Thursday, December 31, 2009

The signs of change

Thinking back over 2009, there were a series of things that happened that lead up to my decision to change my life in 2010.

First, in August I was invited to attend Premier Cruise Lines (The Big Red Boat) 25th Anniversary. This is the cruise line that first brought the industry to Cocoa Beach. It has been out of business for several years, but a reunion was planned for so many employees that had worked together. My friend Scotty had worked on the Ships for 5 years. I had taken 5 cruises with them starting with talking my way on board alone after a bad breakup, and ending with organizing 12 single girlfriends, in our 20-something years, to go. The reunion was fabulous and I was honored to be there. For 2 days I heard story after story of their adventures at sea. It left my heart restless.

Next, after several friends suggestion, I read the book "Eat, Pray, Love" it left my heart more restless.

Then, amidst my decision, I went to a series of meetings at my favorite church; Beachside, for business people to encourage them during tough times. During one session, the speaker was talking but my mind kept wandering off and I continued to question myself with, "What should I do, what should I do? Should I sail or should I keep trying here." Then suddenly I paid attention to what was in front of me, and to the left, and to the right...Huge banners declaring the name of the series: NAVIGATE. I laughed out loud.

I think this is when I truly locked in my decision to go.

After this I reread the book TIME OUT, by Bonnie Miller Rubin, a book about how to take a sabbatical. Then I reread the book HALFTIME, by Bob Burford, a book about changing your profession to take on more meaning and fulfillment. Then, a women in my running group heard my news and handed me the book THE EMBARRASSMENT OF MANGOES, by Ann Vanderhoof, a book about a Canadian couple who dreamed of sailing the Caribbean and made it happen. And finally, I paged back through a favorite book: A MAIDEN VOYAGE, by Tania Aebi, a book about her circumnavigating the world at 18, alone with her cat and in a 26' Sailboat.

All this input was working on my heart to justify and to satisfy. God does work in mysterious ways.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Dad, I'm going away.

My father is 86. He re-married 5 years after my mother’s death in 1998. But after a heart attack and a stroke he lives in a Retirement Home outside of Fresno, California. After his stroke his speaking is nearly impossible to understand over the phone. In person it is easier. But his mind has been clear. His new wife visits often and communicates his health and messages to me.

I knew that an important action before leaving was to make a trip to California. It is within reason to understand that something may happen when I am at sea, I might not be able to get home and he might not be around when I return. So I am going to say goodbye just in case.
I was looking forward to some heart to hearts but when I arrived he was very ill. An infection had affected his brain and all he did was quote Bible verses and pray out loud. I tried not to let my disappointment show and for 3 days I spent most of my time at the Home. Finally on the last day, right before my flight he had improved a bit.

“Dad, do you know I am going away?” I said scooting as close as I could to his wheel chair.
He nodded yes.
“I will be sailing for a long time and might not be able to see you again, do you understand what I’m saying?” I continued.
“Yes,” he said. “You be careful.”
“I will. The captain is very good, very safe,” I answered.
“I love you very much,” he finished and hung his head down.

I had heard I love you many times that weekend, and if I could have had just ONE when I was in high school, it may have changed a lot. But now my 6 foot, ultra conservative, hardy, eccentric father is a frail old man confined to a wheel chair. However, out of the entire weekend, it was the moment I had hoped for. I knew he understood and we had said our goodbyes.

There is goodbye and there is see you later. I’m afraid this was goodbye.