How Cruising Changed Us I: Thankfulness

     In this season of counting blessings, what I am most thankful for this year might seem odd. In the past ten months I have had a full hip replacement, finished my thesis and graduated from my MFA program. Drew graduated from UW; James and Avery are doing well. But what I am most thankful for is Stephan's unemployment.

     I have cruising to thank for this perspective. Not because it permanently addled me, but because it taught me -- in a stark, clear manner -- what I valued in life.

     When we first decided to go cruising, Stephan's biggest mental obstacle was money. How could he give up his job, security, prestige, nice house, great perks to face an unknown future? Each step we made toward commitment felt to him like another step toward the abyss. He only agreed to go because I insisted that it was the only way to salvage his relationship with his children.

     Yet, after he took that leap, it felt more like stepping off a curb.It was easier to shed his work-identified self than he had ever imagined. Not completely, but in a more balanced work-life-family way than he ever had before.

     Stephan left his most recent job two days before my hip replacement. As a result, he was completely, literally there for me during my months of recuperation. He was able to enjoy James' summer at home. Certainly the job loss needed processing, but it was nothing like the devastating event it would have been had we never given everything else up once before. Stephan is again relaxed and happy, enjoying the gift of being able to choose his next path in life. How often do we have an opportunity to examine our gifts and passions, explore new opportunities and set out in a new direction?

     Continuing a cruising lifestyle in the face of adversity means putting through life at seven knots, certain that we can weather each storm and that each day will bring new weather, new connections and new insights.

     And remembering to be thankful.