Meeting my future self

I sat on the beach yesterday talking to my future self. It was a beautiful calm sunny morning, so I was determined to overcome this cold water and get back to my mermaid roots. I wrestled into my wetsuit and got an extra spring in my step when I saw how calm and beautiful the water was.

I swam far out from the beach and did as many laps as I could before I stopped feeling my hands. I shivered my way over the rocky sand toward my spot on the beach. I noticed a woman I regulary see on the beach lying out towels near my lonely bag. She was one of those daily non-wearing wetsuit warriors who swim every day of the year. I smiled at her and she commented about how beautiful the weather was. Her sun kissed group were just arriving for their daily meet up and a very smiley and happy woman came up to her. She looked over and greeted me too. “What a gorgeous day!”

This woman sat closest to me (within social distancing measures I assure you!) and she asked me how my dip was. I said it was still cold and I was just warming up. She mentioned that she swims every day without a wetsuit. To be quite frank, I was honoured that she was speaking to a meagre wet suit wearer such as myself! I watched her expertly unpack her bag and set up her base. “It’s kind of like I’m setting up camp, isn’t it? While you’re all zen over there!” she laughed. “Yes, it is. I’m a bit envious as my plan was to swim and go home, but it’s so lovely here I don’t want to and now I’m unprepared!” I replied.

We started off with general chit chat and then offered more about each other as we realised that we had a lot in common. Within minutes, I realised that she is the future me. I estimate she’s about 10 years older than me, although I’m unsure because she has great skin and less wrinkles than me! She too has been a wanderer (still is), she too is interested in the healing world, she too is looking to publish a book – except hers was written years ago and she hasn’t yet sought to get it published. She too is struggling to let go of a man.

There were moments of silence when we were looking at the sea, or she had a chat with her other non-wetsuit wearing friends. I sat looking off into the sea and thought, “Yep, I could totally be her in 10 years. Pining over a man I know isn’t right for me, yet can’t let go of and ready to publish my book. Still not having a career, living frugally and having the constant worry of how to make ends meet.” It gave me hope. I loved her energy, I loved that I found a mentor if you like, proof that people can be happy in their 40’s and 50’s single and without a career, their own house or stability.

I shared that I too was having a hard time letting go of someone and could go a week without speaking to him, but would then find some excuse to call him because after all, I still care deeply for him. Let’s face it, this is the weirdest time in any of our lives. I can’t do the things I would normally do after a break up. Some of that is good, but it’s just incredibly challenging not getting hugs from friends and immersing myself in social events. “I always have a hard time letting go of partners,” I shared. “Maybe I should just embrace that fact instead of fighting it and beating myself up about it. When we start to embrace things, generally we are able to let them go.” Her gaze wandered off to the sea and she shook her head, “Yeah, I like that. I should embrace it as well. Things do come easier when we stop fighting.” The reality is that I’ve been blessed with many partners coming into my life who I’ve wanted to hold on to. I should be grateful for that instead of focusing on how weak or lovesick or whatever judgmental term myself or others want to place on it.

I hope I’m like her in 10 years because she had some fascinating stories to tell and we were only chatting for just over an hour. She has a beautiful spirit and has clearly made a lot of people in the world so happy. It doesn’t matter what she has or where she’s going, I don’t think she knows and I certainly don’t know where I’m going. All that matters is that she seemed relatively happy and touched many people’s lives in the process. That’s how I want to be in 10 years.

It was wonderful to get a glimpse of my future self. The day before I had a bit of a self-worth crisis and wasn’t feeling too confident. I guess the universe knew that I needed to meet her today to keep my head up. I like my future self, a lot. And if my future self isn’t like her, well that’s ok too. I’m sure she’ll still be ok… and not ok 😉

The observer

I’ve been immersing myself in my meditation practice during lockdown as it’s a perfect opportunity to get into the habit. One of the reasons why I fell in love with the Tibetan Buddhist style of meditation, is because it’s analytical. My brain is always spinning, so giving the spin some direction is really helpful for me.

I was feeling a bit sad today as a friend I had been spending a lot of time with, left England today. We saw each other three or four times a week, I got really lovely hugs and we sat within two meters of each other. We could sit in silence and we could have chats about random things. It was nice to have some company after a while on my own. I decided to observe the sadness instead of drown in it or push it away with some meaningless task.
I went out for a walk through a beautiful and quiet residential area, down the infamous Jacob’s ladder (and I ran up them once to warm up and feel as though I’ve gotten a bit of exercise!) and through the main streets of Falmouth. This is the walk I do when I want to be around people, even though of course they move away from me as if I was some leper. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why this is happening and I do it myself, but it doesn’t take away the fact that it’s still just a weird world right now.

I could sense my head start to spin, so I told myself I was going to have a present focus on the walk, smells. There’s been some lovely smells on my walks and normally I’m too busy in my head or have to pee too badly, in order to stop and see what flower/plant it is. Through the quiet residential area, there’s a tree lined street. As I was listening to the wind swaying through the trees, I closed my eyes for a moment and breathed in to see what I could smell. Something sweet, but as there were only tall trees above me, I couldn’t find the source.

I walked through the town and could smell the various take aways, pasties, coffee, greasy food and sweet fried smells. I walked past the marina and as I breathed in deeply, I smelled it. The smell that always takes me away from my mind, but only long enough to think, “Oh god that smells so good,” before the crazy monkey in my mind brings me back to the chaos in my head. I stopped on the road and looked. I smelled the flowers closest to me and breathed in and smiled. Oh they were so lovely! I’m hopeless at identifying flowers and as I walked slowly down the row of this bush, I suddenly realised what they were. Roses. My absolute favourite flower. I hadn’t recognised them because they were so open, they no longer took the typical shape of a rose, and the smell of a wild English rose is different to the roses at the florist. I didn’t care who was watching or what I looked like, for those 40 meters I smelled as many of the roses as I could. And then again when I reached a house further along who had the same bushes climbing over their wall.

As I got to the coastal path, I felt so calm, so present. I brought my mind to how I was feeling right now and I no longer sensed the sadness. I was thinking about the loss of this friend and the time we had together and directly went into an analytical meditation on attachment. Now yes, I did get distracted from the focus of the walk (smells), but this was the point. I didn’t want to think about this situation with a distracted and emotional mind. I wanted to explore it as an observer. The focus on smells was an exercise to calm and open my mind and it worked!

I had many interesting observations. I’ve known for years that I become very attached to people and quickly. This often ends in disappointment because attachment is about grasping too hard and setting expectations. The person we become attached to will inevitably change and it may not be in a way that we expected or like. I realised I didn’t become attached to this friend. The friend is a male and good looking and someone in the past I thought, “Hmmm…maybe?” This time I approached it as lockdown company. Someone to enjoy time with and feel connected to the human race. I had in my mind from the start that we would spend a small amount of time together and then one or both of us would leave and I would once again be alone. Perhaps it was this mind frame that allowed me to remain un-attached (different to detached).

I observed how he was detached from me. In our conversations, we both communicated that we had recently come out of relationships and were in no way interested to start a new relationship. I observed my ego becoming upset about the fact he only once told me I was “a hottie,” via text, not even in person. I observed how my ego got jealous when he talked about the beautiful figure of a woman on a neighbouring boat. “He never told me that, ” it said. I simply observed and threw back, “Why do I have to be the only beautiful woman. Or even A beautiful woman?” The ego was shocked and stunned. I felt the jealousy deteriorate. Oh the ego never gives up, it then reminded me of a recent conversation I had with an ex, who was telling me a story about a “cute girl in a g-string bikini on the beach.” The ego shouted “Oh how dare he say that!” I again observed the ego and shot it down with, “He always told me I was beautiful. We also talked about other girls being beautiful when we were together, so why do I need to be the only one? I never needed to be at the time.” I realised that it’s because I’m feeling vulnerable right now and that will change. The jealousy washed away into the sea I was walking along, and the ego gave up.

I observed how I have an urge to run away from Falmouth. I’ve been here six weeks now and I am not accustomed to being stagnant for so long. It’s obviously not very easy to travel at the moment, so I observed why I have this sudden urge to leave. I observed that perhaps I need to stay and find out.

I smiled at the improvement in my mind. I rejoiced in the fact that my mind was able to shoot the ego down without me going into this destructive pattern of negative thinking that I trained myself to do from a young age.
I did it. I proved this method of meditation works. I proved it to myself as there’s no one else I need to prove it to. It’s for each individual to decide whether it works for them or not and it’s for each individual to take their own path to reach their goal. I’ve reached mine and I know some days I will slip and that’s ok. The key to this is to never give up. After two years of practicing and two years of being gentle and kind and understanding to myself, I made it. Now that I know I have the ability to do it, it will be easier to do this most of the time. And the times I don’t do it and become a crying mess on the floor? Well, that’s ok too.

Married to the sea

Here’s another oldie but goodie I found in the draft section! Back when I was young, fit and living the good life! Here we go back in time to April 2016…

After announcing my departure from the Caribbean and Captain Cool, many people asked me, what about CC? Is he coming? Won’t you miss him? Are you going back? My answer is that I am married to the sea and all I know is that there is a lot more of the sea I haven’t seen!

My relationship history has given me a non traditional perspective on relationships. I’m sure my psychology friends would have a field day analysing it and would probably conclude I have a fear of commitment or have yet to get over previous relationships. Fair enough, those are perspectives. I don’t believe any one perspective is right.

Here is my perspective. I have had amazing boyfriends. They are all great people who treated me well. If they didn’t, I left. That happened one time. You can say my heart has been broken a lot. It has many scars that have healed and made my heart bigger and tougher, so that I can love again.

I still have some scarring to do over the most recent ex-relationship with an amazing guy I would still call the love of my life. It was a dramatic and tough break up and as I was travelling, dealt with it all on my own. However, it was the right thing. I wouldn’t be crossing the Atlantic right now if we were still together. Hell, I would still be in London trying to fight to keep my inner peace!! I won’t speak for his life, but I like to think the end was right for both of us.

Then I got to thinking, wow, I would still be in London and missing out on all these incredible adventures if I was still with him. Of course I would never know and I’m sure we would have had a fun life, but really, nothing compares to the sea!

I wondered how many times I did things I didn’t necessarily want to do, for a relationship. I didn’t even want to think about it, because what’s the point in thinking about negative things I can’t change. Some people do give up things and it’s because they really want the relationship or a family or maybe they don’t know what they want and most societies tell us that’s what we should have, so they do it. That’s fine. We are all different, I am just offering a different perspective.

I would love to spend the rest of my life with someone. I love being held and loved and kissed and touched in a way that only a romantic person can do. I love being in love! However I don’t believe in marriage. I was married once (albeit for visa reasons but I took it seriously!) and he cheated on me. I have had two other marriage proposals and they left me before a wedding. It’s fine, I’m not bitter and I know that at least one of them has a much better life than I ever could have offered because we weren’t right for each other. I simply believe I will have various long term relationships instead of one that lasts forever. Who knows, I may be surprised and meet my match and we are forever together, that’s fine.

The short of the long answer is, of course I will miss CC. We had a non conventional relationship from the start as we both said we weren’t going to put a label on it, it just is what it is and we are free to leave or stay as we desired. I loved that. It really suited me. I feel free. I am not talking about feeling free to shag as many men as I want. I am free to grab the best opportunity life gives me whether it’s near or far from CC. He showed me what true love is. A love that doesn’t have rules and stipulations. I am still me and free to make my own choices!

Needless to say, I am very sad to leave him. I sometimes think I feel so sad because I feel like I’m deserting him. He would love to go on this adventure, but circumstances won’t allow it. Maybe they will never allow it. Maybe we will never see each other again.

That’s ok for me because I am married to the sea and that is where my loyalty is. The sea lets me be free and opens my soul and never talks back. Sure it can treat me nasty and give me challenges, but it gives me the greatest gift in life. To see the world and life for all the good it has to offer. It gives me peace. When I have an internal battle, I turn to the sea to comfort me and it never lets me down. That is something no human being can ever do.

I am married to the sea and maybe one day I will have another threesome if the right man comes along. For now, I am grateful to have met CC and to have spent a rollercoaster of a year together. However, it is time for me to sail away and explore more of my new marriage.

The power of “Hello”

Last week, I went for a walk through the town, because otherwise I don’t really get to see many people or remember that a world exists beyond my house. For some reason I got the crazy idea to run up Jacob’s ladder (111 steep steps), not once, but twice. This fitness regime I’m doing just has me craving for more and more activity. I’m not sure that’s a healthy thing, but my bum sure is perky!!

Anyway, people looked at me weird because I was dressed for the Siberian, (yes, the weather is still cloudy, rainy and cold) and also because I had no shopping bags or items in my hand. I started to feel guilty that I was going in a public place for no reason, then thought, who cares. I’m not touching anyone. I discovered more restaurants are open for delivery or collection and then I started craving junk food. At some point in the next couple of days, I’ll be getting the famous fish and chips or maybe even a pizza!

I swear, people have started to become afraid of even saying hello now. I really fear where society is going with this pandemic. When I was in psychology, there was so much talk and upset about these teens who are addicted to their phones, well, this is something much bigger… I said hi to people, some people gave me a shocked hello back, others stared straight ahead as if I said nothing and others gave a nice smile and hello.

I spotted a homeless guy in front of a shop window, with a cigarette in his mouth and coffee in hand, wiggling his way into his sleeping bag. He caught me looking at him and I immediately looked away. Then I realised I hate when I do that because the homeless probably get that all the time and deserve as much acknowledgment as anyone else. So I said, “Hello!” with a big smile. He looked up, surprised and said, “Hello, how are you?” I thought, oh good! Someone to chat to! I replied, ” I’m alright” (I was actually grumpy) and asked how he was. He said, “Oh, so much better now that the weather has improved.” I had to stifle my giggle, as all I do is think how miserable the weather is! He settled back as if I was going to carry on walking and then I stated, “It must be miserable when the weather is horrible.” He asked me to repeat it again. Either because of my accent or because he didn’t think I would say anything beyond the niceties. Then he said, “Ahhh…darling. It’s awful. Everything is just so salty.” I had no idea what the hell that meant or where to go with it, so I replied, “I bet. Oh well, have a nice day.” He smiled and said, “You too darling.”

I’m sure I helped brighten his day and he certainly brightened mine. I also know where I can go to have a chat when I’m feeling blue and in need of social interaction! I walked away still laughing to myself that he actually thought this was good weather. The truth of it, is that it is. I grew up in Wisconsin, so I know that when it reaches 60 degrees Fahrenheit after a long cold winter, the shorts come out, no jackets are required and life is grand. Afer five years of chasing summer, when it’s 60 degrees, I’m still wearing my heavy jacket and probably a hat. It’s all about perspective.

I’ve been doing more reading of Buddhist texts and emailing my Buddhist teacher, so I broadened that contemplation out to how I’m feeling about life in general. It IS all about perspective. At some point in the future, I’ll look back and think, “oh yeah, that time I was stuck in Falmouth and went absolute bat shit crazy. Good times those were! Wish I had all that time now to take a step back from life and reset.” Funny how society is turning upside down and I think that’s the absolute best thing that has come from this. Some of the essential workers are now the very people we used to say are at the bottom of the social ladder, uneducated, unable to get a better or real job, etc and the people who, in society’s eyes, are pretty much non-existent and not even worth acknowledgment, are the people we can count on to have a nice chat with. Well, at least in England. From my world travels, the English homeless people are the most pleasant and polite!

Maybe this is what we need to remind ourselves that we are all suffering through life in our own ways. The nicest way to work through it is to treat each other with kindness and respect, regardless of our life circumstances. Go on then, go out and be kind to someone!

Breaking free from solitary confinement

I was having one of those days where I was just tired of it all and wished the world would return to it’s “normalcy.” Who am I kidding. I rarely don’t have those days. I was tired of sitting inside an apartment with nothing to do but stare out the window, stare at a screen or a book. I’m used to being out in nature, I’m used to doing physical work. So I made myself get outside and enjoy the not so sunny or warm English day. I sighed as I sat down on the chair outside my front door.

Tying my shoes, I contemplated which route to take, because even that is becoming mundane. I told myself to buck up and that every day is different, even if it is the same route, because I see different birds, people, colours, flowers, smells, etc. I decided to take a longer walk to dust off the cobwebs. This route has various options, one which I had never taken before. As I walked past that turn off, I thought to myself, “Go on, take it. It will make it seem like a new walk.” So I trudged up the hill that was much steeper than it looked from the bottom. It wasn’t a very long hill, but I’m still working up my cardio fitness, so I felt the burn in my legs and in my lungs.

I reached the top, panting and laughing at myself about how unfit I’ve become since working on boats. My strength is there, but my cardio fitness is not! I turned around to take in the view, aka catch my breath so I didn’t collapse, and was stunned with beauty. The harbour and Falmouth seemed so far away and the waves crashing onto the shore produced a beautifully imperfect and moving white line along the shoreline. Afraid I wouldn’t be able to move again if I stood too long, I went up three big old stone steps and carried on. Not too long after, I saw a sign warning me that this was a golf course and I could be hit by golf balls, especially if “Fore!” was shouted.
Considering the weather and the lockdown status, I figured I was fairly safe and continued along the narrow path. Then all of the sudden, the path opened up into a big open space, the golf course! It was set on top of a hill and rolled on for what seemed like miles. There was not a single soul in sight, not a sound of traffic, no footsteps pounding above me, no voices, just the sound of the birds chirping away and the waves pounding in the distance. My mood instantly lifted and I felt an added spring to my step. A smile started to spread across my face and in my mind, I shouted, “I’m free!!!!!! I’m all alone!! Oh what bliss!”

Then I had a little giggle to myself, because I live alone and I’m always alone and I hate always being alone. Oh the irony! I laughed off the thought and spun around in circles in the open space, with my arms spread wide and my face shining up to the bright grey clouds in the sky. I was loving life in this moment, all of the stress and upset that I had just minutes earlier, was totally washed away. It was truly a sensational moment. I walked across the golf course, admiring the views and observing the plethora of birds all around me. I soaked in the silence from the city and melted in the sounds of nature.

Of course my solitary walk had to end and I found myself on a tiny tiny narrow path almost overgrown with beautiful wildflowers. The scent of the flowers flooded my nose and I was excited to see where the path would take me next. It led me to a path I had been on previously, which is on a cliff along the seafront. I walked a bit further, then turned around and went back to my newfound secret quiet place. To my dismay, there were people walking towards me as I entered the land of bliss and was disappointed that I didn’t have the place to myself once again. If only we could sign up for a time slot to this amazing place and each person/group could have it to themselves, that would be the perfect world!

Not the tiny tiny path, but another one on the same walk!

As I threw my disappointment into the sea and soaked up my gratitude for finding such a place, I reflected on how being alone can feel so good when I’m always alone. A quote about being in prison, but still able to find freedom, came into my head. I know I have a tendency to be dramatic, but the only thing I can relate this whole lockdown situation to, is solitary confinement. Not that I, myself, have been in solitary confinement, but I have worked with many clients who have. They say it’s awful. On more than one occasion I heard a client say, “I wanted to show him a piece of my mind, but no way am I going back to solitary confinement.” Like many people in Spain, they are locked indoors for 23 hours a day and for some of those living in small apartments with no outdoor space, it was a full 24 hours. As usual, I digress. I wondered how I could find this freedom in my head that Nelson Mandela and other reformed criminals found. I’m still working on that, so unfortunately, I can’t give you any tips.

View from Kopan monastery of another monastery

I then started to reflect on how open spaces can really change our mind frame. Have you ever wondered why monasteries are built in remote places high in the mountains or on a hill? It’s because the monks believe that the teachings absorb more easily when the mind is spacious. What better way to create spaciousness in the mind, then to live in a spacious place! It certainly is true. If you have had the privilege to be on a mountain or on a countryside hill, or in the middle of the open sea, it’s likely your mind frame shifts and you feel better. It isn’t just the bit about being in nature, it’s the bit that you aren’t closed in and you don’t have a million distractions.

I had a chat with one of my friends yesterday about how I was struggling because I’m not used to being inside and being so inactive (nevermind the 3 zoom classes and long walks I do daily!). My friend wisely stated, “Maybe this is a time for you to learn how to be inactive and read a book or cook or watch movies. You’re not used to it, so it’s something different to learn.” What wise advice indeed. I’m not going to stop doing my zoom classes, but I will stop searching for more and different ones (I was doing 4-5 some days!) to do. This is a time for all of us to look inward, to discover how we can break free from the prison in our minds. Maybe it’s meditation, maybe it’s engaging more with family life, maybe it’s about reconnecting with friends and family, or maybe it’s about moving more, or in my case, moving less. Whatever it is, it is likely that we will never again have this much time. For some parents working from home and having children to home school, this is probably a great thing, but that is a different lesson to learn. For others who have been forced to stillness, take this time to be silent and to really feel all of those disturbing thoughts and feelings we usually push away. Just sit with them and learn from them, there is no need to keep burying them for they will only pop up again.

Take this time to reset and recharge. Once this chapter of history finishes, we can move onto the next one with a completely clear slate and live life to the fullest!

View from Kopan monastery, Nepal

River life

Going through the locks

As it had been a while since I opened up my blog, I found a couple of drafts that I never published. Here is one from August 2017, when I was working on a river barge. It was a great time with fantastic sigh seeing, but sadly it came to an abrupt end as the captain’s love for drama unfolded and I didn’t want any part in it! However, the stew/chef and I still chat regularly 🙂 Enjoy!

Even though it is still water based, river life is such a different way to live and work ! It’s very different to the sea and that lifestyle. It’s much more physical work then I thought, which I’m happy about because I think physical activity is the key to a long life. Who would’ve thought that putting a line on a bollard and then pulling it in or easing it out when necessary can be so tiring! Sometimes I do that twice a day, sometimes six or seven. It’s nice because I get to be outside in the sunshine watching river life go by. There are so many geese, birds, little fish jumping, men and boys fishing (where are the girls?!?!) and people cycling or walking along the canal. It’s almost as peaceful as being in the middle of the sea with the sails up and a supportive wind. That is still my true love!

Beautifu views in Belgium

The boat is classified as a motor yacht, but looks like a fancy barge. We’re like celebrities going down the river because there isn’t another like this one. People are so friendly. On the sea, there is a hierarchy between boats depending on type and size. I’ve always thought that’s so ridiculous and continue waving to whoever I’m not supposed to wave to because at the end of the day, we’re all humans who enjoy the sea. I usually don’t get a wave back from those who are “better” than me and I don’t care. Sometimes they give me a confused smile which just makes me laugh! Anyway, everyone waves at everyone and when we park up on the side of a wall, people come talk to us. It’s so relaxing and refreshing.

In the yachting industry, information about owners is extremely confidential so all I will say is, holy shit I won the jackpot!! He is incredibly nice, friendly, easy going, respectful and generous. He told me the other day that we were going to pass by some nice churches and châteaus and to please tell the stew/cook to come up and view them when I see them. There are too many owners out there who don’t see their crew as humans and don’t even give them a second thought except when they need something. He makes me want to work really hard because I know he appreciates my work and his please and thank yous are sufficient reward. Plus the job is very much deckhand/exterior which is what I love the most!!

The crew is a friendly family of three. The captain, the stew/cook and myself. We work nicely together and the stew/cook and I have lots of fun together on our free time. We love to explore and see new things and talk to the locals. Most of all, we love to laugh like crazy and have as much fun as possible on and off the job.

We started in Maastricht, Holland and have cruised along the Meuse through Belgium and France. We’re currently in Givet, France. There is a lack of water so the route we were going to do is going to change, but so far we have seen beautiful medieval churches, castles and châteaus. Sometimes it looks like a movie set. I didn’t know all of this stuff actually existed! This is definitely not the job or place where I thought I would be, but I’m glad this opportunity presented itself to me and I’m enjoying the opportunities it’s presenting me, the lessons I’m learning and the people I’m meeting.

A world full of generosity and kindness

Hello! I’m back. Maybe just for today or maybe for the next several months, no one ever knows how long my creative juices will flow for, including myself! All I can tell you is that I’m even wearing jeans for the event, I know, right? It’s a big thing! Ok maybe not. I didn’t put on a bra. We should just ban those things anyway.

Where do I even start? A lot has happened in the last 14 months, as it does in most of the lives of the industry I work in. I had some really good sailing yacht jobs, some not so good, met some really good people and met some people I will avoid. I crossed the ocean twice more in big luxury sailing yachts (while getting paid!!) and cleaned some more rich people’s toilets. I even received a lecture on why hot liquids (coffee), should never be poured into cold (actually lukewarm, but I just sat there with a smile and blank look on my face as if I was truly as stupid as he was making me out to be) coffee mugs. It’s been a blast of a year!

However, I will start with the present. The one good thing currently happening is that people are being extra kind and it’s lovely to see/hear. I’m lucky to have incredibly nice people in my life, so I’m used to this kind of thing, but it’s hearing about acts of kindness to other people and having strangers come into my life that have gone above and beyond. I could be cynical and say that this kindness will end when lockdown is over because people are just doing it to look good, but I won’t say that. Oops, I guess I just did. I hope it doesn’t end.

I love being a freelancer (or really anything with the word free in it), but that means in these times, I’m without a job and security. I do not own a home and I don’t really have a base. Of course I can always go live with my family, but my parents are in the vulnerable group and I have three precious nieces and nephews that I wouldn’t want to risk giving the virus to. That and it’s as far away from the sea as you can get in the US. So, when I jumped on a boat in Antigua to sail over to England (the place where I really feel at home), I made the choice to jump off the boat and rent a place in Falmouth, where we landed. It was ok the first 10 days because my ex-boyfriend was with me, but then he left and now it’s just me. I’m a very social person and I’m always on the move, or at least outdoors. Basically, all of that has been stripped from me.

I know a lot of people have it worse. A lot of people have been living alone in lockdown for 6 weeks or more and I’ve only been here two weeks – less than a week alone. I’m trying to keep my head above water and see the positives. When I’m working on yachts I either don’t have the time, or the energy to keep in contact with those not straight in my face. I’m talking to lots of people now! I have the time to teach yoga again (check me out on Instagram @serenitybysarah) and although it is on Zoom instead of face to face, I’m still enjoying it. Never mind the rest of the time I’m looking out of the window at the small square of sea I can see, wondering how long until I am back there…

So many people have been so kind to me and if I’m crying, it’s not because I lost who I thought would be my forever guy, it’s because people are just being so kind and it really gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling. The friend I met in Thailand seven years ago, who I’ve seen maybe three or four times since then, has started texting me daily and phoning me every other day. Why? Because she knows I’m lonely and am probably missing the attention old lover boy gave me. She’s right and her calls make me smile! My landlords, who live above me, lent me warm clothing as I don’t have winter clothing and checked on me three times the first day I was alone to make sure I was alright. As we speak, their daughter is making me a cake, just because it must be hard living alone. How nice is that? Not to mention they dropped the rent by over 50% because I’m not making an income and have no idea when I will again. One of my friends who lives here, met me for a secret social outing because she thought things must be tough having a break up during lockdown (it is). She even gave me an illegal hug and guess what? I didn’t care! It felt great!

Then there are the strangers on the street. I love how most people give an apologetic look as they give you a wide berth. Almost as if to say, “No you don’t smell like a rubbish bin that hasn’t been taken out in a month or look like a leper, it’s just the rules. I’m ever so sorry.” (Think posh English accent as you read it). The thank yous when you move out of the way, the smiles and occasional hello that comes along with it. I think 75% of the world has taken up running, or at least long walks and it sure is making those endorphins procreate!

It’s also reminded me how these simple and free acts of kindness can make the difference to people. Ever smiled at a stranger walking down the street who had clearly been crying? Well if you haven’t, you’re just mean so try it and watch their face! I’m doing all I can to be kind even though I’m not really allowed to be in contact with people. I’m offering online yoga classes on a donation basis. It’s a bonus if I get a bit of cash to help pay rent, but I’m just happy to be filling up my karma account. Ok, that and I get some social interaction – I can’t get enough!

Now is a great time to implement daily kindness into your routine. Since I studied Buddhism, I’ve been implementing it into my mine and life just suddenly seems ok, even when it’s not. The kindness clearly comes back somehow. There’s a lovely quote going around right now that says, “We’re not all in the same boat, but we’re all in the same storm.” I think it’s so beautiful, not only for the current situation, but for life in general. What are you going to do to help others weather this storm?

It’s all about perspective

“Calling passengers on the Dominica flight to gate 5,” boomed over the loudspeaker as I entered the gate area of the Antigua airport. It was like a knife to the heart. The last time I was here, I was with Captain Smiles, going to Dominica. All of the memories started flooding back and it felt like my heart was being ripped out. I’m flying out the same day he is sailing in because he left me 2.5 weeks ago and didn’t want me to sail with him to Cartagena.

This Buddhism business really works, so I tried to reframe my thinking to something more positive. I was failing miserably and the repeated calling of Dominica brought tears to my eyes. So I resorted to modern distraction techniques and decided to post a photo of San Blas on Instagram, where I’m flying to now. The last photo from there was from nearly 3 years ago, so I had to scroll through my 5000+ photos. Then it hit me.

My St Martin to Aruba to Cartagena sailing trip was replaced with a San Blas to Cartagena sailing trip where some of my friends and family will be meeting me. What the hell am I crying for? Both are great options many people don’t have!

Ok fine. The winter Captain Smiles and I had planned ended as soon as it began, but so what? I’m not actually clinging on to him per se. I’m attached to the idea of the perfect winter I had planned after a completely not perfect time. Even without him, I’ve made the most of Antigua and am glad I came here.

The photos I scrolled through are of various islands and open seas I’ve explored in the last three years. They are of people I have met who brought me great joy for the time I was with them. They are of the Himalayan mountains and other lands some members of my family have never even dreamt of going to. They are photos of my beloved nieces and nephews that my family have sent me while I’ve been off doing these amazing things. What is my problem?

I’ve been taking a deep look into whether or not I want to stay in yachting and I’ve had some interesting conversations with people about it and the underlying message from all of the conversations is this. I’m making my life too hard when there isn’t anything wrong with it.

From a Buddhist standpoint, every living being suffers. I’m suffering because I have become attached to a privileged life, yet the people of Katmandú who are surrounded by filth and disease are also suffering and in a worse way than I am. Yet they don’t cry half as much as I do. They accept where they are. I am sure most of them would happily trade places with me and I guarantee you, they would not cry about the things I do!!

As another girl, who also struggled with the idea of being a stewardess when she’s a strong sailor said, “At least I’m on a boat. I’m part of the team that makes the boat run. I’ve just changed my perspective and am embracing it.”

Captain Smiles left me for the same reason most others have and it’s time I make a sincere and deep change if I ever want the chance of a life long relationship. When I’m single, it’s easier for me to be strong and keep moving forward positively. When I get into a relationship, I feel so relieved that I have someone to support me, that I end up crushing them. That isn’t fair on either of us. The problem is with me. I need to see things for how they are and just chill.

As I start my 4th decade of life (when the hell did that happen?!?!), I am setting my intention to make that change. Whatever issue comes my way will be confronted with a calm and positive manner knowing that it will all be fine. There are no problems, only solutions. I will pause and think with a calm mind because weighing myself or others down will do no good. Until I have successfully accomplished that (knowing I’m human and will make mistakes!), I am going to stay single and enjoy the lessons this journey will bring me. Funny enough, 99% of my ex boyfriends have this attitude and it’s only now I realise they were brought to teach me a lesson!!

Luckily all this happened while I was still in the airport and when I heard the last call for Dominica, I smiled. I had one of the best weeks of my life there and there is no reason to be upset about that. So I text Captain Smiles and said they were calling the Dominica flight and it brought a big smile to my face thinking of the fun we had there. He replied back that it too and always will, make him smile.

P.S. I have decided to stay in yachting and am currently manifesting the “as perfect as it can get” job! But first I’m going to have 15 days of celebrating this wonderful life I’ve been given!

Back to small town living

I love Antigua. Sometimes I don’t, but I’ll get to that later. When I say Antigua, I really mean Falmouth and English harbour because despite being here for 6 weeks now, I’ve only left the harbour to go to the airport.

The smell of weed permeates the tiny town of English harbour. I mean so tiny that the guy who stopped to offer me a lift to the supermarket the fourth day I was here, is the brother of the stewardess that I’ve been working for. I have since seen him literally everywhere I go. Hitchhiking is normal and safe here. It’s so much safer than walking on the narrow curvy potholed roads with drivers who are trying to pass the car in front of them who is already going 900 mph. Which is interesting since most of the population is high all the time.

I live about a 15-20 minute walk outside of the heart of the Harbour, in Marsh Village. It’s a little community of tiny shacks in varying states. It’s amazing. Somehow the walk gets longer every day, says me and everyone else who lives here. To be honest, I’m surprised I’m still whole and alive after the amount of night walks I’ve taken on a sidewalk that stops existing around a blind bend… When I approach the streetlights on the dirt path that leads up to the entrance of the community, they turn off and it becomes pitch black so I can see the beautiful star lit sky. I also think it would be the perfect place to get kidnapped or murdered, but no bother because as soon as I pass, the light flickers back on and I make my way safely up the hill. Don’t worry Mom, it’s safe here. It’s probably the safest area outside of the marinas. And well, there are yachties in the marinas…. 😉

I am lulled to sleep by the sound of tree frogs and sleep peacefully through the night, except the odd occasion when I am woken up by a fellow resident getting lucky or my neighbour hating the world. I said I live in a shack, the walls are like cardboard.

Before I found some work, I would spend the mornings on my porch drinking tea and watching the sea view, while watching the goats graze on the tough chewy grass. I quickly got to know the neighbours and was generally there to say “Have a nice day!” as they went to work and asked how their day was when they got back. Doc, the landlord leaves me coconuts and these mini bananas which are so sweet and delicious. He’s given me permission to take leaves from the sour sop tree every day because it’s a great tasting tea with lots of health benefits. Like avoiding wrinkles and some other important ones that I haven’t paid much attention to. It’s supposed to help with wrinkles…

Through my jobs as a yoga teacher and day working (if you don’t know what that means, I basically do all the shit jobs that permanent yacht crew don’t want to do for a day and get paid a pretty penny for it), I have made many new friends. I use the term loosely as they have no idea what my life has been like. Maybe I should go back to my American roots and call them pals. I am known as the yoga teacher, which is great, because there are quite a few other names I could be known for, but I’ll get to that later.

Whenever I venture into town, it is not long before I run into one of my pals. In fact, it was happening so much one night that I couldn’t actually spend time with the people I had gone out to meet! I am not complaining. It’s great and I’m behaved enough to not have to be afraid to go out the next day. Well except for that one time… (cringe).

People are very friendly here and will always greet you. I’ve made friends with the women who sit outside on their porch at night gossiping about their day. There is a great energy here and if you’re friendly to the locals, they will give you all the time and smiles they have. Some people say Antiguans are grumpy, unfriendly and racist. Well, I haven’t had that experience at all so I guess they need to look at their attitude and how they treat the locals.

Now the part where I don’t like it sometimes… My favourite quote from one of my pals is, “It’s so hard not to be an alcoholic here.” Proven fact. Like myself, there are many people who are casual drinkers outside of this island and when they come here, something happens. It gets boring sometimes. The same few bars, turning away the same local men, the same places to dance at with the same bands and the same playlist week after week. Maybe that’s why they do such heavy pours here. If you drink enough, you don’t remember that it’s the same playlist every week! Seriously, I can normally do just one drink and switch to water, but with their pours, the first drink is really two or sometimes three measures if the bartenders like you.  Therefore, you’re finished before you started. It’s ok because most of the foreigners are exactly in the same state. It’s the next day when I get applauded on the street by the locals for my dance moves and offers of being taken out that it’s the problem…

Anyway, I’ve had a year and a half of learning some good life lessons. Ok, that’s just a nice way to say it’s been a super shit year and a half. Or as my new hilarious American pal said, “Oh my god!!!! I feel like I’m listening to a movie script, but this is your life. Like no one should have to go through that! And you’re even laughing about it!”

Coming here didn’t go as planned since the “boy child,” as another pal refers to him as, checked out of the relationship before I even got here and forgot to tell me. Ooops!! Good thing I invested so much into the relationship. After the night before Valentine’s day break up (classic), I drank myself to oblivion while seeking attention from other men and then I stepped into a dark horrible hole to figure out how I can stop making the same stupid mistakes over and over again.

I’m back in the light and I don’t give a fuck now (excuse the language. It’s needed for effect). I will spend money how I want, not worry or stress about future work and close this heart for business for a wee while because it will all just work out. I’m happy I’m here. I embrace the days I love it by going to the beach and socialising and the days I don’t like it so much, I remind myself of where I am and how fortunate I am to have the life I have. As Buddha said, we’re all suffering in this life, so why not make it the least painful as possible?

Enjoying the present moment

This was written on 26th January 2019

Early this morning I was sitting on the porch of our Dominican airbnb on the old rusty futon sofa all alone, while Captain Smiles slept soundly on the most comfortable bed ever. The gentle rain was bouncing off the lush green vegetation that hides away Birdwatcher’s cottage. The hummingbirds wings buzzed loudly as they flew past me to feed from the sugar water in the bird feeder. I smiled softly to myself and felt relaxed for the first time in a really long time. The rain was a steady waterfall and seemed to wash away past stress and worries leaving my soul clean and refreshed.

I realised I’ve been spending much of the past few months reliving the past or worrying about a nonexistent future. There is always so much beauty around us when we stop to breathe. We have truly been living in the moment in our week here in Nature’s Playground. We’ve driven around the twisty roads lined with scenery that is like a scene from Jurassic Park. We’ve swum in countless waterfalls, hiked up mountains and around myst covered lakes. It’s been so easy to focus on the present moment here, especially since wherever you look, there is so much beauty, it’s impossible to take it all in. The roads are windy and narrow and we both look out for cars, potholes and the edge of the roads where we could drop into the steep rain gutters and never get out!

Most of all, being with Captain Smiles forces me to live in the moment. For various reasons, it’s a relationship that doesn’t have much hope of a long future. I’ve finally figured out how to stop worrying about it and just enjoy being in the relationship for however long it lasts. His warm smile melts my heart, his magical touch sends positive vibes throughout my body and his sense of humour adds more smile lines around my eyes. He is a truly amazing person and I’m just so happy that our paths have joined in this life. Being around him feels safe. Don’t we all crave safety in this life? I can truly be me around him. His actions are genuine, he makes me feel like the most beautiful woman in the world, even if I gain a few pounds and don’t like what I see in the mirror. It’s a feeling many women desire and sadly rarely experience.

His outlook on life reminds me to stay in the moment and enjoy every second that passes. I have no idea how long we will travel together until we reach a fork in the road and decide to take the same fork or journey off on our own adventures. It doesn’t matter, for neither of us knows when that will be. For now, I will just keep breathing in the beauty around me and exhaling any stress that comes my way.