Summertime Changes

It has been a long time since I’ve given you an update on our daily life.  I’ve been busy preparing for my Simple Living Basics E-Course, tying up loose ends during the hectic end of the school year, and putting together a wonder eighth birthday party for the Bean.  We weathered a crazy storm that led to flooding all over Houston.  (We were unaffected by the flooding, but it did get me a day off of work!)

Otherwise, it’s been daily life as usual aboard Breaking Tradition.  That is, it was life as usual until we unexpectedly had the opportunity to purchase Morning Mist, an Irwin 37 center cockpit.

While we’ve been happy living aboard, sometimes living in under 200 square feet can be a little TOO cozy.  We’re glad that we did live in that small of a space, and we’ve learned a great deal from it.  But, man, when we first stepped onto that Irwin, we were smitten!

Now we’re enjoying such luxuries as a small oven (with a rotisserie!), a larger bedroom for Beanie, a bedroom for us outside of the main salon, a proper dinette, more floor space, and a larger fridge!  Being able to stretch out on an almost-full-sized mattress at night led to the most restful night’s sleep I’ve ever had.

Would you like a tour of our almost 300 square foot palace?  Here are some pictures of our new home:

Beanie packed up her favorite toys to take on our first trek to the west pier.  (We will be moving Morning Mist to our slip, after we move Breaking Tradition).

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She’s definitely not as pretty on the outside as Breaking Tradition.

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But, wait until you step inside!

A kitchen with actual counter space, and a place to eat…

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The aft cabin has a sign that says “Captain’s Quarters” over the doorway, and Beanie was excited to claim this as her bedroom.

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The Bean has been talking about wanting a “tiny office” in her bedroom, so she was very pleased to see that the Captain’s Quarters came with a desk.

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This is definitely an upgrade, space-wise.

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We’ve got two heads with showers.

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Our bedroom is a very spacious v-berth.

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We had a guest outside, watching us move in…

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There is still a great deal of work to be done, but we are enjoying our new home.  Last night we had our first rain storm on Morning Mist. There were some definite leaks, but overall we stayed pretty dry!

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Life and Change

There is a song I keep hearing on the radio that makes me laugh, when the singer proclaims, “See, we won’t forget where we came from/
The city won’t change us/We beat to the same drum.”  This makes me laugh, because it’s impossible, in a way.  It’s true, that something beneath it all can’t possibly change, no matter what the circumstances.

But our perception, our worldview, and all that we think is “us,” should always be changing and evolving.

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So, whenever I hear that song, I think of the ways in which the city has “changed” me.  It often feels like a lot of life’s lessons are repeating themselves on a new stage, but I am learning from them and growing.  I see my tendencies and perceptions everyday, so I really don’t get to look at the “changes,” but I think a lot of my friends up north would be surprised if we had a conversation.

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Here are some ways I have “changed” since moving down here:

1.  I view race much differently.  Up north, you don’t talk about race.  Ever  It’s the elephant in the room.  So, imagine my surprise when my students started talking about skin color like it was hair or eye color!  It took me awhile to figure out that this isn’t rude here. Racial differences are a humorous part of the human condition, here.  I work in a town where I am a racial minority, and this is surprisingly not a big deal. All it has done is teach me that I did hold subconscious stereotypes, and that they were ALL incorrect.  True, there ARE cultural and racial differences, but they aren’t what I assumed they were.  And they are beautiful.  Every group has something wonderful to add to the tapestry that is our society.  And we would do well to learn from everyone. It makes me smile, when Beanie describes her imaginary friends, who are every color of the rainbow.  Zoe has “black skin,” and Natalie has “brown skin” and speaks Spanish.

2.  I’ve become much more moderate.  This is a funny development, as we are living a very extremely minimalistic lifestyle right now.  And our neighbors (and best friends) are living similarly to us.  (And, yes, we discuss they joys of Not Having a Lot of Stuff!).  But, in finding peace for myself, I’m seeing how others are finding peace in having their own homes, with their own fenced in yard.  I can see how television shows can make for an easy conversation topic.  I can see how different religious beliefs are very important to the journies of those who believe them.  (And no less “right” or”wrong” than my own ideas!)  I boycott much less, and pretty much don’t get as passionate about causes, in the black-and-white way I used to.  Living in a prosperous city and seeing how that changes reality completely, has led to a change in my thinking.  I am sure this will be examined and evolve in the future.

3.  My driving habits have changed.  I am a much more assertive driver, than your average in-the-woods-of-northern-Michigan person.  But I’m also extremely courteous.  In 6 lanes of traffic,  if someone is trying to move from the far left to the far right, you let them in. It’s karma.  I don’t look at the speedometer or signs; I just keep up with everyone else.  And I love overpasses.  I consider it a challenge to find my way to the top one.

4.  I spend more time on myself.  Maybe it’s because we move here as a part of my journey.  But I am absolutely not a martyr now.  I take a 30 minute walk every morning.  And I get enough sleep every night.  I ate 3 high-protein meals a day, and I will soon be joining a health club nearby.  Rob also spends a great deal of time on himself, and our family has grown stronger for it.

5.  I spend less time online.  You may have noticed. But now that I am not trying to escape anything, I’ve become more intentional with my online time.  I glance through my newsfeed, catch up on blogs when I can, and write when the muse inspires me.  Otherwise, I’m looking at the moon or watching the sunrise.

6.  Family time is very important.  When I get home, I help Beanie with her homework, listen to her read her take-home book, then practice piano with her.  Then, she plays her video games and heads to bed, while Rob and I sit outside and talk, before taking a walk.

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Our life has become very focused on our reality, on our here-and-now. This might be something that evolves later, and I’m sure it will be.  Life is about learning and growing, and I hope that there is much more of our journey to be discovered.

 

Clear Lake Shores–Our New Hometown

Good evening, folks!

It is high time that I share a little with you, about our new hometown, Clear Lake Shores.

We fell in love with this town, as soon as we started exploring marinas.  Only seeing it from the main drag, we liked the palm trees and and the “salty” look of the town.

And we hadn’t seen the half of it.

When we had the opportunity to lease a slip at a marina in Clear Lake Shores, we excitedly went for it.  And…here we are!  Last night, I decided to take a bike ride around the island that constitutes most of this small town.

I began by fetching my folder from behind the bath house…

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On my bike and ready to go!

 

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Clear Lake Shores is considered to be the yachting capitol of Texas, and it boasts having more boat slips than people.  Here is the view of Clear Lake Shores, from our marina.

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On my way toward the island that contains most of the town, I passed one of our favorite venues–the boaters’ resale shop!

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Here’s the last intersection before the island.

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Over the bridge…

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Lots of boat slips on the other side.

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Paradise…

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The very cutsie looking police department.

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Clear Lake Shores is a bird sanctuary, and there are plenty of odd-ducks to admire!

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Watch out!

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Plenty of beautiful homes…

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There are two canals leading off of the island, ending right across the street from the school.  Can you imagine being dropped off at school, by dinghy?

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A beautiful playground, that Beanie enjoys!

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A beautiful street on the backside of the island.

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Docked on the back side…

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As I made my way around, it became clear that a storm was crossing the lake.

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I could see it in Seabrook, across from us.

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I saw it encroaching on our marina.

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As I hastened back, I saw our old slip.

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I made my way back home, in time.

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And there Rob was, with the hatches battened.  We were prepared for the worst, but the storm never came.

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P.S.  I feel like I need to say a few words about the unexpected death of Rob in Williams.  I’ve engaged in many wonderful discussions about depression and mental health on Facebook, and I’m grateful for the increased awareness. Suicide is NOT the “easy” way out–it’s an act of desperation.  I believe that all of us have experienced desperation in some way, shape or form.  So, while another’s life is not our responsibility, it is important for us to be as kind as we can to those around us.  We never know how much someone is suffering.

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Click here for help, if you’re in that place of desperation.

 

 

Letter to My 16-Year-Old Self

Don’t worry, you’ll get an update on our adventures soon.  We’ve been working on emptying out the apartment, and this next week we will get started on the boat.  When I have significant progress or news to share, I definitely will!  In the meantime, I’ve wanted to do a post like this for awhile, and the timing seems perfect right now.

Pictures are from a trip to Palm Beach in Galveston.

Pictures are from a trip to Palm Beach in Galveston.

Dear Bethany,

(Yes I’ll call you that, because I know that’s what you want to be called.  And here’s one little secret–in the not-so-far-future, they will!) OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I know you feel hopeless right now, and it seems like life is an endless stream of rejection and self-doubt.  I will give you some reassurance, but, for reasons you don’t yet understand, I am not going to tell you what is around the bend.  You need this journey.  You need to see first hand the strength and wisdom that you already possess. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA But I will tell you that there are changes, just around the corner.  BIG changes.  Within the next year, you will lose.  But, more importantly, you will gain.  And both of these changes will set the course for the rest of your life. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA At this juncture, you think that you know your future.  You are relatively sure you know the rather calm path your life will follow.  And I can tell you that you’re wrong. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA You have already discovered the kindness that is a part of your very soul.  But you have yet to discover that you have an adventurous spirit as well. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA You will not lead a pre-determined life.  You have more choices at every bend, than you can even comprehend.  You will be one of the few people to see all of the choices, and you will use this to create a life that is uniquely yours. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Just wait until you see where you’re going to live when you’re 35!  You will never guess…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA You want to know if it will get easier.  The short answer is yes.  The challenges you face now will not persist relentlessly. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I know you don’t want to hear this, but it will also get harder.  You will face challenges, but you will find the strength within yourself to not only survive them, but to thrive and grow from them.   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You will survive, you will thrive, and you will contribute to the world in so many ways that you can’t even imagine.

The remaining pictures are from Clear Lake Shores, the current home port of Breaking Tradition.

The remaining pictures are from Clear Lake Shores, the current home port of Breaking Tradition.

You will have the opportunity to make every one of your dreams a reality. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA You share a stronger connection to everything and everyone around you, than you realize.  You will make so many true friends, who will be willing to travel to the end of the earth for you.  You will experience unconditional love over and over, and it will become even stronger after you finally recognize its presence. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I am telling you all of this, that you may have hope.  But I don’t want you to do anything differently.  The mistakes you will make are only a part of the journey.  You will learn so much, grow more than you can fathom, and you will find no room for regret. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I love you, Bethany.  And the time will come, when you will find that love within.

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Love,

Yourself, 19 years later

(I can’t tell you my last name!)

Breaking Tradition

Rob and I have had some weird anniversaries.

At the conclusion of our first year of marriage, we had a wonderfully romantic time eating the top layer of our wedding cake, camping in the middle of the woods.  Much to our surprise, the top layer was banana…

On our fifth anniversary, we both had horrible colds and made a trip to the doctor together.  

After six years of putting up with each other, we got a baby-sitter and went for a moped ride, where I broke down 10 miles from home.

My dad had heart surgery on our tenth anniversary.  (Thankfully, it went well!)

We dragged anchor in Charlevoix on our eleventh anniversary.

Last year, instead of celebrating twelve years together, we dealt with the stress of emptying out a house, after ten years of living there.  At that time, we didn’t know if we would have a home in Houston, when we arrived.

This year, we figured we would celebrate our lucky 13th next weekend, with a must-find-a-boat trip to Louisiana.  There were some inexpensive boats there, in our price range.  We would buy one, then have an adventure down the Intercoastal Waterway, back to Clear Lake.  We would then dock the boat at Kiwi’s slip, and Beanie would attend the school in that area–I gave her teacher permission to give them her files already.

But life is what happens when you’re making other plans.

The day after the fourth of July, Rob did his daily check of Craig’s List, and something unusual was waiting for us.  It was a Ericson 35-1, from 1967, the same year that Moonraker was made.  It needed love and an engine, but it was a cutter rig with a furler, steering wheel, and a lot of other equipment we’ve never had the experience of owning, on a boat.  It even came with an inexpensive slip.

Its name was Breaking Tradition.

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When I first saw this boat, docked in the delightfully eccentric town of Clear Lake Shores, it was Moonraker all over again.  There is definitely room in my heart for two loves.  (Or three?  Sorry, Rob!)

 

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We will have our work cut out for us.  The interior will need new cushions, and there is a lot of cleaning to do.  It will be difficult to get this boat into our current marina, so we will need to find another.  (Or come up with a shower, if we keep the slip it’s in!)

Back where I belong!

Back where I belong!

We will need to repaint the interior, fix the galley.  And…yeah…come up with an engine!  Or find a tow to a marina…

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Beanie will be attending a different school.  We’ll need to research that, and make sure all of her paperwork finds its way there.

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The boat is 35 feet long, but at least 1/3 of that is cockpit.  We’re probably dealing with less than 300 square feet for Rob, Beanie, the cat, the fish, and me.  And right now, it has no fridge.  We will have some decluttering to do!

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But we’re excited about the boat.  It’s more than I could have possibly hoped for.  And we love Clear Lake Shores.

The boat is famous, by the way.  Its hull number is 7, and there are not very many, if any, more of its kind.  Google “Breaking Tradition Ericson 35-1” and you WILL find pictures of this boat.

It’s still crazy that we’re doing this.  As a family of 3, we’re doing this.  Not for 91 one days a year, but for 365.

Life has become an adventure again.  Stay tuned.

Texas Women Bloggers

 

Reflecting on the Apartment Experiment

Well, folks, it’s been nearly a year since we moved out of our house.  We’ve spent that time living in our lovely second-floor apartment.  For a long time, we had wondered what it would be like to live in an apartment.  Would it be like a small house, or more like living in a hotel?  Would we love having neighbors closeby, or would we loathe the lack of privacy?

And now that our time in the apartment is rapidly nearing its close, I thought I would reflect on the ups and downs of this lifestyle.

First, these are the things I will miss about our apartment:

1.  The balcony.  I could sit out there all day, and forget the rest of our home.  In the evenings, especially I love sipping tea with Rob and visiting with all the neighbors who walk by , down below.

2.  Having so many fun neighbors nearby.  (Of course, we will have this at the marina as well, but I will miss THESE friends!)  We have been lucky enough to live near a very fun bunch.

3.  Infinite hot water, from the boiler.  I’ve probably gotten rather spoiled with my shower-taking habits.  It will also be strange to have to heat water on the stove, for making oatmeal.

4. The pool with the palm trees by it.  When I’m not on the balcony, I like to be lounging there.  And there are always kids there, ready to swim with the Bean.

5.  The lack of yard work.  (Of course we’ll also have this at the marina)  And the beautiful flowers and gardens that I have to do nothing to maintain.

Overall, this was a nice, low-stress way to transition to our new life in Houston.  I have enjoyed calling this little unit our home, for the past year.

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However, there are some things I will not miss:

1.  The paper-thin walls.  Very similar to living in a hotel.  Everybody gets used to overhearing each other’s conversations.  And we all know when somebody’s kid has a tantrum.  (On the upside, I have learned that ALL kids have tantrums!)

2.  Carrying my bicycle up the stairs.  It was a workout, after my workout!  Sometimes I did get lazy, and employ Rob for this task.

3.  The housework.  I’m ready for a smaller space, and less housework!  I spend significantly less time cleaning, than I have anywhere else I’ve lived, but I’m ready for less to be required.

4.  The laundry room. Machines constantly breaking!  Hopefully, we have better luck at the marina.  At least we don’t have to pay laundromat prices.  So I guess this is not entirely a negative.

5. The rent.  I am more than ready to be paying a slip fee instead.  We’ll be able to start saving money again!

So that’s it.  We’re ready to pack up and move on to our next adventure!

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Touch the Earth, Kiss the Sea

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Our first evening at the cottage on Thunder Bay, I saw the sun beginning to set.  I said, “I gotta do something,” abandoned our Mario Kart game, and headed out to the beach with my camera. 

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So barefoot, in the sunset, I wandered across the place where it all began.

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It was here that Rob proposed to me, over the frozen waters, at the dawning of the new millennium.

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It was here that I first sailed, aboard the Sonnet.

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It was here that I faced my first storm.

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It was here that I took the helm for 6 hours, as Moonraker was taking on water.

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It was here that we set out, for 13 hours in hurricane weather, determined to bring the newly-repaired Moonraker back to our home port.

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It was here that we returned , won victories in arriving and leaving, before saluting our worthy adversary.

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It was here that we anchored for a month, when my blogging began to take off, with my guest post published on Miss Minimalist.  It was through that guest post that I met many of the friends who helped me through the challenges that were to com.

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It was here that I first began to look fear in the eye—it’s where my current journey truly began.

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Walking along the beach, wading through the water, where it all began, I saw how it all connects, how it all matters.

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Watching the sun set over this house of healing, I saw that the best, the worst, and the seemingly insignificant events of our lives factor so much into the grand scheme of things.

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All working together, to create the beauty that is life.

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