Ithaca

I’ve fantasized many times about my last post on this blog.  My first vision was a re-creation of the last scene of the Lord of the Rings, with Frodo disappearing over the horizon, heading for the Grey Havens.

My goal in beginning this blog was to chronicle our sailing adventures.  Back at Our So-Called Life, on March 8, 2011, I began sharing our journey into a rather unorthodox lifestyle, our fascination with minimalism, and–most importantly–our experiences on our new-to-us sailboat, Moonraker.

Throughout that year, I shared a touching tribute to my mother-in-law, who passed away unexpectedly while preparing for our Mother’s Day visit, and we drank a toast to her while underway for our first cruise that summer.

A much younger-looking version of me took the helm as we headed out on our first adventure.

As most of you know, that trip did not end as planned, as we ran aground after a week underway and had to end our season while the boat was repaired.  Devastated, I wrote that “my soul was sinking, failing.”

I thought I was seeing the end of a dream, when all I was really seeing was an opportunity to dust off my knees and get back up after a fall.

That summer, as we had taken off on Moonraker, I had been searching.  I had been seeking a place over the rainbow, where everything would be better, all right.

Since my early 20’s, my life had carried a theme of running away.  As newlyweds, we moved away from the town where we had grown up.  Then we moved into the middle of the woods, thinking we were closer to that perfect place, where everything was all right.

When that didn’t pan out as hoped, we fantasized about moving to the Upper Peninsula, or possibly to the west side of Michigan.  Every port we had encountered became a potential home.  Maybe one of those places would be the magical place for us.

In the summer of 2012, when the journey over the water came to an end, we began searching for that perfect place at home.  We embraced the minimalist lifestyle and began frantically getting rid of possessions.

We became crunchy, we tried to get off the grid, and I even followed the Fly Lady’s program for awhile!  We were passionately anti-consumer and felt strongly about our life style choices.

Our summer ended with a call from the marina and an “epic” sailing trip through what was left of hurricane Rita.

The following school year, I found that my head was never in the game, and all I could think of was returning to the water.  I loved our adventure sailing, and I was certain that I had found the place where everything was “right.”

And the summer of 2012 seemed to only prove me correct.

My writing also took an exciting turn during that summer, as I was featured on Miss Minimalist.  As we returned to land in August, I had a great deal of friends to keep in touch with.

Being a writer had long been a dream of mine, and during the fall and winter of 2012, my confidence increase with the encouragement of other bloggers.  My posts became more philosophical, as I began to question the doubts and fears I had held about myself.

I opened up and shared “secrets” that I thought were a part of the “real me” that I tried to hide.

We further embraced the minimalist lifestyle and spent the winter living in our basement, to save money and to gain experience living simpler.

With our success living in the basement and the positive feedback I received from my writing, we became brave enough to question our status quo.  Perhaps it was time to travel again.

After a lot of introspection, I began applying for jobs across the country, in Texas, and we pack and left in the summer of 2013.  To this date, we have not launched Moonraker again.

You were there with us as we settled into our apartment, and then onto our first full-time boat.

After the move, it surprised me to see the same patterns repeating themselves.  Here I was, 1300 miles away, living the life I’d dreamed.  I was a crunchy minimalist, living on a sailboat, and I had left such a difficult situation.  I was supposed to be in that place over the rainbow, and yet I was not.

What I did not share on this blog is that, with that realization after our move, 2 1/2 years ago, came the beginning of my real journey.

Over that time, I learned that running away is limited in its usefulness, because our external circumstances have little bearing on our happiness and peace of mind.

And that is because what we are seeing, isn’t really happening.

We think we are fighting an internal battle against fear, but what we don’t see is that fear is based on things that aren’t even real.  Nobody is intending to harm us–they are in their own misunderstandings, perhaps, but we are interpreting their words and actions based on our own misunderstandings.

There is no internal battle.  There is only growth, from the beginnings of understanding into greater understanding.  As we understand, we stop fighting.

We learn that our deepest secrets are nothing more than our common experience of fear.  We all have scars on some level, but they are not who we are.  Who we truly are is what we experience during times of freedom from fear.  And that is love.

It is only when we begin to discover this that we are able to break the constantly-repeating patterns in our lives.  It doesn’t need to involve moving onto a boat or traveling across the country.  All it really requires is a change in the way we see and understand the world and everyone in it, especially ourselves.

When I began writing this blog, I was searching.  I wanted to find that place of peace, of no-fear.  At first I thought it would be across the ocean, which is why I thought I would end this blog with a video of us disappearing over the horizon.

As I traveled through my journey within, I thought that I was searching for a place of constant awareness, or the ongoing knowledge that love is all that is real.  I was looking for an end to suffering, an overcoming of fear.

I have “achieved” neither of those things.

One day, it is likely that we will disappear over that horizon.  And with every waking hour, I learn to see reality more clearly, gradually breaking away from the fear that distorts it.  But I also now realize that this is a lifetime journey.

The nearly 5 years that I spent writing this blog was instrumental in this journey.  There was a time when I needed to write in order to sort out my thoughts and discover my identity.  And I needed to have my words read.  I needed the direct support of people on similar journies.

And yet, as time has gone on, my journey has become more and more private.  I trust my own insights, because I know them to be true in my heart.  Writing here once was a daily necessity for my peace of mind.  Now writing once a month has become a chore.

Journeying into peace has led me to live more experientially.  I have enjoyed sharing our story and our journey here, but the time has come now to just live it.

So many of you–more than I could possibly count–have helped me tremendously on this journey.  I want to thank you, and I want to say that I hope I have helped you on yours as well.  But what I have learned is that love is never a one-way street.  If love flows in my direction, it has flowed in yours as well.

So instead, I will say that I am grateful that we have grown from knowing each other.

I will continue with my writing in other venues, and I am on Facebook and Twitter.  I do sometimes still answer my e-mails, but I can not promise a speedy response!

I will conclude this blog by making reference to the poem “Ithaka” by Constance Caverfy, which inspired the blog’s title.

I thought I would end this blog when I reached my own personal “Ithaca,” but I have learned that in life, Ithaca doesn’t actually exist.  We are all on a journey.  We are all working to overcome fear, grow in love, and see reality as it is.  It is a constant growing, not a “graduation,” where we arrive and live happily after.  Happiness and joy are found in each moment where we experience life as it is, and the fact that we will inevitably experience fear again does nothing to diminish this joy.

And if this joy is Ithaca, then I could never find it poor.

Thank you for being a part of the journey.

With love,

Bethany

new menu plan

new menu plan

new menu plan week of 4-11

30 thoughts on “Ithaca

  1. What a beautiful wrap-up to your blog, Bethany! “Blog Years” must have some equivalent like dog years to people years, right? Where it’s really like 5 blog years equals 25 actual years because most blogs don’t make it past the one-year mark? Congratulations on your relatively long journey! Your honest voice and interesting journey will be missed in the blogosphere, but I’m glad we’re connected in other places, too. I’ll meet you there! xox

    • Thank you for challenging the crickets, Joy! 😉 I can’t believe it’s been 5 years, and that I’m still writing. It was definitely fun sharing our journey, and it certainly helped me sort a lot of it out too!

  2. What a great way to end a blog! Most bloggers just mysteriously disappear and leave their blogs “abandoned.” You’ve made yours a work of art. May you have more great adventures in your future!

    • Thank you, Angel. I don’t think I could leave this blog without saying good-bye to everyone I’ve met over the years. The friendships I’ve made have been the best part of blogging.

  3. What a glorious ending. I think this is the written equivalent of sailing off into the sunset, with all life ahead of you, for YOU to live. So glad that you’ve arrived at this point, where there is further to travel, and you’re relishing the prospect. I hope you have a wonderful, wonderful time journeying, and…see you in the other places 🙂

  4. It’s been a great ride Bethany! When I first started reading your blog, I was going through a terrible divorce and life looked pretty bleak. I enjoyed reading your blog so much during that time. It’s amazing how life changes in a few short years. I went back to school, changed careers, met a wonderful man and after many years of living in a small town in Florida I am moving back to NYC where I grew up. In fact leaving in a couple of days to go on a condo hunting trip. Life is wonderful!! I will miss reading about your family’s adventures. Good luck in the future. You helped me out during a rough time in my life and for that, I thank you!

    • Great news, Donna! I was thinking of you a couple days ago, remembering that post I wrote about dyeing my hair (which is now fiery red!). I was in the shower with my new loofah, thinking about how absolutely lovely a pedicure would be! I realized how much less opinionated I’ve become and how you were right–we do need to make ourselves a priority. That’s the only way we can care for those around us. I’m glad we were able to grow from knowing each other. 🙂

  5. I found you through my minimalism blog searching, maybe two years ago, and I have enjoyed reading your blog so much. I actually emailed you last spring and you answered back! Thank you for that! You know, as minimalists we declutter, rid ourselves of most of our stuff, and then reach the point where the space and freedom prompts us to ask, “What’s next?” Then we look carefully at the intangibles and our experiences and inner life. And we begin living more in the present. I’m at the point where I’ve even stopped snapping so many photos because I have finally realized that (even though they take up no physical space) no one will ever want to go through the 20,000 digital images I’ve managed to accumulate. I don’t even want to!! Instead I want to savor more fully these fleeting moments as they happen, without feeling distracted by the compulsion to capture so many of them for posterity. Fewer photos, more real life!! Like you, it’s time! This post of yours, however, which beautifully summarizes your journey, is like a precious photo collection that has been culled, with a few selected big ideas lovingly placed in a memory album. Thank you for sharing yourself in your blog. You’ve given your audience so many things to ponder! Best wishes to you, and your beautiful family, as you continue living and loving along your life journey!

    • Hi Elizabeth! I saw your name and thought, shoot, I never wrote her back! Then after you mentioned that I had, I went back to check my e-mail drafts just to make sure. Yay, I’m proud of myself, I did write back! 😉

      You are absolutely right, the decluttering often does begin with the physical and extend into our personal lives. It’s really a matter of living intentionally and not being a slave to any “rules.” Realizing nothing in life is arbitrary. 😉

  6. Bethany — I can truly relate to your journey and I’m happy you allowed me to share it with you for a spell. I get it when you say you want to live your life — your journey. It’s true, we try everything just to capture that peace and divine joy, only to discover we’re chasing it and it’s right under our nose. I’ve been going through similar things within myself on my journey and learning to let go of fears.

    I remember someone once giving an acronym on the word FEAR:
    F – False
    E – Evidence
    A – Appearing
    R – Real

    My heart goes with you, my friend, as you continue along your path, one moment at a time. God bless you and your family and hope to hear from you from time-to-time and that you’ll keep in touch. Hugs! 🙂

    • I’ve always loved that acronym that you use, Pat! It is so true. Our minds are quick to gather evidence to prove our fear-based assumptions true, but they never are. I’m glad we’ve been able to grow from knowing each other, and I will definitely keep in touch. We’ve got many more conversations to have! 😉

      • Thank you, Bethany. I’m glad, too, that we’ve been able to grow from each other and I’m glad you’ll be keeping in touch. I can see nothing but happiness for you on your new adventures, purely because you’re looking at them from your heart not just your eyes. God bless you, my friend. Life is good.

  7. HI Bethany! Thank you for putting closure on your blogging experience and letting us know what is in your heart and mind as you do that. There are far too many bloggers who come, we connect, and then somewhere down the line they disappear. It is nice to know that you’ve come so far and that you now know where your answers are–inside. No matter where your journey leads, you will be okay. I am always inspired by the words of Abraham-Hicks when they remind us that it is the journey because they say, “you’ll never get it all done and it will never be ‘perfect'” We just keep evolving and experiencing as we go. I wish you happy and peaceful travels on whereever your path leads. ~Kathy

    • You are absolutely right, Kathy, that we do keep evolving and experiencing as we go. It’s so easy to be a perfectionist about that, and admonish ourselves for never being good enough. But looking at it differently, it is great that there is no personal growth “retirement.” There is always more to learn and more adventures to have.

  8. It’s been fun. You may have been afraid through the process, but I’m in awe of your ability to change your life drastically, and more than once. Looks like courage from here…:-). Best wishes to your and your Rob and the Bean…

  9. Bethany thank you so much for all that you have shared of your life, your insights, and your experiences. It is inspiring to see the way your blog has connected you with others and how it has been an awesome tool to help you grow in introspection.

    Well done on knowing the time to end and not force something that is intended for a season past. When we sold Zephyrus, we did so on the premise that just because something is a good thing and brought even greater memories/experiences, doesn’t mean we need to continue to hold onto it. There is definitely a grieving in any kind of loss, but when we remember “the journey is the destination” and the destination is not an object or a blog or whatever, we are set free to that ebb and flow of experiences that teach us and grow us in life.

    Many blessings and I look forward to connecting the next time we can make it down your way!

    Meg

    • Thank you, Meg! Life is constant change, and sometimes it is hard to let go of the old, to make room for the new. I can imagine that selling Zephyrus was hard for you–but look at all the adventures you have had since then. I don’t think either of us expected to end up in Texas!

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