Friday, September 2, 2011

NKOTB - Cruising ... The Guilt Trip!

NKOTB (New Kids On The Boat) ... A Weekly Series Sharing Our Thoughts and Questions as Beginner Sailors and Future Cruisers.  NKOTB or Experienced Cruiser ... Tell Us Your Thoughts!

When I was thinking of a title for this post I thought about "Preparing the Family", "Telling Loved Ones", "Family Reactions", etc. but the topic of this post revolves around one thing ... guilt!  Although there are plenty of topics about cruising and cruising trips, there's not a whole lot about the unexpected trip to guilt.  However, we believe that this trip is taken quite a bit by cruisers, and is probably the reason many dreams of cruising never evolve or are cut short.  Therefore, we think this trip is a very important topic of cruising and should be a consideration when deciding if cruising is for you.

When we made the decision to start working towards selling everything to live on a sailboat and cruise full-time, we kept it to ourselves for a while.  My parents were born here in New Orleans, and all of our family has pretty much stayed here.  We knew that our decision would not be popular with my mom, and we weren't sure how our daughter would feel.  At the time, she was in the middle of her senior year in high school.  So, we could either wait until we were ready to "sail away" to break the news to our family, or we could tell them before we even bought our sailboat and give them a lot of time to accept the idea.  After a couple of months, we were ready to start looking for our sailboat and figured it would be best to tell our family before we found one. 

Our biggest concern was our daughter.  We love her so much and we didn't want her thinking that she was being "abandoned" by us.  As with the rest of the family, we casually mentioned that we were looking for a sailboat ... then casually mentioned our cruising plan.  We really didn't want to make a big deal out of this, as that would just make it more dramatic.  We don't like drama!  After the news was "out there", we rarely spoke of our plans.  I think we weren't taken seriously at first, until the sailboat was purchased.  Even then, we rarely spoke of our plans in front of others.  In fact, our family didn't know about this web site for quite a while! 

My father was accepting of our plan from the beginning, as we thought he would be.  However, my mom and our daughter were not so happy.  That's when the guilt "trip" came in.  Without coming out and saying it, I think they called us selfish!  Can you imagine?!  Well, we could understand and even expected their feelings.  After all, our daughter hadn't even graduated yet and my mom had always been around for her mother.  However, we feel that we're not just someone's child nor just someone's parent.  We love our family, but there's a whole world out there waiting for us to explore!  We've worked hard since high school and figure there's got to be more to life than the same old routine of working 80% of the time, while spending most of the other 20% maintaining everything! 

Two years later (has it been that long already!) it seems that our plan is more accepted.  We think it was a good idea giving our family a lot of time to let this sink in.  After assuring them that there is such a thing as telephone, internet, and nearby airports in most of the places we'll be visiting,  they seem to be dealing with it better.  By the time we leave near the end of 2012, we're hoping our trip to guilt will be less often!

Our very independent daughter is now living in a college town and just started her second year at LSU.  We've stressed to her that we will always be around for the big events in her life.  In fact, we'll be able to spend more time with her during her wedding and the birth of her children (if she chooses to do so) since we won't have to report to a job 5 days a week.  We'll just sail back home to her ... in our home!  If she does bless us with grandchildren, we plan on getting to really know them by sharing our cruising world with them.  Oh, and another good point we made that she seemed to like ... she gets first pick of anything in our house that she wants before we sell it!  And one more perk ... she can have a trip to paradise whenever she wants for as long as she wants with just the price of an airplane ticket!  How cool is that?!

We're sure we'll be making the guilt "trip" several more times before we start cruising, and even afterwards.  We're preparing ourselves for this trip, and we're sure it will be intense around the time we leave the dock.  Even though we'll be living our dream, we know we're going to miss our family and friends.  However, is there really any better time to go for a dream than the present?  We've already lost a few friends, and the older we get the more often we hear the sad stories of a life cut short.

Have you made the guilt "trip" in achieving your dreams?  What did you incur and how did you handle it? 

Hasta luego ... until then.  Mid-Life Cruising!

Note:  Here are the previous posts from this series.  Check them out and feel free to give us your advice.  We've really enjoyed reading your comments!


CB Tucker said...

This is a very interesting topic for me as I haven't told anybody about my plans yet. Of course I'm not as far along as you, but I have struggled with when do I tell my kids and family about my plans. My kids may have noticed the sailing books and information around the house, but haven't said anything yet. And I have talked to my son about learning to sail, and the possibility of living on boats since he's going to college in Annapolis (an idea he is very intersted in!). But I haven't said it's in my plans, and they don't know about my blog. And I"m still not sure if I'll tell them before or after the boat purchase. So I kind of like your idea about easing the family into it.

Great articles as always from you guys!!

Erica said...

Oh, the times someone has tried to pack my bags for just this trip! Ugh... However, for every family member that just doesn't "get it" there are ten who absorb every word of every blog and live as vicariously as they can.

Dan N Jaye said...

Great topic! All 4 of our parents are already gone, no kids, no pets, not even a houseplant. Freedom is both good and bad.

Patricia Daspit said...

I congratulate you for your courage on two different fronts. One, having the courage to confront a "touchy" subject publicly. And, two, for committing to pursue your dream in spite of it's possible "unpopularity" with loved ones. I know your dad is very proud of you too.....because he tells me so often.

Final thought -- you really should seek out part-time work writing articles for a sailing magazine or something. I love your style.

Anonymous said...

Oh my God, don't get me started on this one. Dani's family is okay with our plans, just a little safety concerned. Her Mom is a long time cruiser and her Dad is considering going cruising so they both understood. I think my family wants to kill me. The only advantage I had was that I've always been so hard headed that they've never talked me out of any of my crazy schemes. So they don't really want to touch the hot potato.

In the end, you only get to spend so much time alive and you just have to do it your way.

Sabrina and Tom said...

Thanks for writing on this tough topic.

s/v Honey Ryder Cablier 40LRC

Robin said...

I love this! My family is fine with living aboard and cruising as a lifestyle choice as long as it's within the framework of a short-term adventure. Adventures are fine,alternative lifestyles are not to be discussed.

So I do what you seem to have done; I keep my mouth shut. Maybe this is something I'll do for a few more years and call it quits. Maybe I'll bring newborn infants home to a 30' sloop. I don't really know, so mums the word and the peace is kept.

"Sundownersailsagain" is right on above, though. If you don't do things your way, you've wasted the chance at really living.

Drew Frye said...

Wow. I can answer many questions, but you've finally offered up a really tough one. In my case I would have to consider aging parents on both sides and a high school daughter.

But it would be a struggle with practicalities, not guilt. I have no time for guilt. If you've solved the practical commitments, then enjoy with a clear conscience. Folks can always throw guilt, but they cannot replace an opportunity to live squandered.

Probably the closest thing I have experienced is guilt regarding "unfair" risks I ran on mountaineering expeditions. Yes, there is some truth there, and I have had close friends very badly injured in the mountains. But if I had skipped the mountaineering expereince, I would be a different and lesser person, at least inside, where I live. I finally quit the really scary stuff, who knows, perhaps just in time.

Anonymous said...

To add onto what Tate has said. We are younger and don't have kids that part is easy. We do have dogs though and that will be the hardest part of leaving..finding good homes for them.

As far as family goes, I started to introduce it to my family early..mentioning it here and there. Then we bought the boat..then we started the blog and rest is history. They have no choice but to accept our choice, even if they don't like it.

Like Tate said, you only live once. You have given a lifetime to your daughter and seem to be great guilt necessary, go and live your lives.

We have to remind ourselves that there isn't just one acceptable way of living, there are many ways, and even though we may not understand them or live that way ourselves, we have to try and accept and appreciate the beauty that comes in all walks of life...

Any other way would make life so incredibly boring! Great post

Ken n Cheryl said...

Thanks for all the great comments! It's good to know that we're not the only ones that have had to make this trip, and that some people do understand! Love your comments about life Dani! Erica .. it's good to know there are a lot of positive reinforcements! Pat ... thanks for the kind words! CB Tucker ... sometimes I think buying the boat, letting the family learn to love it, THEN telling them might not be a bad idea. You know, after they've already learned to love sailing!

Victor said...

I think that guilt is part of the reason some cruisers fail to launch , then there's what my family handed me .. " are you nuts?" When you get hit with it enough , it creates doubt in your mind, and unless you're extremely determined , it can scuttle an otherwise ( hopefully awesome ) experience.

Cindy said...

What a great topic, GUILT. Ihave had everything else spread before me but you are right this one bears some soul searching. We have great hopes that our first Big Splash with our new boat Full Circle in May or June of this year 2012.

This has been a 6-8 year journey. the first 2 or so were just my husband reading and coveting knowledge... then he let me in on the plan. I admit I first wrote him off as I 'll believe it when I see it.

When he hired a designer I got a little more interested but still figured he wasn't going through with it. Then with a builder contracted and money heading out of the bank I really amped up my prayers. During this prep time my mom passed away, my kids graduated and moved themselves along. So now both sets of parents have passed, and our kids are grown. We can go and let them get on with their lives.

After much looking 2 years or so going to boat shows and research It was decided to build our own...Now the boat has been designed, a builder found and Full Circle is nearly complete. I remind my self it was reported as "nearly finished" in July 2011 but then that statement was reevaluated and my husband ended up spending 3 months onsite to keep the builder motivated. The last 4 months at home he has had regular pictures and phone updates.

This process since the reading and research first began has taken 8+ years and for 4 of them our beautiful home we designed and built was on the market. We sold last spring and bought a smaller home closer in town. Our kids will look after it we believe! We have retired, resigned and told everyone we are leaving. We are past the blank stares and silly remarks. When people ask if we are (he is) nuts I just smile and say maybe.

I needed every minute of those 8 years to process the whole plan. The other events that have had significant impact on me not wanting to go, our 2 grand children were born. Wanna talk about guilt?

But I in faith believe all things work out if we are patient and give the time over. Our grandson starts Kindergarten next fall and our grand daughter starts preschool, so day care is no longer an issue, (yes indeed, I was part of their care network) I have started a fb account ( even before my kids did) so I could evaluate if I thought it would work for sharing and will be looking into flicker for sharing pictures as well.

My husband has blogs set up and computers planned to take on board so we can communicate.

We have faith we will leave for the pacific ocean and western Canada to sail to Alaska in May or June.

I am sure I will have great longing and some guilt as we head off; but, I have had plenty of time to process my thoughts and reasons as well as time to get bored with being on call for other peoples plans and needs. I'm ready, now hopefully the boat is. The guilt may want to come along for the ride but I wont be feeding it.

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