Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Beating to Windward

For you non-sailors who might read this, sailing towards the direction the wind is blowing from, or "beating to windward", is a lot of work.  Modern sailboats can sail to within a certain angle of the wind, around 45 degrees to either side of where the wind is coming from; so to get upwind you have to go through a series of "tacks" where you change the direction of the boat to either side of the wind to eventually make your way to where you want to go upwind.

That is what the past few weeks have felt like as we prepare for our yard sale, and get the house in order to be shown for sale.  A lot of work.

All of the little fixes that we have been putting off forever now have to get taken care of.  Everything from taping down stair treads, to touch up painting.  Its a good thing that we have pretty much forsaken TV, because we haven't had time to watch it anyway.

What is key here is to keep our dreams in the fore front of our minds.  The easiest thing would be to do nothing, and stay where we are.  We could easily have a nice comfortable life, especially now that the house is finally nearing completion.  But the easy thing isn't always the right thing, or the best thing.

Just a few more tacks...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

What do you do?

I've always hated that question.  You know, when you are at a party, or out to dinner with new friends, before long the question will come up:  So, what do you do?  Or, where do you work?

I've always felt that the question is so limiting.  I suppose its only natural for people to want to try to peg you down based on the stereotypes of different professions.  But its always been an awkward question for both Trish and I.

The expected and easy answer is, "I work in marketing at a mid sized A/V company".  More appropriately I might say that I sail, kayak, and generally try to enjoy life.  The questioner would probably look at me funny and say something like, "No seriously, what do you do?".

I'm not sure where the discomfort with this question comes from.  Maybe its just that I haven't found my true calling.  Or maybe that I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs.  More likely I think it is because I have come to value life and living above material possessions and status.

This post has mostly been inspired by a book I just read entitled "The Best Life Money Can't Buy", by Andy Deering.  Andy's answer to the question is: "I Live".  Andy and his partner, Lisa, have had some wild adventures including sailing the Pacific, and living through winter in a small cabin in Alaska.  At the heart of his book is the idea that life is short and the time we spend on this planet is finite so it is best to enjoy it.  Andy's personal sense of enjoyment and my own are pretty similar I think, except I don't want to experience any winters for a while after we get out of NY.

I'm sure there are people out there who truly enjoy their jobs and get real satisfaction when they tell people what it is they do.  In my experience they have mostly been people who have a direct and positive affect on other people, i.e. social workers, special education counselors, and teachers.  Maybe that is the answer.  Maybe if your work truly benefits others you will enjoy it the most.

As we embark on our great adventure I can't help but look to the other side of it and wonder where we will come out.  Will we find enlightenment that will lead us to our "path"?

On the other hand, maybe this adventure is our path.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Paring Down

Verb1.pare down - decrease gradually bit by bit

We have been whittling away at the possessions we've accumulated by selling them off on craigslist, donating them to charity, giving them to friends, or putting them aside in a yard sale pile.  The process is kind of like when you get asked: "If you were stranded on a dessert island and could only bring 1 thing, what would it be?"

While we aren't going that drastic, we would like to decrease our overall possessions to under 100 things.  Fortunately for us, the boat will count as 1 thing, but be many things to us.  It will be our home, our living room, our kitchen, our couches and our shower, our car, and so much more.  By living on a boat, we won't need many of the things we currently possess including furniture, Christmas decorations, and assorted knick-knacks. 

We have done a lot of thinking about getting rid of most of our worldly possessions and what it will mean for our future.  By getting rid of things we start to feel liberated.  It is as if a weight is being removed and we are being lifted by helium balloons.

Fewer things = less holding you down/back/behind.

By simplifying our lives, we can achieve our dreams.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Shutting off our TV

Recently we have been limiting the time we allow ourselves to get stuck watching TV in the evenings.  I say get stuck because that is what it feels like.  You know the feeling...there is nothing on that interests you, but you keep flipping channels trying to find something.  You might tune into something that is mildly entertaining and watch it for a while, but really has it done anything to enrich your life?

By shutting the TV off we have become much more productive and taken big strides towards our dreams.  It is amazing how much time we used to waste just sitting there hoping to find something entertaining to watch.  So now instead of sitting on the couch we have been putting the finishing touches on our house to forward our plans to sell it this Spring so that we can move South and find a boat.

Now I'm not saying we don't watch any TV at all.  We will tune into the news a few nights a week, or watch one or two sitcoms or shows.  But we came to the realization that outside of a few shows that we really enjoy, the rest of the time in front of the TV was spent flipping or watching something that was just "passing the time".  But really, how much time can we afford to pass?  Time is the one resource that we personally can control, and it is finite.  Years from now wouldn't you rather look back and say that you worked towards your goals?  Or would you rather look back and know who won American Idol?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Caught by the Lure of the Sea

This picture was taken in Negril, Jamaica at sunset.  We went to Jamaica for our honeymoon in the beginning of November, 2006.  The week we spent there had a profound and lasting impact on our lives.

It was during this week that we first tried our hand at sailing.  The resort we stayed at had a fleet of 14' Hobie Cat Waves that the guests could use.  No sailing experience?  No problem mon!  A watersports instructor there named Wade took us out for our first ever time on a sailboat.  After about fifteen minutes he had us drop him off at the beach, as he shoved us off again he shouted "Just don't go to Cuba!", and we were off.

After a little while of zipping to and fro in front of the resort we were feeling pretty bold and decided to venture a bit further from shore.  Once we had gotten good and far out there, the wind slowly petered off and we were becalmed.  So we sat, and waited.  Trisha started to get anxious, worried that if we had to swim back we might be eaten by sharks!  Eventually some of the watersports guys came by in their power boat.

"No wind, huh?"
"Nope", we replied.
"Just wait a bit", and they zoomed off.

Well, the wind didn't return that day and we got towed to shore for the first time, and certainly not the last time.  First day of sailing, first rescue at sea.  We were hooked.

For the rest of the week we took a hobie cat out and had a great time.  Our final "cruise" was to a little cay off of a point of land miles down from the resort.  Sailing through those clear Caribbean waters was like nothing we had experienced before.

When we got back home to NY, Bill immediately went out and bought "Sailing for Dummies" and read it cover to cover a few times.  We didn't get back out sailing the next summer, but in the fall of 2007 we bought our own sailboat.  It is a late 70s O'day Daysailer.  It is 17' long and sloop rigged.  After a scary attempt at launching and sailing our own boat that fall, we decided to take lessons the following spring.

This is a picture of "Float On", our O'day Daysailer.  We've had a lot of fun, a bit of frustration, and some moments of sheer terror with our little boat in the last couple of years.  We have primarily sailed on Saratoga Lake in upstate NY, where we eventually joined a sailing club.

We always think back fondly to our week in Jamaica.  More than any other time we've ever experienced it has changed our course in life.  From the warm salt air, the friendly people, palm trees, and sunsets...just everything about it becons us to escape this cold state we are currently in and return to "island time".

One last picture of us in front of our Hobie Cat on the beach in Jamaica.