Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Hide... or Seek? When People Don't Support Your Dream

"You two are just hiding out down there in the Caribbean," the voice said to us, "You are not living in the real world."  This individual continued on about how eventually we'd learn that it's not about "us" anymore, and we'll want to return to a normal life on land so that our kids get "socialized normally" because raising a growing baby on a boat is no way to raise a child.  This person went on to tell us we were selfish, irresponsible and that raising kids on a boat would be robbing our children of important skills needed to maintain the status quo thrive in society.

Unfortunately, this sort of reaction is very common to anyone who lives this - or any unconventional - lifestyle.  I cannot even tell you how many cruisers we have spoken to and how many emails I have received from wannabe cruisers lamenting about the lack of support they feel from family, friends and loved ones.  We're a couple of the lucky ones, the people who matter the most to us are incredibly supportive of our choices, and for that we are grateful.  More often than not cruisers are deemed "crazy" by friends and loved ones, sometimes in a playful way - sometimes in a hurtful way.  When young adults take a couple years off of the corporate treadmill to travel and explore, they are foolish.  When parents take their children on sabbatical to see the world, they are irresponsible.  If retirees take to their boats to sail off into the sunset after decades of hard work, their grown children call them cruel.  Almost always we are considered "selfish."  The list goes on.  The fact of the matter is this:  if you want to live a life that doesn't fit the "lather, rinse, repeat" cycle our society so successfully generates - you will be met with opposition.  It's been happening since the beginning of time.  Apparently, there are folks out there who believe they have the answers for everyone and when people veer from a certain path, they feel that it's in their wheelhouse to tell them so.  As much as we humans say we value "originality" - we also really, really love for everyone to fit into nice, predictable, little boxes.  Pretty ironic, actually.

What sucks even worse than being judged is the fact that the same people who sit on their high horses pointing fingers, often cannot see past their own noses.  While some are well-intentioned and simply concerned, most are often incredibly closed-minded and - as frustrating as it is - there is not a crow bar in the Universe to pry it open.  Save your breath.  No amount of talk or rationale will convince these folks otherwise.  Instead you should just appreciate the care from the loved ones who mean well, and feel badly for the people who have completely forgotten (or worse, never knew) what it means to have a dream.

Let's take a look at the people who have changed our world: Rosa Parks, Gandhi, Steve Jobs, Einstein, Thomas Jefferson, Shakespeare, Martin Luther King, Joan of Arc...  I can't be sure, but I'll bet a vital organ that none of these people lived life according to the status quo.  I'll bet that every single one of these people was, at some point or another, considered "different" and probably ostracized for it.  I can also bet that stay at home dads, entrepreneurs, inventors, artists and any other soul who has dared to venture outside parameters of society gets the same sort of message:  "You are different.  You are wrong."  What is with this logic?  Why do people get their knickers in such a bundle over people who do things another way?  If people are making their lives work, if they are happy, and no one is getting maimed in the process - why can't we just live and let live?

I know that being judgmental is part of the human experience and, for one sociological reason or another, we have evolved as a species that likes to be a part of a group and reject those that aren't.  I get it.  I've done it.  We all have.  We're judging people all the time; other parents, their children, our peers, our coworkers, celebrities, etc. typically using ourselves as a measuring stick.  Most of us, however, keep these judgements to ourselves and let the differences keep things interesting.  We focus on our own lives and living them as best we know how.  But there are others of us who feel the need to tell people what they are doing is "wrong" and this is where I get my knickers in a twist.

Wouldn't it be so much more effective if we all examined our own lives, instead of those around us? What is so bothersome about someone else's path?  What satisfaction is gained from trying to control, manipulate, or steal joy from another person?  And furthermore, what does this sort of mentality say about you?  Wouldn't it be so much more effective if we all drew inspiration from these diversions or at the very least used them as a way to learn more about our world, about each other?  I think so.

Scott and I are very blessed and very lucky.  I have always said this and I'll continue to say it forever:  I am thankful every. single. day.  We live a very full and (mostly) happy life.  We are surrounded by amazing friends and are part of a very loving and supportive family.  Sure, we've chosen a path that looks a little different than most of the people we know, and that is okay.  If we want to raise our kids on an organic farm in a hippie commune somewhere in Northern California, big whoop.  If we decide that we want to spend the rest of our lives raising fainting mountain goats, than so be it.  And if we choose to spend some of our kids lives "hiding out" on a boat in the Caribbean (or any other place on this beautiful planet), then that is exactly what we are going to do.  But it's important to note that what one person might consider "hiding," another might consider "seeking."  One mind is closed, the other is open.  And this is the greatest difference of all.  Our current goal?  To raise free-thinking, loving and open minds.  If we decide to go about doing this in a way that is different than you, well, I guess the proof will be in the pudding, won't it?

This world we are living in right now IS the real world.  It might not be yours, but it's ours.


Unknown said...

Well said, I think any sailors receiving this sort of criticism should remember that the ones throwing stones are most likely doing so because they are scared of the concept and don't understand it - anything they don't understand they will put down until they feel better about their own uneventful existance. Always enjoy reading your blogs! :D

Lyns, Aleks & Elly on Tiko

Theresa Williams said...

All those who wander are not lost! At the end of the day you have to do what is right for your family and yes, you get to choose. I commend you for living the dream!

Karyn and Ron said...

As you know, it's the journey, not the destination, and everyone has to find their own path. Or course, or heading! Revel in your daily joys, and continue to delight in experiencing the mere being of where you are, together! Hugs, Karyn & Ron

Unknown said...

Thank you. You have done an excellent job of putting our thouhhts into words.
Steve & Kelly -S/V Shalayla

Whisperboat said...

As you said in the first paragraph … "It's been happening since the beginning of time. " There will always be naysayers.

Unknown said...

I think the key phrase in your post is "If people are making their lives work, if they are happy, and no one is getting maimed in the process - why can't we just live and let live?'

I think that the most ardent finger pointers are probably people who "want" everyone to think they are happy and are "making their lives work" when deep down in the places they don't share with anyone, they are not quite as happy as they want you to believe.....they have longings they are not willing to explore......it is too frightening for them. So those who are willing to take the risk, to seek their dreams must be fool-hardy, irresponsible and just plain wrong......otherwise what does that say about them. I agree with your conclusion...you just have to feel badly for them.

Kudo's to you and yours!

Unknown said...

Thanks for the article, although we haven't pushed away from the dock yet, we get the same when we explain that we are leaving and taking a child with us. For us, we just want to give our son an experience very different from the one he would receive in the US; to teach the many different ways of life. Then we thought, "We need those teachings as well." Good Luck

Anonymous said...

Brava! I truly don't understand the naysayers since your child - soon children - is being socialized not only with other children and adults but also with diverse cultures and lifestyles. Personal experience tells me they will grow up interested, interesting and open to all the wonders of the planet and her people.


Lynn and Keith s/v Otter said...

I never have understood the need for folks to chime in on how other people chose to live their lives. I think what you are doing is great. We chose to live in Okinawa for 3 years when our kids were very young. They all remember it to this day and can appreciate other cultures. I love your blog and love seeing all the pictures you take, (yes, even with filters).
hats off to you and your family!

Unknown said...

Beautifully written Brittany, thank you :-) I have had more than my fair-share of naysayers giving me their "advice" and unfortunately in my case they are my closest family members, which makes it hurt just a little more. It hasn't stopped us though, just gives us more fuel to our internal fires that say "Go. Do what makes you happy, full and experience everything they will never." I am glad to hear you are still pushing through the negativity, sharing with the world just encourages those to push the negative thoughts aside and go on to further their lives too. So again, thank you. <3

Anonymous said...

It sounds like you know it, but I will echo your sentiment. We all get one life on this big blue marble. Live your life as you both see fit and try not to worry about what others say.

Jeanine said...

I love this! I've struggled lately because I feel like I am raising my kids in the "status quo" way of life, so different than how I was raised. Having lived over seas and sailed much of my child hood, I lament the fact that my kids live in a nice house, with toys, and friends down the street and will probably go to the same school their entire lives (maybe not, I mean my youngest is only 4 months, so much can change!) Then my husband reminded me that different than how I grew up is not bad, it's simply different. My kids are happy, they have two parents who want them to be open minded, ask questions, LIVE life... whether that happens in the Caribbean or in West Michigan doesn't really matter. I love reading your blog, it is the greener grass for me. I love being reminded of that lifestyle, but also reminding myself that for some, my life is the green grass. And for goodness sake to just be THANKFUL :) ASANTE-SANA right?! As usual - enjoying your blog :)

Suzy said...

Amen! Keep on living the life you choose and doing it your own way. I was lucky to have been forewarned that most friends, family, and strangers would be naysayers about moving aboard, so I had mentally braced myself for the onslaught of negativity. A little over a year in, I continue to shrug it off and many prior-naysayers or doubters are impressed at my resolve and respect that it is the life for me, even if it would not suit them. The ones who can't respect my choices are simply left in my wake.

M Farrell said...

OMG. Fainting goats. Thank you!!! xoxo MFS

Anonymous said...

Amen again. We are full time sailing cruisers- both 78 years old and our children keep asking when we are going to stop this foolishness, sell the boat, and get a little condo. Then what??? Sit around and complain about what hurts, or what doctor visit we have planned ? If your life makes you happy, then don't bring up that subject again.! We love following your blog!!!!! yeh from IP44 Gusto!!!

Carol and Dick said...

Actually, anonymous is Carol and Dick on Gusto!!!

Corri C said...

I think that when people live life in a way that is less than "normal" (whatever that really is), it makes others question, for a moment, their lives. OR, the opposite is true, you may have moments where it occurs to you life on land might be easier. These are important moments, meant to make us reaffirm where our lives are going and make course corrections if neccesary. I have found in my own life that plenty of people use that as a moment for instrospection and can then also be supportive. However, some people it scares them, whether they love their life or they don't, and instead they strike out in judgement. This may not always be the case for the judgement, but I think it often is.

My favorite is the "socialized normally," for kids. Partly because who's to say what is normal, and partly because I feel that America's normal is actually somewhat hurtful. While cruising Isla and the twins will meet people of all ages, cultures, and lifestyles and will have to find ways to be open to them all. In our American life, our children are expected to interact mostly with people their age if they are not family. Who will have an easier time thriving in society as they get older? I'm beginning to believe as my own child is growing that it is the children who get to live paths less traveled.

Paul said...

I can only repeat what others have said here. Well said! You are a gifted writer and thinker. Keep on keeping on!

Cheryl @ Mid-Life Cruising! said...

Amazing how people will judge a family such as yours .. a family that will show their daughters the amazing things this planet has to offer and that anything is possible. A family that will raise their children to understand that the best experiences in life aren't at the mall. I guarantee that your children will not be close-minded like those judging you.

I don't think you're hiding out, but if you were .. hiding out from massive commercialism and random violence isn't so bad anyway.

My step-father thinks we're nuts to go cruising ... the same man that is still working at 84 years of age, with no savings and major debt. No thanks!

Steve said...


As I mentioned the last time someone criticized you and Scott, that's what the delete key is for!

Fair winds,
s/v Rondo

Jill, Tim and Toby Dog said...

I love all that you wrote here, very well said. But the best part - the fainting goats video. THAT IS HILARIOUS! Totally made my morning and I hope you guys decide to go in that direction so I can follow your blog about it! HA! HAHAHAHA! Thanks for keeping it real Brittany!

Anonymous said...

Different strokes for different folks :) It's not a life for everyone....some people don't have a desire so seek, explore and dare. They love the routine and the known.... Your children are going to grow up just perfect on that boat :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Brittany, I am not sure that raising your kids on a boat going around the world at this small stage of their lives is the best thing either, but this is a choice that you and your husband have made and so be it. Kids need to be kids, in so many aspects, run free not be stuck on a boat wearing harnesses etc...I think your dream is awesome but maybe later on in life. I am a grandma of 4 and truthfully if you were my kids I would be very worried. Too many bad situations at sea, too much risk with young ones! I wish you all the best! :-)

mamapia said...

Thanks again! We are just selecting our boat to take our older kids off shore...original plan of leaving 7 yrs ago has taken a little longer--kids now 8,11 & 15! But completely understand the comments. One of my fave quotes on this theme is "Well behaved women rarely make history"--or do the interesting, out of the box things that I think we need to do/look at in our current world. If our children continue as we are--i worry for our world!

Neophyte Cruiser said...

Brittany, A good and, perhaps, necessary response to those ctitics of your choices. I suspect most, if not all, have had what they assumed were your best interests in their hearts. Making sound choices in life runs parallel to good seamanship; too many critics think living safely afloat is a large part serendipity rather than the result of making sound judgements. This fear they hold may otherwise obscure their appreciation of what a unique learning opportunity world travel affords parents and children, alike. Let others doubt while you and your family continue to live a full and rewarding life.

“Do we really want to be rid of our resentments, our anger, our fear? Many of us cling to our fears, doubts, self-loathing or hatred because there is a certain distorted security in familiar pain. It seems safer to embrace what we know than to let go of it for fear of the unknown.
(Narcotics Anonymous Book/page 33)”
― Narcotics Anonymous

Stormsignal said...

Go Girl! It is, as you say, your life. Live it proud.

Stacey said...

What an awful thing for someone to say! Although, as you articulated so well in the rest of your post, I'm not surprised.

At least you can take solace in knowing at almost every other cruiser has braved similar reactions and responses from friends/family. Your post actually makes me think of some of Charlotte's (RebelHeart) posts last year when planning to have her baby in Mexico.

Stay strong sista'! Years from now when it is that you do come back and are actually done with cruising (if it ever happens), people will then probably saying how "lucky" you were, and "what a cool experience it must've been", etc. When the fear of being different is gone, and you will just be someone living down the street, I'd bet there will probably be a fair bit of landlubber admiration for you two and what you've done with your lives.

Just know that you currently have thousands of readers here and on facebook cheering you on. Your lifestyle will produce children different from the herd--for the better, not the worse. And I look forward to following along your journey, especially as it helps me plan mine.



Unknown said...

It's always mind blowing, yet not surprising, to me when someone has the audacity to criticize other's choices because of their own lack of imagination and courage. The few times when I've completely disagreed with something I've come come across on the internet, I always resort to, "who the hell am I?" to tell them anything. Anyway, I wanted to share with you my favorite quote, "Everything looks impossible for the people who never try anything." It's been my mantra when confronted with naysayers.

Patricia said...

Brittany, I have never sailed in my life and probably never will. I - like at least one other person here! - found your blog when googling what stuff can be left out of the refrigerator. I then proceeded to read the entire thing because I was fascinated by your lifestyle and the choices you've made. What struck me was the level of hard work and sacrifice it took to put your dream in motion, and then to keep all running smoothly - few people could handle that. So I think there is a degree of simple envy behind the negative remarks. It's true some people may speak from concern - but the notion that Isla spends her life leashed to a boat is ridiculous. Anyone who's genuinely worried needs to read the blog. You and Scott have safety as a priority every day, whether it's a matter of keeping the boat "healthy," constantly monitoring the weather before sailing, keeping Isla safe yet also exposing her to the world in a way that I wish every child could experience. Kids in homes on land are subjected to plenty of dangers every day, a good parent minimizes the risks as best she can - whatever they are. Fair winds!

Anonymous said...

Wow. I have spent the past 12 years working with survivors of domestic violence. In any situation, there are countless times someone could have helped, but didn't. Whoever said this statistically knows a current victim of domestic violence and (I am betting) has said nothing to offer their love and support.

I don't understand this about our species. Beating and insulting your spouse or children is essentially fine, but G*d forbid they live on a sailboat and travel the world. That's just irresponsible. There are people right now in that person's community who *need* their help and support, why are they wasting their time and opinions on you?

I have been a longtime follower of your blog and in my humble opinion you guys are doing fine, and I would want any children of mine to have at least half of the experiences and love that you are giving your children.

Student Driver said...

"Wouldn't it be so much more effective if we all drew inspiration from these diversions or at the very least used them as a way to learn more about our world, about each other?"

I think so, too. That's why I so enjoy reading your blog.

Jared said...

All I can say is "AMEN"

Anonymous said...

From the crew on Annecam
You go girl, in the two years we have been cruising the Med the boat kids we have met are the most well adjusted children you will ever find.
The finger pointers will never get past the first page in the book of life, we feel very sorry for them.
Good luck to you and Scott with the twins.
Cam "H"
on Annecam

Jennifer of Holland said...

Great way to summarize your frustration and optimism! Love what you're doing, Love that you're makin' it happen.

Gershwin said it best: "nice work if you can get it"

Pat Sixbey said...

Well said Brittany. We live in a world that is changing rapidly which frightens many people. The fearful response is to lash out at people that "aren't like me". There is so much division in our country and so much hate. Be glad your on a boat away from it all and living a loving existence the way you want. I salute you! Cheers from the Mary Annie in Apalachicola Florida.

Lisa Hanneman said...

Brilliant. The only place I'd rather see you is living across the street... Love you!

Benji said...

BAM!!! So very well articulated, and so very level-headed. I sense a great deal of peace, and very little resentment, mostly just sadness for the lack of living so many suffer with.

Keep up with the living the inspired and inspiring path;
your example gives the rest of us the unconscious permission to do likewise.

Amanda said...

I hope you hung up on that voice. If anyone can't recognize the love and beauty with which you live your lives, they're clearly impaired. I'm sorry you face such ridiculous judgment for your choices - you're whole family is an inspiration.

Jan Morrison said...

When our lives call forth the type of criticism you describe we should consider ourselves extremely successful. Those who live mean little lives cannot bear the light that comes from a life lived artfully. I'm not so young - got onto your site via my lovely youngest son (41) who is looking forward to having his first child in the spring. I have told him that it need not turn him into one of the Borg but instead he should consider being even less conventional that he's ever been. My partner and I just moved to Labrador where I'm looking out at a beach full of blowing snow! Florida and retirement are not for us. We are doing what we love in every way and people are gob-smacked. The good thing is that as one gets older less shite gets offered up by others. Or maybe I've finally learned to close those ear flaps! You and your family seem to be on the right track, the track of no-track. Keep on keepin' on!

Anonymous said...

But no one would blink an eye if you said we are going to drop our kids off at daycare for 10 hours a day, 5 days a week for someone else to raise so we can both work to afford a 5 bedroom house and Armada SUV. But raise your kids on a boat, where they are constantly guided by two loving parents and experience a range of cultures and experiences, and that is "irresponsible".

Pieter said...

Thank you (once more) by voicing what indeed a bunch of cruisers or otherwise-finding-a-different- path-people have heard in one way or another. Let us not forget that somebody pointing a finger, there are three pointing back at him/her, as the poet said. We opted for this lifestyle and deal with the consequences (mostly awesomely good), and truly I started to get a blind eye and deaf ear of what other people (usualy the rat race gang) thinks of that. They dont pay my bills so you know.. whatever... Dont sweat the small stuff i would say, realy....
We are currently in Aruba, and next month pretend to sail to Jamaica, Cuba and kind of back to BVI and ST Maarten (early next year). Enjoy... All the best, Pieter and Dora, SV Onda Boa (blog www.sailingoceanofdreams.blogspot.com)

Randomjenta said...

Thank you for a GREAT post! I Hope it's eye opening for those out there who spent most of their time judging the life of others. It baffles me how so many spend their precious time trying to decide what's right and wrong for others. Usually these seem to be the people who either doesn't believe in dreams or who simple don't have them. It's kind of sad.

Life is too short to be worrying about what other people think or what other people are doing. We should all spend our lives trying to fulfill OUR dreams and be as happy as we can be. After all, we only have one!

Anonymous said...

The Copy would say:

"Do you lament your life? Are you wishing you could be living your dream but aren't? feel stuck in a rut? Well now you can try a Naysayer's Elixir. This will give you a since of superiority in your other wise dull an commonplace lifestyle. One sip will give you the confidence to put down those that are happier than you, more successful than you, and those that are living your their dreams. Your condescending nature will never be stronger. To recharge your self righteousness take daily."

The Legalese would state:
"- Maybe habit forming.
In most cases users find the more they take the more they need as after the initial "high" the feel even worse about themselves and need to find someone else whom they envy so they can try to make their life seem "selfish".
- May affect your relationships with others.
Reports have shown that users who take this start ostracizing family members and friends.
- Do not take if:
+ you are a certified kill-joy
+ you like to control others in your life because you feel you have no control over your own
+ You have a spoon up your Ass
+ You can never find happiness and you take it out on those who are happy
+ you hate everything about people who are happy
+ you hate people in general

If taken with any one or any combination of the above mentioned symptoms will increase to the point of Total self-loathing.
**Discontinue use after 10 uses to prevent the above symptoms from becoming permanent and to prevent a permanent soapbox from growing out of the bottoms of your feet and a stigmata from growing on your hands and feet.
Other side effects include permanent growth of a judgmental personality, Constant and increasing dissatisfaction in everything, perpetual unhappiness.

Keep living the Dream Brit & Co. - I enjoy living vicariously and wish Aedan had the opportunity Isla has and her sisters will have. You are both great parents regardless of where you little one are raised - this is evident by the smiles Isla wears oh so regularly.


Matt said...

To that judgemental, safety loving, liver of the conventional life I'd quote the words of Bob Marley:

Don't you look at me so smug
And say I'm going bad.
Who are you to judge me
And the life that I live?
I know that I'm not perfect
And that I don't claim to be.
So before you point your fingers,
Be sure your hands are clean.

Judge not
Before you judge yourself.
Judge not
If you're not ready for judgement.

The road of life is ROCKY
And you may stumble too.
So while you talk about me,
someone else is judging you

Shara said...

Great post Brittany. So well said.

Felicia said...

Yes yes and yes!!!

Gareth said...

Well said and written! Personally I feel people who are judgmental are simply afraid. It's a real shame because if you embrace change and flexibility as you have done you get to experience everything first hand opposed to someone telling you their version. I'm envious of you and will be doing the same as you someday very soon. :-)

Safe travels and thank you for sharing.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

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