My last day of work

Friday was my last day of work. I thought that I would be feeling down like I did most days leading up to the last day. Instead I felt relief, and a lightness of spirit. I did end up inviting some close friends over that evening. Two out of three couples came out for my pity party. Two out of three ain’t bad for short notice over the holidays.

I invited out the brewer and his wife, the psychologist, whom I will call Rhett and Sue. Sue told me that she gave my name to her boss as someone who was interested in talking to the parents and siblings of autistic children. I still feel interested in helping people through similar experiences that I’ve had. I want to write a book. But first I want to go through all of my journals. It is going to be a slow and tedious process.

We also invited over Tim and Cara. Cara just wrote a book and now that I have more time, I offered to read it critically. She encouraged me to write my own book. Right now Cara’s job is also on the line. She would love to be a full time author. Paul and I thought of starting a sailing business with Tim and Cara. Paul is working on his captain’s license as we speak. It’s crazy, but we are thinking of starting another business together.

I’m not sure where the future leads right now, but I know that these other couples are involved in it in some way. We had a lot of fun Friday night and did a lot of laughing. I felt like whatever happens everything would be alright.

And so the journey starts…

Fortune cookie wisdom # 16

You will be unusually successful in business.

My husband Paul seems to get this fortune cookie every other time he gets Chinese food. My typical response is to laugh then throw the fortune away. It is true though. If Paul is a natural at anything, it’s business.

The strange thing is that I started to get this fortune. I don’t know if they made extra of these fortunes at the fortune cookie shop or what. Then I thought…why not write about it?? Maybe if I stop throwing the fortune away, I won’t get it over and over again and can get new ones. Hence more writing inspiration..

I don’t consider myself to be successful at business. I don’t come up with the ideas. I certainly don’t sell anything. I am more of the diligent working sidekick behind the scenes. I have been working with my husband somewhere around 10 years now.

This year we sold our successful start up business, but continue working as employees. We are planning on retiring in another 5 years and starting another business in an unrelated field. We both decided that we would go totally crazy if we didn’t have something to do with our time.

Paul just signed up to work on his captain’s license. We are planning on starting a sailing charter business. We’ve already had people approach us for sailing trips. This is not going to be a big lucrative money making business. It would be a hobby business.

Right now, it seems like I don’t have any time. When I am not working, I am cleaning my house, doing laundry, spending time with family, worrying, running, or blogging. If I am lucky, I can read a couple of books a year for fun or travel. Unfortunately, I have to be really selective with my free time. I have more things that I want to do than time to do them.

But in less than 3 years time, the kids will all be out of the house. In five years, I’ll retire. Maybe then I’ll have the time to do everything I want to do.

Maybe I will write a book, take a dance class, start working on genealogy again, do more traveling, write music, paint… The possibilities are endless..

Sail

In July, we had the opportunity to spend the weekend on our friends new sailboat. We haven’t been friends with Tim and Cara very long, but we have a lot in common with them. So I felt like it was time to give them names.

Tim and Cara were at our house the evening that my son wanted to siphon gas. Tim was the one that told me that my son would probably blow up if he smoked after siphoning gas. Maybe Tim was talking from a similar experience? Lol. He has some pretty crazy stories.

I hate to say this but I have very high expectations for friends. Maybe that explains why I have only a handful of close friends.

I basically have only two simple requirements for a really close friend. 1. They need to be intellectuals and be willing to share deep conversations (sometimes about spirituality). 2. They need to be wild, crazy, active, adventurous, and fun. Kind of like me. Do you see the problem here?? How many wild, crazy intellectuals do you know??

Tim and Cara are a lot like us. They have similar hobbies, personalities, and are in their 40’s like us. Cara was the person that wanted to follow my blog and I told her that I don’t share my personal experiences with friends. I am a terrible person, emotionally closed off and all. Maybe someday I will get over my trust issues. Again, you see the crap I write about..

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We sailed the bay of Lake Michigan off of Door County in Wisconsin.

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We sailed by bluffs.

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I got some pretty nice pictures with my phone.

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There was only one problem. It was a cold weekend in July with a chilly breeze that made for great sailing and cold swimming. They all laughed at my expression jumping in.

There was another problem too…kind of humorous, kind of not. My husband Paul is a friendly guy. He talked to the old guy on the dock about the fish he caught. What’s biting, what are they biting on…all that fisherman kind of talk.

Awhile later, a little girl walked by carrying a fishing pole with her parents behind her. Paul tried to strike up a similar conversation with the little girl about fishing. But her parents told her to keep on walking and not look at him.

I had to laugh. Next month Paul will be 50. I told him that he is now old enough to be considered a creepy old man. I told him that parents probably won’t be friendly if he talks to their kids again until he has tons of grandchildren in tow.

Anyway, we had a great time with our new friends and are looking forward to going on a sailing vacation with them to the British Virgin Islands this winter.

Luke’s visit, part 9

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We didn’t spend the whole time talking when Luke came to visit. Although I must say that I didn’t talk a lot. I spent a lot of time listening, transfixed by Luke’s words. It was the first time he spoke about our childhood with any meaning.

I think that through his struggles, he has gained new insight, wisdom, and purpose to his life.

Maybe our suffering wasn’t in vain after all.

Doesn’t a brilliant rainbow first need rain?

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We invited Luke and his family to our new house and out sailing for the first time. Luke’s youngest daughter wanted to jump off the balcony into the swimming pool. Not a good sign for the upcoming teenage years. She also wanted to buy a sailboat, but said that she didn’t have any money. She is so funny that I think the carefree comedian Luke is still living on.

Paul patiently taught the kids all about sailing. I think someday he would make a wonderful grandpa. My dad spent a lot of time ridiculing us for things we didn’t know and called us stupid when we came to him with questions. But as I watched Paul and Luke with the children, I was happy to know that they are both wonderful fathers without ever having had wonderful fathers.

Sometimes our struggles can become a blessing.

 

Fortune cookie wisdom #14

You never suffer from a money problem, you always suffer from an idea problem.

Before we start today, I want to tell you that this is not my fortune. My daughter Angel received this on her 20th birthday. My fortune was so boring I left it behind. Paul’s fortune said that his life would be filled with happiness and peace or some crap like that. He is always the luckiest! I mean, he does have me after all…Ha ha…anyway..

So as of this past weekend, my oldest is no longer a teenager. Wonderful news! Now I only have two teenagers. But I am not about to change my about page anytime soon.

Angel was a great teenager to raise…although there was that little blip right at the end that really showed she was a teenager. At times she was a little mouthy, but she also is an endless optimist, has leadership skills, has charisma, woo, maturity, and is beautiful both inside and out. The good far out weighs the bad. She is so charming that the rest of us have a hard time keeping up.

Most days go well for Angel, but her birthday was a little rough. She wanted to go sailing to the beach but the weather was not favorable. It was windy, rainy, and cool. Rumor has it that a sailboat capsized at the sailing club that very day. So we sat around home and didn’t do much which was a mild form of torture for me.

I did pick up a new hobby though..Weeding! How come none of you gardeners told me how therapeutic it could be?? I weeded for hours, until my carpal tunnel acted up.

Anyway, back to the birthday…Angel wanted Paul and I to take Dan and her out for sushi. Dan never had sushi before and it is one of Angel’s favorite foods. Dan totally hated it. He stayed out late with friends the night before, was crabby, and fell asleep once we got back home. Angel played her music, an opera song that she is hoping to be able to sing by the end of graduate school. Dan said he didn’t care for the song. Oh boy!

Other than that, things have been going well with Dan.

We are hoping to take Dan and Angel out sailing to the beach before she has to go back to college…We’ll see what happens.

I hope she doesn’t run out of time, ideas, or money.

 

Fortune cookie wisdom #7

You will travel far and wide, both for pleasure and business.

I really love this one!

I have a dream to see the world, near and far…

I’m never going to stop until I reach the end of the path.

As of right now, I visited 32 out of 50 states. Of these states, I visited California, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and Tennessee for business. Next month I am planning on crossing Nevada off of my list.

It isn’t on my bucket list to visit all of the United States, although it would be nice. My plans are far more grandiose than that. I want to visit all of the continents. So far, I’ve crossed off North America and Asia. I plan to cross off South America and Europe within the next 5 years. I even warmed up to the idea of visiting Antarctica.

A couple of days ago, I visited my friend Jen. She recently found out that she has an aggressive type of terminal cancer. The prognosis is not good. Next month will be Jen and her husband’s 25th anniversary. They booked a trip to Hawaii to celebrate. It doesn’t look like they will be going. They wanted to go to Alaska for their 20th anniversary, but never did. Now it is too late.

I don’t want to travel for special occasions anymore. I want to travel because I want to travel. I told myself that after we got back from visiting Thailand for our 20th anniversary. Time is too short.

We couldn’t travel far when we first started out. We didn’t have the extra money. We were tied down to the business. More importantly, we didn’t have anyone to help with the kids. We were lucky if we were able to get away alone one weekend a year for many years.

My husband was 40 before he stepped foot on a plane for the first time. But once he did, we both decided that we would like to travel more.

We never went anywhere as kids, but our kids went to many places already.

We took the kids to Disney World, their first time on a plane.

We showed them a world of wonder that we never got to see growing up.

I guess the moral of the story is not to wait until it is too late to cross things off your bucket list.

It doesn’t have to be a trip to Asia. When the kids were in their middle childhood years, we traveled extensively around the state. We went tent camping to over a dozen different places, mainly state parks. We braved a couple ferocious storms. We biked many trails, went to nature programs, swam in many lakes, picnicked on gorgeous beaches, hiked through the woods, fished, and watched sunsets while the crickets chirped.

After Paul got into sailing, we started similar adventures on water.

 

It doesn’t have to be expensive to be fun. Take what you have and work with it..

I have a dream to see the world, near and far…

I’m never going to stop until I reach the end of the path.

 

Ending, a new beginning

Paul and I are starting to think about retirement. Over the last several months, we received several generous offers for our business. Which, after much contemplation, we declined.

We were thinking of working for another 5 to 7 years, selling our business, and retiring. Then we had a day where we had absolutely nothing to do for 3 whole hours. We were bored. We just about went stir crazy. I was thinking of throwing food on the floor so I had something to clean…or braving into the dark realms of my teenagers’ rooms with a vacuum cleaner..

Then we asked each other how we would handle being retired with days to fill with nothing. So we decided that we would most likely work forever and just slowly cut back our hours until we were ready to sell…not a bad plan..

Then something happened…we had an auction as a fundraiser for our church. We put a 3 hour sunset sailboat ride on the auction block. It went for $400. After that, we had another bidder come up to us and ask if we would take them for a 3 hour ride if they offered $400 to the church. Really?? Seriously??

Then the idea started to trickle back into my brain…Let’s retire after the kids leave and start another business.

When our start up business was in its infancy, we could never leave it. For the first couple of years, Paul was a one man show. That meant the day our last baby was born, Paul had to leave the hospital and go to work.

In the beginning years, Paul had to have major surgery which required a week hospital stay. He was supposed to take at least a month off of work. He called clients from his hospital bed. Right after he got home, I drove him to the office everyday. I helped him walk up and down the steps one at a time wincing in pain. Then I came back and picked him up at the end of the day.

He went to the office with strep. Some nights he worked until 10 PM.

Finally his hard work paid off and he was able to hire an employee. After the first employee left and the kids were old enough for school, I joined him. Then we hired a few more people. We really didn’t know what we were doing. We didn’t even have an employee handbook.

This past week we had an employee oversleep her 1 PM shift. I’ve had to come back early from vacation to cover for people. Sometimes having employees is like parenting. They are great people, but managing creates a lot of stress and frustration in my life. It requires disciplining, hand holding, encouraging, instructing, and being the one who makes difficult decisions. That’s what you get when your name is one the door.

Maybe when I am done parenting, I would like to be done managing people too.

So it got me to thinking about retirement again. Paul and I always talked about starting a new business doing sailboat chartering. We could sell our business, pay off our debt, and start a new company. Apparently there is a market for it. Then we could get back to working together alone again.

Once the kids leave home, it is still on the table. We would buy a bigger sailboat. Paul would get his captain license. I could do all of the scheduling. I would take pictures and write about the experiences of the people sailing with us and make a scrapbook for them of their adventures. Paul is an excellent chef…he would do the cooking, I would do the cleaning. On days of bad weather, Paul and I are amateur actors. He also plays guitar while I sing. We like to laugh and tell stories. We like to listen and learn about the lives of others.

It wouldn’t be a big money making venture, but it would be fun.

Day 9: Homeward bound

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This morning it is clear as glass on the bay. I’ve never seen so many fishing boats on the water. I am ready to go home but feel sad that our trip is coming to an end. Oh, to sleep in my own bed again!

It was a remarkable time. Our vow renewal ceremony on Rock Island was the highlight of our trip. We were surrounded by strangers that became friends. There was hardly a dry eye at the ceremony. It was so beautiful.

Then something unexpected happened, right after the ceremony we talked about divorce. A happy marriage seemed to remind several of their bad experiences.

Why did our marriage make it and theirs didn’t??

Both guys said that many people warned them not to marry the person they did but they didn’t listen. I could’ve easily been in the same boat. I met Paul when I was 21. Before I met him, I was engaged twice.

The second guy I was engaged to was Mac. We were going to fly to Vegas to get married but it cost too much for the plane tickets. I bought my own engagement ring because Mac had bad credit. Why did I ever like the guy anyway??

In every relationship I was in, I was the pursuer. I liked the chase, the challenge. But being the chaser, I was never sure if the one that I pursued liked me as much as I liked him. Mac was different. He relentlessly pursued me. He made me feel like he couldn’t live without me, that I was special. It was all flattering at first…until he started pushing me around. My story could’ve been different if that plane ticket wasn’t so expensive (and from a lot of prayers from my mother).

I listened to their stories and I felt sad…I felt sad for one couple in particular. The guy said that being married the first time forever ruined marriage for him. His long term live in girlfriend was never married before but would love to marry him. It was her birthday the last day of the trip. I felt bad because I didn’t know soon enough to get her a present. It had to be hard for her to watch my ceremony knowing that she most likely will never be a bride. I wanted to make her birthday special for her but didn’t feel like I could.

The thought crossed my mind that it could be her last birthday. My new friend, although just a couple years older than me, has cancer. She just went through several rounds of Chemo and was scheduled for an 8 hour surgery later in the month. This sailing cruise was her last hurrah before the most difficult part of her grueling fight. She gave her boyfriend a way out but he decided to stay by her side. I am happy for that..

The last day all of these thoughts swirled through my mind.

Once again the sky grew dark. We made it back just in time. We unloaded our things from the boat just as thunder boomed in the distance. A strong storm with hail was coming. The winds picked up. We sat in the clubhouse watching the storm come in worrying about George who was far behind us with engine trouble.

Even though our paths were different, we all made it home safely.

Day 8: Oconto

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I don’t want to do this anymore. What choice do I have? I could get a ride home and leave Paul to sail home alone. What kind of wife would that make me? Deserting my husband after the lovely vow renewal ceremony where I promised that I would never leave him.

I feel sick. I feel like I didn’t sleep last night. I spent my night rocking violently back and forth with the waves. My mind took me to strange places. I thought of the song Rock-A-Bye Baby. Rocking…when the wind blows…when the bow breaks…repeating on replay through my mind. Perhaps the song was about a boat after all?

The plan was to get up at 5 and set sail by 6. But it is still really windy this morning so we left later than our anticipated time. I feel seasick. I could tell when the wind changed direction overnight by the movement of the boat.

I struggled to get out of bed this morning which never happens. To tell you the truth, the only thing that got me out of bed was the ping of my phone. I got a Facebook message, but it was just another single guy friend waving at me. What is it with single guys Facebook waving at ungodly hours on a weekend morning?? I thought that something was wrong. Nothing gets me out of bed faster than panic.

We are finally underway. I still feel seasick. I decided to get something to eat. Either I will feel better or I will throw up. So far I’m feeling a little better.

Last night I felt like I was sleeping on an airplane with turbulence. I am hoping it helps prepare me for the 18 hour flight to Asia. The thought terrifies me but I don’t want fear to stop me from doing something I love, traveling.

Now I feel nauseous like the time I was on a scary carnival ride that I wanted to get off of. But that only lasted a few minutes instead of hours. Maybe I need a drink of water? Then I will surely be sick. I will, later. Paul tries to take my mind off of it by talking about the highlights of the trip. He tells me to look at the horizon, but I can’t seem to lift my head.

Get me off of this boat I thought as I started throwing up!!

I fell into a light sleep and awoke feeling a little better.

We have been heeling to the side for hours now. It takes a lot of effort to move. Everything is flying all over the place. As the conditions worsen, Paul asks me to get the life jackets in the compartment behind the toilet. I thought that while I was there, I might as well go. The boat rocked violently at the wrong time and my pee poured down the back of my pants and underwear.

As I struggle to get out of my urine soaked clothes and find new ones, Paul is hollering that he needs me on deck. I’m naked!!!??! I am really starting to feel pissy, figuratively and literally.

Like a marathon nearing the end, I want this to be over. I never want to do this again. But by next weekend I will be ready for another adventure. It is exciting and excruciating in the same breath.

Did I tell you that I am feeling rather sick? I want to fight this feeling but it is taking all of my energy to hold this pen.

Pleeeeeaaassseee get me off of this boat..

There are storms coming.We are hitting 4 ft waves that are spraying against the bow. We are huddled below. I’m getting used to feeling this way now.

The storms part around us but more storms are heading our way. It is scary seeing them pop up while we are in the middle of open water on the bay. We are still motoring against the waves. Paul is outside by himself now while I hide out below. Despite the rough water, I fall asleep. I open my eyes every few minutes to make sure Paul hasn’t gone overboard.

Soon we were nearing the breakwater in Oconto. I prepared myself for storms as I put the fenders out. The motor wasn’t working right and we hit the dock hard.

Once again the storms parted around us. This time we were rewarded with a brilliant rainbow. After 10 hours of sailing, we finally made it to shore.

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Day 7: Weathered in

We awoke at 4:30 AM to the sound of thunder and the howling of a great wind. The waves rocked our tied up sailboat like we were on water. I worried about George and Beth who were planning on leaving at 5:30 AM to beat the strong winds, but the wind was already here. They are still having problems with their inboard motor. Their options to get back home in their boat are facing strong winds or waiting a few more days and sailing without wind. George has to get back to work and there aren’t any slips available to stay longer.

Water is starting to trickle into my bed on the berth. The boat just slammed into the dock. The tied down lines are flapping. The waves are crashing against A dock where we are staying. Water is spraying across the dock and trickling down the other side. The boat is creaking. I’ve never been on the boat in so much wind.

Paul is still sleeping. It was a rough night’s sleep. I awoke to the sound of a ping thinking it was a message from George. Instead, it was an early morning Facebook wave from Paul’s step-dad Darryl.

When Paul woke up, he told me that George did not sail out. There is a gale warning on the water. It will be dangerous walking down the wet A dock to get to the shower.

Paul and I walked down A dock hand in hand to get to the shower. Paul was worried that a monster wave would send me over the edge slipping on the wet dock sliding into the water electrocuted by boat current or something of that nature. We made it safely to shore but we really didn’t need that shower since we were already soaking wet. Standing water was pooled on the dock. The tops of my toes were chafed from my wet sandals and a few of my toes were bleeding.

We went shopping this afternoon downtown. I bought a pair of sunglasses that everyone said made me look like Zsa Zsa Gabor. Wait, isn’t she dead?? I also bought an anchor ring to remind me of the vow renewal ceremony. I bought these lovely items at Al Johnson’s. It is the place with the goats on the roof.

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When we arrived in Sister Bay, I thought that I was seeing things when I saw goats on the roof nearby. I was told that the goats were eating the grass on the roof of a restaurant named Al Johnson’s. I had to ask if the restaurant was like Red Lobster. Do I pick the goat I want to dine on tonight and they cook it up for me kind of place?? Surprisingly, goat was not a menu item. Oh my! Thankfully sometimes things aren’t the way my wild imagination thinks they could be.

That night when we came back to the boat for the evening we heard something buzzing. We discovered that we were out of water and the pump was running like crazy.

Soon we turned in for a restless night of sleep.