Cha-cha-cha-changes!

There was a warm breeze today, and I decided to leave my balcony door open, so that the fresh smell of the outdoors could fill my home.

 I sit out on the balcony tonight, with a pot of chili cooking inside, sipping my wine and watching life unfold around me.

There’s life in the lily plant, that we had rescued from the discount rack at Wal Mart, only to have it wither, encased in ice after Friday’s freak storm (and subsequent day off of work); it is slowly bouncing back once again. Life is tough like that.

There’s life in the children, riding their bikes in the parking lot. There’s life in the wind, in the sunshine, in the clouds. I sit, quietly observing—playing a passive role in the moment but a part of it all nonetheless.

I took some time away from blogging, so that I could look for answers. What was I supposed to do next? Why did I still struggle at times? Why did I still experience fear? Why couldn’t I let go of last winter? Why were so many people by my side, without asking anything in return? Why? Why? Why?

I spent some time examining these questions, and looking deeply within. I began to understand myself better, and I found that, rather than answering the questions, I began to gradually let go of them. Life isn’t a big drama, and it really all is okay. Things don’t need to be picked apart and dissected—they just need to be experienced.

I began this blog to tell my story, and I have done that. You were there as I began questioning “the script,” as I fell in love with the sea, and as I emerged from the storms of last winter, realizing that true reality was much more beautiful than the world I had been seeing and living in. I’ve shared with you the lessons that I’ve learned along the way—both my questions and my answers.

The telling of my story is over. It concludes as I awaken to the beauty within me, and the beauty that surrounds me. It concludes as I understand that imperfection is okay, and that backsliding is actually fake anyway.

I know that it is time to move on, when it is time to move on—that clinging is not helpful in the least. And I have a number of friends—dear friends who would be welcome at my table any day—who have either formally ended their blogs or taken extended breaks from them. And I know it would be better to stop writing, than to continue with the minimalism or personal development genres. I have no more to say in either area.

But, this evening, I look across the room at that goofy young (to my eyes, at least!) man, with the handlebar mustache. He’s become quite a figure in Clear Lake, riding his tall bike. We’ve spent a lot of time apart, as I’ve been working on myself and growing in my own way. It’s fine; it needed to be that way. We were relying on each other to meet our needs, and that really isn’t what love is.

Love can be shared more easily when you both become strong. And that’s where we are now. Our life has taken some exciting turns. While away for Christmas, we won a 22 foot sailboat for $200 on ebay, and that has gotten us involved with marina life once again. Being back on the water, we’ve become very eager to establish a permanent residence in that community. We’ve begun the process of finding a boat to live on permanently. It is time to move on.

So, I am changing the name of this blog, in order to reflect my new direction—our new direction. I am done telling my story, so it is now time to tell our story. You will be reading posts by both of us, detailing our new adventures (and anything else we want to talk about!).  Expect a lighter tone, more slices of our life, and one important element that my life has been missing, after such a difficult period–good, old-fashioned fun!

We hope you will join us on Our journey to Ithaca. We’re glad to have you on board.

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12 Years Ago

On New Year’s eve, I introduced you to high school sophomore Bethany, on the night I met my husband.  Today I’m going to introduce you to 22-year-old Bethany.

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We later purged those.

I was still neither a minimalist nor a sailor.  I was a full-time student at a small commuter college and a substitute teacher.  Physically, I was starting to become the roundy person you know today, and my hair was long, brown, and permed.  Rob and I had been dating for six years, and we both figured that we had all of the answers to the Big Questions.  We were ready to go out and start our adventure.

We purged that too.

We purged that too.

On July 7, at a Garrison Keillor-style Lutheran church, I became the only Bethany Rosselit that the world has ever known.

All wedding photos were taken by Clint Burhans of Midland, Michigan.

All wedding photos were taken by Clint Burhans of Midland, Michigan.

Our ceremony was lavish.  I enjoyed occupying my mind with the planning.  We had a soloist, a violinist, a trumpet player, 6 bridesmaids, and two adorable twin boys holding the train of my dress.  I was a poor college student, so I purchased everything on e-bay, which was relatively new at the time.  I wanted our wedding to be a huge celebration.

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We memorized our vows, which were the oldest pre-written vows I could find, since I wanted an Edwardian theme.  At the end of the ceremony, Pastor made Rob kiss me again, when he gave me only a shy peck.  We smashed chocolate cake over each other’s faces, and my hair was full of fake rice when we got to our hotel room.

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And so began the adventure.

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The next 12 years would see us through the beautiful multitude of experiences that life has to offer.  We began living in a tight-knit community on the water, where we were known simply as “the newlyweds.”  We later bought a house in the suburbs and started a family.  We camped in the summer, until we began sailing instead.

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Mixed in with the obviously beautiful experiences were those difficult times that everyone experiences.  We saw financial hardships, the unexpected death of his mother, work-related stresses, a child with special needs, and other stresses that were the result of poor decisions made on both sides.  Life is about making mistakes, and learning.

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It is about the journey.

And two people, two imperfect beings, will have quite the journey, going through life together.  Nobody is taught HOW to do this, and the community that used to support young families no longer exists. We are not always aware that every couple, every family, has the same story, with slightly different details.

On our own, therefore, we have to do a lot of problem solving.  Seemingly alone against the world, we try to figure it out.  Love is not something we can fall in or out of, it is something we choose to do.  Love is by nature unconditional, but it doesn’t mean that one person is subservient to another, or that we remain in a situation that makes us both unhappy.  Love means that we both work at it, trying to find understanding when there seems to be none in sight, and understanding that we are both imperfect.  Love means that we work together to figure out this sometimes confusing thing called life, and that we help each other to grow and find our way.

We don’t choose to do this because we fear divine retribution if we don’t.  We don’t choose to do this because we feel like we have to.  We choose to do this because we WANT to. 

Love is a choice.  It is always a choice.  And it is not always the easiest choice to continue making.  But the challenges themselves are beautiful in the end.  The learning, the growth that is OUR story, is beautiful.

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In about 10 minutes, I will bring a cup of coffee up to my best friend, who will just be waking up.  Don’t expect to see my online much this weekend, as we will be busy celebrating.

Here’s to the better
To the worse, with its own beauty
To life
To love.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZzfZc8lEIdk

Finally, Another Adventure: Tweed Ride!

It’s been awhile since our last micro-adventure.  It was January, right before things got crazy, when we adventured our way to Wisconsin, to watch A Prairie Home Companion.

But, this past weekend, Beanie went off the Grandma and Grandpa’s house, and Rob and I headed to Tweed Ride, in our home-away-from-home, Traverse City.

If anything is Rob, Tweed Ride is Rob.  Rob, who enjoys reading the lesser-known minimalist blog, The Art of Manliness.  Rob, who waxes his moustache every day, and simply had to wear his daily wardrobe to this event.

It was a great get-away, and we loved seeing the water again!  And that thick, heavy wind, by the water–with that wet, summery smell to it.  It’s definitely something I’ve missed.

And the event was an absolute delight!  Here are some pictures:

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Right by my Lake!

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Repair time!

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MY man won “Gent of Distinction” and “‘Stash of Distinction!”

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There he is, with the Lady of Distinction.  But, of course, he went home with the most beautiful lady of all!  😉

All in all, it was a great adventure, and something we will definitely do again.

Minimalism Success: Couple Time

Minimalism is about more than having less stuff. It’s about living intentionally and getting rid of all the excess clutter–that includes things that clutter up your time.

In order to do this, we have had to set some priorities. One of these priorities is couple time. Yes, I’m a teacher. And mother. And a blogger. Rob is a stay-at-home dad. And a camera repairman. And a tinkerer.

But we are also a husband and wife.

When we first became parents, we struggled with fitting in time with each other. Beanie would scream when we left her with a sitter–even Grandma and Grandpa! Her reflux and nighttime nursing created some strange sleep patterns. We found ourselves watching movies together while Beanie didn’t sleep, or sneaking in a snuggle during naptime.

But, as she got older and weaned, we found it necessary to have a bedtime routine. One that resulted in her going to bed before we did!

Jelly Bean gets lots of attention after I get home, and we make dinner together. Then, at 8:00, it’s bathtime, followed by story, followed by lullaby, followed by bed. Usually, by 9:00, we get time together.

The important thing about this time is what we don’t do. We don’t watch television, mindlessly. We don’t surf the Internet. I don’t write my blog posts. I don’t grade papers.

We might take a walk outside (staying near the house). We might have a campfire. We watch a movie. We play Pokemon (our new favorite nerdy-pleasure. Try it, it’s fun!). We play pool or race slot cars. It’s important that we have this hour or two to reconnect every night.

In the morning, as well, we enjoy coffee together. I try to be ready 15-30 minutes before it’s time to leave, so that we can sit down and chat. Beanie doesn’t wake up until 8-9:00, so this is couple time as well.

So, my advice to you is, plan your time. Budget it like money. Look at the “clutter” in life that is sapping away your time, and make time for the things that are important.

How Dueling has Saved Our Marriage

This all started when I was helping Rob’s boss move the camera store (for which Rob does repairs) into their new building. I was carrying something walking out back, to fetch something ridiculously heavy from the trailer, when I passed a man about my age. His eyes lit up immediately upon seeing me, and he said, “Hi! You probably don’t remember me. We were in fencing class together!”

Yes, fencing class. When I was in ninth grade, I could wield a foil. Maybe not with the best of them. But that didn’t matter. Fencing is cool enough, even if you’re not exactly good at it.

This encounter led to many discussions with Rob. About how it didn’t matter that I wasn’t a sword master. We saw a foil being sold in a pawn shop. “You know what the best part was?” I told him. “Even if you lose the bout, you still get to pretend to kill someone!”

Funny conversations, we pacifists have when we’re alone together…

We talked and talked, with fencing always being the topic. “What if we bought fencing gear?” he asked. “We would definitely need gloves…So we could challenge each other to a duel instead of fighting!”

What a novel idea.

We decided that sword fighting would resolve the largest issue in any fight–it would choose the winner of the argument! Arguments are almost always over stupid, irrelevant issues, so letting out our aggression toward each other in a surprisingly safe manner.

So we’ll get fencing gear for each other for our anniversary gift, and maybe we’ll have a bout on the dock…which will be great until the harbormaster asks us to stop! In the meantime, we’re finding 2-player games to use for dueling….Mancala, Chess, and even Pokemon.

Touche!

When Darkness Comes

I think we all wish we could erase some dark times in our lives. But all of life’s experiences, bad and good, make you who you are. Erasing any of life’s experiences would be a great mistake.
Luis Miguel

The recent disaster at the marina really got me thinking about our summer. At first, I remembered what is probably the saddest post I’ve ever written, when I thought our dream was over. I thought that something that could have been wonderful, that could have brought our family closer together, had become a total waste.

But, then, as I read our posts from earlier in the cruise, I realized that we were not headed for a destination as great as the one we found.

Our marriage wasn’t where it could have been. The night of our anniversary, we had a bad fight, mainly due to my suppressed stress and grieving, from my mother-in-law’s sudden death and the risky surgery my dad had had that day (it was successful!). When we sailed, I clearly did not trust Rob, as my trimsman and navigator. If the water was rough, I was constantly yelling at him to hang on, questioning his choices, and sometimes outright refusing to follow his commands. Yet, I did not trust myself to yell the commands or even to disagree with him and state my reasons why.

This began to change when we encountered our first storm. I trusted my judgment enough to tell Rob to release the jib. Still, he didn’t trust me enough to do it right away. Thinking I was panicking, he kept telling me to change course. When he saw what was happening, he trusted me more. But we weren’t there yet.

Our downfall was that we didn’t take it seriously enough. We were out on the Lakes, where you sometimes could not see land, where help was nowhere nearby. Our lives depended on a 44 year old fiberglass vessel, and we needed to respect that. We did not.

That is why we went on the inside of the #13 marker. That is why we failed.

Navigating in the fog, when we could see nothing, I realized my life–and the lives of my family–depended on following Rob’s coordinates. Exactly. There was no room for mistakes.

In doing that, I began to trust him. As a navigator. As a husband. As a father for my child.

He trusted my helmsmanship. On that boat. In our lives.

It was a long journey from that day. But we were able, because of that day, to articulate who we are as a family, and where we want to go. For the first time, we were on the same page with our dreams for our future.

Last summer was the best summer of our lives. Yet we do not pine for it. We would not want to go back.

We lost Ithaca. But we brought Moonraker home.

And Moonraker is the metaphor for our dreams. We lost our destination. But we found ourselves.

In Praise of Adventure

We’re heading back to Moonraker today, so I will have more stories about our cruising adventures tomorrow.

When we got married, the obligations grew. We found ourselves wanting to see everyone–family and friends–and wanting to make everyone happy. We couldn’t just say “no” because we didn’t want to. We enjoyed getting together with others.

Then, last summer, I asked Rob: when was the last time we took a vacation with just our family?

Three. Years. Ago.

And that wasn’t as long as some couples have gone. There’s something to be said for having your own adventure. For creating an experience that is unique to your family. These are the stories that we’ll have to tell.

Don’t be afraid to add an element of…adventure… Maybe going out on the Great Lakes and possibly encountering a storm isn’t your idea of fun. So go hiking. Go on a road trip. You will learn more about each other when you work together to solve a problem.

It doesn’t have to be a month. But do try to get a week. You’re not being selfish by taking time for your own family. You’re doing something to strengthen your bonds with each other.