adventures at the age of eighteen as the first American woman and youngest person to circumnavigate the world. Discussions ensued. If these people could do it, why couldn’t we?
We began looking into options. One was crewing boats. For a minimal amount of money, we could crew on someone else’s boat and gain valuable experience while also traveling. As crew, we would share the responsibilities of navigating, helming the boat on scheduled watches, cleaning, and cooking meals. After applying for a couple of positions, we decided on a forty-six-foot sailboat in the process of circumnavigating the world. We would join it on its second leg, cruising from Fiji to Singapore for a six-month period, visiting the countries of Vanuatu, Australia, and Indonesia along the way.
After renting out our house and taking a one-year leave of absence from our employment, we up-anchored and left Seattle on June 1, 1998. Before meeting the boat, we went on a road trip for three weeks, camping out as we explored several different states, looking for a new home—one that resonated more with our souls. Driving east on I-90 through the Cascade Mountains, the sky was bright blue and sunny, the pine needles on the evergreens glistened, and a feeling of summer was in the air. My heart felt lighter and lighter the farther we traveled from the hustle of civilization and our old life. Gratitude welled within me for our choice to live adventurously and break out of the confines of our own limiting beliefs about how life should be lived. At last, we were free to follow our hearts and begin anew.
Driving through Montana, outside of Yellowstone National Park, I became aware of the majestic beauty of the snow-capped mountains and felt a tremendous connection to the natural surroundings. Reminded of my love for the mountains, I began daydreaming of living in a small cabin closer to nature. Then I thought, I could never live in the mountains, I love the ocean too much. Having grown up by the ocean, I could not imagine being landlocked. John felt the same. Our dilemma: could we have both? It was then that the vision was born. We would someday have a cabin in the mountains and a sailboat on the ocean.
Our road trip ended in San Diego, California, where we immediately fell in love with the sunshine, the ocean, and outdoor activities like beach volleyball, boogie boarding, and surfing. The palm trees, warm weather, and laidback atmosphere induced a feeling of relaxation, like being on vacation. We decided this was where we wanted to relocate after returning. Next, we flew to Fiji and met the boat for the next part of our journey.
While living aboard, we had few material possessions, just enough to fit in a large duffle bag. Life became very simple, and we enjoyed being in the moment and slowing down. Dishes were washed by hand, laundry was hung to dry, and meals were a joy to prepare. The only schedule we kept was our watch duty when on offshore passages between destinations. Experiencing how happy we could be with this slower, simpler lifestyle made an impression on us, as did observing the distant cultures we visited. Most people were happy with very little materially. We learned not only about material simplicity, but also about the importance of simplifying our minds. The more we slowed down our thoughts and lessened the distractions in our lives, the more sacred things became and the more present we were to observe and appreciate what was around us. For example, watching the sunset every night was an entertaining ritual that brought us much satisfaction as we observed the colors change from yellow to orange, magenta to red.
After returning to the United States, it took time for us to integrate these lessons. Everything moved so fast. There were too many choices. Just going to the grocery store was enough to make our heads spin, and getting on the freeway felt like being on a roller coaster ride. As we became aware of how materially focused our society was, our resolve to lead a simple life and not buy into the rampant consumer mentality strengthened. But despite our determination, we found ourselves slowly slipping back into the old lifestyle—working just to pay the mortgage, with little energy left to pursue our passions.
My father’s untimely death at the age of sixty-four, just nine months after he retired, was the final nudge we needed. It emphasized that we needed to live our dreams—now. The time had come to pursue our original vision—a cabin in the mountains and a sailboat on the ocean.
Several weekend visits helped us discover Big Bear, a beautiful mountain resort community in Southern California. One of the advantages of Big Bear over other mountain communities was its proximity to the ocean— only two hours away. We began researching the possibilities. One synchronistic event after another fell into place, showing us that this was where we were supposed to be and that the time was right.
We looked for a cabin with the goal of finding a comfortable place while limiting our monthly expenses so we could afford to buy a sailboat and do work we loved. Freedom and flexibility were our aim. Twice we put offers on homes that were fabulous, but more expensive than our plan. Fortunately, providence stepped in and both offers fell through. Only then did we find the perfect cabin—below our original price range. A year and a half later, we purchased our sailboat, a thirty-foot Catalina, Windstar.
Today, I am happier than I have ever felt living in a place. Surrounded by nature, I look out at pine trees, meadows, snow-covered mountains, birds, squirrels, horses, burros, and foxes from the windows of our cabin, and I wake up early in the morning to the sound of coyotes howling instead of commuter traffic. The sun shines nearly every day, and my heart is filled with thankfulness for life.
Having the sailboat as our second home has been tremendously satisfying as well. Long strolls on the beach, watching the sunset, falling asleep to the gentle rocking of the boat and the sound of waves crashing, sailing, and witnessing the sea life—dolphins, whales, seals, and pelicans—are among the things I love.
As a writer, psychotherapist, and the proprietor of Creative Transformations, I work at my own pace, following the rhythms of my body instead of a clock. My thoughts have slowed down, opening space for creativity and passion to bloom. Furthermore, my clients want to transform their lives and fulfill their dreams. My work gives me energy instead of draining it. Not only am I living in places I love and doing work I love, but I have energy left to be involved with the community and develop lasting friendships. While manifesting my physical desires, I feel more joy, passion, and purpose in my life. By listening to my heart and making authentic choices, I am living the life of my deepest dreams.
Big Bear City, California
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