Catching Up & Following the Dream

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Our Family 2015: Jazz, Paris, Kainan (back), Patrick, Byn, Jaedin (back), Lyric (our grandson) Sprite and Abyni.

The story in that first post happened 1981, and here I sit in 2015. That little inexperienced guy from a long time ago is long gone, and has been replaced by a lifetime of love, adventure, and romance with my soul mate. We’ve been married for 21 years, and despite my flaws my wife Byn has consented to stay with me to my distinct advantage. We’ve led pretty unconventional lives, driven by the fact that my wife is an incredibly creative dreamer who wants to Do All The Things and I am a dork who wants to Know All The Things. We’ve had five kids, all born in our house. We homeschooled all of them. Well, my wife homeschooled and I supported. I’ve worked hard to provide for the family over the years with a single income, but throughout it all my wife has worked considerably harder than I. We made sacrifices by not doing some of the things or buying some of the stuff along the way, but our priorities were always in the right place. The kids were never hungry, they always had clothes, they got a great education, and are the healthiest kids I’ve ever seen. To this day I have two kids who have never seen a doctor. Ever. Our youngest is 14.  Three of them are now adults that I respect and admire.

We’ve also done some pretty adventurous things along the way, like climbing mountains, jumping off of cliffs into swimming holes, camping in the wilderness, hiking mountain streams and playing in waterfalls, visiting the tropics, and traveling the United States full time for three years in a converted 40’ Greyhound bus.  

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We’ve written and directed children’s plays for the local community theater and our homeschool group, directed and produced other theatrical productions, self published novels, written well read blogs, and created a children’s video series with a puppet named Bean that my wife made.

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We have all been in real Hollywood A-list movies as extras and two of my girls have had proper roles. One of them (Paris) still gets royalty checks to this day.  We’ve owned businesses, restored cars, painted motorcycles at Harley rallies, gotten tattoos, pursued countless hobbies, and more. All in all, we’ve done considerably more than most folks twice our age and have never tried to toe the line and Do What Is Expected.

It’s worth pointing out that we’re not superhuman or anything. I’ve lost count of how many times people have said to us, “Oh, that sounds like an amazing adventure! I’ve always wanted to do something like that…” or “I wish I could…” which is always followed by, “…but…” and then a reason or list of reasons why they aren’t living life and instead are letting life live them. We’re really no different from most people. It’s just that we’ve learned to think outside the box and we don’t let fear or doubt get in the way of trying new things. Chew on that one for a bit and let it sink in.

You’re welcome.

It’s also worth mentioning that sometimes there are indeed real roadblocks to achieving your dreams. The challenge is to figure out how to overcome them, or when resources are available (however modest), determining what the best thing to do with them is. This isn’t something that we’ve always been the best at. There have been several opportunities along the way that we missed because we failed to see the big picture or use our resources in the most intelligent and decisive manner. You are where you are and who you are as a direct result of the decisions that you’ve made along the way. Different decisions would have resulted in different outcomes. We learned (and are continuing to learn) what the incorrect decisions are. But we’re learning, and changing our decision making patterns along the way, in order to affect a different outcome. This is a skill that far too many people have forgotten. The adage is that history repeats itself, right? That’s only true if you don’t learn from your mistakes. Again with the digesting and sinking in.

Which brings me to the ‘why’ part of starting this narrative. We’re about to set off on a new adventure. Remember that little guy from 1981 in my previous post who was already planning the journey before his mom called him in for dinner? He’s just bought a boat.

It’s a modest boat by boating standards, and to be honest would have been out of our reach just seven months ago. We had a bit of a windfall due to the passing of my mother on New Year’s Eve 2014. Turns out she was a pretty good saver and made some decent investments along the way. It’s not a fortune and it’s not like we won the lottery or anything. The amount that makes it possible to buy a boat and travel the world for up to 15 years is less than what the average baby boomer has in their 401K, and considerably less than the average value of the typical American home. Again with the digesting and sinking in. I’ll wait.

We’re not sure yet whether this is a truly doable thing. Byn has some pretty bad motion sickness under the right (or wrong) circumstances, but we’re going to give it a try and see if we can overcome that. There are a lot of good remedies for motion sickness, so we’re hoping that one of them will be acceptable and will work well enough to let us go adventuring on the high seas.So what got us here? What was the real impetus? We took a vacation this year to Jamaica with the kids, and had a great time. There was only one problem. We had to come back. We had to work, and keep the house up, and manage the business, and, and, and.  While we have indeed done a lot of pretty unconventional things, we are still like the vast majority of Americans in that we have tried to do too much. We’ve managed to not live beyond our means, so we’re not saddled with any debt besides our mortgage, but it’s been pretty tiring keeping that position. There have been times when I worked three jobs at once just to make ends meet. I’m no stranger to 110 hour work weeks. As such Byn has had to do a lot of things without my assistance, and she is no stranger to 100+ hour work weeks either. Remember that in addition to all the work running the Rat Race, we’ve done quite a few other things along the way, and you get an idea of how tired we have gotten. We’re not alone. You’re probably tired too. We’re tired of having to work 51 weeks a year so that we can afford to go on a one week vacation on a tight budget only to have a few brief days to try and see all there is and do everything. Whoa. Deja Vu.

Sound familiar? If not, you might want to go back and read my previous post.

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So, after we got back from our Jamaican Vacation we said to ourselves, “Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to just stay there if we wanted to? Or hop over to that island that we heard about?” Hence, the boat. We still don’t have a name for her, so for now I’ll just call her The Boat. She’s technically called Southern Cross at the moment, but that will change when we recommission her. She’s an older but rock solid 46 foot sailing trimaran based on a Norman Cross design and was commissioned in 1975. Being a trimaran, there’s a TON of space. Five separate cabins in all, four queens and one single, plus a roomy salon, large kitchen (for a boat), two full baths, a covered pilot house, and a whole lot of deck space. Oh… and it just happens to float on the ocean, which just happens to come into contact with the entire planet. She’s capable of sailing every ocean in the world, and several vessels of the same design have even circumnavigated the globe. You can see the videos I took of her when I went to check her out (I made the videos just to show my family, they are pretty crappy in places, since I didn’t know they were going to be on youtube for the world to see!)

Due to her age and the fact that she’s not spit-polished clean and lined with fancy leather we got her for a really good price. Easily a third of the price we would have had to pay for similar space and seaworthiness in a more modern form that the Jones’s would approve of. Again with the having your priorities in the right place 🙂

Like a lot of the things that we’ve done, there isn’t a concrete plan yet for where we’re going or how long we’re going to stay there. The only thing that we know for sure is that we have to be prepared. This particular undertaking is a bit more complicated than figuring out how to be a licensed publisher or planning a week long adventure into the Arkansas wilderness to explore remote swimming holes.

This means learning a whole lot of things in a short period of time (mostly my job- remember that I’m the dork who must Know All The Things). In the interest of safety though, everyone is going to have to learn the basics. Survival techniques, emergency procedures, contact and communication methods and protocols, and the basics of navigation and sailing. Most of those I’ll teach them along the way through daily classes, and before we leave coastal waters and get out of sight of land everyone will have to pass my tests. Competency on the ocean is no joking matter. If you’re not prepared it can lead to all sorts of no fun.

In addition, there are some systems issues that need addressed or updated in order to insure safety and comfort. Being the hands-on-teach-myself-and-figure-it-out guy I am, most of it will be just labor (i.e. on the cheap).

Oh, and one other thing. This isn’t my first time to this particular rodeo. Remember when my mom announced to the family that she would consider purchasing a sailboat for recreation purposes? Turns out that in the end my dad got at least part of what he wished for so badly. That’s a story for another day.

 

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