Warning: This article is all about flowing with life rather than sailing around the world. Some of my readers have noted that they’re not interested in the fluffy ‘how to live a more fulfilling life,’ stuff that I write about (and find so fascinating). So…if you’re life is totally amazing and you’re not interested in making it better I suggest you close this article and instead, read one of my travel reviews 🙂
Quality of life – has it been impacted?
Almost one year ago, in April 2014, my husband, 3 ½ year old daughter and I left the world we knew for a new life on the seas. The plan included selling our house, car, possessions, buying a sailboat and setting sail around the world.
Since I left what many friends and family members call, ‘the real world,’ my life has dramatically changed…or perhaps I should rephrase that and say, as a human being, I have radically changed.
But as I write this I’m sitting in Boston International waiting for a plane to take me thousands of miles back to my yacht, currently moored in Sicily.
Let me get you up to speed
In April, we took our sailboat from Gibraltar to Malta (850+ miles) and throughout the summer we sailed around Italy, Greece and Turkey (over 3000+ miles). Our travels were massively amazing – read more of my blog to see what we got up to.
By October we had to find a place to ‘winter’ and therefore ducked into the marina at Marina di Ragusa in Sicily.
The Mediterranean isn’t a nice place to sail during the winter, and our initial plans to cross the Atlantic didn’t pan out, so…our around the world trip was put on hold for the winter. Heck – I wasn’t too upset – living in Sicily is one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life.
But that’s not what I want to write about today.
Today, I want write about the transformation I’ve experienced in less than a year. I want to demonstrate how my decision to drastically alter my quality of life and lifestyle has changed me – how it has led me to become more patient, less distracted, far less judgmental and far more alive.
I didn’t realize it until recently, but I’ve been a caterpillar for a very, very long time
I’ve inched my way around life slowly and at many times going in the wrong direction. Heck – I think I’ve fallen off the tree and have had to climb back up it over and over and over again. I might be premature in saying this but I feel as if I’ve finally found my wings. I’ve finally become a butterfly.
Back to Boston…why am I in Boston and why does being in Boston even matter?
My grandfather (age 91) has been in the hospital several times over the winter with pneumonia and my grandmother (age 86) has been recovering from cancer surgery.
Considering that I was ‘stuck’ in Sicily, I thought it would be a great opportunity to fly solo to the States to visit with family – especially grandma and grandpa.
The trip included three flights to get to the area that my mom and brother live in. And then several days later… two flights, with my brother, to get to my grandparents (and two flights back to my brothers area)…and then eventually three flights back to the boat enduring a massive snow storm, cancellations and reschedules.
Over the course of two weeks I’ve been in Sicily, Italy (Rome), New York (NYC), North Carolina, New York (Rochester) and Massachusetts (Boston). Logistically most people would have thought it was a nightmare.
Considering all the travelling, the fact that I got a terrible stomach bug that wiped me out for two days and a two day extension on my stay due to a massive storm, I’m amazed at myself for being so calm.
In fact, I’m more than calm – I’m easy-going, full of energy and seriously happy to have not only made the trip but have witnessed my, until recently noticed, metamorphous.
I suppose we often grow a lot yet we don’t benchmark ourselves between the ‘new version of ourselves’ and the ‘old version of ourselves’
By travelling back to America, my home, I was pleasantly surprised to see and feel like a different person. I had fundamentally changed but didn’t realize how massive the change was.
Being in the states allowed me to compare who I use to be with who I am now
Let me step back just a bit. Let me tell you who the old Kim was…
Back before we decided to sell everything and set sail, I was a work-a-holic, fast-food junkie, control freak. I worked hard and I played hard. I set out to make my millions and to me, nothing was more important than making lots of money.
After achieving a reasonable level of financial success and owning the house, car, boat, great vacations, etc. I had a reality crisis. I woke up one day and realized that all that’s left for me was to make more money.
That’s it – the game was over (in my mind). I had made a lot of money and I had everything I wanted. There was nothing more I could achieved accept to amass more money. Some people get off on making more and more money. For me, I didn’t see any benefit. What’s the point of having loads of money in the bank or in the market? Sure – I could get a bigger house, a bigger car or more vacations but that just didn’t float my boat. I didn’t want those things.
I wanted a fulfilling life…not more things
That’s when I entered my mid life challenge phase. I spent a year or so in a numb void realizing that I spent my life chasing after something that ultimately didn’t make me happy. Looking back, instead of getting up and living the best life I could, I got up and lived the life I thought I needed to live to make millions.
While in my void I slowly fell apart. I slowly started to be more and more honest with myself and realized I didn’t like who I was, where I was going or what I was doing. I also realized that there was only one person responsible for changing all those things…it was me.
So…I left my company, got rid of everything I owned, purchased a boat and set out to find a new life…a more fulfilling life.
I’d like to say my new life exceeded my expectations but that would be wrong
My new life is far better than I could have ever speculated. It is so amazingly fulfilling that I often have to pinch myself because I feel like I’ve transferred over into a heaven on Earth and the old me was living in hell.
No…I’m not going to sit here and preach out that everyone should sell everything and go sailing
What I am going saying, however, is that once you stop doing what you SHOULD do and start listening to who you are/what you want/what you like and start doing what makes you feel alive your reality drastically changes for the better.
As a side note, I get seasick
Sailing is not my number one passion, but being with my family, being outside, being on the water, connecting with amazing people, travelling, eating amazing foods, and writing about my learning lessons is what does fill me with massive amounts of passion.
And my life is not easy. I don’t have fun all the time. Things are not perfect.
I have struggles, bad days, bad weeks and bad times. Overall however, all the ‘bad’ things (if I must label them as bad) are so worth the life I’m now living.
Let me give you some solid examples of how things have changed for me
And let me be blunt – I don’t think the secret to a fulfilled life is about selling up and sailing. Yes, it’s worked for me but that’s not my message. My message is this – stop freaking doing things for others. Stop doing what you should do. Stop making other people’s business your business.
Start putting yourself first
Find out what you love and then work towards doing more and more of it. By doing so you are not being selfish…you are giving everyone around you a gift. You are proving that life can be heaven on earth. And the more of us that do this, the more that others can learn by example. The more fulfilled we are, the more fulfilled the world can be.
1. Going with the flow
Since leaving my old life, I’ve had to learn to seriously go with the flow. Especially when you’re sailing. Your intention might be to get to destination B but more often than not you end at destination C or D or E or get nowhere at all. Either the wind is wrong, there’s a storm coming or the engine dies!
What I’ve learned is that by going to the flow, wherever I end up is a great place with the option for amazing experiences
I’ve lost my attachment for things to go the way I want them to go. Now, I accept whatever happens knowing that wherever I end up will be fine. Sailing and the boat taught me this lesson and it’s expanded through to my ‘normal’ life.
For example, when I arrived in North Carolina to spend time with my parents, I had a mental list of all the things I wanted to do and see. The morning after I arrived I woke up to a snowstorm that shut the whole state down. Mom and I had to cancel our shopping/spa/lunch day and stay home instead. I just went with the flow and mom and I had a ball. In fact, usually I run around and get tired but this visit we hung out at home and actually created a whole new product line for my Sailing Britican store. The old me would have been annoyed at the snow, complained to anyone who would have listened and sulked around.
The new me went with the flow and enjoyed every moment
Another example – my brother and I flew up to Rochester, NY and my brother caught a bug on the way up. He was down for the first two days so I had to visit family without him. I was sad that he couldn’t join me but for the most part, I spent quite a lot of time with him sitting on the sofa (at a friends house where we were staying). We sat around joking, laughing and having a rather enjoyable time. The last two days we were in Rochester, I got sick! It was no big deal. I let the illness take its course and just chilled with my brother.
All in all, we didn’t do much yet the time we spent together was priceless
The old me would have wallowed in self pity thinking, ‘what a waste.’ As a side I spent loads of time with my grandparents and that was priceless too!
And finally, the day came for me to leave the States and a huge storm hit the whole East coast. My flight was cancelled and rebooked for a couple days later. The old me would have been livid. I would have been attached to getting back to Italy – to my hubby, daughter, friends and boat. I would have focused on not being able to see my hubby and daughter. But the new me just went with the flow. Due to a change in my flight route I was able to see my dear cousin – he met me in Boston and we enjoyed a couple hours together – something that wouldn’t have happened if the storm didn’t hit. Furthermore, I was able to go out with my brother and his wife on their ‘date night.’ We had a blast.
2. There’s no hole to fill
Back when I did what I should have done and lived in my big house with my fancy car, I always felt I had a hole to fill. Hubby and I would spend our free time shopping to buy things that would ultimately be left in a cupboard and usually forgotten. I spent years feeling the need to buy more shoes, more clothes, more house stuff and then, once I gave birth to my daughter, I had to buy more and more so that she could have the best of everything.
More, more, more, more. Holes, holes, holes…there was always a hole to fill!
During my various excursions on this trip, when the snow disappeared, my mom or my brother would ask, can I take you anywhere to get anything. Usually my response was, ‘nope – I don’t need anything.’ It’s so funny… I live on a boat so there’s no room for anything. My clothes are sun bleached, full of rust stains (from drying them on the metal safety rail around the boat), and falling apart. When something eventually passes the point of no return, I make a mental note to get a replacement and that’s all I replace.
There’s no need to buy more
Furthermore, I don’t watch TV anymore. No more TV means no more media and that helps me to avoid society from telling me what I should have. It’s funny, since I stopped watching TV I’ve stopped feeling so inadequate. Furthermore, my cravings for fast food has totally stopped!
Perhaps I felt as if something was missing in my old life?
I think that I was actually living a lie – I wasn’t being the best me I could be and therefore I always felt I had a hole to fill. Now that I’ve said, ‘screw it – I’m going to live life the way I want to live it,’ that hole has totally disappeared.
3. Time to be present
I really can’t stand it when people say that want to live in the ‘now’. It sounds so corny. But…that’s where this line of writing is going. For some reason my past no longer haunts me and my future is more about going with the flow. I choose to believe that everything works out and therefore, there’s no need to spend time worrying or speculating.
No…I’m not in the ‘now’ all the time – I have issues
I ruminate and get caught up with things every once in while…but in contrast to the old me, the transformation is nothing short of a miracle.
The old me was either feeling emotional pain because I was wronged as kid OR I would be experiencing increased stress levels because something didn’t go the way I wanted it to go. Neither of those things had any real meaning in my life! Thinking of the past or speculating about what might happen in the future was and is a total waste of time. I was so distracted by emails, drama, the news, being right…being perfect that I never just lived life as it came to me.
Now, I have all the time in the world for whomever I’m engaging with
Whether I have to take twenty minutes to explain something to a child or I’m engaging in an interesting adult discussion. Furthermore, I have time to really look a sales clerk in the eye and respond genuinely to the ‘how are you?’ question and genuinely return the question. The smiles I get when I truly engage with people – even people on a very casual basis – are deep and full of energy.
I don’t know how I became so distracted by non-life?
But now I can see the difference. Boy, can I see the difference.
4. Acceptance of my past
Up until this past visit every time I visited my hometown of Rochester, NY I went through a constant good/bad judgment game in my head. I’d justify my decision to leave ‘home’ by picking out all the ‘bad’ things about Rochester and more significantly, I’d remember all the ‘bad’ experiences. My thoughts would sound like this, ‘This city is a shithole. How do people live here? How do people live with so much snow? My time in school was the worst time of my life. I hate this street. I hated my life here….’
It wasn’t pretty
During this trip I didn’t make any judgments. I felt myself wanting to do so but instead of thinking something was good or bad, I just kept saying to myself ‘there is no good or bad – there’s just my interpretation of it.’
I didn’t get caught up in a bad memory
I didn’t look down on people that live there. I didn’t think I was better for ‘getting out’. I didn’t feel anything accept for a genuine happiness to be able to spend time with my brother, my grandparents and my aunt, uncle and cousins.
My mind didn’t spiral. I just went with the flow and by doing that my past record of judging everything as either good or bad, black or white didn’t need to exist anymore.
It was weird. It was empowering. It was beautiful.
So…it’s been eleven months since I left land and they’ve been the most remarkable months that I’ve ever had. Yes – it’s cool that I’m sailing around in a boat, but what’s more impressive is that I’m now flowing with life. Rather than paddle insanely up a raging river, I’m letting life take me where it wants to take me.
All I’m doing is waking up every morning, making sure that I’m doing more of what I love and letting the flow of life take me where it wants to take me.
In conclusion, I haven’t written this article to say, ‘look at me – look how great my life is…’ I’ve written this article because I’m a born-again-human. I’ve realised that life can be amazing and I want anyone out there that doesn’t feel alive to realise we all have the opportunity to make changes…to improve our quality of life.
Enough said. May you have an awesome day…big love, Kim