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Daring to Dream – Our Sail Across the Atlantic Ocean begins

I have always wanted to sail across an ocean. The prospect has long appealed to me. My free spirit loves the idea of sailing off into the blue, being self reliant and trusting what the ocean brings.

In 2009 when we had a year aboard our first boat BattCat, the time drew nigh for our Atlantic Crossing. Our eldest 2 kids were then 3 and 4 and after much discussion we decided that them being largely being confined to the cockpit of the boat for 3 weeks, could be more gruelling than pleasurable. On that trip we went ashore most days, the kids could stretch their legs, run around and let off steam. We swam and snorkelled every day and the sea was like a playground for them. They became adept at diving down for shell treasures and loved their sea adventures. The longest passage we did was a forty eight hours from Croatia to Corfu and the kids had cabin fever enough by then! Also an Ocean Crossing means someone keeping watch 24/7 and we needed more crew than just Jason and I to facilitate that. My Dad and Jason’s brothers were keen to join us, but to accommodate them comfortably we needed an extra bunk. So the decision was made that I would fly home with the kids – spend 3 weeks in the UK catching up with friends and family and Jason would sail across the Atlantic with the boys.

I knew it was the right decision but felt bereft at missing such an opportunity on our lovely boat. Jason and I are equally qualified sailors and he offered up the idea that I could take the helm and he could fly back with the kids. For a millisecond, I entertained the idea – it was an option – how wonderful, I could do it! In the next instant I realised that I simply couldn’t be away from my babies for that length of time. I was suddenly overwhelmed by an animal need to protect them. If something happened and I was mid Atlantic, I wouldn’t be able to get to them for at least a couple of weeks. I simply had to stay with them and would hold onto the dream of us sailing an ocean when the kids were bigger.

Well, life got progressively busier, we moved to Poole after our year of sailing adventures and had two more babies. We held onto the dream of a family ocean crossing but had to find the right window. We agreed that ideally our youngest would be 5 (enter the lovely Liberty age 5 and a half right now!!) and the eldest Rex wouldn’t be ensconced in exams! That time is now – Liberty is old enough to listen to instruction, amuse herself for stretches of time and she has largely grown out of the tantrum phase. Rex is in Year 9 and missing study time won’t affect his GCSE performance.

We agreed that we would make the crossing with the ARC, the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, where at least 200 boats make the crossing at the same time. It may be that you don’t see another boat after day 2 but you will have boats within at least 20 miles of each other and thus contactable via the VHF. Every day at midday there is a call on the VHF to neighbouring boats to check all is ok and if anyone needs assistance. This incredible support network was vital to me as Mother of 4. The decision was made to sign up for the ARC 2018, leaving November 25th.

Next stop was to convince the schools to agree to the length of absence required for the trip. No mean feat when it comes to State Schools for whom it is particularly important to meet the local education authority requirements for absenteeism. Initially when planning this trip we wondered whether we would be able to take a year out, like we did in 2009 and this was our initial proposal to Rex’s school, for us to home school for the year and hold his place for our return. The feedback was that despite his great progress, the school would have to take him off the school register, this would be enforced by the Local Education Authority as the school is in high demand and there is a long waiting list. The kids would be put to the end of the waiting list. After discussion with our kids and understanding that they love their schools, have worked hard to get there and didn’t want to jeopardise their places, we had to revise our plans. We went back with a 6 month, then a 3 month option and the answer was the same. We researched further and found that 20 consecutive days is the maximum number that a pupil is able to take off without being taken off the register. The ARC leaves on the 25th November which required 19.5 days off before the kids broke up for the Christmas Holidays – surely meant to be!! So the decision was made to pepper our lives with sailing adventures rather than taking a huge chunk of time out. This particular trip will be 6.5 weeks.

The schools are now fully behind our voyage and the kids have work to do enroute to keep them up to speed. The belief that this Eduventure will be massively educational is understood by all. We will be taking our children out of the bubble of western living, out of comfort zones into a highly connected, family bonding experience. One in which we will all reset and be able to draw reference to for the rest of our lives. Into a world where there is no wifi, no modern distractions, where we will need to pull together as team, each of us with vital jobs to do. A world where there is so much space, endless sky and sea, sunrise and sunsets like no other and stars which can be appreciated in all their glory in the absence of any light pollution. The kids will take their part in the 24/7 watches, fishing for their dinner and learning new life-long skills.

For all our mid Atlantic updates please click here: Mid Atlantic Blog Updates and enter choose BattPack from the drop down list of boat names.

If you want to track our boat click here: Live Tracking of BattPack and choose ARC 2018 and enter BattPack as the boat name.

We cannot wait. The dream is here, now it is time to appreciate and savour. And so the 2800 mile voyage begins………..

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Our crew – Jason, Dulcie, Rex, Ruby, Jago and Liberty, my Dad Paul and Nephew Alex!!! xxxx

To be Joyful…

I love the term Joyful. It makes me smile, just hearing the word.  The Oxford Dictionary definition is: “Feeling, expressing, or causing great pleasure and happiness”. To me, it seems like the ideal state for a Mamma – to be largely either personally feeling or expressing, or causing your children to feel great pleasure and happiness. When we fully experience the beauty of pure joy, it feels electric.

I have always had a positive nature and recently I was slammed for it – for my choice to be happy despite the odds. I was called inauthentic as a result which, for a time hurt and baffled me. Ah and then the catch 22 – what other way is there, to respond to a claim of inauthenticity, other than to continue being 100% me?! Of course, that is what fuelled the negative comments in the firstplace. I realise now that it is truly none of my business what people think of me. If I am happy with who I am and my intentions for others are good – it is all good.

The experience raised a question about the whole Joyful Mamma thing – does the name mean that I am joyful all the time? Are you kidding me?!! The only way you can recognise and feel real joy is when you know it’s opposites like agony and sorrow. I know these feelings only too well, my gorgeous Mamma died just after my wedding and just before I found out that I was pregnant with my first born. I experienced the full range of negative emotions during that time of my life and my world felt heavy and arduous. Believe me, I know the opposites of Joy. In my experience, the gift of pain is that it sensitises you in a world intent on desensitisation.

When we feel the opposites of Joy, we often make these uncomfortable feelings more comfortable by numbing them out or repressing them. I became a total pro at this but the lesson I have learnt is that by numbing out the negative, I am naturally more numbed out to the positives. I don’t choose that trade off. I now know that I grow as much through the negative as I am lifted by the positive. I want to feel it all and whenever and wherever I can, I choose Joy. I believe that you will be exactly as joyful as you decide to be.

Remember that Joy is our birthright! This intrinsic state of joy that we are all born with is also known as our Buddha State. No matter what happens to us, this state lies within. Always there, never faltering. Knowing that my intrinsic self is joyful brings such inner peace.

Many years ago I read with delight the Buddhist philosophy that ‘everything passes’. Everything passes but the Buddha State remains. What liberation! Why hold on with attachment? See the situation for what it is and recognise that it will pass. The negative emotions that can flood us so quickly – anger, sadness, frustration,  take hold and then dissipate – they all do – that is why they are called e-motions and not e-standstills!!

After my Mamma died, I was often unable to fully immerse myself in joyful experiences. For me it was because I was still grieving and to feel anything close to happiness seemed disrespectful to her memory. It was also because I felt as though to really acknowledge the joy would be akin to tempting fate and would somehow bring about something negative – I would almost be worrying through the happy times, waiting for the next catastrophe to happen. This is of course very common for mothers of young children because kids tend to walk into several calamities during their day! When you are bracing yourself and expecting these calamities to happen, it is hard to slow down and focus on all the good stuff. The only response is to embrace the present – no amount of worrying can change the future or the past and it will certainly impede your enjoyment of the present.A quote by Eckhart Tolle resonates with me here, “Accept-then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it…This will miraculously transform your whole life.”

Our life is our prayer. It is our gift to the Universe. The memories we leave behind when we leave this world will be our legacy to our loved ones. We owe it to ourselves and everyone around us to be happy and to spread that joy around. One more day that you don’t feel JOYful as a mother, is another day that you can’t. It is never too late to start, but always too late to wait!

What is it to embody Joyful Mothering?  To be connected with your life in the present moment; to spot and soak up all the joy on offer to empower you and your children and enable you to be better prepared when times get tough; to be able to pause before you react and then react in a more loving way; to recognise the big picture and far reaching impact of your Mothering – to truly bask in the glory of this incredible role and responsibility and see it as life’s ultimate gift.

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Sober Sensations

Having spent many years in sales and marketing I know that we largely desire things for the feeling that they will bring us rather than the thing itself eg: to relax, have fun, loosen up. What has always fascinated me is that if we work out why we desire the thing, (ie: what feeling is it that we are craving?), then we can then try to attain that feeling without the thing itself. Try it! It raises your vibration and works with the law of attraction. The more you project that feeling, the more the feeling will be available to you and the less you will need the ‘thing’.

Ok so the ‘thing’ in this context is alcohol. I have been alcohol free now for nearly 2 years. It has been an ongoing experiment and is part of my spiritual journey and desire to connect with my inner truth. I realise that alcohol dulls the connection to my intuition and this was hampering my mission to connect to my true essence. Prior to January 2017, I had never before questioned the habit of alcohol in my life.

Alcohol was always around as I grew up – my parents didn’t drink much but a glass of wine to relax, and a few more to have a fun night out were commonplace. As kids we were offered a mini glass of wine a ‘soupcon’ my Dad would say, during family gatherings or our Sunday meal. As soon as I could drink legally, I did without question. Friends would meet in bars and pubs and our socialising was lubricated by booze. At University, more of my weekly budget was spent on booze and nights out than on food. I clubbed through my twenties and we drank to lift the energy on the night and drank the next day to take the edge off the hangover. We treasure our friends and love partying with them – the chatting, the dancing, the carefree behaviour all seemed so much more natural after a couple of drinks.

I knew that something was amiss because we had 4 kids, my husband worked away all week in London and the weekend was the highlight of the week, What did we do? We celebrated a Friday night with a G&T, followed by a bottle of wine between us. More alcohol flowed if we went out to party. This meant that we were feeling even a little hungover for most of the weekend, which certainly dulled the potential fun family time – the time we had been looking forward to each week. Often by a Sunday night we would feel as though we weren’t ready for the new week to start because we hadn’t made the most of the weekend.

Every January we had a Dry month and my oh my did it feel dry. Going out for dinner felt all the more empty without booze to accompany it. Nights out with friends seemed less amusing. We often didn’t drink during the week, during the rest of the year, unless we were out or entertaining but in Dry January the lack of booze lessened the delineation of week day to weekend – it all felt the same. During my pregnancies I abstained for the health of my baby – with the odd exception of a small celebratory glass of fizz. The abstinence was a hardship and I certainly felt like I was missing out. I felt as though something was lacking – how could a Sunday fireside-meal taste as good without a glass of red wine to accompany it?

So what changed in January 2017? It was an as per usual Dry January, during which my sister gave me the Annie Grace book ‘This Naked Mind: Control Alcohol’ which I read with interest. It is a very easy read and by the time I had finished the booked I chose to spontaneously give up alcohol for longer than the traditional dry January as part of an ongoing experiment.

The experiment is still ongoing and I truly feel that I have embraced this new way of living and can see no reason to return to what was. The overwhelming feeling is that I am happier than I was – there are no artificial alcohol-fuelled highs but I am also free of the associated lows of the hangover. My mind is clearer, I feel brighter, more connected with myself and with others, and I genuinely feel more joy. I have embraced various parties – 40th celebrations, family gatherings, parties in London and Ibiza. Dare I say it, all of these have been more enjoyable without the booze. I can have all the up side without the lows.

1 year ago, my husband was fascinated by my transformation and decided to give it a go himself – he read the book to same effect and is now a more radiant being than I can ever remember. He is thrilled with the positive impact on his life and feels that the blinkers have been lifted!

I remember thinking that I would miss the buzz-stage of drinking — when your inhibitions begin to fade,  you let yourself go, relax and have fun. The truth is that this sober buzz is better in every way – I have more fun, remember it all and feel truly free.

Now when I was a drinker I used to look upon the teetotallers, who were few and far between in our group, with much suspicion. Why did they not drink? Bet they were dull. Did they have a problem with alcohol – members of AA? I questioned whether to invite them to parties as I wondered how much fun they would be and worried that might judge the drinking antics of the rest of the party goers. So now I am on the flip side of that. I am that person and I see the confusion flash across the faces of my drinking friends when they can’t believe that I can be having a better time not drinking than drinking. Even my very best friends question it. There is an intimation that I am ruining their drinking experience by not joining them because they feel as though they are under greater scrutiny and my not drinking makes them feel uncomfortable with their drinking. I have been quizzed time and time again – it has certainly got rather boring, about why I am not drinking and surely I must feel as though I am missing out and maybe I could treat myself to ‘just one”. My stock response now is “I am still a hedonist but now I truly get more pleasure from not drinking than drinking!” That usually shuts them up and I can swiftly change the subject.

So here goes, having seen both sides of the coin and experienced life on each:

I Choose: Energy over lethargy. A clear bright complexion vs dulled skin. Clarity vs a muddled mind. Early morning rises with a smile and excitement for the day ahead over a dull headache and desire to stay in bed. Meaningful conversations that I remember the next day vs drunken conversations that I promptly forget. Connection vs disconnection. Incredible natural highs with no downside. Productivity over procrastination. Being fully present to it all over distracting and numbing out. Self care over self medication. Connection with my true essence over losing sight of her.  Self love over self recrimination. Daily joy of BEING vs lost in the time warp of DOING. Amazing sleep vs disturbed nights. Sparkling eyes over exhausted stares. Best sex ever over drunken romps. Dancing with carefree abandon vs dancing with my head spinning.

All Hail Sober Sensations!

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June 2018 – Jay and I partying hard in Ibiza, stone cold sober and loving every bit of it!! x

Life Aboard vs Life Ashore

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Emerald Bay, Corfu Sailing August 2018

Life Aboard vs Life Ashore – We wake up naturally vs with an alarm. Jump into the sea for a morning swim vs morning shower. Fruit & yoghurt for breakfast all together vs separate breakfasts. Galley overlooks the sea vs Kitchen over the driveway. Home sails to a new place each day vs our house as a stationary base. Exploring new places and adventures each day vs familiarity and known quantities. Anchor vs park. Dinghy rides to the shops and out for dinner vs. car. Siestas vs coffee break and pushing through. Watching the stars vs watching TV. Made up stories on the bow vs stories from a book in bed. Early eve watersports vs playing in the garden. Wearing swimmers vs clothes. Skin on skin hugs vs clothed hugs. Spending half the day in the sea vs the odd swim. Warm seawater that feels like silk vs cold sea that gives you chills. Bare feet vs shoes. Al Fresco showers vs showers inside. Morning meditations on the bow, sun and breeze on my face vs morning meditations in my room imagining I am on the bow! No WIFI vs WIFI central. Family card games vs computer games. Freedom vs routine and conformity. Perfect sea view and open vista vs garden view and limited vista. Boat time ruled by our natural rhythms vs Home time ruled by our schedules! Relying 100% on us and each other vs relying on others as well ourselves. Close family bond vs frequently disconnected unit. Daily shared ice cream moments vs the odd shared biscuit moment. Long to-do lists vs list-free Being. W.O.N.D.E.R.F.U.L

Life Ashore vs Life Aboard –Our deliciously wide range of friends and family vs constant immediate family. Evenings with my husband vs 24/7 with the kids. Known quantities vs daily adventure. Our nest, haven, bricks and mortar which shelters us from any storm vs our cosy floating home that is very weather dependent. Toilet paper into loos that flush vs toilet paper into bins and pumping loos! Binmen who collect rubbish vs discarding own rubbish in each town. More of your own space & headspace vs constant close proximity. Wide variety of foods vs food of the country you are in. Running vs swimming. Our pets vs stray cats.  Electricity and water on demand vs limited electricity and water. Long showers and deep baths vs quick showers. H.E.A.V.E.N

We seek a natural balance of life. Part of the human experience to crave something different to what you have. When we are home we will dream of the boat. When we are on the boat we will dream of home. We will enjoy both and work to be present in both, we will always look forward to moving from one to the other and appreciate each for the benefits they give us. The boat answers our need for escape, freedom, disconnection from the hubbub of life to gain deeper connection with each other and ourselves. Our wonderful home is our family Headquarters, suffused with love and gives us a plethora of opportunities to grow and thrive.

Now, we are busy, packing, planning and manifesting the next stage. It is soon time to leave our nest at home and get aboard again. The Atlantic Ocean Crossing awaits us – we are excited, a little daunted, but absolutely ready for this next adventure! All sailing blogs will be posted here and you will be able to track our progress as we cross the Atlantic. 6 Batts, my lovely Dad and nephew, our lovely BattPack and a whole lot of sea and sky ahead!

 

JOMO – The JOY of missing out!

So we live in a world where FOMO rules. People are literally stricken by the fear of missing out. That dreaded fear that you may miss out on an opportunity unless you stay as connected as humanely possible, or the fear that other people have organised an event and, sin of all sins, not invited you. Mobile phones have fuelled this epidemic because, rather than make a plan and stick to it (as was the case when I was young), we know that we can send a last minute text to excuse ourselves if a better option arises. It is a greedy world and can seem like you never really know where you are.

Social media governs that we are more abreast of the details in everyone’s lives than ever before. Sure, there are some interesting bits but largely it is just noise. Noise that doesn’t often help us or make our hearts sing but instead leaves us comparing our lives to other people’s and wondering why ours doesn’t look quite so shiny and exciting.

Ok so many of us suffer with FOMO. I present to you another option JOMO – the JOY of missing out!! When we can simplify our lives and quieten down the additional noise of social media we are left with what is going on right here, right now. What is going on for YOU in YOUR life rather than being bombarded with what is going on right here, right now, in everyone else’s life. Be kind to yourself. If you enjoy indulging in a little social media why not limit it to certain times of the day when it feels good to catch up. Don’t let it insidiously creep into your life when you simply would be better off without the distraction. Let the Joy of missing out seep into your bones as you truly connect with right here, right now in your life.

In November 2016 I felt literally swamped by life. There was so much noise around me, in our busy family life and with our busy friendship group. I was as connected as it was possible to be – Facebook, Instagram, Whats App, Messaging, Email, Telephone. I love helping people and had spent my early mothering years making myself available whenever anyone needed me, sometimes not in my best interests. I am a radiator, I will radiate my energy far and wide, where required and am often in danger of not having enough energy left for me, to fuel my fire. My lovely Mamma knew it well and reminded me to not let others drain me – it does me good to heed her advice.

Back to November 2016, the noise became unbearably loud and I felt like I needed to retreat from the madness so that I could focus on my gorgeous family and give them the best of me, rather than a diluted me who was so distracted by the busyness of life! One issue with social media is that it permeates your home and demands your attention when you don’t have time to give it. A month prior I had turned off all notifications so that my phone stopped pinging, dinging and buzzing whenever a message came through. But that was not enough, social media is drug like in its addiction. Slowly but surely, I developed a habit of way too regular checking of my phone to see what messages had come through. It had got to the stage with me that life was so busy with chatter from friends far and wide that I would even take my phone to the toilet with me to catch up!! Nuts – no-one else comes to the loo with me, why did I think it was normal procedure for my phone to come & for me to be checking it whilst I went to the loo?!! Bonkers!! This was the case for me and yet I knew that that other friends had it far worse – they couldn’t even get through a social occasion without constantly phone checking to the point where you wondered quite what the point was of you being physically there with them. I was doing ok compared to them, but still my ‘ok’ wasn’t me thriving and it needed to change for me to reconnect to the life I was living.

I chatted through my predicament with my gorgeous friend Julia and I floated my idea of removing myself temporarily, for the month of November from social media platforms. This would be a challenge because there is an addiction to the information, FOMO raises its head and I had created a habit which was hard to break. We decided it would be best to write an exit message, announcing my plans. So here it is:

1st November 2016 Facebook – “Today marks the start of my digital detox. A key part of my Mindfulness and Meditation training & wonderful for my sanity. I am turning off FB and just checking Whats App and Email once a day, so I will stay in the loop but remove myself from the barrage. Lets see how this goes. Over and out for now. If you need me in between, please call or pop in the old fashioned way!”

What I found that I could actually HEAR the noise that was most important and required my attention. Not only that but I could hear my soul’s voice – far from being under information-attack from all sides, I could feel in my body whether something felt right or wrong, was worth pursuing or not. It was truly a heavenly realisation – utter JOMO! Add to that the Joy at the release of pressure of commenting on people’s posts and Joy at the increased headspace. Joy at the beautiful replacement of FOMO with JOMO.

Honestly, I have not looked back. I haven’t missed out on a single thing. True friends have stayed in touch. I immediately gifted myself a huge amount more headspace to devote to those who really mattered in my life. I disconnected to reconnect with who really need and deserve my love and attention. It has been transformational!!

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Summer 2018 – enjoying a bit of JOMO!