Monday, November 03, 2014

Thank You for Keeping it Real

I was pretty overwhelmed by the response to our last post.  It never ceases to amaze me which of my posts tend to really strike a chord with people.  They are almost never the ones about us traveling in beautiful locations or sailing to exotic places (i.e. much of this blog). Instead, they are the missives that I usually think of as rather mundane when I sit down to write them (or, of course, the ones that are the most dramatic). The posts where I find myself working out a particular conundrum or writing out the bones of a skeleton hiding in my closet.  I certainly never sit down to write something and think, "Now *this* is really going to get 'em!" Nope. These days in particular (since down time is such a precious rarity), I write when I am moved to write and I write from the heart. I don't blog for numbers and I don't blog to make a buck (though I probably should start monetizing a bit more). Sometimes my anecdotes are funny, sometimes somber, sometimes reflective - but the posts that seem to resonate the most are the ones where I am totally candid and shed light on the inner workings and struggles of a real honest-to-goodness human being.

When I say it like that I guess I really shouldn't be surprised after all.

If there is one thing that connects us as people it's the fact that - when it's all said and done - we all want the same few things. Safety, belonging and mattering.  In a world that, on the surface, seems more connected than ever, we grow more and more distant from one another. We share only our best pictures, put forth our happiest faces and create the illusions that our lives are much more interesting and satisfying than they really are. I think all of us do this at some level. I know I do. It's almost impossible not to. But it is imperitive to our health to stop perpetuating the fallacy of perfection, or at the very least, find a little place in this world where we don't feel like we have to.

So when we as humans share our struggles, pain, and weakness as I did the other week, people seem to enjoy it. They find it refreshing. Not because they revel in another's hardship, but because they realize they are not the only ones who struggle with fill in the blank. And if there is one feeling most humans do not enjoy, it's the feeling of being alone in this world (note: this is different from "alone time" which. Is. Awesome.)

It's easy to read a blog like ours and imagine our lives as perfect, when the truth is very far from that. Yes, we are blessed. Yes, we are thankful. Yes, our life has taken some interesting twists and turns that put us a little to the left of "normal". But "perfect" we are not. In the vast majority of this blog I have aimed to focus on the positive, which on one level resonated with people. But now I think I will strive to focus more on being real and honest. Obviously this is not easy, as it makes me vulnerable. But I believe I am a better writer and a better person when I can speak freely and truly (even though for the sake of my dad I will always try to swear as little as possible on the blog, despite the fact that I swear like a sailor in real life).

All this is my very roundabout (and verbose *wince*) way of saying thank you to all of you. I honestly have the best readers in the whole blogosphere as far as I am concerned. After my "limbo" post so many of you reached out to say, "Yes!! Me too!! Thank you!!" and I so appreciate that. I certainly did not see it coming. I know I am a terrible blogger who breaks the cardinal rule of blogging in that I do not respond to most comments (between email, Facebook messages and blog comments I am way behind) - but I am so thankful to have here a community of readers who are fellow human beings who (for the most part) recognize when another of their own is struggling (no matter how big or small that struggle may be) and who reach out to say: "you are not alone."

Thank you for connecting. Thank you for keeping it real. And thank you for allowing me to do the same.


Anthyllide said...

Ahoy Sailors. We've never met, but it looks like we have some mutual friends out there. Just wanted to let you know that your post about being in limbo -- aka Outskirts of HELL!!! came at a great time for us. We're also in HELL!!! We've been out there for 9 years full time. This hurricane season, we got crazy and bought a car to go see the countryside and explore the depths of "reality" and the "real world." We're currently in our parents house in Metro Detroit pondering the big questions. Looking at houses and jobs. Somehow, after a few months of immersion amongst the Dirt Dwellers, thoughts of money and comfort and stuff trumped our good sense of poverty and freedom. We're still trying to sort it all out. Not sure if we're cut out for "reality" any more, or whether they'll even let us back into the box.
Best of luck to you. Looks like you'll have some great crew in a few years. Cheers, Scott and Kim

Bill said...

You are welcome :)
You, Scott & your kids seem like a great family and you put a lot out there, so naturally that should come back to you. I'm glad it has.

Anonymous said...

Hey Brittany, your posts always seem to be on the tip of my tongue and always come at the right time. I agree with you when you say the more connected we all become the more disconnected we feel yet we are all wanting the same thing, the curse of the human condition i guess. I kind of feel we have had similar experiences with people thinking your life is amazing and perfect because of the choices you have made and the fact the you are happy doing what you are doing and that even though this has its ups and downs being in limbo while you are waiting to begin the next leg of the journey and working hard to get there. Its kind of where we are at too, just waiting to move back onto the boat and set sail and begin our adventure with our baby boy but there is a lot to do between now and then. I think we all learn from each others experiences, we want to see what other people have done to prove to ourselves what is possible and what can be achieved when you follow a dream. Just like your experiences have helped us make the decision to take our baby sailing and your current situation only normalises it as i can really relate! I just wanted to say that sharing parts of yourself that others do not normally see and writing from the heart does not have to make you vulnerable but it does take courage to be the one who says what everyone else is secretly thinking. You are a leader and you inspire others. You may not think that what you are doing is particularly special as there are others doing things that you admire, but because your threshold for adventure is a lot higher than some others and to them its everything and more. What dot hey say about time and idleness? Though having children is anything but idle, however it can distract from the task at hand which is my current predicament. So sorry for the novel, but i think you are great and you're on the track and i'm looking forward to your next post :) Cheers Bec

Drena said...

Right there with ya, Brittany! We cruised last year and loved it, but as "young cruisers" our onion has a few more layers than those retired folks! Thank you for posting about the issues of cruising young (ie lapses in resumes) and writing about the possible desire to return to the dark side. You are brave!!

Anonymous said...

As one half of a sailing duo who raised 3 kids to adulthood ( and remained married) I just want to say - we couldn't have raised them on a sailboat,. No way! They needed so much.....and of course they now come first. Best wishes...Sal Paradise

Kevin said...

Brittany, while I've read some of your writings over the years and even corresponded with you via email, I have to say that your window of sailing opportunity should be coming to an end - at least for awhile. I don't want to be a negative Nancy, but a sailboat is no place for 3 little ones. You guys had a great run - and did things most people will only dream about, but your children need a safe and reliable home to grow up in, not a sailboat. The hardcore sailors out there will say I am wrong, that people raise their children on sailboats all the time and that its good for them. But I am not one of them - I chose the other route: I am financially stable with renewing income without working - and both of my grown boys are going with us. We were smart with our money, invested responsibly, and raised our boys - NOW we are going sailing. And hell, its no shame in swallowing the hook - no sense in being depressed about it, go on with life and raise three beautiful kids and be proud of the fact that you guys did something very few people get to experience. Its not a failure to drive a mini-van and be a soccer mom, its called being a responsible parent, IMHO.

Windtraveler said...

Thanks Kevin. Appreciate it. But we'll make that call for ourselves. To each his own and for as many people like you who say it can't or shouldn't be done, we get emails from happy families who HAVE done it and feel better off for it (yep, with babies). That's not to say we won't take a break - because, if we think that is best - we just might. But it will be for financial reason and NOT because having kids on a boat is irresponsible. Having lived on the boat with Isla, we know it is an INCREDIBLE place to be for small children. You don't have that experience, so you don't know it, so I understand your thinking. But we *do* know what it's like to see a child soak up the cruising life like a sponge and, believe me, it is awesome. Time will tell where we end up, and it might just be on land for a bit (or maybe not) but to us, raising children with as much attention and consciousness that a life afloat demands is anything but irresponsible. Harder? Yes. But richer in so many ways. One is not better than the other necessarily, but what is/was good/important for you might not be for us. Good luck with your cruising plans, and remember to take all advice from strangers with a grain of salt. LOTS of people will give you opinions on stuff, even if you don't want them ;).

Kevin said...

I said driving a mini-van and being a soccer mom is being a responsible parent.... but I didn't say sailing with kids is irresponsible. I just stated that, having raised children of my own, and knowing what that involves, that a sailboat isn't the best place to do it. See, that is where I have the advantage over you, I have raised my children into adulthood - you haven't. You don't know if a sailboat is the best place to raise children, because you haven't raised your children yet (sorry, a few years isn't enough to know what I'm talking about). My point was this: you wrote as if you were depressed that you might have to live a normal life, in the suburbs, being the housewife and raising your kids - like it was failing - I WAS saying that there was no shame in that. If that is what you have to do, then that's what you have to do - many parents take great pride in providing a good home for their kids. But it is a little odd that you don't mind comments that agree and sympathize with you - you welcome all those. But have somebody comment that disagrees with you and you get all testy. Why not tell everyone that comments or gives you an opinion that, "We'll figure it out ourselves. Keep your opinions to yourself, thanks!" Kind of thought that's what the "comment" section is for - you know, commenting and GIVING YOUR OPINION. Maybe your "leave your comment" should say something different and more reflective of what you are really looking for...and just as I finish writing this, I look right above the comment box and it says, "Have something to say about this? We wanna hear it!!".... do you really?

Windtraveler said...

I don't have a problem with opposing views. I DO have a problem with you telling me YOU know what is best for MY family. There are MANY people who have happily and successfully raised kids on boats (and other 'alternative' ways) and, I find it incredibly offensive for you to assume that these people (us included) don't have pride in providing a "good home for our children". There are many, many ways to provide a good home. To live on a boat with children is to be INCREDIBLY conscious about parenting - to spend almost 24/7 with your children (particularly in the early years) in an environment where we are living (more) simply and all working together takes incredible effort and dedication (ie. homeschooling). Studies show that TIME spent with children is one of, if not THE, most important element in developing emotional security in children which this lifestyle offers up in spades. If/when you do go out cruising, and meet some of these children that are raised on boats - I think you will see just what I am talking about. The difference between boat kids and land kids is stark. But you wouldn't understand that yet (a few day sails and week long charter trips isn't enough to know what I am talking about). Anyway, if we end up on land - we end up on land. If we end up on a boat - we end up on a boat. Most likely it will be a mix of the two. Either way, our children are our #1 priority and raising them to be world citizens who are able to think outside the box will definitely be something we hope to instill. Best of luck to you.

Anonymous said...

Not to be technical, but since this is "my area" studies do not show that spending 24/7 time with children is beneficial for their emotional development past the age of18-24 months. Time, yes. All the time? No. Better for them to begin to form their own relationships and spend some time away from the family forming lasting friendships as they enter toddlerhood. That is what creates the security and sense of self that is critical for psychological development. Not to be goofy, but that's why we say "roots and wings" vs "roots and roots."

My husband lived a transient lifestyle growing up, and if you ever want to hear his perspective I am sure he would share it. It was in many ways amazing, but he has tremendous resentment as well. It's all a trade off. As your kids get older, you might find yourself more in the role of supporting their journeys as well as your own. And with three that will be fun, exciting and challenging. GL!

Windtraveler said...

Anon - yes, I do agree with you and totally understand and appreciate your perspective (as an expert) - Since our babies are still in that stage where time is so important, that's what I am talking about. There are so many opportunities for boat kids to get out and explore and have their own friends and relationships, and I in no way would want to shelter them from having their own dreams and goals - even if those goals were to, say, attend a "regular" high school (for the record I have no plan to homeschool through college, if at all - we've got some time to figure that out and it will depend on where we are/what we are doing). This is precisely why our "ideal" scenario would be to live on the boat and land 50/50. To us that would be the best of both's how to make that happen that is difficult to figure out right now. But we shall see. Either way, our children and their happiness is our #1 priority. Wherever or however we raise them, the goal will be to see them thrive as individuals who feel supported and free to dream their own dreams and pursue their own goals.

In regards to your husband who lived a transient life and hold resentment about it - I get it - I have heard that as well from friends who were "military" kids and what not. But I had about as cookie cutter of a childhood as one could expect and could also say I have "resentment" (though, for me, this is not the right word). "Resentment" that I grew up in a suburb devoid of much diversity, in a place/high school/among peers...etc that so valued looks that I ended up suffering from a pretty awful eating disorder for 10 years (almost hospitalized), in an area where drugs were so available (yes, in an mid-upper class suburb) that, at 16, I was doing cocaine. Granted, all this time I was a straight A student, with a family who did nothing but love me, in world that seemed pretty "ideal" as far as the American life goes. point is, no matter where you grow up - issues can arise.

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