Cruising. This lifestyle is unknown by most, but still embraced by many. It means you move around when and where you want to and you figure out how to make money along the way. You make adjustments based on the needs of your family, the boat or your finances.
To some friends and family, this concept doesn't make sense. It didn't make sense for me for the longest time either (though for Ryan, this has always been the dream). For me, I'm only a quarter there in my understanding. I still have yet to trust life and the world enough, but cruisers tell me that will come.
While reading, The Cruising Woman's Advisor by Diana Jessie, I read a quote that summed up how I've been feeling about this whole experience.
"For me, cruising is the simple life. I live on a boat instead of living in a house or in an apartment. My possessions are few, and my living space is smaller than what you'd find in a typical mobile home. I do not spend hours cleaning, talking on the phone, or watching television. I share every day - in fact, nearly every minute - with my husband in this same space. We live day to day, planning what we want to do and where we want to go each day. It is rare that we use the phrase 'I have to..." unless I am writing or the weather is bad." - Diana Jessie
The more I think about this lifestyle, the more I ask myself: What held me back before? My immediately responses were: Job, Perceptions, Money, Family, Responsibility, What I'm "supposed" to be doing.
So I broke each of those items down. Trying to understand this lifestyle has required that I have a relentless and vigorous conversation with myself about my life and the structure I live within. I asked myself some key questions:
- [JOB:] Are you overjoyed on Sunday to return to the work you are slated to do on Monday? I call this "The Sunday Test." If I was feeling anxious, or blah, or dreading Monday on Sunday around dusk, I didn't pass "The Sunday Test." This meant I was in a job that I wasn't completely passionate about. I was in a job simply because it was a job. Poet John O'Donohue said it best: "We spend over one-third of our lives actually in the workplace, and one of the loneliest things you can find is somebody who is in the wrong kind of work, who shouldn’t be doing what they are doing but should be doing something else and haven’t the courage to get up and leave it and make a new possibility for themselves. But it’s lovely when you find someone at work who’s doing exactly what they dreamed they should be doing and whose work is an expression of their inner gift."
- [JOB:] Does your job allow you the funds and time you need to travel, experience life and live life to your fullest? If the answer to this is no, and you're failing "The Sunday Test," then why continue in that job? Why give that job the power to hold you back?
- [PERCEPTIONS:] What are you afraid of? We all experience fear. But fear is one of the most powerful tentacles holding you back in life. I wrote down what I was afraid of: Not having enough, abandonment, not being good enough, not being "worth it." These are all insecurities that are placed within us at an early age. For example, we are told to get jobs not to be innovative and work for yourself. We are told by banks we must have consistent salaries, monthly payments coming out and in. We aren't told that you don't have to make money every day, you just have to make money, occasionally and whenever! We aren't told to be adventurous, instead we told to find safety and security. I was afraid to be bold, live bold, make bold decisions. Once I realized that fear was the thing holding me back from living boldly, I cut fear's power away from my decision-making process.
- [FAMILY:] What about family and friends? I am excited about the fact that this life gives me more freedom to see family and friends. I no longer have a required time away from my family, as mandated by an institution. I have time to schedule and spend with my family in closer quarters and under less strict conditions. We design what our time together will look like, feel like, be like.
- [MONEY:] Money, I have found, comes and it goes. It goes and it comes. I was so scared that I wouldn't be able to do anything without my job. I was wrong. There are so many skills I have that are needed in various parts of the world! And there are many different forms of "money." Money can appear as products, food, shelter. Money can appear as time, energy, effort. I had become so entirely married to this idea that money only came in one form: as a direct deposit into my account. But this just isn't true.
- [RESPONSIBILITY:] I felt compelled to do certain things like have life insurance, a retirement plan, bountiful health insurance. The more I learned about this life the more I realized you don't have to do it the way you're told. You can still have all of those things, but you can pay them upfront for the year or transition money to and from projects. You can make healthy financial decisions without it being the set formula you're sold.
After having these realizations, I ask myself, then, Sheena, what should you be doing?
I've come to settle peacefully on the following list: mindfully approaching how I love, how I listen, what I create, whom I'm uplifting, how I move through this world, what, how and where I'm affecting change, where and how I'm spending my energy and talents.
Because I only live one time, and I want that time to be FULL. Of love, of life, of beauty, of challenge, of growth, of friendship, of laughs, of different types of work, of adventure, of personal freedom. For me, that means living boldly and reminding fear who is making the decisions.
But I still have so much to learn. I have yet to trust that there are opportunities out there in the world to make money. I have yet to have full faith in my own skills and abilities (I still feel like I need validation or approval in the form of an employer). I am still scared that I won't be able to do this.
The only way I'll ever find the answers to any of these constant thoughts is to try. So, I try.