Part of me says this entire post can be shrunk down to one sentence “Respect the very real fear of the other person.” But too often we do not see the other’s persons fear as rational and therefore we downplay it. NOT a good idea. Because this is the thing:
Fear Is NOT Rational
If fear was rational I could explain keeling away very simply with physics. But sorry, it very much feels like flip over and die and that overrides everything else. I hit the blind panic button and become engulfed in, well er hmm, blind panic.
You can not explain it away. And if you can not explain it away then let me assure you, brushing my fears aside as not worthy will get you a punch in the head. At least once we are safely back on shore that is. Until then I will just alternate between rocking and moaning and screaming at you that you are an idiot for ever taking me out in a boat!
And by you I mean Patrick, and that was a pretty neat summary of our first attempts at sailing.
Patrick is nothing if not persistent. It is the only way he ever got me to step onto Falkor. Because our experience with the Pinguin was mostly of “flip over and die” as we rushed to sail in our limited time off. Patrick knew we were safe and so he would take us out in conditions that I quickly learned were not suitable for a newbie sailor terrified of the ocean. (We we;re also battling the number one enemy of any enjoyable trip: lack of time and a desire to see all the things rather than let it just unfold. Not good!)
In fairness, both of the above behaviors are not cool. Me yelling abuse at Patrick does not help any more than him ignoring my very real fears . So it matters not salty sailors if you know it is safe. If you want your reluctant sailor to become a more enthusiastic one then take them out only in fantastic conditions at first. Because chances are they will still be freaked out. Don’t let them associate your love of sailing with battling the elements.
The wind was howling and those waves were rocking the boat. Did it matter we were on a man made lake in the Netherlands and Falkor can handle much more? Absolutely not!
In our case, as I said, Patrick just walks through walls. It took him 4 years to get me to fully commit, and even then it was more of “let’s see how goes on the way to Amsterdam and I am pretty sure I can promise to Portugal.”
The big change is that now we almost always only sail in good weather, and since Amsterdam it is our hard and fast rule. (Before then we still had time constraints so we needed to sail even if the weather was less than stellar. Which for the first month it was not!)
The thing is, with time you do learn that the difference between fear and danger is real and you get a much better feel for what is actually worthy of your fear and not. But this takes time. No matter if it is writing and publishing a book, moving to a new country for the first time, or getting used to the movement of a boat. And patience is how you move along your fears.
And eventually, it just becomes nervous laughter.
And the other day we had crazy swell in our anchorage that didn’t bother me at all! Other than to have to sit in the cockpit for a bit. Watch our neighbour rock:
Now if we could just get Mango to feel the same way!
If I am afraid of the water there is no way I am letting them out in it!
Part of Patrick’s initial strategy to convince me to sail around the world with him was to ply me with sailing videos. His reasoning was that the more I saw the more the whole thing would be normalized for me. And in that he was absolutely correct. I would watch Jess of Teleport and her green face and realize that even when it looks crazy and scary it seemed to be survivable. Having done the overland motorcycle travel thing I knew that long-term travel was not all glamour. It might have been fun, but it came with it’s own set of challenges. So the fact she was sick was a minor drawback, the fact she lived was a major plus.
It didn’t mean I wanted to actually go sailing. But people living through the scary bits helped me to at least seriously start to consider it.
And then I saw a video that I really wished I had bookmarked. It was a family sailing around the world and the father said something that changed how I approached the entire venture. He said that (and I need to bold and italicize this, so bear with me! And I am paraphrasing as well.)
“There is a big difference between being afraid and being in danger.”
That alone made me move forward with the plan.
Fast forward a couple of years and you have us actually casting off. We have our 4 and 2 year olds in tow and our dog Mango. (Who is in fact not keen on the sailing thing. He is even less keen on not being around Patrick. So he is also a reluctant sailor).
And a lot of our video from the first couple of weeks has a lot of this:
Or basically me way out of my comfort zone and yet still dealing with it. There were times when I thought I was going to jump out of my skin I was so afraid. And yet we survived. And dare I say it, we even have fun.
The next post I will share how to be a good captain and ensure your reluctant sailors stay at least sailors, and may even be converted to enthusiastic ones. (I even jump off the boat to tie Falkor up now. This is huge!).
Until then jump on the list to get the collection of blog posts on how we went from “never no way” to cast off.
I will admit, one of my bigger fears with sailing with kids (aside from the increased daily risk of drowning) was what to do with my monkeys. I mean I love them madly but how does that work out without Kita????? (German daycare if you are not familiar with the term!)
The mama writer conflict: I want you near me at all times but if you are not quiet and I can not write I will go insane.
And this brings us into the ultimate conflict for a mama who needs to write.
My morning journaling has become if you can’t beat them then let them join in. But that is 10 minutes with The Desire Map Panner. That is not sitting down to write. How can I write when someone is constantly asking me to look at a drawing they did? For that matter how would I do any of the multitude projects I have planned for the Creative Mermaids? How could I just generally keep my sanity?
I learned the hard way the past 4 years that as much as I want to be the mom who is armed with snacks in one hand and age appropriate crafts in the other, I am not that person! (It is also why I stick my kids in so many courses. I don’t mind watching them do their projects. I just have no desire to do the planning for or cleaning up afterward.)
For me, I need writing time. The occasional Yoga class tossed in makes me a much happier mama. How is that working out on the boat?
In the end to comes down to: with daddy’s help.
The gatekeeper when I can not get off the boat to write:
I can not write with the kids in my direct vicinity. They want my attention. I want to write. Both deserve to be treated with respect. And both are in direct conflict with each other. And so that is where Patrick’s support comes in. I need him to be onboard with me taking 2 – 3 hours a day to write. Preferably in a cafe, but even if not then he occupies the kids on another part of the boat while I either hide in the back if the weather is crappy or outside if it is nice!
And this is working out lovely. We have come a long way from this video, when we had time constraints and we were doing more motoring and moving than slowing down. And although there are still moments when it hits me in the guts that I have only one brother now, the getting out to write is healing. Making the time to both write as well as only sail in good conditions is making me a calmer and happier sailor. As does standing firm on what mommy needs. And amazingly when I say I need this I get it. Saying “it would be nice” to have writing time results in no writing time. Saying “I need this” makes it happen!
The other lovely part, although I always love my kids, I am so much happier around them once I have written.
And that is the part that makes sailing with small children ok! We are learning what we need and then we work together to make it happen. Then I have the energy to give my kids the attention they deserve, rather than feeling trapped in a small space with them non stop, I get to enjoy my time with them and be grateful I can. And look at these guys, they are so adorable! They deserve a happy mommy! And I deserve a life with writing and children in it.
Still setting it up, but it is coming more and more together!
Getting ready to cast off is always nervewrecking. I think a lot of people don’t appreciate that I’m always nervous before I go on any trip. There is always a moment before I step out the door where I can’t help but wonder if I’m crazy.
In the end the desire to go beats the one to stay. After all it’s like jumping off something. Just push through that moment of hesitation and then you are free falling!
Only with sailing its not nearly so cut and dry. You can turn back and it all happens so slowly!
But leave we did. And sorry for the whipping around. It takes more practice than I appreciated at first.
You have to love how even Patrick uses “probably” in reference to how long before we will see the marina again.
It was a beautiful start. And even peaceful. It was a great feeling of starting a new adventure that you had planned for years but were not really sure you wanted to do. At least for me. Patrick never doubted. Even when I was ready to pull the plug before we even began.
This peaceful moment didn’t last terribly long. The motor woke Mr. Man up before the coffee was poured. And yet he was so cute that we didn’t mind. Especially since he knows there are two captains. 😄
Two posts in one day! There is a first for everything! 😉 But given the nature of the last post I wanted to show you how I envision going forward. These videos are from before I knew exactly what I wanted to do, but you get the idea! 😉
And anyway, if you want to move onto a boat you might want to watch these videos anyway. I want to show the good the bad and the ugly. And taking an apartment, even one that you knew was never meant to be a full home and was more a place to sleep until you were ready to go on a trip, is a challenge.
See first you start with full-fledged optimism. Much like any adventure, you think you can handle anything that is tossed at your head.
Then after an initial period of refusing to see the flaws you slowly realize that you need to remove the rose colored glasses and assess the situation. It may cause a little panic but you still have your head up:
And then you realize that like anything, one thing is not better than another, just different. And something to really remember if you are planning to move onto a boat. Or start any adventure. It is not a holiday. It is life.
But as you can tell from that video, I had wanted to try and do some kind of video diary for awhile. I just had no idea how I was going to do it. Well this is it! A mix of short video with stand alone commentary!
And hopefully, with practice, they get less awkward and more integrated. But as I work on Creative Mermaids I realize it is helping me just as much as I want to help others! That is the best kind of karma!
And this is one of my favorite shots from that week, because getting my family to become a family again after the craziness of start up life is also something that I was afraid would not happen and it in fact is. I love these guys so much!
The good news! I finally figured out what I want to do with the idea of Books Boats and Babes videos! I have been asked by a lot of people about doing videos. And I have played with the idea for a long time. Those on the mailing list have received all of two, but I have been taking video. The idea though of doing all the cutting is horrific. Even ignoring the learning curve involved, once I was able to do relatively good video it would still eat up all kinds of time. And it is not that I do not want to do anything productive on this trip. BUT when I am not spending time with my family and enjoying the actual trip I want to spend my work time writing or working on Creative Mermaids. Yet Books, Boats and Babes calls to me too! This is my life now. How do I include you guys? Other than pictures like these that is:
But I want to tell the story as well. And I do want to write books about this trip, after all I am a writer first. Although all my motorcycle travel books I wrote after I returned. I had the narrative complete. I just had to write it. I am even thinking about writing shorter, magazine style stories up on Kindle Unlimited to help combat that, but that doesn’t help me share my story as I go.
And then I took a podcast course from the Visibility Vixen herself Michelle Lewis. And I loved it and I realized that I could do a video style podcast, or vodcast. And so I did an intro yesterday, and the plan is to do more videos where myself and Patrick talk to the camera to talk about our trip, I can also talk more about Creative Mermaids on there, and I can supplement it with pictures and short videos over here.
Michelle tells you to be much more polished guys, all these mistakes are mine. But I am just excited that I am finally committing to actually doing video and being visible, and finding a mixed media combination that I am comfortable with and that I will actually do!
We have been liveabroads for 6 weeks now and sailing for 5. So a quick recap: we left Poland and we entered Germany about 20 minutes later. ;P From there it was a rough week of crazy wind where I was nervous even on the canal. After being holed up in Peenemünde for then a jump over to Denmark to avoid a crazy wind warning before back to Germany. I then left Patrick for a week to go to the Smarter Artist Summit in Austin, and in complete honesty, fully enjoy not having to wear a parka!
At least here the parka is opened! Hoora for May!
Then “shit got real”. Up until that point everything had been our old stomping grounds. We had spent the last 2 years sailing from Borgstedt to Denmark and back to Poland. We knew where to anchor, we knew what to expect, and more importantly, we had no tides!
Heading down the Kiel canal and towards the North Sea was a very different feeling. Tides! Gah! It kind of said “real ocean” not the baby pool you guys were playing in in the Baltics. (Not that the Baltics do not come with their own challenges, but in terms of learning to sail it is a very gentle place to learn!)/
Now we were ready, or Patrick was, I was mostly afraid.
And I am happy to say, that it has been fantastic. We made it to the Netherlands! Not without some drama of course, but the best kind of drama. The kind that ends with no one hurt and an intact boat!
Although internet is still elusive, when we are ashore and in a cafe we have regular fast access! And when you do something really stupid that involves flashing lights in the middle of the night, then the Dutch are really quite nice about it. Just a smile and “no worries”. I really love this attitude!
And if you are on the mailing list then check your email for the full story on our entry into the Netherlands and the full story behind out Noordgut flag! If you are not sign up here!
This flag was rather expensive!
As was this anchor place:
Now I am enjoying some writing time to work on my Creative Mermaids project before heading back to go for a bike ride with the kids. And I have to say, I am a little in love with the Netherlands!
We made it an entire month afloat! Although I have to admit, this first month feels almost like a cheater month if I am honest. The first week we were in Nowe Warpno getting the boat ready to sail.
And then the week after we did cast off – but not for lands unknown! In fact, up until this week everywhere we have sailed has been our old stomping grounds! First to Ruegen and from there to the tip of Denmark before we headed back to our old sailing club in Borgstedt. So it was a nice and easy way to start the trip. Or at least mostly. The weather was not our friend on this trip!
Nasty nasty wind that had me shrieking with fear in the canals and cursing the very idea of sailing. And then we would anchor for the night and I would calm down and all would be right with the world again.
Even our ability to explode our stuff everywhere feels familiar!
So it looks like we will make it past Amsterdam. I am still not promising past Portugal though!
I promise more updates when we have consistent Internet. Even at a cafe where wifi is advertised my nerves screech at the slow almost dial up nature of the entire thing! Until then I do post regular pics on my Instagram account as well as the Facebook page!