Fighting Nature

Yesterday it was sunny and in the 60s in December in North Carolina. I love NC with its ever-changing weather. They say here that if you don’t like the weather today then check back next week because it will surely be different. Today the weather is rainy and in the 50s, I love it. Tomorrow will be cooler more and then by Christmas Eve we will be back up to pushing 70.

I knew the weather would be changing so I took my younger two to the boat yesterday. We drove the two hours without much fuss and then on the boat, just the three of us. I motored out of the marina and onto the Pamlico until we found some open space deep enough to set the sail. There’s just something to setting the sail and turning off the engine that is difficult to explain. The peace? The power? The quiet? When the wind fills up the sail and the boat slides through the water I know that life is going to be okay.

Maybe it’s the rules of nature? Maybe that’s the reason I love being near the water? When the rest of the world is in chaos, nature is firm, solid. Nature never fails to do what she wants to do. She brings her storms and her winds; her rain and her sun. She brings these and we must submit to them, work around them. Nature is a guarantee of things to come. You can count on her changing her mind and on her making her rounds.

The sun will rise and set again. The winds will come and leave. The rains will fall and the rivers will fill. Nature. Nature will change her course with the seasons but she will always continue. As humans we can either fight her or welcome her and that can make such a difference. In the boat when I face up wind I have very little hope of sailing, yet when I turn and face downwind I can sail as far as the water allows.There is a constant bargaining with her as I attempt to arrive at my destination. Nature is always true to herself, she knows who she is.

Back in the city, however, there is the chaos. The constant fighting of nature and never allowing her to be: the coats and umbrellas, the cars and the horns, the noise of the people, the lights and decorations. People have always fought Nature like no other being on the planet. That, I think, is what sets us apart so much. Without fighting Nature, there would be no libraries, no hospitals, no towns. Fighting her has its place. Harnessing her, though? That has power. Harness the wind and I can sail. Others harness the wind for electricity. How many ways do we harness energy from her? wind, water, sun, coal, oil, fire… Without her we are nothing. We cannot even eat without bargaining with her.

When I leave the chaos and join Nature in her fury, I feel her power and I am comforted. I know that despite everything, she will continue her patterns. She will continue well beyond anything I ever do. When people leave her alone, she will turn their creations back to dust. Nature. When we die we will be turned back to dust as well. She is a reminder to me that the chaos is limited. No matter what others say or do, they are limited. I am renewed having emersed myself in her, ready to live another day in the chaos.

thank you for reading,

me

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Morning Coffee

I awoke quietly from my slumber this morning. It was as if there was a slowly increasing awareness of daylight. I was comfortable and warm lying there in my bed. I had nowhere to go and no reason to get up. No one else has claim upon my day today. If I wanted I could stay in bed forever. Instead, my body rolls over and snuggles the dogs a few more minutes. I lie there enjoying the warmth and the companionship. Why should I get up this morning? No reason, but I do. I’m not upset, not excited, I’m just here being me. I let the dogs outside and I start a cup of coffee. It’s about seven in the morning, a little later than normal but just fine.

My coffee is in my favorite mug. I went to the fair last year and carefully touched and held several different hand-made mugs until I found the one that felt just right. It has a lovely little bump where my thumb lies and it feels good in my hand. It’s not too big and not too small. I may never drink from another mug in my life, I like this one so much.

It may not look like much but this is my favorite mug. (Just finished my coffee, so it’s empty.)

I sat down in my chair and sipped on my coffee thinking about my day and just letting myself decide what I want to do. Today I could have gone to little Washington and looked around some; and I could have gone and cleaned up some on my boat as well. But instead I’ve decided to stay home with the kids. Christmas break is just beginning for them and the time is already flying by. I’m happy with my decision to stay home.

Life can throw so many curve balls that it can be hard, sometimes, to figure out which way is up. I love living life fully, even if that means a day goes by where I don’t actually do anything. That’s part of living. Living has ups and downs, hard balls and easy tosses. Life is about accepting each day with all of its roller coaster rides. It’s about accepting that sometimes there’s wind blowing into your sails and sometimes the waters are flat. None of it is ‘wrong’ it’s just part of living.

The hard part is recognizing that life is supposed to be with all of these extremes. Life is meant to be lived with ups and downs. I grow when I face the struggles, and I rest and heal on days like today. It’s about taking care of myself and knowing that it’s okay to do so. It’s simple, not easy, accepting life for what it is.

thank you for reading,

me

Tension?

Tension. I woke up this morning anxious. It’s 7 am and still kind of dark outside. I’m not sleepy but I wish I could stay in my bed where it’s warm, my house feels cold. I always turn the heat down at night and then put it back up in the morning so I did that already. What do I have to be anxious about? The ex has court this morning because he hasn’t paid his share of the property settlement. I’m sure he’ll get off scott free but I hope not. He has a way of almost getting in trouble and then getting more time or just getting a slap on the wrist… it’s frustrating and I try to forget about it since I can’t really do anything… but it’s frustrating.

Yesterday the kids and I went to go find a Christmas tree. We soon discovered that most of them are sold out or dead. The rest? Expensive. Seventy to a hundred dollars for a tree too big for our place. The younger kids started complaining about this being the ‘worst Christmas ever’ and I just wanted to cry because I was having a hard time finding a decent tree that wasn’t too small or dead and that I could afford… Christmas has been the most difficult for the kids to adjust to. Their dad just isn’t very celebratory and I’m broke. We did find a cute little one for forty-five dollars, but it is by far the littlest tree my kids have ever had and they’re disappointed. I tried. I forced myself to stay positive and to keep encouraging them as we decorated the tree and then put lights on outside. My youngest lit a fire in the fireplace and that helped a lot. We ate a good dinner and then watched a Christmas movie as well. All in all, the day turned out well but the moods never really changed. The holidays are the hardest to be positive when the kids are the ones who suffer. It’s not their fault their parents aren’t together any longer and it’s not their fault their father is no use.

As a mom, I want to fix everything. I want them all to have smooth sailing and never an upset day. I don’t want them to struggle through anything and I want to be able to buy them whatever they could possibly want. Yeah, I know, not my job to give them everything. It’s my job to help them grow into great people and to love them unconditionally. I do love them but it’s hard to watch them struggle. It’s also hard to allow them to see me struggle. I can’t really help it though and we’ll all be better off and stronger for our struggles. That’s the way we grow.

Life is supposed to be filled with good days and bad days. We aren’t supposed to have all good days. If we did, how would we know they were good with nothing to compare? How would we grow if we never had to work for it? How would our lives get better if we didn’t know how to handle the difficult stuff? I look back at my life over the last several years and I see how amazing it currently is. I’ve come this far because I have been willing to struggle through it and there’s no way I’d ever go back to who I used to be. The struggles are all worth it.

thanks for reading,

me

Bringing my boat home – 3rd leg and home

It’s home, at the dock as I type. My boat, my dream, resting well in her new home. She’s had to put up with me learning along the way but she survived and so did I. We’ve gotten to know each other better over the last couple of weeks. This last leg was from the beginning of the Albemarle Sound down the Alligator River over to Pamlico and finally Little Washington. She’s stubborn and prefers to be with plenty of wind. Her engine is electric and has an attitude of its own as well.

If she’s not fully charged she’ll let you think you’re OK until she decides you’re not. Then she just slows down, creeping forward, eternally slower and slower… you begin to notice the land isn’t moving next to you and that you’re giving her all she’s got… The ICW requires motor power unless the wind is absolutely perfect, which it wasn’t. It’s beautiful for sure, but, without a way to recharge my engine it begins to look very, very long. I can see the last bridge in the distance. I know that afterward I’ll have a chance of more wind but alas, I stare at the bridge for over an hour, it never gets closer. Such a lovely bridge, less than a couple of miles away. I could have probably swam that distance faster than my boat was going. Sigh. No wind, darkening skies, engine slowing and now not even moving forward…

I can see the bridge in the distance…

I finally make the call. I call for a tow boat. I really don’t want to but I’d like even less to spend the night on the ICW with no batteries and no way to charge them and no hope of more wind in the morning. It has to happen. I make the call, and we wait. It’s dark now with the bridge just slightly closer and we see them rushing towards us and then slowing to ask us if we’re on the hook. No. We’re not on the hook, we’re just not moving. They come and tie ropes onto us and then off we go. Six plus knots now, the icy wind in our faces for an hour, maybe more? As we head to our destination marina for the night to charge up and begin all again, I ponder why I wanted to do this in the first place. With less thought than was required to give them a call, I discover that I don’t mind the icy wind, nor the quiet night. I don’t mind having to take more time to get where we need to go. I just love being on my boat regardless of the circumstances. I discover I have no regrets, none.

We make to Belhaven, set the boat to charge up for the night and go to bed. Next morning, the charge still isn’t complete and I worry. I wonder what is wrong and if I’ve done something wrong. Yup! I sure have. I didn’t plug the 30 amp cord in correctly. I’ve melted my cord and it’s a wonder I didn’t set my boat on fire. We still have some battery and the winds today are supposed to be stellar. We plug in better with another cord and go get breakfast. A little more charge makes me feel better. After breakfast we’re off to a great start. Once we are out of the marina the wind is perfect, we’re sailing now. 6, sometimes 7 knots with the wind at our backs. My boat is loving this! She’s meant for weather like this. Before we know it we’re already on the Pamlico heading toward home. There’s another marina we consider stopping at to recharge some over lunch but the wind is so good we don’t want to waste it so we keep on sailing.

As we get closer to the river leading to Bath, I notice we’re not moving as well. The wind is a little less and off our side so I adjust the sails some and we’re still doing well, about 4 knots. I look over and notice the land isn’t moving again. What have I missed? There’s still a little wind but it’s not enough to keep us moving forward. I try tacking and do pretty well for a little while. Then when we turn I use the engine a little to get us ready to tack again. We’re at least moving forward again. But what is going on? Why is it so hard? The tide! The tide is going out, against us. We use the engine more but the battery is already complaining. We’d passed up the marina we could have charged at. The only other option is Bath. Bath is a mile and a half up the river just to our right. I might have enough battery to get there. I radio them and decide to go for it.

When we do finally arrive at Bath we are moving along at about a knot and a half. It took us over an hour to make it there with our engine slowing down the entire way. We plug in using the owner’s cord since I don’t trust mine, walk to the local Family Dollar to get some sandwich meat and then go back to the boat. It was a good stop, we met a few people, enjoyed some conversation and learned some more about my engine. What we failed to do, though, was stay. About 4 o’clock, I got antsy. I wanted to get home tonight and I really thought we could do it. We took the boat and motored back to the Pamlico and made our turn, no problems.

Then, then the damn thing decides it’s not going forward any longer. The battery slows but the wind picks up a little and we’re begin moving forward at least, just not quickly. It’s starting to get dark again and we still aren’t at our destination. Looking at the map, we just aren’t that far away. Why can’t we make it there? Do I really have to call for a tow, yet again?? I hate asking for help. Yes, I know that’s a problem but it’s just the way I am. I’m learning to ask more often but I still don’t like it. I wait. We are sailing somewhat after all. It really is getting darker, though, and colder. I make the call, again. AGAIN! Can I not get home without help?? No. I can’t. I have to allow others to help me and I have to learn to ask. They say an hour, and an hour passes. An hour fifteen, an hour and a half… I call again. That boat got into the crab pots and a different one was heading our way but would be another hour. We wait. Finally we see them and they make their way to us. I’m relieved beyond belief! It’s time for us to get home.

The sun is setting and the boat is slowing.

Thankfully, we arrive at our home marina full of health and in time to catch our ride to the house. My boat is home, resting, and charging with her shiny new 30 amp cord. We’ve made it. Our journey began in Norfolk, Virginia and ended in Washington, NC. We followed the ICW most of the way and we learned a lot. I’m no longer clueless with sailing. I’m not an expert but I’m much better than I was when I began. I started out not knowing anything. Instead of giving up or never trying I kept at it and I’ve become captain of my own sailboat, one that I can sail on my own if I choose. I’ve faced my fears and I’ve allowed myself to grow. I can’t imagine having not at least tried.

I look forward to my adventures to come. What would life be like if we all lived our dreams and didn’t let fear stop us? Thank you for allowing me to share mine with you,

thank you for reading,

me

7 Ways to Waste a Perfectly Good Day…

How do you waste a perfectly good day and still have a perfectly good day? I feel like a pro. Let me give you some pointers:

1 – Don’t plan what you’re going to wear the night before. Don’t do anything the night before that will require you to do anything in the morning. This is important. If you plan something it needs to be canceled or you will ruin your perfect chance for a wasting a perfectly good day.

2 – Once you get in bed, stay there. Read something useless until you feel sleepy then let yourself go to sleep. A perfect day really does begin the night before. It’s important that you set yourself up just right or you may ruin your chance for a perfect day.

3 – Finally, morning has arrived, the sun has risen, your eyes have opened of their own accord because they are so used to opening in the morning. Don’t worry, just lay there a few minutes longer. There’s nothing to do and nowhere to go. Lay there, check out your Facebook feed, read some more… anything… just Do Not Get Out Of Bed, not until there is absolutely no chance of falling back to sleep.

4 – The time has come, you’ve gotta pee and you aren’t even the slightest bit sleepy any longer. Good. Go ahead, get up but don’t get dressed. There’s no reason to, not yet. Heck, this is your day, you don’t even have to get dressed unless you just want to.

5 – Now if you must, which of course I did, go to the kitchen and fix yourself a cup of coffee. Stand there, wait, do nothing… watch it brew and just enjoy the anticipation of holding that warm cup and sipping it in peace. Take it to a place to sit comfortably and just let yourself be with your coffee for as long as you need. This is excellent for you… being still and being present to now and nothing else. This is what you’ve been told you need to do more than once. Just be still for a few and let yourself feel or think anything that comes up or nothing at all. You will be better for this, trust me.

6 – As the morning changes to noon to afternoon and then evening just marvel at the fact that you were able to sit still for so long. You are merely thanking your body for all the hard work that it has put forth over the last few weeks. Your body deserves this amazing break and you deserve to enjoy it as well.

7 – As nighttime approaches put a movie on, drink a beer (or a cider like I do), put your feet up and end your day on a positive note. Popcorn might be a good idea but only if it’s not too much work.  Praise yourself for letting yourself rest. You’ve done well.

There are other things that you can do to waste a perfectly good day and still keep it perfectly good but why bother? Wasting the day away is what the goal was and you’ve done well, adding more might just ruin all of your hard work. I have thoroughly enjoyed wasting my perfectly good day. Tomorrow will be different and busy, but today? Today was a perfectly wasted perfectly good day.

thank you for reading,

me

A snapshot in my life…

Just thought I’d describe a snapshot of sitting at home… on the weekend… with my kids being bored… around me… all of the time… Will she not stop? My 10-year-old is singing at the top of her lungs… my oldest son is telling her to stop… and she’s wearing a helmet at the moment because she’s worried about him? He tells her to get away from her and she chases after him. The constant, never-ending noise!! And now we “don’t like” her singing… sigh… ten year old girls and the approaching hormones… we can say nothing right at the moment.

“She’s laughing at me,” he says.

“No one likes my singing,” she says as she pretends to cry.

“She’s drooling, her snot is running into her mouth because she is trying to cry.” She goes to wipe her nose then proceeds to chase her brother again.

“Now that you’ve wiped your nose, you’re going to get mad at me again?”

“I love you, I love you, I love you…” she chants over and over again.

“This is mildly extreme, no means no. I said no,” he says.

“I love you, I love you, I love you…”

“Mom, mom, mom… make her stop,” he says. I tell them both to go their rooms, I’m ignored.

“I love you, I love you, I love you.”

“If you don’t get off of me we’re going to have problems.” He attempts to brush her off and she falls to the floor as if she were shoved pretending to cry again. No one believes her and she gets back up continues her “I love you, I love you, I love you”…

and on and on and on… sigh. I told both of them to go to their rooms again. And of course they don’t. He splashed water at her and she goes to return the favor. “You can’t do that because of the computer,” he says.

“Uugh, why do you have to make so much sense?” she says.

The quiet returns for a few minutes… I eat a couple of cookies and relax for a few minutes before attacking the rest of the night. And then the dog begins to bark… quiet? What’s that?

thanks for reading,

me

 

Bringing My Boat Home – 2nd Leg

This time I had ‘parked’ my boat in a marina near Coinjock, NC. What a lovely area! The people there were great and the entire atmosphere was beautiful. Someone asked me why I’m so far from home. “What brought a girl from inland out here?” he asked. “Simple, it’s not there and it’s not inland.” I answered. I smiled. Why wouldn’t I want to be on the coast or near it? Why would anyone want to live so far from the water? These questions seem trivial but they are so real for me. I breathe better when I’m away from people and chaos. I feel better when I can see and feel the water, oceans and rivers. Since I finally have a choice, why not choose for a life that I love?

My adventure this time began with my son dropping off myself and his two sisters at the boat. I was the captain this time and it was going to be a girl’s journey. I expected we’d be at our destination by the end of the day if we started bright and early in the morning. We said our good byes to him and made certain he knew where we planned on needing to be picked up. Inside we went and rested until morning. I love sleeping on the water. The gentle and constant movement of the boat makes sleeping easy. Morning came quickly.

In the morning I awoke and began breakfast. We ate and then set off for our destination. Problem number one arrived before we left the dock… we couldn’t get away from it! What on earth? All I had to do was go forward and all the boat wanted to do is sit there. The engine was working fine, the ropes were all stowed and we just couldn’t get away from the dock. I was beginning to question my sanity already and we hadn’t even moved! (I think the problem was we were at low tide and the current was working against us.) We did finally manage to push away from the dock enough to go forward and we were finally off. There was no wind and so we motored along the intracoastal waterway until we were out of Coinjock. Once we passed the bridge it felt there might be a little breeze so we set the sails…

Problem number two… setting the sails. Remember this is my first time on my boat as the sole captain. I know how to do this and I know what needs to happen and yet… the main didn’t want to go up. I double checked all of the lines, nothing was tied that needed to be loose, there was something else going on… Problem solving 101, use your eyes. One of the lines was wrapped around the sail wrong. Drop the sail… fix the line… raise the sail… It’s much easier this time, raising sails is supposed to be easy. Remember never to force it!  We were finally on our way. The wind helped push us along a little better, even though it wasn’t great. We were able to move along and able to save our engine battery longer. The girls and I were having a great time.

We made it through the ICW with very little problem, slowly but surely, using our sails as we were able and motoring when we weren’t. The only thing that was bothering me was that we weren’t going particularly fast. I kept hoping for a good breeze when we got to the Albemarle Sound. I was watching the winds and they were coming from the NE, which was perfect for when we would make our turn to the west on the Albemarle. Things were going to be fine. I am forever optimistic! Exactly what does ‘fine’ mean? Fine means, we’re in a good boat, we’re not going to sink and if anything goes wrong we can call for help and the weather is good.

We did make it to the Albemarle and the wind was fantastic for a while. Life was so good! This is what sailing is all about. The wind rushing around us, the boat going forward on its own. The land flying by, the waves perfect. Peace, ultimate peace. And then? Problem number three…

Problem, the wind dies down some… and some more… we angle a little different and keep going.  There are absolutely no marina’s between where we are and where we want to end our trip. None. So, we keep going forward, but slowly. We take advantage of the wind as much as we can, saving our battery for our motor. The day is speeding by and we aren’t. We see our destination ahead of us, we know where we need to go but it never seems to get closer. This is November… days are shorter… the sun begins to set. I’ve not yet sailed in the dark, I worry some. But, I’m the captain of this ship and no one is going to get hurt and I am going to get to our destination tonight. My determination makes no difference on the speed of my boat. We turn the lights on. We are the only boat within site for miles. It’s a chilly day and there’s no wind and we’re not on the ICW any more because we’re taking a stop at another’s personal dock where I can keep the boat for a couple of weeks until I can bring her the rest of the way home.

The big problem… number four… we stop. Not just stop moving forward, but suddenly stop. Hit bottom, stop… grounded, stop… now what. Optimism? Yes. I still know we will be fine, safety is my first concern and so long as we are safe I don’t care what time it is or where we are. My youngest freaks out and I’m forced into a different part of my brain. We aren’t hard stopped but we did stop. Motoring backward doesn’t help. Drop the sails, stow them quickly so what little breeze doesn’t get us more stuck. Take a breath and take charge so everyone knows that we are going to be fine, still are fine. Tell my youngest not to worry, the worst that could happen is we sleep here tonight. We’re fine. (Fine… I’m getting tired of that word. I’m not fine! I’m frustrated, I’m sorry for putting them into this situation, I’m tired, I’m cold, I want to get to land as much as they do. But I promise them we’re fine and I keep going… praying… hoping.)

I call for a tow, the tow driver that answers me is the same one we met last time. “You’re not anywhere near me. Why did we get sent to you?” I ask. There’s only two in the vicinity and so he took my call since he knows me already. “Why are you over that way? I thought you were heading toward Washington?” He asks. I explain what we had decided and what happened. He’s not able to help us until morning and suggests we throw an anchor and settle down for the night. I’m not ready to give up yet. He’s worried we’ll get stuck on crab pots or get stuck worse. I notice the depth meter and that we’re not stuck any longer. The waves had moved us off of the sandbar we happened upon. Still, I’m scared, there’s a lot of shallows around me. What on earth do I do?? Play it safe and anchor? Or move forward a little at a time…

See that circle? That was me trying to find a way through the shallows…

Problems solved… it’s about 9 o’clock at night and we finally, carefully, approach the dock where we will leave the boat for the next couple of weeks. The boat is fine, we are all fine. It took us about three hours to get there and we had to turn ourselves around more than once to avoid grounding again. I spoke with the people who lived there and they helped me to navigate the area better. We docked, we packed up, we thanked everyone and we began to drive home… (I called the tow driver and told him we made it and were safe, he was glad to hear it and told me to touch base if ever in the area again.) After driving for about an hour I began to fade and convinced my son to continue the trip for us. I laid down in the backseat and passed out until we were home. Exhaustion, peace, accomplishment all overwhelmed me. We had done it, we had made it. I had successfully brought my boat closer to home and learned even more about sailing. I still love it all, the getting stuck, the getting unstuck… the land being so close and yet so far away… the night-time air, the chilly breeze, the wind and the stillness… loved it all. I had faced my fears and won, again. Life is good.

thanks for reading,

me

ps. last leg of bringing my boat home coming up…