Finding peace in a different world

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Honestly, I don’t even know where to start. Well, maybe I do. The photo above was taken from Necker Island, Richard Branson’s island. Most people have to pay tens of thousands of dollars to visit it, I was there for free working.  These last two weeks have been like no other in my whole entire life.  The yachting world is very intense for so many reasons and I feel like I’ve been transported to another planet.  

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We’ve had our owners on board who are incredibly fun and nice. To work for owner’s like that apparently is rare so I’m grateful for that. The charter didn’t go without drama, both from the guest and crew side. There were some pretty intense moments and sometimes I didn’t really know if I was awake or having a bad dream. There were five crew, all who are supposed to help each other out, but instead, it was the Captain and Engineer working hard to figure out all of the things that were breaking (which was at least two things a day for the first few days), the chef being grumpy with me because apparently I’m supposed to be her personal assistant, which was difficult since the Deckhand was either drunk or sleeping off her hangover. I ended up literally running around all day being stewardess and deckhand while having some unpleasant conversations with the chef about how I just can’t do it because I’m so busy. Oh, and she was ordering me around when she was lying down on the sofa saying how tired she was. I wish that was a lie. She has now been fired, along with the drunk deckhand who didn’t want to stay anyway.

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Not to mention it was my first charter with the owners and first charter ever on a motor yacht and as a stewardess. It was a steep learning curve and I spent most of the first five days convinced I would be fired after the charter. Then came the guest change when four people left and the owners invited new people with hours notice. Yep, on top of deckhand, stewardess and assistant chef, I had to wash and change three beds, clean three bathrooms and all with a smile on my face.  During meal times, the engineer, chef and I would generally eat together and despite the differences between the chef and myself, we were all so tired that we would have the most ridiculous conversations that made us laugh hysterically. It made the long hours worth it as I knew it would always be a good time.

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There were some moments when the ‘empty’ crew were annoying me so badly I thought, “I don’t need this shit, I’ve had two years of working with one person with such little drama. Sure I made nothing, but this is just bullshit. Maybe I should go back.” Then I would stare out the window and see the sailboats, of which there are hundreds sailing around the USVI and BVI, and I would be taken to a different world. On one rare occasion, I was able to escape outside for 10 minutes and just soak up the view, which is absolutely breathtaking.  The horizon is surrounded by sailboats and I took a deep breath and thought to myself, “One day I will be on one of those sailboats looking at the motor yachts saying ‘Thank you so much, without your job, I wouldn’t be sat here living the life I dreamed of. Not only that, but I’m so grateful I never ever have to clean one of you again.” Then I straightened out my boy uniform (I really did wear men’s clothing the whole time), pulled my shoulder’s back with confidence and went back inside to dust off some fingerprints and fluff more pillows. The best things in life are earned through hard work and god only knows how badly I want my own sailboat to live in the way that suits me best. I will be patient and fluff lots of pillows!

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The hours are long, sometimes 6.30 am until midnight and I don’t get a day off during the week, but there’s nowhere else I would rather be. I’m on the sea, making a very good salary that will really help me shave off those student loans and save for Suzie Q.  I’m with a good group of people. There weren’t always arguments and drama, we did have laughs too. Especially the engineer and I. He’s like my little brother and best friend and the only one I can truly trust on the boat.  As of today, it’s just the Captain, Engineer and I and we get along great. A Relief Captain/Engineer is coming on board in about three weeks and he’s super cool too. He’s been doing lots of work on the boat, so I’ve gotten to know him a bit and I think we will all have fun.  

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I’m writing this as I listen to the waves crash along the shore on the aft deck on anchor in St John’s. Since the owners left on Sunday, I have been thinking about all that has happened in the last two weeks, it’s surreal. The owner’s live in a different world to what I have ever, or will ever, live in and it was so interesting to get a glimpse of that life. To not have a worry in the world, to have people around you to do whatever you want for you, to have all the money in the world to buy whatever you want or to dare the 22 year old engineer to jump off the top deck naked for $500 (I was so bummed I wasn’t male)! I was surrounded by drama, but still in a peaceful place. That was something new to me. There was one point when I just chose to go have a laugh with the Engineer instead of listen to the drama, and I realised that I’m actually practising what I’ve been studying so hard to do. To live a yogic lifestyle. I was truly Switzerland. I did at first get slightly swept up in the drama, but then quickly stepped back and realised what was going on and chose not to be a part of it. I wouldn’t make comments when the backstabbing was happening. I would either listen or just walk away, because I quickly learned trying to explain the other side would get me nowhere. I still managed to have a really good time despite all of the crazy drama unravelling around me. That was also something new for me and also very beautiful. How great to accomplish that goal of not being affected by how others are acting, especially as at times it was INCREDIBLY intense.

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Now we are anchored in St John’s bay waiting to get some repairs done before we cruise back over to St Maarten to get some more repairs done. It’s just the boys and me and it feels like a great team. Without guests, our hours are 8-5ish and I look forward to the end of the day when I put my fins and snorkel mask on and jump into the crystal clear blue and turquoise sea to visit the colourful fauna that is all around us. I used to hate being on anchor because I felt stranded and as I still haven’t been taught how to drive this tender, I am literally stranded, but that’s ok. I love being on the water, I’m so busy during the day that there’s never enough hours in the evening to do everything I want to do (like write!!) and I love that we are outside the marina and next to a reef. I immediately returned to my nightly ritual of lying down to look up at the stars and being grateful for life before I go to bed. We have lots of comfortable cushions on deck so I’ve even been sleeping outside as my cabin is more like a coffin than sleeping quarters. As the Captain said, “Why did they buy a boat? Oh yeah, so we could have a good life!” Obviously that’s not why, but I’m so grateful there are people who are in a situation to give us a great life.

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The one thing I realised is how truly in the moment I am. The days flew by and I remember seeing the date on the cameras as the 21st and before realising it, it was the 24th. Our Internet wasn’t working and I quickly forgot that there was a cyber world out there. As much as I love my family and friends, I didn’t really think about them much. I was very much here, soaking in all of the new experiences, learning as much as I could and breathing in the stunning environment. I was in the moment, I was observing and everything was what it was. I wasn’t thinking too much about the past (it’s hard not to compare sailing life with motor yacht life!) and I thought very little about the future. That is why it was so beautiful. That also tells me that I am in exactly the place where I am supposed to be right now. Ahhhhhhhh……… Life is amazing.  Time to look at that goregous night sky and see how many stars are falling tonight.

Birthday brilliance

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If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you will know that last year I talked about not really enjoying my birthdays and that I was making a decision to let it go and think differently. First of all, I can’t believe it’s been a year. It feels like just yesterday I was in Cartagena dressing up to go out for a birthday lunch…

 

I’m pleased to say that I officially have let go! It’s my birthday today, I had actually forgotten most of the day. There were no anxieties about how many people would remember, if I was significant to other people, etc. The truth is, I’m not more or less significant than anyone else in the world and receiving millions of birthday messages doesn’t actually mean anything other than there are a lot of thoughtful or forgetful people in my life.

 

What mattered is that before I even got here, my new Captain told me the first party would be on the 13th after I sent him over my passport. On Saturday morning for our morning meeting, the engineer said ‘a very important topic is how are we going to celebrate Sarah’s birthday?’ We’re going to St Thomas tomorrow so we couldn’t have a big celebration tonight. And you know what? They gave me an absolutely amazing birthday celebration which lasted two days.  They introduced me to new friends, we had a birthday jacuzzi dip, a beautiful night out at a beach party where I chatted to three crazy French sailors about sailing, the sea and the meaning of life. It was a full moon and they all said I was glowing with positive energy, I could feel it and through all the beers I was given and puffs of the green stuff, I thought, “Yes, I really am living my life. On my birthday, with strangers on an amazing beach, under a full moon and feeling so incredibly loved by everyone and everything.”

 

The engineer was telling everyone it was my birthday which resulted in me being bought birthday beers. One of the three French sailors was chasing me around trying to kiss me because he said I had “sugar lips” and he just wanted to try them. When I finally gave in and let him in for a quick peck, he gave the loudest, “WOOOO HOOOOO!!!” I have ever heard in my life and said, “Yes! Wow, that was amazing, so much energy, so much goodness!” Then proceeded to take his clothes off and jump in the sea to feel even more pure. He of course kept following me for another one, but it just became hilarious and we all learned to have conversations with his commentary about my lips on the side. I’m sure he was on some kind of drug, but that was probably the most amazing reaction I have ever received from a peck on the lips! I could feel the radiation coming from me and really enjoyed spreading it out to those around me.

 

There were eight of us in a circle. All sailors of one kind and not one of us had our phone. We were on a beautiful beach with great company and knew that was going to happen, so why bring a phone to ruin it?!?! I thought, these are the types of people I want to be surrounded by for the rest of my life.

 

Then we went to a nightclub and got a lift from one of the three crazy French sailors. He had an amazing car with a great sound system and there was rap blasting on the radio. The engineer and I love rap and he was in the front so he turned it up super loud and all five of us in the car started throwing up our hands in the air and doing rap video dances. I was laughing and remembering how I probably did something similar (not on an island!!) about 15 years ago and that there is no need to grow up. I was seriously in heaven soaking up the happiness and beautiful people around me.

 

No one could believe I was turning 38. Everyone guessed under 30. In London, people always guessed above 30. There is something about the Caribbean air or maybe the sea that shaves 10 years off my face. My hair becomes lighter, grows faster and my nails grow at an astonishing rate. It’s amazing how much my body thrives in this environment. I feel so young, alive, energetic, vibrant and healthy.

 

They forced me to go out last night even though I was hungover. They weren’t so pushy with the drinks, but they made me stay up until midnight so that we could have the cake the chef made for me. They invited a bunch of people over to sing me happy birthday and I was so touched. I went to bed thinking how lucky I was to be alive, how thankful I am to my parents for giving me this life. Such a beautiful life that is hard at times, but that’s just what makes the beautiful times more beautiful.

 

You see what happens when you let go? Everything you were afraid of not happening, comes to you in such a beautiful and natural way.

 

I have been on the boat for five days now and I have about 10 blogworthy stories. However, I haven’t had the time to write because the work is full on and I’m exhausted afterwards, not to mention there is a new crew to get to know, new friends around the marina and a gorgeous island to explore before we go to the next one. All I will say is that this place is crazy, in a good way and I find myself pinching myself to see if this is all really real. Year 38 has started off brilliantly and I’m excited to see where the adventure is going to take me!

The Caribbean called me back.

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When I bought my plane ticket to Palma for the 13th, my intuition was telling me not to. I simply thought it was a bit of fear creeping in. Then when I bought the train ticket to see a dear friend up North, my intuition again said, “No, don’t do it.” Before I pressed confirm, I sat back and thought why wouldn’t I? A message that some work would come my way popped up. I really do need the money. I pushed that thought away because whatever off the cuff work I would get over those two days wouldn’t be that much.  It means far more to me to spend time with friends I haven’t seen in ages, then to stay and HOPEFULLY make some pocket change.

 

After I finished my yoga and mediation Thursday morning, I saw I had received a voicemail from an unknown number. I listened and it was a recruitment agency that I didn’t remember signing up for. She said my CV had been passed to her which made me happy that it was out there. I phoned her back and got the details of the job. A private motor yacht, working as a stewardess. I wasn’t so keen as I’m more of a deckie. Then she said it was in the Caribbean and they were crossing over to the Mediterranean in the summer. My eyebrows rose. I do like extended times of being on the water, so I said, “Yes, I’m interested.” Then it all happened quite quickly! Another agent who works closely with the Captain called me to ask more questions and tell me more details. Actually it was a Stew/Deck position so I would be doing a bit of everything. Then the Captain called me. He sounded great and made the owners sound great too. He said he would make a decision by the end of the day.

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He didn’t, but he called me the next day and said he was a bit worried about my lack of interior experience and qualifications. My mind raced as to how I could prove that this job was for me, then my soul stepped in and said, “Calm down, if it’s meant to be, it will happen. No need to become desperate or prove yourself.” He said, “Do you think you can do it?” I confidently replied. “Yes.” His reply, “Welcome aboard. I enjoyed talking to you yesterday and this just feels right. So ok, we’ll fly you out on Wednesday if that’s ok.” It will be a steep learning curve as I work out how to organise and manage the interior of a 37 meter yacht, but I do love to sink my teeth into a good old challenge!

 

Once again, being calm, relaxed and trusting in the Universe made things happen. Every day I spent hours looking and applying for jobs, even if I thought I didn’t have a chance. I didn’t worry about it, I knew something would come along so I just enjoyed my time in London. I saw lots of friends, enjoyed each moment and did some different types of work which was really lovely! I felt like a tourist in a city I knew well. London is a whole different game when you aren’t rushing from place to place with little time in between meetings. It’s a beautiful city with interesting architecture, tons of free things to do and lots of people to enjoy.

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I am ready and excited for my new journey. No doubt there will be some difficult times, but as I have done since finding my peace in November 2014, I will keep calm and trust it will all be ok, because it always will be. I’m enjoying my last couple of days in London and pushing back the thoughts of being back on the sea, being rocked to sleep and having the most amazing lifestyle that suits me perfectly. Today is great too for different reasons. The best part is that I have very little to do and in fact, could leave tonight if need be. I can only take one bag which is pretty much packed, I have no flat or house to break out of, I have no children, no responsibility, no commitment. I am simply free and what an amazing feeling that is!

Damaging appearances

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It all started when I was in the USA and a seven year old little girl looked at my eyes and told me I had grandma wrinkles. I told her they were smile lines, not grandma wrinkles. She looked at me with determination and anger and shouted, “GRANDMA WRINKLES!!!” I smiled at her again to show her my lines and said calmly, “I see them as smile lines because I’m a happy person and I smile a lot.” She muttered, “Grandma wrinkles” and stomped off angrily. I thought how sad it was that the people in her life have gave her this perception. She is only seven and already thinking about appearances, it is such a sad world when children think like that.

 

After this, I was watching a TV program with my parents and on came this three minute commercial about cream for the neck and upper chest. It featured numerous female celebrities who had used this cream and said how young it made them look and how much they loved it.  Funny enough, a few months earlier when I was in Cartagena, I looked in the mirror and thought my age was starting to show on my neck, I simply brushed off such a shallow thought, but slathered more sun cream on that area to prevent any more damage. When I was watching this advert, I started panicking a bit about my looks and my age and god forbid I should actually look my real age one day. I found my hand involuntarily touching my neck as if it was to blame for the fact that I am getting older. Then the advert started talking about all of these freebies they would throw in and I found myself anxious to hear the price. When they said it, it was actually a rather decent price and of course came with a guarantee so if I didn’t see results, I would get my money back. I was so close to writing down the website and then I stopped myself. Why would I do that? Many women these days seem to have lost the ability to age gracefully. My grandmothers did not mess with a thing and I’m not even sure used face cream, yet they were still beautiful women. I guess it depends on your definition of beauty.

 

Not to mention, when you start getting botox, fillers, implants here there and everywhere, shit goes wrong when you get older. Trust me, I’m sure one woman I saw who was in her 50’s would tell you that she regretted everything she ever had done. Her face and lips were totally deformed, her boobs were rock solid in a midst of aging skin and her skin was leathered from being in the sun with no protection. She was a kind person, but her outside was not so beautiful.

 

Now back to the present. I am absolutely loving my time in London. It’s great because I’m not working much and I have a bike which gives me freedom to travel around for free (speaking of which I got good old Sky back with all of his parts and the bike shop did indeed reimburse me for everything and gave me a better lock for a discount!) and explore this incredible city. When I am coming home from somewhere, I love to take new roads or old roads that are new to me because it’s been a couple of years. It’s amazing! I am truly truly observing and seeing this incredibly magic city. The spirits of London, of which there are many are constantly guiding me. They speak to me at every corner I turn, every alley way I look in. It’s incredible! They are showing me new perspectives and truly opening my eyes to a peaceful way of living. They are telling me that this is not the place for me right now, but I am here so I should soak in all of the lessons that are being offered to me.

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I love the contrasts in London. Depending on the area, the buildings are different, the types of shops vary, the street life is different, the colours of people are different (but always with a mix of colours), the way people carry themselves is different. It’s really interesting to see. I’ve been spending a lot of time around Covent Garden and Marylebone in the last few days. There are a lot of shops, businesses and rich people around. I have been looking at the shops and the types of people that go into them. On the weekend Tommy Hilfiger near Harrods had such a huge crowd of people waiting for something that people were blocking the pavement and nearly pouring out into the streets. As I was rushing with excitement to meet a friend I hadn’t seen in over two years, I suddenly found this absurd. I shouldn’t judge I know, but that was my initial thought. It was probably some model or some new range of clothing that was coming.  People were using their precious life going there because they think it would make them look better than me who has no designer clothes or even anything that is considered fashionable. They place so much importance on how they look and who they wear that perhaps they are missing out on what really is important.

 

I realised that I too, in my previous life fell victim to this marketing. I wanted to have the latest fashion (at high street prices!), have an iPhone, live in a “cool” part of London, travel to exotic places, have lots of shoes, jackets and money to go to shows, good restaurants and goodness knows what else. I remember thinking that I wouldn’t go to my high school reunion because I didn’t have children or a husband or that Doctorate that I went for. Really, none of that matters and it wasn’t until I gave everything up, including fake appearances, that I finally felt free, confident and sure.

 

As I cycle around the more affluent areas of London, I notice how they are so much about appearances. I notice how they look at me just a bit longer than they do everyone else because I have an old dirty bike, a red sailing jacket (which needs a good wash but I don’t have a spare while it’s drying!), worn black mittens and a red bobbly Christmas ski hat that my friend lent me (thanks Jennie, it’s been the most valuable object I’ve received since coming here!!). They are either judging me, in disgust of such a scrub in their area or maybe they are grateful to see someone different to all the rest.  

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I went to an induction to teach private yoga for a mobile styling company (Blow Ltd). The majority of the people there were hair, make up and nail artists who were very concerned about their appearance. I rocked up not in the dress code because I don’t have black trousers or shoes, not wearing any make except a splash of eyeliner and I hadn’t even blow dried my hair. Just as a side note, when I looked in the mirror in the bathroom, my hair looked just as good as two of the girls who clearly worked hard to get their hair that way. They were really nice women and I couldn’t help but wonder what we would do with all this free time if we weren’t so concerned about wearing masks.

 

 

One reason why I went travelling was because I realised that I was getting a bit ridiculous and needed to learn how to live without these small luxuries. I was working so hard to maintain an appearance, that I stopped living because I was too busy working to fulfil this empty desire. My travelling goal was accomplished. I lived on a small and strict budget so that I could travel for a long time and when I came back, I would be ready to start a new career path with little money. Well, I’m not ready to settle here, but I certainly don’t need any more than what I already have. Nor do I really need all of what I have.  However, what I do have is more important than any object or appearance I could ever wish for. Peace and contentment. Buddha was right, you really do have to give up everything to find everything you are supposed to have.     

On the move again

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I honestly think my ancestors were gypsies. What really makes my blood start circulating and my heart racing is being on the move. I wrote this entry at the last night in my flat. The flat I moved into a short 27 days ago. I went through quite an adjustment and learning process in the last 27 days. It’s quite amazing actually!

 

Having a bike makes me feel like I’m travelling. It offers me complete freedom because it allows me to get around this huge and beautiful city for free. I get to see little alleyways that cars can’t go through and take detours that don’t add on time because I’m on a bike! The wind whips through my hair and the diesel fumes go up my nose, but I don’t care. I’m on the move and a smile always forms.

 

I was going to leave the end of March, but the spirits of London are telling me it’s time to go now. I have done what it called me here for. Don’t ask what that is, I do keep some things private 🙂 So I decided that I would like to start my 38th year how I want the rest of the year (and my life) to go, with adventure! I booked tickets to Palma, Mallorca for the 13th of March and am absolutely terrified! But incredibly excited and open to whatever journey I will go on.  

 

Anyway, I was homeless last weekend, so I took it as an opportunity to go to the countryside where I used to live and see my ex work colleagues/dear friends who I am still in touch with despite leaving the job and area more than six years ago. They housed me, fed me, chauffeured me around and one of them filled me with too much wine. I had a great time and felt very loved! Now I’m staying in a posh part of London, Angel, with another friend until I go.  

 

Then the scary part comes. Palma (unless I find a job before then!). I am going without knowing anyone, without knowing the area, without a job, but with all the faith and trust that Palma has something to offer me. Whether that’s a job or a lesson, I won’t know until I get there. I’m nervous, a bit scared, but really excited to see what this new chapter will offer me. So many people have told me I’m brave, I used to brush it off and say I’m just sticking up for my right to happiness, but the truth is, Yes I am. My courage has even given me a paid return ticket back from a good friend should all go wrong (not purchased, nor do we think it will be necessary).  

 

I will be sad to leave London again. My friends have supported me in ways that were beyond what friendship calls for. Probably because they know I would do exactly the same for them.  They admire me and want me to succeed because I’m going off the social norm of what I am “supposed” to be doing. Having such great support around me has recharged my strength. I was definitely in need of a recharge. With all of my free time, I have looked into various jobs and made contacts. I had some job leads and offers that would have developed into something more had I stayed here longer, but I firmly believe that everyone who walks into my life does so for a purpose. Many people I have met for brief periods of time have told me something which has made a long lasting positive impression, have helped me years later with something or have become significant people in my life. There is a reason for all of these people that have walked along with me on this London path and no doubt time will tell me what that is.   

 

For now, I am ready to go. I am ready to continue pursuing my dream, I am ready to work towards a life where the only concern I have is my very own sail boat, where I’m going to sail it to and who I should have with me.  With the strength and support of my friends, I will create new adventures, new stories, have new ups and downs and hopefully make a lasting positive impact on new people. I am very much looking forward to a new journey!