Friday, October 15, 2010

Confessions of a Shopaholic

Gibraltar, UK---There have been times in my life that the circumstances around me seem so overwhelming that the only thing I am in control of, are my own actions. And buying something that I want would feel like one thing I had control over. But did I? I have never bought 10 things of the same, or hidden unopened packages around my house like what I have read about. And I have never over-spent my income because I am the kind of person who always pays off credit cards in the same month. BUT, I know that decisions of buying have been often motivated by stress rather than need.

So, NOW on the boat, I have no income yet several times it has looked like my Visa threw up. I went crazy. Especially in Greece where it seemed like everything I looked at would be perfect for one of my friends and I just HAD to get it for them. Or, it was something that would be the amazing “thing” hung in my house that would represent a great memory that everyone would ask about. And yes, I have some really cool “loot” collected from the Mediterranean and Africa.

Besides about 30 packages I have sent to people in the 6 months that I’ve been gone, right now I have a huge bag of gifts that needs to be sent off to various friends and family from my findings in Africa. I love finding cool things for people, I can’t wait to mail them, just like I can’t stand to wait for Christmas to give someone something perfect. But wait. I HAVE NO INCOME! But don’t get me wrong, I did lose my life investments and am starting all over when I return, BUT, I am not “poor”. I budgeted this trip with money that was my “paranoid savings account” in case of bad times or for losing my job. And oh yeah, I did lose (closed) my business. But my travel account is not limitless. I am looking at this trip as taking one year of my retirement and moving it forward in my life. This may mean that I’ll work at Target…no not Wal-Mart, when I am past retirement.

I think my friend Sharon would have shook me and said “What are you doing spending so much? …What’s really going on with you?” I would have answered; my heart is hurting, I feel in the way of the family, my father died while I was away and I am in guilt for not going to the funeral, I am lonely, I miss my dog…so many things that were bothering me as I adjusted to my new life sailing. But, traveling alone and crewing for a family that only cares about the weight of my rock collection and that my things stay in my designated area, it will take my own discipline to slow down the spending. I have to.

The boat is my home and traveling with 3, now 4 males, whom don’t really see or care if the non-slips are old and stained or the Galley towels are anything less the gross in a female’s eyes. Buying a few things for the boat has been a pleasure, if not just to make the home I am sharing more inviting. I was never asked to do anything extra. I did feel a little responsible for the breaking of a furler, even though it was old and brittle. I bought a Frisbee as a patch which worked up until now, but I also decided to “gift” the boat something it needed. The Captain chose a badly needed Splitter so our AIS antenna (Like a radar), would get better reception.

Other than gifts, and a few times, requesting to stay at a marina an extra bonus night at my cost, all I am asked by the family is to cover my food costs on the boat. The bruises and sore muscles, as well as driving a needle all the way thru my finger sewing the Yankee Sail, was all for free! Doing projects, night dishes and cleaning is what I believe a good crew should do above and beyond the actual sailing and night watches. Seeing a small portion of the world from this angle is what I get back. But it’s certainly not a single-person’s vacation that I would select from a travel agent. My side trip to Africa reminded me who I am and how happy I can be.

SO WHY DO I HAVE A PAYPAL DONATE BUTTON? Donate sounded too strong to me, but that was the closest term PayPal had to choose from. To counter that, I wrote “Sponsor” a bag of dog food, a drink in port or something else… Well to explain this, we have to go back before the trip, to my marketing roots, and a dear friend named Rebecca. I was just at the point of announcing to my friends of my plan to close down my Florida life. It was a lunch at the Olive Garden where I was explaining my plans. For a friend that had seen me solid for 26 years in my business, this seemed like a ridiculous plan to her…at first. Then as we talked and I explained more of my heart and desires to break from my Company prison, she said “you should set up a site for you to do fun things along the way, I’ll donate!” I thought, yes and in return, I will write a post about what it is they have asked me to do or what I did with the money. Then we were in hysterics about what if someone sponsored Dreadlocks, or something else crazy.

Well so far, my gifts have been amazing thoughts of kindness. I stand humbled by each of the notes and gifts. I’ve had a blast finding fun things or enjoying a “drink in a Port” by several readers. Each thing I have gotten I remember by the person. I’m still behind on posting a few reviews. When my Dad died, my cousin Martha, sent a Sponsorship in lieu of flowers…for this, I am still wearing a ring I bought in Delphi. A silver ring that says “Gift” in Greek. It is a remembrance of my Dad, and him giving me the gift of life as well as a reminder that this trip is truly a Gift. A generous family who embraced me and gave me this opportunity. And Lorry, when your Dad died and you sent me enough for a drink to toast him, I did not take that lightly.

And then there is Turbo, my 15 year old dog. An outpouring of love allowed me to give the caretaker some money to cover early costs. For this, I was humbled and appreciative.

The love I felt when Rita sponsored me made me cry. She is my self-adopted mother and hero. The real Mom of my best male friend Scott S., who I call Mr. Rescue Man, since he has gotten me out of a lot of fixes or “talked me down” when my world seemed to be caving in.

But, although it is my money, my gifts, my life, I realize that I have nothing to return home to and that is scary. I have no Parents, no inheritance, no job. But I was not careless and planned a return account that is waiting for me when I return to survive for a while. I’m thinking of roommates or continuing to rent my home. I have a few more months on this trip, but it’s not like before, where I’d be, ah, I’ll just make more money.

So do not misread the Donate PayPal button as anything less than being a part of this adventure with me. A gift. For I am not poor: I have enough to get through this trip, I have my health. I have a good education and lots of experience. I have enthusiasm and determination. With a Mother that worked 2 full time jobs to support our family, I am not afraid of hard work and survival. I am seeing a small part of the world and gaining more tolerance and understanding. I am learning more about Sailing which I love. And best yet, I have some amazing friends who in the darkest hours of this trip, have spent me love when I needed to be reminded. I am looking forward, not back…even if I need to remind myself to do this everyday.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to anyone who participated or had a fun idea for me. And good thing, no dreadlocks.

1 comment:

jeannie said...

Edie - you do not know me. But as only the internet world can do, I have come to know you. By way of the Date family. I worked with Mary Beth for awhile, and have become "hooked" reading about your travels. You are a stranger, a far away girlfriend, and a writer I love to read. I hope the rest of your journey unfolds a new life for you. It could happen at any port,you know.