Recently I’ve come to realize that our decision to simplify our lives means that there are a lots of situations that we need to approach a bit differently, including celebrations. Alex and I have birthdays that are less than a month apart, and this year, since we are in the process of purging and re-evaluating all of our belongings, it’s hard to justify any material gifts.

I won’t lie though – part of me balked at the idea of not being able to give Alex a concrete gift yesterday. This is the first year that we’ve celebrated birthdays as a couple, and for some reason I felt that there should be something tangible involved. As soon as I stopped thinking that way though, I was able to think of experience gifts that were so much more appropriate. I was able to give him a reason to carve out some time to take care of himself. In the end, I feel like as soon as I was able to overlook the desire to give something material, I was able to focus on what he would enjoy the most and ultimately give him the best possible gift.

I’ve been excited about simplifying our life. I know that it will give us the space to enjoy life and not get so caught up in the material things that society says we need to be happy. Last night, as we sat there on a patio enjoying an extravagant dinner, we were able to just enjoy our evening. We talked and planned, and simply spent time together. I didn’t need to present him with any ‘thing’ – the experience was more than enough. It struck me then, that when you remove material items from celebrations you aren’t giving less – you’re giving someone the best gift of all: the gift of time to truly experience and  enjoy life.

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Along with all of the learning I’ve been doing, there’s also the looming need to downsize all my belongings. We have a 28’ boat, with a decent amount of storage space (for a sailboat), but there will be two of us on it – plus a very active dog!

There is part of me that finds the idea of purging and downsizing to a more simple life very liberating. At the same time, there is still the part of me that is caught up in the materiality that our culture promotes. It’s a side of myself that I’m not overly comfortable with, and that I’ve consciously avoided scrutinizing. I have had to make a conscious effort to be kind to myself, and to go through this process with compassion.

Now that I’ve started actively purging though, I am able to be more analytical about it, and in a good way. I can look at that side and acknowledge that it’s not anything that actually makes me happy, and that objects don’t define my. I’ve started to anticipate freeing myself of a lot of my unnecessary possessions.

I’ve also had to do a lot of thinking about space. We had talked a lot previously about homesteading and having a tiny house, but this will be our first experience of actually living in such close quarters. There will be small wrinkles that will have to be worked out, and I’m sure we will learn a lot of things the hard way. At the same time, it doesn’t seem that daunting to imagine the three of us living happily in such a small space. Instead, I’m looking forward to seeing what it brings out in both of us, and the way that we will learn to grow and accommodate each other’s needs.

This journey has only just started and I’m already finding it enlightening. I think that is part of what draws me to change and adventure – the fact that it makes me examine myself, my life and my values. As humans we are constantly evolving, and at this exact moment in my life, I can think of no better setting than on our boat.

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Over the past few years, I have been lucky enough to find not just one inspiring yoga teacher, but a handful. Today’s teacher and his class was one where the message resonated strongly with me.

I’ve been a bit scattered this past week (okay, maybe more than a bit). There is so much to do, so much planning that has to happen, and so much excitement inside, that it’s been hard to stick with my normal gym / yoga routine. I finally carved out some time for myself this evening, and found myself on my mat in a yoga class.

The theme of today’s class was simplicity. We were being challenged to find the beauty and the strength in the simple and foundational postures, in order to grow our practice and to grow stronger in preparation for flashy poses.

As you can imagine, when we were told this, I didn’t expect it to be easy. Anyone who hears me talk about yoga and acro yoga knows that above all else, it is the community that inspires my dedication. Sure, acro is playful and fun, but it’s the trust and the security that strikes me the most. More than once have I found myself upside down and balanced on someone’s feet, before realizing that I don’t even know their name. No matter what, my trust in my base and my spotters is unwavering. Having said that – I still love the flashy stuff! I love ‘popping’ (i.e. being tossed in the air and seeing how high and what sorts of tricks we can do), and I love doing the poses that look impressive.


My personal practise is the same. I love the peace and sense of grounding that I get from a Sun Salutation, and when I need to, am more than happy to rest in child’s pose while the class does something challenging. At the same time, my ego definitely gets a sense of accomplishment from nailing a challenging arm balance or showing off an advanced back bend.

Coming back to today’s class – I was able to enjoy the simplicity of the poses and flow that we did. I didn’t miss doing any of the flashy poses like I thought I would, and I still felt challenged. Part way through class, I realized that a large part of my practice going forward will be the simple things, as I’m fairly confident that yoga on a boat will take some getting used to, and it may not be conducive to more advanced balancing postures (at least not in the beginning). It will be humbling, and a challenge in it’s own way.

The most resonating moment of class, was in Savasana. As we were lying there, Duncan shared the following thought: ‘Can you take delight in the simple things? When you do, the fancy things become so much more fun.’ The answer in my soul was a resounding ‘Yes!’ to simplicity. It was something I already knew, but my reaction to having that question posed served as yet one more source of confirmation.

What I don’t know? What the fancy things will be or how they will affect me. Yoga is one story – after practicing simplicity, it is more fun to do something that just looks impressive. I’m curious how this thought will apply in more material ways. How different little luxuries will seem after a month or two of us not having them on the boat. It made me question if they would still be something that we miss, or if they are superfluous to our lives and things we will never think twice about. At this point, I don’t have an answer, but I’m looking forward to it evolving through reflection. No matter what the answer is, it leaves a lot to think about.

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It’s hard to stay grounded when you’re anxiously waiting to cast off and start the next chapter in your life.

If you read my first (ever!) post, you know that I’ve made the life-changing decision to leave my job, my apartment, and my friends and family to move across the country and live on a sailboat with my boyfriend and our dog. What I might have left out? Neither of us really knows how to sail! Needless to say, it’s been a week of learning and a whole lot of Google searches!

I have to admit, I was surprised by how many blogs there are by people who live aboard their boats, either staying in one area or traveling the world. I suppose that stems from the fact that blogging is new to me – both following and writing. To be honest, if it wasn’t for my friend and chiropractor, you probably wouldn’t be reading this at all (thanks for the encouragement, Hayley!). However, now that I have so many questions about sailing and life on a boat, I can’t stop Googling questions. More often than not, this leads me to some very enlightening (and addictive) blogs, such as Dan and Jaye’s and Jereme and Kim’s.

I’ve also been in a permanent state of anticipation and excitement as I go about my day to day life. I can’t even begin to explain the tangents that my mind goes off on these days, while I am trying to work, while visiting with a friend, or in the middle of trying to practice a headstand (you can imaging how that ends…). I will even admit that there may have been one night when I was researching the Shellfish Harvesting Regulations for British Columbia at some time after midnight – which led to more Google searches, such as ‘what is a whelk?’ (For anyone who has the same question, Wikipedia tells me it’s a type of snail. A large snail. I’m sure there will be a point when I try one, but I can’t say it’s high on my wish list!)

"Large eastern conch" by ChildofMidnight at en.wikipedia

“Large eastern conch” by ChildofMidnight at en.wikipedia

I’m not the only one who has been busy planning and researching. After we made the decision last Sunday, I came back to Toronto for a month or two to wrap things up and get ready to move in June. Since then, there have been hours of Skype dates, where the conversation swirls around the topic of boats, adventure, and our hopes, dreams and fears. There have also been endless texts and emails of thoughts and ideas.

Other than the obvious need for a Leonard-size lifejacket (I promise you all pictures when he gets it), there have been some more obscure items that we have come across. My favourite so far? I got an email from Alex that was a link to a company that sells solar ovens. That’s right – an oven powered by the sun! So we can be out on the boat, and I can still bake!

Everything this week has been overwhelming, but in a incredibly positive way. It’s not often that we walk around in a constant state of excitement, unable to keep a smile off of our face. The downside is that it’s been hard to concentrate (or to sleep for that matter). I’m constantly distracted by never-ending lists of loose ends I need to tie up (goodbye TTC pass!), as well as any number of daydreams that could very well become reality within a few months.

I’ll leave you with my favourite day dream at the moment: A lazy summer evening, sitting on a sailboat watching the sunset, and having a glass of bubbly and fresh oysters we harvested ourselves. Not a bad life to look forward to…

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Anyone who has ever tried to practice tree pose on the bow of a boat can understand the decision I made this past week.

It’s not that I haven’t made crazy and spontaneous decisions in the past. When I was 24, I moved from my then-home in London ON to Bali, and with just five days between making the decision and boarding my plane (this was after being home for only six weeks after spending a year in Taipei).

This time it feels different though. I’m 30 now, and I’ve been feeling relatively settled and grounded. I had even started to put down roots. I had an amazing apartment in Toronto, a job at a large bank that I genuinely enjoyed, and a network of friends and family that made me feel happy and secure. At the same time, there was part of me that missed the adventure and the thrill of the unknown.

Luckily for me, I have a wonderful man in my life who has that same drive, who is a thrill seeker and who thrives on living a unique and exciting life. Taking that into consideration, it’s probably not a surprise that we’ve decided that life on a sailboat is the perfect adventure to embark on together. In fact, most of my friends didn’t even bat an eye when I told them that I was leaving my job to move half way across Canada and live on a sailboat with the boy and our dog.

I don’t know what the next year holds for us. I know that it won’t be all smooth sailing (literally or figuratively), but I know that it will be exhilarating and life altering. I know that I’ve never felt so alive as I did on the water, and I can’t wait to see where the wind takes us.

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