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Three Duffel Bags And A Backpack!

If you are reading this blog you have probably thought about what it’s like to live on a boat. If you haven’t then this will really be a shocker for you. Dazzler is a beautiful 36’ Union Polaris sailboat. She’s got lines on her that would make a Victoria’s Secret model jealous. I love her and I totally understand Dan’s complete devotion to her. But the one thing I found is that when you initially think of living on a boat you don’t really comprehend the downsizing process you will endure to get there. After my Christmas trip to Mexico in which I stayed 18 days, we decided I would close up my apartment, finish out my job and move back to the boat. The whole process would take 4-6 months. I arrived home on January 9th, 2017.

Let me explain that I did not live a lavish lifestyle…comfortable but certainly not lavish by any stretch. I had a modest 910 square foot, two bedroom apartment on the water in Bradenton, Florida. I lived with my furry children. If you would have asked me when this all started, I would have told you that getting rid of my “things” would be the easy part. It was rehoming my “kids” that would be the worst part.  Little did I know or understand how difficult it would be to part with my “things”! Don’t get me wrong, I’m no hoarder by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve been known to throw out things others would beg for but when you finally realize that you are going to have to reduce your entire 49 years of existence into 3 duffel bags and a backpack the “sh** gets real” as they say.

At first it was easy. I got rid of the stuff I’ve been dragging around that I never look at or really care about. I did this in stages to make it easier. I got rid of the easy stuff over the course of a month. It was like “spring cleaning”. There was nothing too traumatic or worrisome to deal with here. In fact, I actually psyched myself into believing that this would be the easiest thing I have ever done. Then came mid-February and the real trauma began. This is the time I started sorting through the “real stuff”. You know, those memories and things you’ve hauled around for decades? Yep, those things you only look at when you move but you can’t seem to part with because they are a part of your past.

It’s here that we separate the women from the girls or men from the boys, whichever. Now, I’ve watched Tiny House Nation more than a few dozen times so I immediately thought I was an expert at downsizing. Yeah….not so much. I tried the part where you divide things into different piles but that didn’t work because EVERYTHING I owned had a meaning. Yep, I’m that person. If I had it hanging on a wall or sitting on a table, it came from a vacation, family member or other memorable occasion. How on earth can I be expected to get rid of that Ricky Ribbet banner that was a part of a business my dad and I created? Or worse yet, what do you do when you have been the family historian for 30+ years and you have boxes and boxes of pictures and videos? Yes, “the sh** got real” and quick!

The memories and feelings started to overwhelm me. I found myself in tears sometimes for no apparent reason. Poor Dan had to deal with my drastic mood swings from thousands of miles away. One minute I was so upbeat and psyched about moving to be with him and the next I was in tears and sobbing because I was leaving my things, family and “kids”. So much for the “easy part”.

It took a couple of weeks, lots of talks with Dan and friends and some old fashioned determination but I finally got it. The fact is, it’s just stuff!!! The pretty red dish I bought in England or the leather mask I got in the Bahamas or the beautiful vase I bought at Amelia Island, they are nothing but THINGS! I don’t need them to remind me of the times I spent in these places. I’ve got memories for that. But, I’m a very visual person so I knew I needed something more. Know what I did? I took pictures of these items before getting rid of them. That’s something the digital generation has given us. The ability to keep those wonderful keepsakes without having to store them. Once I started down that path it was so much easier to purge myself of life’s anchors. And you know what? I started to feel so free and fresh and like my whole world had just opened up before me. No longer am I tied down by my past or to the trivial “treasures” of life. I am now free to truly experience life and enjoy the journey and adventures ahead.

To those who are thinking of moving to live on your boat I must tell you that the journey to get there will be tough. No matter how much you want to live on your boat there is still a past that you must leave behind to get there. Take it slow and embrace the emotional side. There’s so much to our lives that we need to recall and embrace….even the bad stuff. If you do it right you will come out on the other side ready for adventure and a life of simplicity in paradise! It took me three months and I’m almost there. I left my apartment and have been living like a gypsy for the past five weeks. I have become a professional couch surfer! I spent a month with my nephew, Brandon, enjoying some great bonding time and now I’m at my mom’s for another month. In just 25 days I’ll be meeting up with my love in San Diego where I will meet his family and then we will drive back to the boat in La Paz, Mexico. The journey has been tough at times but nothing worth having is easy. I’m looking forward to my new life with Dan and the wonderful adventures we will enjoy together and I know the journey has been worth the trials I endured to reach my destination.

“The secret of change is to focus your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

Socrates

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The Meet And Greet

That Friday night he private messaged me and we began to talk. Soon he had showed me the call function on Facebook Messenger. It took a few calls back and forth before we connected but once we did it was like I had known him forever. We spent over five hours texting and talking that night!

After nine months of talking and texting….over 25,000 texts, I boarded a plane in Tampa, Florida and headed to meet Dan in person for the first time in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I had many friends who thought I had totally lost my mind. “You’re going to spend two weeks on a boat with a guy you’ve never met before?” they queried. “What if he smells funny?” I heard from my close friend, Michelle.  Well, the way I looked at it after nine months of talking with Dan I knew more about him than I did when I married my ex after two years of dating. There’s just something about dating long distance that makes you really pour your heart out and put everything on the table. And when you do that you learn so much about each other. I think I told him more in those nine months than I may have ever told anyone else in my life. He is just so easy to talk to that I can’t help myself. So, after nine months I came walking out of the Liceniado Gustavo Diaz Ordaz International Airport to find Dan standing there in a pair of green shorts with a mustard yellow golf shirt and that smile….oh that smile!

I spotted him first so I walked up and asked, “Hey handsome, looking for someone?” to which he replied, without missing a beat, “Nope, I just found her.” We walked across the road to pick up a taxi and head back to the marina. He had the boat docked at the Paradise Village Marina & Yacht Club in Neuvo Vallarta. It is an absolutely beautiful place. They even have a Bengal tiger breeding program there where you can see beautiful tigers on display. And they have parrots, monkeys and other exotic animals on display as well. I kept trying to get the parrots to say, “Wipe your feet.” My brother always talked about getting a parrot and teaching him to say that then put his cage by the front door. I was really close by the time I left but I never got them to say it fluently. Maybe next trip.

Paradise Marina Collage 1

I think I knew Dan and I were really compatible when we got back to the boat and he suggested that we play a joke on my cousin and tell him I didn’t get off the plane. After about a half hour of texts and calls between the two of them I realized that it was getting serious. My cousin, Dan, was calling my other cousins to try to reach my mom. Of course I already told her that I was safe on the boat. But, you can take a joke too far so we decided it was time to give it up. We took a picture of us and sent it to him. I can’t remember exactly but I think he called us buttheads! That was the last we heard from Cousin Dan for several days! Of course that was a true bonding moment for my Dan and me. We laughed and laughed over it. It was the ice breaker we needed to get the trip moving in a positive direction.

From that point on I felt like I had been with him my entire life. We spent an amazing two weeks together. We did a pub crawl on the Malecón with Tammy & Dan from SV Anjouli. We sailed to Punta de Mita, Chacala, Yelappa, La Cruz and back to Puerto Vallarta. We hiked to the Calderon in Chacala, sipped cocktails at sunset on the boat in Punta de Mita, hiked to the waterfall in Yelappa and I even drank Yelappan moonshine from a guy who sold me a rosewood dolphin that he carved. I’m not sure how many people drank from that shot glass before me or the last time it was cleaned but I can tell you this, there was enough alcohol in that moonshine to pickle my innards for quite sometime. Note to self: Next time drink it on the way DOWN from the waterfall, not on the way UP! I saw so many beautiful and colorful people and places in those two weeks and I LOVED each and every second of the trip.

Dan and I got along so well. We played Yahtzee and Dominoes along the way. It turns out we are both very competitive but we have a good sense of humor so game time is a blast. At night we would settle in around the table and watch a movie after dinner. If it was nice out, which it usually was, we would sit in the cockpit and enjoy the warm sea breezes with a cocktail or beer.

One of my favorite places was Chacala. Chacala is a tiny beachfront village about 100 miles north of Puerto Vallarta. There are only around 300 full-time residents there but it is a popular vacation destination for Mexicans and can get quite crowded around the holidays. Each day we watched buses delivering tourists to the salmon colored beachfront. We were there in May so it was pretty quiet but the buses still came each morning and then by the time the sun was setting, the little beach town would close up for the evening. We stayed in the anchorage which is lovely. Sitting in the cockpit of Dazzler we could look back at the beach and see the colorful palapas with their thatched-roofs. The bright colors were a nice contrast to the deep blue water between us and the beach.

We stayed there for five days. One evening we made a couple of cocktails, turned down the lights, turned up the music and sat on the aft seat together looking at the quaint village along the beach. We could see so many stars that night. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many in my life. Dan took me to the bow and we laid upon the dink and watched the stars and talked for a couple of hours. I felt more at peace there than I ever have anywhere.

Needless to say we spent a wonderful two weeks together and I didn’t want to leave but work and home were calling so I headed back to the states and left paradise and the most amazing man I had ever met behind.