For the Love of Water

As a girl from the Pacific Northwest I never really thought all that much about water except that we have a lot of it! In the Seattle area, it rains ALL the time, we have oceans nearby and the mountains have snow which melts down into the rivers. Water is everywhere! Everything is green. Moss even grows on the rocks!

I love the water! My boyfriend and I are sailors so we spend lots of time on it. We have been sailing in the San Juan Islands throughout this last summer and we are now planning on taking professional sailing training so that we can be on the water full time!

Our training will be held in Gibraltar so we are traveling from the Pacific Northwest across the country to Florida so that we can fly out of Jacksonville. We are taking our time traveling across the country so that we can see the parts of it that interest us. So far, we have traveled from Washington state, down into Oregon and California. We like to take the back roads so we can see the lesser travelled areas.

Being water lovers, we are always looking for lakes to paddle or camp nearby. Imagine our surprise as we came upon the first lake where there was no water! Just a dry lake bed. And then we saw another and another.  The lakes that did have water were 50% or less of their normal size and most of the rivers were a mere trickle compared to their former robust glory. When we stopped for gas near the second dry lake, we asked the gentleman serving us “Where did all the water go?” He said that it went dry back in the 50’s when they started tapping into the water for irrigating nearby crops.

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(Washoe “Lake” This is a boat ramp into a grass field.)

Further south in the valley near Bishop, CA I was told stories about big cities coming over the mountains to buy land and water rights – only to funnel all of that precious water out of the valley into the Los Angeles area.

So here’s the thing….I’m no expert. I don’t have all the answers. I just know what I’ve seen. I don’t know if this is happening because of global warming, or overuse, or unfair redistribution but it sure looks to me like this problem is only getting worse.

So here is my challenge to you: Find out what you can do. Get real about how much water you use. There are water conservation districts in your area – find out what they suggest. Find out where your water comes from! This is a matter of public record. Don’t just take the easy answer – go at least 3 steps back to find the original source of water. Challenge your neighbors and friends to conserve water as well. BUY A REFILLABLE WATER BOTTLE. As far as I’m concerned, the single use bottles should be banned.  Find out what you can do and DO IT.

Water is our most precious resource. We must respect it. Without it we die.

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The (Not So) Fun Part about Moving – A letter to my Friends & Family

Hey Ya’ll. It’s that time of year again. Fall brings with it a change in weather, the kids all go back to school and for the last few years September brings with it another move for me. Last year I bought an RV we lovingly call The Gypsy Love Bus and moved it to Anacortes, WA to be my home! The year before that I moved from Stanwood to Des Moines, WA to move in with my guy and the year before that I was going through all the transitions that divorce brings.

This year is nothing new. In just a few days – 10 to be exact, I will be moving out of the Bus and into our pickup truck for a journey across the U.S. and over to Europe. I know, It’s sounds exciting doesn’t it? Everyone I tell gets all envious and glows excitedly over my plans. And I AM excited too but It’s not all rainbows and butterflies. Moving and leaving a place and people that I love is difficult. I know it’s the right thing and I know I’m ready but it’s still not fun to leave all your friends and family and go somewhere new.

You think I’d be used to it by now. I was taught early to live a nomadic lifestyle. I attended 10 different schools K-12 and moved sometimes 3 times in one year. Moving that much taught me all kinds of great things. It taught me to value the present moment. It taught me to make friends quickly and to also let go quickly.

So as I prepare to launch on this new and exciting chapter in my life I do so with great Love for all of my friends and family here in the pacific northwest. I’m going to miss you greatly. I’m going to imagine that you are all riding along with me on this next journey, cheering me on and encouraging me to be Brave!

Much Love, Dawn

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If You Could Be Anyone, Who Would YOU Like to Be?

The other day my boyfriend asked me, “If you could be anyone in the world, who would you choose to be?” I didn’t even hesitate with my answer which was, “ME!” He laughed and looked wide-eyed at me in surprise! Maybe because of my answer or maybe because I answered so quickly. Then he began to clarify, “You could be famous, or be a movie star or someone from history!” “Yeah,” I said, “I know. I’d still want to be me.” It was a short little conversation that didn’t last very long but I’ve been thinking about that question ever since……If YOU could choose to be anyone, who would you be?

It’s an interesting question don’t you think? You could be Marie Curie and be the first woman to win a Nobel Prize! You could be Eleanor Roosevelt and inspire millions! Hell, You could even choose to be Oprah because she has more money than God! Or Jennifer Lopez – Dang she’s gorgeous! Why would you choose to be yourself? Unfamous, not rich, average old ME…

I’ll tell you why I answered the way I did. I KNOW me. I know what my history is. I know what mistakes I have made. I know which people I have hurt and I also know a few people I have helped. I know what my challenges are, what I’m afraid of, what makes me happy, what food I like and which direction I want to go with my life. I’ve worked long and hard to get where I am today and there is no way that I’d want to start all over again being someone else!

And besides, their life might look great from the outside but you can sure as hell bet that they have issues too! Oprah may have more money than God but she openly admits she still struggles with her weight. Eleanor Roosevelt was inspiring but people also made fun of her appearance and her husband had a very good female friend. (wink, wink) And Marie Curie won a Nobel Prize but died from her study of Radioactivity. JLO has an amazing body but she’s a single mom and I bet she feels lonely sometimes.

You know who I admire? I admire women who have the courage to tell it like it is – to be real. To share their struggles and be vulnerable – that takes real courage. Elizabeth Gilbert does it. Brene Brown does it. Even richer than God Oprah does it. Being real and talking about their struggles lets others know that we are not alone. That NO ONE IS PERFECT! That life is hard sometimes and we need to give ourselves a break. That is what inspires me. That is what makes me feel that I belong. That it’s ok to be human, imperfect and working on my crap.

The funny thing is, that most of my crap comes from me! From my own mind. From that loud, obnoxious, bitchy voice in my head that tells me, “You’re too fat. You’ll never make it. He doesn’t love you. You’re all alone.” Confronting that voice, questioning it’s validity and getting it to shut the hell up is an almost constant battle. And since I spend a lot of time with women- teaching them yoga, talking about our lives I know that we ALL struggle with this voice.

Luckily after 47 years on this earth I have learned (for the most part) how to listen to the quieter, kinder more loving voice that says nice things to me like, “It’s going to be ok. You ARE enough just the way you are. It’s ok to be vulnerable, real and share your heart with others. You are NOT alone.” The challenge is to keep listening to this voice over the other. To choose to Love myself instead of falling into Fearful thinking.

So I choose to be me. I choose to be honest and real about my struggles in life. I choose to be brave and keep moving forward towards my goals and things that scare the bejesus out of me. I choose to keep trying to be the best version of me I can be.

Life is hard sometimes. Everyone struggles. There are lots of challenges and lessons to be learned. Try to be kind to yourself. You are not alone. Be Brave. Be Real. Be YOU.

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5 Things I Miss About Living in a REAL House.

In about 8 weeks I will be packing up a very small amount of stuff and heading out on a year long road trip. We will be driving our truck loaded with all of our camping gear and towing our trimaran across the country to sail and hike and camp. As we get ready to go I have been doing some house sitting for friends of mine to help raise a little extra cash and also to get a break from our RV lovingly called “They Gypsy Love Bus.” House sitting has been really nice. The only problem is that it makes me realize what I miss about living in a REAL house.

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#1 A Bathtub – There is just no replacing a nice bath. One that you can fill up with hot water and bubbles if you like. Sink in and soak, getting rid of all the stress from the day and wash thoroughly. It is so soothing. Something a shower does not quite accomplish. In a bath, you can close your eyes, feel the heat radiating from the water into your body, take your time shaving the acres of skin in which unwanted hair grows. You can even read a book if you want, light a few candles, make it an event!

#2 Laundry facilities – I know I’ve probably mentioned this in past but one of the greatest things about being in a REAL house is having your own washer and dryer. I can do laundry at night if I want! I don’t need a pocketful of quarters and I certainly don’t have to wrestle other people for a chance to use the dryer! I can even do multiple loads without someone giving me the evil eye because they also have a crap load of laundry to do!

#3 Gardening – I love watching a garden grow! It is so fun to go out every day and check to see if the beets are a little taller. Did the deer eat any of the lettuce? Check out those hollyhocks! Wow they are getting tall! Planting, watering, weeding and tending a garden is just something I don’t get to do in an RV and when I’m house sitting I usually get to eat some of the veggies too! Score!

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#4 SPACE! I can walk around in a house and there are actual rooms! There is a bath ROOM, and a bed ROOM and a dining ROOM. My RV is only 300 square feet in one long tube. Sure there are sliding doors that kind of separate the spaces but being in a REAL house has made me realize how small my RV really is. And what most people feel is a small house – say 1400 square feet – that feels BIG to me! A house that has 2400 square feet is a mansion!

#5 A neighborhood. Since I’ve been house sitting I take time each day to go for a walk around the neighborhood. It is fun to see who is working on their flower beds, notice the apple trees coming into fruit, check out the fun styles of fencing people use. I miss that. In an RV we are kind of loners. Our neighbors come and go every few days so we don’t really take the time to meet them. Here I can imagine getting to know your neighbors, waving as you walk by, building a community.

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I’m not sure what all of this means since in a few short weeks I will actually be moving out of our RV into a truck, tent and trimaran. I will have even fewer belongings and less space. But it will be a big adventure! Just as living in The Gypsy Love Bus has been an adventure over the last year. Someday I’ll have a REAL house again.  It’s something to look forward to! I’ve chosen to live this way – for a while. Because for now adventure calls and I’m listening. 🙂

Sailing to Sucia – a Visit from the Deep

I am so lucky that my boyfriend has a sailboat! We love going out for a few days to “get away from it all.” This summer we are taking some time to explore the San Juan Islands in the Northwestern part of Washington State. Washington is called the Evergreen State mostly because it rains most of the time! We also have lots of Pine trees, snow-capped mountains and the Pacific Ocean! I grew up in Washington but I am able to explore this state in a whole new way from the decks of a sailboat!


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I imagine that when I tell people I’m going sailing for a few days they may conjure an image that is quite different from my sailing reality. I think they imagine me in a bikini, sitting in a lounge chair, hair flowing gently in the wind, skin bronzed, being served by a tan 20-something GQ model while our boat (hear Yacht) cruises gently through the islands.

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My reality is definitely NOT that! No bikini – I mean jeez, we live in the Pacific Northwest and there isn’t enough sun to get me to reveal my white belly for anything! There are no lounge chairs unless you count the few moments when I allow myself to rest on the Jib. Hair – that’s a whole story unto itself. My hair is long and when you are out on the water long hair is in the way ALL the time! So it’s usually pulled back quickly into a pony tail that gets whipped and twirled until it takes about an hour of combing to coax out all the knots! My skin does get bronzed or I guess you could call it wind chafed! And I much prefer a tanned 50-something Paul Newmanesque gentleman to share a drink with. 🙂

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We sail a 27 foot trimaran. It has a small berth (sleeping area for you land lubbers) which is only big enough for two people who REALLY like each other AND they have to be very good at Synchronized Spooning! There is a small head (bathroom for boaty people) with a porta potty but you have to be bent over 90 degrees just to get to it. The shower is a lovely black bag hung up by a hailyard on the outside of the boat above the nets. (yes, you read that right, outside) Hopefully there is enough sun to warm the water before you want a shower. 🙂 Cooking is done with a handy-dandy camping jet boil!

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So now that you have a little clearer idea of what it’s like being on our boat, let me tell you about our latest exploration to Sucia Island. Sucia is one of the northernmost islands in the San Juans. It is shaped very similar to a hand print with the fingers facing to the south-east taking in the startling view of Mount Baker. On a boat you can wander in between each of the fingers or even go up and around to the base of the palm to Shallow Bay – a perfect little crescent with three different beaches and a perfect view of the sunset!

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Sucia is a fun place to visit for many reasons, It has many shallow bays to explore, it has miles of hiking trails and fossils to search for, it has great views from every side. It is covered in Madrona and Pine trees, there are beautiful sandy beaches, cozy camping spaces, and the most gorgeous sandstone surrounding most of the island. These undulating, curving, rhythmic looking walls remind me very much of the slot canyons outside of Kanab Utah that we visiting this past Christmas. The colors here a little less orange but stunning still the same.

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One of the best things about Sailing and being on an island is the ability to disconnect from every day life, worrying, job stress and the inundation of the “shoulds.” “I should be cleaning my house. I should be earning more money. I should be doing a better job at (fill in the blank). I should be skinnier, nicer, happier!” We all spend so much time being hard on ourselves. We expect perfection and tear ourselves apart when we can’t achieve it. Sailing is one of the few times I have found that it is possible for me to just BE.

We enjoyed our time on Sucia with sightings of Bald Eagles, Harbor Seals, Anemones and River Otters playing in the Bays and even one very spiky and hairy caterpillar that caught our attention. But little did we know that our biggest sighting was still to come!

There is always a little let down when you have to untie your mooring and head for home. So we were quiet and contemplative as we headed out of Shallow Bay and headed back to Anacortes.  My boyfriend was steering the boat and watching the horizon as he noticed a big puff of breath rise up from the water. He waited until he saw it a few times before calling down to me in the cabin. “Honey, there is something really BIG out here! I came up on deck and joined him in looking out at the water and there he was! A big huge Orca whale! His tall black fin breaking the water just after each exhale from his blow-hole.

Seeing an Orca in the wild for the first time is an exhilarating experience! Your breath catches, you hold it hoping that he’ll come back, swim along next to your boat, look you in the eye and give you a message from under the sea. My boyfriend said he was worried about me staying on the boat!

He stayed safely away from our boat and we didn’t try to follow or chase him. But we did stare out at the water watching for him for a very long time. It was like the universe was gifting us with his visit from the deep. As though our admiration of and love for the sea deserved a thank you. That our weekend needed a little something to cap it off. A message that we are on the right path, that we belong.

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It was pretty much a perfect trip. We love our boat (even with its limitations). We love living here – for now. And we love being out on the water, living one adventure after another and sharing our adventures with you!  Namaste y’all.

The Power of “What IF?”

I have been eyeing a certain Island. it’s an Island on an Island ….super cool huh? Its uninhabited except for a pair of bald eagles ….even cooler right? This Island (pictured below center front) is in the middle of Lake Campbell on Fidalgo Island just south of Anacortes, WA. I’ve paddled this lake before. I remember being all bundled up against the cold and not feeling very adventurous so I stored the idea of climbing this island for a later day.

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Well today was that day! I packed up all my gear and headed out. Not too many people at the lake. The sun was fighting a thin layer of clouds and a easterly breeze made standing on my board a little unsteady so I sat or kneeled as I paddled out. Life jacket – check, whistle – check, paddle – check.. oh crap…I forgot shoes! I usually paddleboard bare foot but hiking or climbing – no way!

That was when I heard the first “WHAT IF?” What if you do it barefoot? I mean, Native American’s did it and so do those crazy people on Naked & Afraid! If they can do it maybe I can too!” Choice #1 Continue paddling out!

The island is not very welcoming. It’s basically just a big, huge rock that climbs steeply up from the lake. No maintained dock or trails. When I finally found the only spot that would work, I gingerly stepped out onto the craggy rocks and surveyed possible routes to the top of the knoll. I tied my board to a nearby tree and headed up and to the right. After about 8 rough climbing steps I came to an impasse. There was a large blackberry bush in my path, no hand holds to go around it and a steep rock wall to my left.

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“Now what?” I thought, “I might not be able to climb any higher today. Maybe I should come back another day with shoes? Maybe being out here alone isn’t such a great idea.” And then I heard it again, “WHAT IF you find another route and keep going? You’re not in a hurry. You’ve got all day. You can take your time and go slow. You will be disappointed if you don’t at least try?”Choice #2 Find a new route and keep going!

I turned around and made my way back down to my board and then turned to the left, climbed over a prostrated tree and found a rocky, shale filled crevice that looked passable. I screwed up my courage and went for it, hand holds, toes gripping the rocks, pushing bushes out of my face, moss sliding off of my hand holds, staying low against the rocks and fought my way up about 30 feet to the first moss covered shelf and then I stood up! OMG I had done it! I couldn’t believe it!

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As I stood there surveying the view I heard it again. “Now you’re here, WHAT IF you climb all the way to the top? I bet it’s a great view!” My courage was in full swing after my successful climb so I answered “hell yeah!” and headed on up the hill. Choice # 3 Go all the way! Stepping gingerly around thorny bushes and holly leaves I wound my way higher and higher – slowly of course, sometimes tip toeing over rough patches, robins egg shells and lots and lots of goose poo.

As I reached the top of the hill I felt a huge rush of adrenaline and accomplishment!  Life is like that isn’t it? It can be rough and challenging. We can have rocky starts but work our way through them, sometimes we fall and have to get back up but above all we get to choose. We can choose to get negative, give up and go home or we can listen to the WHAT IF voice that gives us other, positive options. We can keep moving forward, keep trying, look for another path!

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I explored the island a bit and took some time to contemplate the day, the adventure and how I felt but all to quickly it was time to make my way back down to the water and my board. I made it safely. I did leave a little blood on the island thanks to the blackberry bushes I tried to climb over. I think going down is easier than climbing up. But maybe that’s because I went down mostly on my butt and gravity was on my side! LOL. I was really happy to see this view when I reached the bottom!

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I had a great adventure today. As I sat in the sun, on that island I felt accomplished. I did it. I didn’t let myself quit. I kept going. I was proud of myself. Who knows what we are capable of accomplishing? Its like that famous saying, “What if I fail? But what if you soar?” The choice is yours. I hope you choose to Soar!!!!!!

Pack for an Adventure!

If you were told that you would be leaving on a 6 to 9 month adventure what would you take with you and what would you leave behind?

In 14 weeks we launch! We are headed on a cross country vagabond with a truck and boat to sail lakes, the Sea of Cortez, off the coast of California and hopefully to the Bahamas! It’s going to be an awesome road trip BUT – and this is big….we will be living out of our truck so I really have to travel lightly!

Exactly how lightly you ask? Well, my goal was to get all of my clothes into one tote. Clothes only, this does not include shoes, hats, coats, jewelry, yoga gear or toiletries. Here’s where I am so far…

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I have one fully packed tote with everything I think I will need for a 6 to 9 month jaunt across the country. Plus I’m going to need one more tote for shoes, accessories and such.

My boyfriend suggested that we “practice pack” for our big journey two weeks ago and I thought he was crazy! I don’t need to practice pack! I’ve been traveling with only a backpack for the better part of the last year. But then I realized those trips were short – 10 days to two weeks. This is going to be a much longer journey!

I was worried about how I would pare down my closet. I thought I only had the necessities already. But when I set up to do it, I found the decision making process easier than I thought it would be. I went through my closet and only pulled out the things I absolutely love, that fit me correctly and I couldn’t live without. Only my favorites. And I tried to do it very quickly. I found that if I started to hesitate over an item that meant it was not an absolute yes and I put it back in the drawer.

I put all of the “leave behinds” in the lower drawers and put the stuff I’m taking back into the top of my wardrobe. The goal is to only use these clothes for the next 14 weeks to see if I’m missing anything or if I have things planned to take with me that I don’t actually need and can leave behind. It’s only been two weeks and I think I already have about 4 more items I can leave behind!

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It’s amazing how much stuff we have that we don’t really need! I downsized when I moved out of our house into The Gypsy Love Bus – and now I’m downsizing again! I know many people who are comfortable to travel living out of just a backpack and I bow low with “I’m not worthy!” ringing in my head. Maybe someday I’ll get there but not quite yet.

Just remember stuff does not define you.  Experiences enrich your soul – leave the stuff behind and go have a life!

Live Simply, Breathe Deeply, Travel Lightly!