Slowing Down

Sailing is a perfect hobby for those who want to experience slowing down, at least our kind of sailing is. Our average speed is 6 knots under motor power and the hull speed is 7 knots, although we’ve gone a bit faster under the right conditions. Both Robert and I love that moment when we turn off the engines and all we can hear is the water splashing against the hull. It’s such a peaceful moment and I can feel any remaining tension leave my body. Although there are times when urgency is needed, like the time an unexpected squall showed up and the sails needed to be brought in quickly, most of our experience with sailing is the slow kind…

It’s a far cry from my younger years! I can remember the times of raising 4 children within 5 years of each other while building a business! Trying to figure out how to get everyone to their activities after school was a challenge…soccer practices, boy scouts, Indian Princesses, dance lessons, basketball, baseball, swim team….They had things going on every season and I was constantly juggling home and work commitments.

With a tendency towards procrastination, I had a belief at that time that I was most productive when I was super busy. There was no way to procrastinate when the schedule was packed! So, I jumped in and coached sports teams and volunteered for the our professional association as convention chair and eventually president. I volunteered to sit on boards and help start schools. I volunteered to coach adult leadership teams. I attended trainings, gave trainings and wrote papers. Whew!

I’d heard the saying, “I can sleep when I’m dead!” and kind of took that on as a mantra. I slept less than 6 hours a night on a regular basis and was constantly busy from the time I woke till the time my head hit the pillow. This went on for years.

Then, in 2014, I got a wake up call that if I continued at the same pace, I WOULD be dead! I developed a heart problem that was keeping my body from getting adequate blood flow. My ejection fraction, the amount of blood that left my heart to circulate after a contraction, was less than 25%. I was dragging and could barely walk up the steps. A Biventricular Pacemaker was installed... My Bionic Betty... And my attitude about staying busy had a major shift.

I let go of things that I didn’t enjoy and only continued the things I did. I started taking Friday’s off and then when I turned 60, took Mondays and Fridays off. The plan, pre-covid, was just to continually cut down on work indefinitely, rather than retire completely.

Covid-19 has required everyone to slow down quite a bit as things are cancelled and people are asked to stay home. It’s a struggle on many levels, to be sure, but I also wonder if some will decide the frantic pace at which they were living is really not necessary? I wish I'd figured it out before damaging my heart. I wonder if some of our kids might have more time to hang with their parents, create something from nothing, play games and just BE in the world when this is all over? We’ll see..

Cruising has taken “slowing down” to a whole new level. Last night I slept for 10 hours! The tasks of daily life take longer when on a boat which necessitates slowing down. Cooking a meal, doing dishes, laundry…All take a lot longer in the absence of modern conveniences. I’m consciously trying to move more slowly on the boat too. Keeping grounded, holding on and being attentive when going up and down ladders and moving about the boat will help prevent injuries and accidents. It’s a nice change to be able to remain present during those tasks rather than constantly thinking about the next thing I need to do.

Robert and I are enjoying our time together exploring, swimming/snorkeling, looking for sea life and just finding a great beach where we can sit and relax. I’ve always loved taking pictures and now there’s so much beauty to capture! We also like our alone time on the boat. I’m perfectly content reading, writing, playing music or just staring at the water, watching other boats, looking for sea creatures or watching a sunrise or sunset. Getting from 1 place to another is an event in and of itself and we look for opportunities to do so under sail as much as possible.

When I’m able to slow down and let myself relax and enjoy the ride, everything seems to work better… And Bionic Betty enjoys not having to work so hard!

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