In the midst of running around So Cal–seeing friends and family and gathering supplies for this year’s sea-bound adventures, I got word from Dear & Yonder surf film creators Tiffany Campbell and Andria Lessler, that I could release my section of the film for public viewing!! Dear & Yonder “Daring Stories of Ladies United by the Sea” was filmed in 2007/8 and released in 2009. My section in the movie took three separate attempts to capture over nine months, and across two island nations and thousands of miles of open sea!! These beautiful images were captured by Tiffany & Thomas Campbell, Andria Lessler, Dave Homcy, & Bali Strickland. Huge thank yous to everyone involved! What an incredible souvenir for me to look back on…For more about the film go to dearandyonder.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy!
Mother Earth fills our bellies everyday, so in her honor I’ve decided to write about ‘food’ for Earth Day. We eat three times a day, everyday… so our food choices have a huge impact on our health and, simultaneously, the health of the planet. This topic is especially exciting for me, as I have tried eating ‘vegan’ for the last year and, after a bit of fine-tuning, I’ve never felt better! In addition to the physical ‘feel good’ benefits, I’ve realized that our daily food choices can be a powerful form of individual eco-activism, accumulating an enormous positive impact over time!
Here are a few Earth-friendly suggestions to consider:
- Support small-scale, organic farms and alternative methods to corporate agriculture! Gardening is not always an option, but buying food from local, organic farms generally is. Between consciously-sourced markets, farmer’s markets, community gardens, co-ops, and local growers that deliver a weekly box of fresh veggies, there are lots of ways to avoid buying from corporate farms. Large-scale agriculture is the least ecologically-sensitive way to grow food. Growing the same crop over large land areas does not take advantage of the naturally beneficial plant combinations that can eliminate the need for using pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Corporate farms do not consider the health of their workers, consumers, the ground water, the native plants and animals, and general public safety when they routinely spray highly toxic chemicals on our food and soil. UN: Eco Farming Feeds the World, Is Organic Farming the Key to Solving Hunger? And Climate Change?, Corporate Power in Agriculture
- Eat less processed food! I like to think about trying to reduce the number of hands and machines and altering processes my food goes through before consuming it. During my outer island roaming and food-foraging, I decided that I liked eating whole foods because it made me feel closer to nature eating things that looked they came off a tree rather than out of a factory. Not only does eating whole food decrease the need for packaging, it ensures that you aren’t consuming artificial preservatives, flavorings, colors and any of the other thousands of often mysterious ingredients that are added to US foods. Various food dyes, Olestra brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate, Azodicarbonamide, BHA, BHT, rBGH, rBST and arsenic are banned in other countries but still legal in US foods! There are certainly minimally processed options, but it’s worth having a closer look at food labels and reading between the lines as to what constitutes truly ‘natural’, healthy food. 9 Ways the Processed Foods Are Slowly Killing People, Dirty Secrets of the Food Processing Industry
- Boycott GMO-containing foods and companies!!! Despite that it is still unclear as to whether or not ‘genetically modified’ foods are safe for human consumption over time, Monsanto and the other ‘big 6’ biotech corporations–BASF, Bayer, Dow Chemicals, Dupont, and Syngenta–control nearly every aspect of our food system. They are responsible for creating most of today’s genetically modified foods along with producing the chemicals required to grow them. They’re also attempting to control and regulate the world’s seeds, so that farmers will be have to buy their patented GMO seeds. Not only is this threatening to destroy the critical biodiversity of seeds that humans have developed since the dawn of plant cultivation, it gives them a frightening amount of power! These billion dollar corporations are paying scientists to engineer ‘franken foods’ that are not always more ‘nutritious’. Monsanto’s “Roundup Ready” crops have been genetically engineered to allow direct application of the Monsanto herbicide ‘glyphosate’. This lets farmers drench both their crops and soil with this chemical to kill nearby weeds and pests without killing the plants, leaving the crops coated in this highly toxic chemical, the soil degraded, and the groundwater polluted. This is just a taste of these companies’ multitude of ecologically and socially irresponsible practices. Please educate yourself further on this issue! On March 26th of this year, The Monsanto Protection Act was signed into US law, essentially giving GMO companies immunity to the federal courts and states that even if future discoveries show that GMOs cause significant health problems. Total boycott of GMO-containing foods is a powerful way to show that we do NOT approve of all this! Documentary: ‘The World According to Monsanto’ , Surf Legend Kelly Slater Attacks GMOs and Biotech Giants, Surfing for Change’s Latest film: Pro Surfers vs GMOs by fellow Patagonia Ambassador Kyle Thiermann
- Eat less or no meat! The large-scale factory farming of cattle, pigs, chickens and other livestock creates serious negative impacts on the environment. Greenhouses gas emissions, water pollution, deforestation, soil degradation, and habitat destruction are some of the grave consequences of mass meat production. Plus, calculations estimate that it takes anywhere from 2,500-12,000 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef, versus 60-200 gallons for 1 pound of potatoes, wheat, corn, or rice!? (Vegsource.com & David Pimentel Ecological Integrity: Integrating Environment, Conservation and Health Island Press, Washington DC, 2001). Health-wise, science has proven that people with diets high in animal protein are much more prone to heart disease and cancer. Heard of The China Study? Ever seen the ‘Cowspiracy’ Documentary? The final straw for me to become vegan, was when I learned how horrifically animals are treated in these CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations). If you aren’t ready to give up meat, try to source it from wild or more humanely raised animals. Gary Yourofsky’s Best Speech You Will Ever Hear will educate you a lot on this issue!
- When/if eating seafood, please choose wisely… Through my years on the sea, I’ve watched and participated in fishing of many kinds. On voyages to more remote island groups, I’ve seen by comparison, how drastically reduced the fish stocks are in more populated, overfished places. These populations now look farther and more remotely to supply their seafood. Ultimately, this is not a sustainable solution. Most of our critical global fish stocks are in steep decline, and although I often enjoyed sustenance fishing, after seeing the results of overfishing first hand, I no longer feel comfortable consuming seafood. So I’ve decided to eat a plant-based diet where it’s an option. “A study of catch data published in 2006 in the journal Science grimly predicted that if fishing rates continue apace, all the world’s fisheries will have collapsed by the year 2048.” (National Geographic) For those not ready to give up seafood entirely, there are certainly more sustainable choices. In general, eating lower on the ocean food chain, choosing wild versus farmed, and eating locally-caught options are generally more sustainable. There are even free apps for smartphones to help you decide quickly at a restaurant which might be the most sustainable seafood on the menu. Seafood Watch Iphone App, FAQs for Seafood Watch App, EDF Seafood Selector, Tackling Overfishing on Many Fronts, National Geographic: Overfishing
- When dining out, support restaurants that source their food from local, conscious suppliers! Try to keep up your conscious-eating standards when dining out. Asking nicely about food sourcing spreads awareness and promotes businesses to have healthier, Earth-friendly alternatives.
When I broke my neck in 2012, I spent a lot of time reading about healing through food. I wanted to be on my feet as soon as possible, so I studied up on which foods are conducive to healing and which hinder. I ate well, thought positively, and completely eliminated caffeine, refined sugar, meat, & alcohol. I healed incredibly quickly!!
Through that experience, I learned a lot about what I do and don’t want to eat. I’ve continued researching, experimenting, and using my intuition to understand what my body runs on best. It’s taken years to refine my eating habits to what they are now. I started by cutting out red meat and poultry…then reduced refined sugar and processed foods…then caffeine…then came dairy…and lastly fish. I’ve been amazed at the changes I’ve felt in my body in the past year of eating a very clean, plant-based diet. I feel strong, get sick less often, and have more energy than ever before! And all the nagging injuries I was suffering from have healed. I can’t be sure that this is all a result of my dietary changes, but I want to share that this adventure in food has been as awesome and profound as any of other.
Choosing to eat more consciously doesn’t mean you can’t make exceptions, or that dietary decisions are forever. I think we are all fabulously unique and this means no one type of diet suits everyone. If someone told me five years ago that I would stop eating cheese and not miss it, I would have laughed! This is a very personal process, and I’m not trying to tell people that eating this way is best. Rather, I’m encouraging everyone to go on their own dietary adventures and educate themselves to make more informed food choices. Doing so comes with the great benefits of better health for you and our dear Moma Earth!
***Thank you to my dear and wise sister, Kathleen Clark, for your editing help and input on this piece! She has her own amazing food story of healing her incessant migraines through a shift to mostly plant-based eating. I Love You, Leen!!
Despite a day of gray, the sun refuses to depart unnoticed, surprising me and the thickly-clouded sky with a lavish splash of reds and pinks. The heavens then toss the light down onto the sea, where it warps into a hypnotizing tango with the water’s evening shadows. A dark line appears ahead. I study its form and decide to paddle over it. It lifts me up, and then I fall softly down its brilliant, berry-colored back. The second of the set is bigger, fuller–its arm reaching farther to the south… I calculate my placement as it nears, turning just before it’s upon me, and stroking twice.
I rise to my feet as it picks me up. Two quick, extended pumps and I’m high-lining along a blossoming, neon-lipped water wall. A moment later, the wall stretches out well beyond me. With one more high-toed pump I think I can make it, and crouch under a translucent-pink water roof. Bracing toes, surreal excitement, all of me aimed for the exit. Briefly there is no confusion, nothing out of place–just trim and bliss behind the waterfall…
Then poof, it’s over. The sea boils and the reef sucks dry just ahead of me. Dropping back to prone, I stroke for deeper water while attempt to take my mind back inside… The vision runs fugitive but the sensation lingers like an electric shock.
Before I start the paddle home, I stop to acknowledge my tremendous Gratitude to the Greatness. No matter the time or struggle between moments like this, I am thankful for All of it. For without the bitter, how could we know sweet? I take a deep breath and cherish once more the vast silence of alone and adrift between sea and sky. How oddly comfortable it feels… How marvelously empty my mind can be when surrounded solely by raw, undivided Nature and Wildness…? It’s as if I cease to exist, or maybe it’s more like reattaching to the Rest?
I wipe my eyes and watch tiny raindrops begin to collide with the shiny pink surface of the sea. They each send out a perfect, teeny ringlet. Soon a zillion miniature gongs are singing! My eyelids drift closed and I lay my head on my board. It sounds as if I’m afloat in a giant glass of just-poured mineral water; its effervescent tickle exceedingly delightful. The patter sends fine, glowing mist onto my face and into my smiling mouth.
I become so entranced I almost loose my balance, sitting up at once. But I’m quickly stolen into the scene again by the countless neon droplets that scatter across the sea upon their impact and hover just above it for one fleeting instant–touching, but separate—for one glorious final moment of their individual journey from the sky before sinking into oneness with the endless sea again. Mesmerizing…
A chill brings me back to my body; goosebumps rise on my arms. I turn and paddle for the boat, watching those miniscule hovering droplets scatter as I go, knowing I am just like them–momentarily and illusorily separate, yet inescapably and fantastically Part of the Great Sea of Oneness.
“Passion is the love of turning being into action. It fuels the engine of creation. It changes concepts to experience…. Never deny passion, for that is to deny Who You Are, and Who You Truly Want To Be.” –Neale Donald Walsch
Wishing you all a peaceful, love-filled, and joyful holidays!! …I’ve been thinking about writing this blog for a long time…excited to share it here with you all!!
So aside from the obvious reason that following your dreams and living your passions makes us, as individuals, happier and more fulfilled, I believe there is a Greater reason why doing so is important…So let’s break down my theory…:)
We are each born with a great, unique potential. All of us have a different call or purpose in this life that cultivates a deep yearning to be fulfilled through physical experience. Imagine…you can know that you want to be a great chef, a wandering traveler, a singer/song-writer, or the proud owner of a business, but until you actually have that experience, there is an inevitable part of you that doesn’t feel complete. Or maybe you don’t quite know what you want, but you know you need to go figure it out. I’ve come to believe that the best thing that we can do for ourselves, our families, and for the world is to hear and follow our hearts and calls. The alternative is living in quiet frustration, haunted by whispers of what ‘could be’ or ‘could have been’. We can attempt to repress these whispers, to push them deeper, but I don’t think they ever truly go away…
But it’s never too late to hear and honor them! Even a small step toward living closer to our truest self makes us feel more alive, more vibrant, more inspired, and closer to the person and potential we know brews within us. Every time we make a choice that moves us in that direction, even slightly, vitality trickles in. We often don’t know what we’re moving toward or even what we really want, but we do know which steps feel like progress and which don’t. Trial and error, forward and back, faster, slower, but eventually closer to what feels right.
We tell ourselves a thousand reasons why we should not move towards our dreams and goals: “There’s too much risk!” … “I’m comfortable…” “I don’t want to fail…” “I have a family to support…” I say the risk of regret is much riskier. I say that comfortable is caustic and that the only failure is having never tried. And for the noble householder, I say, what better example, what more important message could you pass along to your children and/or partner, than: ‘Become the greatest You!’, and ‘Live a life you Love!’?? The joy and peace transmitted through this example are worth more than all the material things you could ever provide.
This could seem like a selfish concept at first, as it may not intuitively link to uniting humanity and saving the planet. But wait…I’m getting there…
Doing what we really want to do in life can seem a little selfish, probably because we are taught from youth that sacrificing ourselves for others and doing what society needs us to do is what makes us worthy and admirable (…granted that sometimes there are situations and consequences that demand our responsibility and/or we should always avoid hurting people and use integrity when making decisions!). But in general, our society teaches us that achievements are the things that you can note on your CV or measure in the number of zeros in your salary.
I say achievements are the decisions we make and actions we take to be true to ourselves. I say learning to truly love Oneself is our greatest achievement…and hearing our dreams and calls is a powerful path to getting there. It’s a process, and the road is long and windy, but in my opinion, it’s not money or fame or letters of recommendation that make us admirable. Admirable is each small, humble, and inwardly-celebrated step that we make toward becoming more self-aware, changing habits that don’t serve us and others, and living a life we believe in.
And so, with great courage, we might take a step towards living our version of a more authentic life. Initially, your loved ones might feel betrayed, but with persistent, loving explanations, the people who really love you will understand and want you to seek happiness. Your choosing to do so is a very powerful statement that they can too. As you walk, no matter how slowly, toward each small goal and higher vision of yourself, you give others courage and reason to do the same. This courage is profoundly contagious. And it all starts with a small decision to go within and listen to what you really want out of life.
I don’t think you have to know exactly what you want forevermore. I think the ‘call’ often evolves along the way. One might need to become the richest woman alive in order to know that money doesn’t make her rich. Or compete mercilessly in surf contests in order to one day realize that giving an epic wave to a friend actually feels more like winning.
The first steps are the surely the hardest. But as it does when you choose your hopes and dreams, the universe conspires to move you steadily, often magically along. The steps start getting easier until one day you find yourself striding right along–strong and confident that your feelings, instinct, and innate knowing can be trusted. The unknown hardly seems intimidating anymore. In fact, it starts to become kinda exciting! You wonder what twist in the tale will appear, and know that if you choose to greet your daily angels and teachers with an open, humble heart you will never be led too far astray. With great patience, practice, hard work, stumbles and strides, self-examining and reflection, you move closer to the person and place you so desire to be. You keep listening, you keep doing what you do because you love and believe in it.
Then one day you wake up in your dreams. They have become undeniable reality. It might not be exactly how you had imagined. Maybe it’s even better! You bathe in the glory and greet new adversities with optimism. For each day doing what you love is a gift, no matter how hard or stressful. You learn deep gratitude. You are so thankful that you listened to the voice within you, and cherish those who encouraged and believed in you. You learn to appreciate your life so deeply and wholly that all of a sudden you look around and realize you’ve made a great ascent on your climb to personal peace.
While sitting blissfully atop that ‘Peak of Peace’, a few important things might happen:
- You look down at the steep and hard-trodden road to where you are sitting and see that, in fact, all those misfortunes, failures, difficulties were the means to arriving there! You stop mourning things in your past because you see how they helped you to where you are now. A deep trust is born in the Greatness and Perfection of it All. True Wonder and Awe is awakened at the thought of each of our wildly unique and complex journeys!
- Compassion flourishes. The feeling of deep peace combined with the understanding that the same is possible for every human on earth, creates a longing for others to feel what you feel and desire to help them on their way. The thriving, positive energy feels SO good, that you just want others to thrive, too! Your compassion soon expands out beyond your family and friends to all people and plants and animals too…
- Competition is replaced by a sincere wish to bring others up. Jealousy vanishes, for you now know from experience, that life’s truest riches abide solely in the realm of the internal. Rather than feel threatened or envious of another’s good fortune, you praise and cheer them on, in hopes that that they may one day call out to you from atop their own peak of peace… “Hello dear sister! Hello my brother! How glorious is this view!!?!”
- We begin to truly feel and see the interconnectedness of all of life; that we all come and return to one great Energy, regardless of our form. We see the similarity in the struggles and victories of each living being, regardless of its species, race, or gender. Knowing we are One, we understand that we can only truly rise if we all rise together.
And so I conclude that the more of us who take this journey, and make it to their personal ‘peak of peace’, the better chance we have at creating a happier, healthier, more loving world. So be assured that living your dreams, hearing your call, and pursuing a life of passion and is as powerfully serving to humanity and the Earth as it is to your Self. I believe it is as practical and direct a means to contributing to a better world, right now, as any other.
For how can we possibly hope to feed our hungry, end war, repair our ecological crises, learn respect for all life, and move towards fuller, more satisfying ways of existence if we as individuals are not whole, realized, and peaceful ourselves? I tell you it is just not possible…
So do, be, and live what you love! A better you makes a better me makes a better world, because essentially…We are One.
“Accept yourself. Love yourself as you are. Your finest work, your best movements, your joy, peace, and healing comes when you love yourself. You give a great gift to the world when you do that. You give others permission to do the same: to love themselves. Revel in self-love. Roll in it. Bask in it as you would sunshine.” ~ Melodie Beattie.
Let’s get back to the wonderful and the worldly! After posting my last blog, a tide of relief rushed in. Thank you for all the love and positive comments. I was practically backstroking through all the support. It felt like hundreds of virtual hands lifting me up! I thank you deeply and will continue to send out my highest hopes that those words continue to reach others ready to free themselves from unhealthy situations…
Since then, I’ve been focused on finding my balance again. There was still so much work to do on Swell at that time and emails piling high in my Inbox, but I knew it was time to focus on feeling like myself again. We have little to give when we aren’t feeling whole and strong ourselves. So on the cabin wall, I taped over the ‘Swell To-Do list’ with a different sort of list…It read:
The ‘Fill Me Up’ List
- Go S-L-O-W, no rushing…
- Go surf!
- Meditate and do Yoga
- Take time to be truly Present
- Eat whole, Organic, sustainable food & drink coconuts!
- Dance outside
- Massage your feet
- Sleep outside
- Watch the sunrise/sunset/stars
- Do only what you feel like doing!
It worked wonders! In no time at all, I was feeling strong and blissful—soaring high like as a little coiled spring, just released. Maybe plunging deep into darkness, allowed me to heartily catapult back into the shiny world of Love and Light! As was said, we can only appreciate a smooth sea, for having traveled a stormy one.
So I’m happily back to a clean, humble, hard-working sea life. Restoring my foundation has helped me appreciate the sweet little things again. I wake up grateful for my simple freedom, the sea’s soothing embrace all around me, and the positive, loving people who recently appeared on my path. The sky is bluer, the rain is sweeter, and the wild waves call to me ever stronger…
No matter how busy, we MUST make time to do the things we love. Sacrifices often have to be made, but whenever possible, fill up your ‘me’ tank. Practicing loving-kindness to ourselves is a critical part of being ‘full’ enough to love, listen to, give, and support our brother and sister humans!
We’ve all found ourselves in a situation that we know isn’t right for us, but for one reason or another, we resist change. Our innate knowing of what is best taps patiently at the door of our stubborn minds, but sometimes we are so intent on a certain desired outcome, that we refuse to hear the knocking and continue to push, force, and turn round and round in a negative situation for weeks, months, years…lifetimes?
I’m going way out on a limb here, as I’ve never talked about my love life on the blog before, but I’ve decided to share my recent experience because it was such an enormously growth-producing event for me and with hope that my doing so might comfort/encourage others dealing with something similar.
So here we go…
In 2011, I fell in love with a wonderful Tahitian guy. It was a powerful, unexpected, fairytale kind of love story, and after knowing him for only a few months, I trustingly took a leap and invited him to fly up and join me aboard Swell on a tour of French Polynesia. Having proven all I needed to prove to myself in terms of solo sailing, I was ready to love and share it all. I just knew that together we would be unstoppable…
When he was at his best, we were. But shortly following his arrival, I began seeing that his extraordinarily caring, chivalrous, talented, courageous, and hard-working ‘good side’ had an equally extreme and radical jealous, possessive, and manipulative ‘bad side’. But there I was, out in the middle of the Pacific, already overly attached to my expectations for our relationship. I resisted sending him home, in hopes that giving him all my love and wisdom might help him overcome the darker aspects of his character so that we could live happily ever after…
That was stupid. On the good days all was blissful, but after a few months aboard those days grew fewer and farther between. Nothing I did was ever enough. His jealousy was always my fault. Amidst awe-inspiring paradise, he only felt fear. Fear of losing me. Fear that I would stop loving him. Little by little, he pushed and tested me, whittling away my energy and hope until there was no question that I had to get away from him. But around the same time we arrived back in the Society Islands, and Swell got t-boned by a charter boat, which complicated distancing myself from him, as he was from the island where the Charter company was based that was responsible for doing the repairs to Swell.
Hence, putting real distance between us was impossible until I flew to California for the birth of my nephew, and even then, I felt like Swell was vulnerable there on the island with him if I didn’t keep things friendly.
When I eventually returned to French Polynesia and climbed up the ladder to Swell in the boatyard, all the memories of our voyage and the deep sadness and disappointment returned. He came around to help and against my better judgment, I caved and let him. I missed him and wanted to believe he’d changed like he promised he had…but before long, the neurotic jealousy started again and I knew I had to cut him off completely.
But the more I resisted, the more he persisted to be near me. The island became very small. There was nowhere to hide. He was always watching me. It soon became clear that he was more unstable, unpredictable, and prone to violence than I had ever imagined.
One evening I locked myself inside Swell at the yard, seeing his mood go south earlier in the day. He arrived later—drunk and crazed—and set to violently bashing on Swell’s door, yelling belligerently that he was going to beat me when he got in. Horrified and panicked, I fumbled to call his mother, my friends, the police… I got quite a reality check about the general attitude surrounding domestic violence when the police said they wouldn’t come because they needed a key to get in the gate!? Luckily the yard owner and my friends came quickly to my rescue. He slinked away into the night when he saw them coming…
After this terrifying moment, I knew there was no other way to ensure my safety until Swell was floating, than to go along with his wishes. I moved out of my girlfriend’s house and in with his family during the final months of the haul-out in order to placate him and decrease my chances of being alone. His family welcomed me graciously, but his behavior remained erratic. His frightening mood changes had me living in fear all day, everyday, not knowing when or what might set him off. He wasn’t ashamed to steal and hide my belongings or threaten me with force.
The more I quietly shared my story with other women, especially Tahitian, the more stories I heard about others dealing with the same. In fact, this kind of behavior is quite common here. This was one of many scary incidents I went through with him, and despite that I managed to avoid ever being directly ‘hit’, the threats and bullying and psychological abuse are not to be disregarded. The next day he always acted as if nothing had happened and, as they do, promised that nothing like it would ever happen again. But knowing I feared him and that I was trapped there, he continued to threaten physical violence to keep things his way.
Never in my life did I think I would find myself in such a radical situation, stripped of my independence and personal freedoms. I couldn’t be myself because I was constantly questioning whether he would misconstrue my actions. He became paranoid beyond belief, hardly letting me out of his sight for those long, laborious months. Desperate to gain my liberty from him, I worked madly on Swell from dawn to dusk, usually with his help, as he never wanted me to be alone. I couldn’t call my friends or go where I pleased, and I felt ashamed and guilty to tell people what was really going on. Even the sunniest day felt dreary.
To be honest, I never thought I’d be sharing this here, but with a month or so away from it now, I feel that hiding the situation only adds to the silence and shame that cloaks the lives of women (and men) in similar situations. Concealing it would betray them. I cried in the night, thinking of them–all over the world—people living in fear everyday of oppressive, unpredictable partners. I knew I would soon sail away and have my life back, but in so many places there were women who would be forced to remain in such situations out of fear for their safety. It pains me to know that females are still treated as possessions or ‘lesser’ than males in so many parts of the world, and that this kind of behavior is just accepted as ‘the way it is’. I was raised to believe that my potential had nothing to do with my gender, but so many women in the world aren’t that lucky. I mourned humanity’s massive loss of potential squashed under the world’s repressed women. For how can one pursue their gifts and passions under such stifling circumstances? And how does love manifest itself in such an ugly way?
I’m not looking to blame or demonize him, only to call to attention this kind of backwards behavior. As, in his mind, he was showing me how much he loved me. Through the long saga, helped me enormously on Swell any way he could. My choices were my choices. I could have found another way. Maybe I needed to see the depths of his darkness in order to free myself from my last hopes for his transformation. My love for him and sympathy for his confusion about how to express his love, made me weak to leave for a long time. But I see now that every time I accepted him back into my heart after the bad behavior, I was telling him it was ok.
In the end, instead of relishing the sweet completion of the enormous overhaul of Swell on the day she was re-launched, he became instantly jealous because Swell was berthed next to a boat with two young men on it. I watched his mood begin to unravel and I wasn’t about to wait around for the wrath I knew was coming… I feared he’d lash out like never before, knowing that my freedom was now possible. So despite my bone-deep fatigue, I devised a plan and notified my friends. With trembling hands that night, I snuck my belongings out of his house and my friends helped me sail away under a big lovely moon…
Regaining my freedom felt completely surreal, but the fear lingered on. He called and threatened relentlessly to come find me in the days following, and on the third morning after my departure, all the stress and fear and exhaustion manifested into the temporary paralysis of one side of my face, a condition called Bell’s Palsy, followed by a bout with shingles!!! Awful!?! Luckily, I was safe and surrounded by loving friends, good health care facilities, and had the long-distance support of my family to get me feeling strong again.
So there it is… the reason for the big blog delay, and why I haven’t yet replied to a lot of your emails. It’s taken some time to heal and process it all. I deeply appreciate your patience and continued support.
I’m all healed now, and feeling stronger than ever. As hard as it was, I bless this experience for all the perspective it has given me. For we cannot know the Light without the darkness. We cannot choose who and where we want to be in life unless we know who and where we don’t want to be! Hardships are our greatest opportunities to choose anew, grow and redefine ourselves. But only if we choose to see them that way.
I realize now that when it comes to relationships, ultimate love and fidelity to one’s Self—by both parties—would be a much better foundation. Love doesn’t mean you put someone else before you or sacrifice who you are for them, it means you support each other to grow into the ultimate best versions of yourselves, with respect to individual pace and method. When that doesn’t include each other anymore, may we lovingly go separate ways. Every soul is undergoing its own unique journey to becoming who he/she wants to be, and I was naïve and self-righteous in thinking that I could get him to evolve faster than he was ready for…or that what he was choosing wasn’t perfect for his evolution. I got attached to results, and in doing so, caused myself a great deal of pain.
Fear and attachment work contrary to love. They erode what builds and binds us, and we constantly have the choice of to use. It’s often so much easier, safer, more comfortable to lean into fear and blame the other. But in the end, this doesn’t serve us. It only digs us into a lonely hole. As much as I couldn’t understand his behavior in the midst of it, I see now that if he never crawled into that hole of fear, and truly experienced its dark, isolated, empty space, how would he know and decide that he doesn’t want to be there?
…All paths lead to the Light in the end, we just have to accept the often painstaking duality along the way.
If we choose to look within and ask ourselves what we can do to change our unhappiness, life becomes unlimited potential. When we keep blaming others or grappling at expectations, we stay in the hole. Trying to convince people of their greatness is futile. We can only be so busy working on ourselves, that we might inspire them to realize that their own evolution is possible.
So, may we free ourselves and our partners from expectations, and truly want for them, what they want for themselves. If you have the luxury of choice to leave a relationship that isn’t serving you, do it. And feel all the women (and men) in the world who can’t (or don’t), cheering you along. A better life awaits…
I pray that as humanity, we learn to cherish our women (and men) across all lands. Not to fear their power, but embrace it. Not to stifle their voices, but sing together in harmony. We must rethink standards we have set, question our prejudices, and help our sister and brother humans call forth a new era of respect and love among us–no matter the gender, race, or social status. Your individual power to change yourself is a critical spark in the global fire of human evolution towards Love and Oneness. So let the sparks fly!!
Early last May around 2pm, Swell sat at anchor over my favorite sand bank in Tahiti after arriving the following evening from a year-long, 2,600 mile loop through the outer islands of French Polynesia. I was tucked in at my little desk in Swell’s cabin talking to my father on the phone…
“I’m so proud of you Lizzie! Congratulations! Navigation through those waters is no small feat!” He said.
“Thanks, Dad. What a year it was!”
Suddenly I heard yelling outside, and lifted my head to the window. A massive catamaran was barrelling straight down on Swell!?!
“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh!!! Dad, I’ll call you back!!” I yelled. “Someone just hit me!”
The 50 ft charter yacht had properly t-boned Swell, ramming its port hull into her starboard side, just above the waterline slightly aft of the chainplates. It bent some stanchions and broke lifelines and kinked my forward lower cable, too. Where the hull had flexed inward, the interior wood near the bookshelf and drawers crushed and splintered.
Shocked, speechless, adrenaline coursing, I could hardly do more than stare at the middle-aged American dude waving frantically on the bow…Raiarii, on the contrary, was foaming at the mouth, livid, cursing, and ready to leap over and tackle him. The guy backed his yacht away, anchored behind us, and then came over in his dinghy with his wife and another crew shortly after.
In the minutes before his arrival, I talked myself into being calm and kind. Surely, I’d done something as equally ridiculous as to crash into an anchored vessel in the middle of a huge open bay in broad daylight…??? Maybe not…but we all make mistakes…I pleaded with Raiarii to let me do the talking since they spoke English anyway (in retrospect I wish I’d let him handle it the Tahitian way!)
When they arrived I greeted them with a smile, and the captain, Mr. Glenn Dimmit nervously climbed aboard and ran around Swell assessing the damage. He seemed apologetic at first…
“This is completely my fault.” He said. “I went below to do something and the boat was drifting faster than I realized and…”
“It’s ok,” I said. “What’s done is done. Just take care of the damage and lets not let it ruin your vacation.” He claimed he knew lots about boats and that the damage was minimal. But the bulbous hull of the catamaran had hit initially, then pushed Swell over on her port side, where the boat struck her a second time slightly below the waterline when Swell tilted back to starboard. The boat would have to be hauled and the rig would have to be checked to truly assess all the damage…
“Let’s make a list of the damage,” Glenn said.
It seemed like a good idea to me.
His non-engaging wife walked around Swell like it was contaminated with toxic waste, adjusting her hairdo after each photo she took of the damage.
“Honey, did you get this?” She’d say, ignoring me altogether.
He wrote out the list on a few clean pages of my notebook and then curiously numbered each page in the bottom corner…”1 of 3, 2 of 3, 3 of 3”. He then signed his name at the bottom.
“Just sign right here,” he said, “to verify that this is the only damage there is.”
“Wait?” I thought. “Something isn’t right here…? This stranger just carelessly rammed into my home, my life, my way of transportation…and he wants me to sign something? We can’t possibly know what all the damage is yet. What do you think I wanted you to ram into me??”
I recoiled and looked at him suspiciously…
“You know,” he smirked, “just in case this turns into a pissing match…”
At that, my Zen bubble was painfully popped. The magic of a year’s worth of wild open ocean, remote island beauty, and generous Polynesians had been t-boned by a conniving kook from Anaheim. He didn’t give a spit about Swell or I, he was only out to cover his own ass, knowing that his recklessness could be expensive.
“Hmmm…” I played dumb at first. “I really don’t think its necessary for me to sign anything. We can’t possibly know what all the damage is until it has been properly assessed.”
He shoved the paper at me again nervously. My good humor was melting away quickly. I’d been so nice?! He’d made such a hideously blatant error?! I’d kept my Tahitian boyfriend from crushing him into rubble!? And there he was trying to trick me into signing a some sneaky document to protect his ASSets!!?
Maybe I’d been at sea too long–adrift in my fantasy world of positivity and love…but this guy was really a douche!! He and his posse slinked away shortly after my final refusal to sign his paper. He never passed again to see how we were doing in the two days he remained anchored behind Swell. In fact, he’d motor his dinghy wide on his way to shore in order to avoid us…
I called the charter company to report the accident, which kicked off a saga of poor handling by the company’s manager. Despite the deep pockets of the international company, Dream Yacht Charter refused to pay for a true assessment of the damage by a surveyor. And in the end, Swell was repaired as minimally and heartlessly as possible.
Friends and strangers alike urged me to fight back. I could sue Mr Dimmit in California for my losses due to his recklessness. I could file an international lawsuit against the charter company manager, Jerome, who I watched sneakily wipe off the paint from collision point of the accident above the Swell’s waterline, and then tell the yard worker not to grind that area down (because he didn’t want to have to pay to redo the paint!?). When I ground the patch down myself, there was a large area of damaged fiberglass that would not have been repaired had I not happened to see him slyly arrive on his scooter with acetone and a rag in hand.
The whole ordeal was time-consuming, energy draining, and downright disheartening. I wrote some letters of appeal for support to Glenn and those higher up at Dream Yacht Charter. Glenn never responded at all, and the company only turned accusations and faults on me. I spent too much time feeling angry, hurt, confused as what was the best thing to do…I had always tried to do right by others…how could they care so little??
I despised Glenn and Jerome through the summer, until I realized that my negative energy for them was really only hurting me. I was taking it personally, when really, their heartless way of living was their own problem. If I felt anger toward them, I was even more of the loser.
So little by little, I talked myself into letting the whole thing go…My kicking and screaming to bring them to justice was not worth the amount of money and time that I would lose fixing Swell properly on my own. Lawsuits were plain unthinkable—the mere thought of courtrooms and paperwork gave me the jitters.
One morning, while vacationing with my family in Catalina, I made the decision to put the whole thing behind me. I must have had a karmic debt to pay, and both Glenn and Jerome would have theirs too. Nothing is wasted or lost in this universe…And a minute more spent thinking about the situation, was a minute less spent with my beloved family.
Standing under a cool blue sky on my parents boat in Catalina, I lifted it up to greater forces and handed it over…ahhhhh it felt so good!!
Prior to that moment, I feared that ‘letting go’ would hurt my pride, or render me weak, but instead, the forgiveness induced an immediate wave of freedom and serenity that washed completely over me… Suddenly, ‘pride’ and ‘losing’ seemed so pitifully insignificant! I couldn’t wait to get back to playing with my family.
… I took my next breath feeling renewed, empowered, and ready to get back to much more important things like inspiring people to live out their dreams, promoting sustainability, and sharing Light and Love with a world in need! We must find a way to keep peace in our own hearts…for if not, how can we strive for peace amongst humanity?
Our human compassion binds us to one another–not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.” –Nelson Mandela
I’m sitting on the bow of Swell in the yard. It’s 3pm and the sun’s heat is irritatingly persistent. Since my return from India, I’ve been up to my neck in this deck painting project. My fingers are aching and there’s a blister on my right thumb. I switch to my left hand, but it’s awkward and it bashes into the cleat as I work around its base. There’s still so much prep left to do before I can paint. I can hardly bear to look around. The rays pierce the spots that my hat doesn’t shade. The smell of resin and bottom paint wafts through the air. The nicked flesh on my hands burn. But I just keep sanding…
My mind drifts to family and friends…what they might be doing…and then keeps coming back to ‘compassion’ and ‘suffering’. “…If I never did this hard work, I could never relate to those in the world who work this hard everyday.” Amidst the sweat and fatigue and boredom, I felt connected to all those people out there working similar sorts of manual labor. That connection makes us feel richer, stronger, and more prone to making decisions that serve others and the planet.
Some of us are born compassionate; others have to work at it. The difficult situations we go through that can be turned into opportunities to expand our ability to ‘feel’ and connect to others if we choose to use them that way. Adversity can harden us and turn us inward, or it can soften us and open our hearts wider. The latter choice is scarier, but it keeps us ‘feeling’…for when we stop feeling, we’re like a sailboat without water under it—dry, boring, lifeless, and disengaged!
We must stay open to the lessons offered to us and use our hardships to empathize and understand others, in the hope that we can help heal each other. Because the truth is that no matter how happy we are in our individual lives, we cannot know complete peace and contentment when others in the world are suffering.
So yea, I hate sanding Swell’s deck, but I love the ‘feeling’ it brings me…