A few weeks ago, we drove out to Ft. Lauderdale to go see the crew of Delos give a talk in front of an audience of 200-ish people. SV Delos has been an inspiration to us our last year living in Dallas, keeping our eyes aching for the deep blue and our souls hungry for open air and adventure. We appreciate them and every other cruising blogger and vlogger out there. Y’all are doing something amazing and the fact that you’re willing to pull back the curtain and show the rest of us how it’s done is a treasured gift. Thank you.
I remember someone in the audience asking this question: “What would your advice be to someone that was really interested in doing this?” Brady’s answer included this pith observation, “A positive mindset goes a long, long way.”
Today, one of my Facebook friends, and long-time yoga practioner at my home studio asked in a thread, if we would consider sharing one or more things about which we were hopeful for in the coming year. My response to her New Year’s Eve request was, “I quit my job and moved onto our boat – a realization of a 15-year dream. I’m looking forward to new adventures, meeting new people and seeing some of this world!” Her reply: “If you’d be willing to share, I’m sure many of us would be curious about how you managed such a feat.” You got it, sister!
To my ear, this question and the one Brady got are one in the same. It translates in my brain to this, more pointed question, “How you do you overcome the anxiety of changing your life so drastically?” I want to echo Brady’s sentiment about having a “positive mindset,” and take the time to go into detail how I put myself in remission from depression and managed to cultivate this mindset amid a world that seems determined to keep most of us in a state of negativity, low-level depression and hopelessness. (So companies can sell you the “cure” of course, but save your money – I’m going to give you my work-around.)
Step One: Have the Crazy Dream
Your Crazy Dream may not have hit you yet, or it may have been simmering in the background for years. Do you want to run your own business, write a book, sail around the world, go back to school, get a divorce, adopt a kid, run a marathon, start a blog, change careers? Got it? No? Don’t worry. Elizabeth Gilbert says curiosity is as valuable as passion, so read up on what she says about curiosity. You may yet stumble onto your Crazy Dream.
Our crazy sailing dream was originally hatched on vacation in 2000 in Key West on a sunset sail. We were watching this guy, only a few years older than we were at the time, kicked back in his flowery shirt, steering the boat with his bare feet, driving a bunch of drunks around the bight for couple hours. We looked at him, we looked at each other and asked, “how do you get THAT job?”
Then, we promptly ignored it. Pushed it away. Decided it was too weird. Cowered back under our bushel. And went back to our daily grind. But, the Crazy Dream seed was planted.
Step Two: The Wake-Up Call(s)
Ring, Ring! “Hello?”
“Hello, Mrs. Tijerina. This is your 2008 wake up call, Graduation Blues. Have a great day!”
“Ummm. Thank you? You too?” Click.
Ring, Ring! “Hello?”
“Hello, Mrs. Tijerina. This is your 2009 wake up call, Depression. Have a great day!”
Cries hot tears. “Thank you.” Click.
Ring, Ring! “Hello?”
“Hello, Mr. Tijerina. This is your 2011 wake up call, Migraine, posing as a near death experience. Have a great day!”
Rolls over in hospital bed. “Thank you.” Click.
Ring, Ring! “Hello?”
“Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Tijerina. This is your 2013 wake up call, Heartache. Have a great day!”
Slams the phone down. “Eff you.” Click.
Ring, Ring! “Hello?”
“Hello, Mrs. Tijerina. This is your 2015 wake up call, Chronic Job Dissatisfaction. Have a great day!”
“I know, I know. I’m going!” Click.
See? You get multiple wake up calls. But, if you don’t start making changes, don’t be surprised if The Powers That Be stop calling on the phone and break out the 2 x 4s. Now, I ain’t yo’ momma, but I’ll give you this piece of advice: WAKE UP! Your dissatisfaction IS your wake-up call. Being bored to tears at your job IS your wake-up call. Your depression IS your wake-up call. And, damn it, if you don’t change something about your life when these symptoms are small, you will end up with major health problems due to chronic stress. Yes, Virginia, heart disease and cancer are real! There are consequences to chronic stress, depression and self-medication from these problems.
Step Three: Stop Self-Medicating So You Can Light Your Fuse
You probably know what some common self-medication techniques are. Some of my favorite self-medication things are: I’m bored, so I need a snack; I’m stressed, so I need a cigarette; I’m lonely, so I need a TV program; I’m angry, so I need a drink; I’m self-loathing, so I need a fuck (sorry, Dad asked me not to cuss so much); I’m depressed, so I need an illicit drug. So many options to self-medicate! So little time!
But, here’s the thing. You only get a pass on medication if a doctor prescribed it to you. Apart from that, I am going to challenge you to stop the self-medicating and lean into the discomfort. Yep, you heard that right. Allow yourself to be uncomfortable. Numbing the discomfort with food, sex, TV, shopping, drugs, alcohol, or whatever your favorite escape button is, is dousing your fuse. Become curious friends with your “quiet desperation”. Ask it what it wants! “What do you want, little disgruntled voice? What do you want from me? What do you need me to do?” You might be downright shocked at the answer you get!
Every weekend you pour a glass of wine to ward off the Sunday Night Dread is drowning your fuse. Every time you find solace from boredom in food or sex cuts off an opportunity for you to create. Let yourself get itchy. Let yourself want to pull down your cubicle walls in a rage against the machine. Because, that’s what it takes to change your life drastically. Or, it will take a heart attack. Or a cancer scare. When you do finally buck your life off, will it be because that’s what you chose, or because that’s what you were forced to do?
Step Four: Protect the Fuse
On top of stopping the self-medication of the physical symptoms of discomfort, get rid of anything and everything outside yourself that could douse it.
- As a former news junkie, I can promise you this is a life-changing piece of the puzzle: Stop watching the news. Stop following political or news organizations on social media. Unsubscribe from those email lists. EVEN IF THEY AGREE WITH YOUR WORLDVIEW. Quit listening to talk radio that only serves to raise your blood pressure. Commit to a news fast to protect your fire for your dream.
- Stop hanging around with naysayers, worriers, and people that would sabotage your dream with their “good intentions” and doubtful eyebrows. Not only will they pour water on your fuse, they’ll grind it out with their heel, cut it with sharp insults and make you feel like you are powerless to relight it. Stay away from these energy vampires!
- Meditate. Yeah, yeah. You think it’s too woo-woo, but just you wait until that monkey mind of yours wastes 30 years of your life in a cubicle when you could’ve been sailing around the world. It will spin you around and make you doubt yourself, make you afraid, and “what-if” you to death! You must learn how to put a bridle on that bucking horse if it’s going to take you anywhere. Meditate. Daily.
Look, you only get two modes of being in this life: fear or growth. Physiologically, both processes cannot exist in the mind/body at the same time. You must pick one or the other when you have that luxury, e.g., when you are not being chased by a lion. I know enough to know that if your brain sees the world as a fearful place, it will collude with your ego to keep you at home, in your “safe” place. You’ll have to convince the brain and the ego you won’t diiieee!!! if you do your Crazy Dream. (Egos are so over-dramatic about everything. They take everything so seriously).
Step Five: Reprogramming the Brain to Accept the Risk
If you need a new hobby to replace your news, social media, or radio addiction, here ya go: research Positive Psychology. Positive Psychology and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy are the keys to the kingdom. If you want my personal path, here goes:
- I found blogs and read (and listened to) books written by people that are doing what I wanted to do. In the last 18 months leading up to our move to the boat, you could always find me listening to books on Audible at my desk (I had a very isolated job). Even though I was only using part of my brain to absorb the information, it was doing its work to reprogram my brain. It helped my brain get over the, “It’s too hard,” or “It’s impossible”. I slowly learned that if other people can do it, so can I! See, ego? They didn’t die when they quit their jobs! No need to be so fearful!
- I also read or listened to audio books about positive psychology. This helped me unlearn the “learned helplessness” that fueled my participation in the rat race. Positive Psychology put words on the gut feeling that no, my life was not going the way I wanted, but that I also didn’t have to lay down and accept it that way. Learned helplessness is our default many times just because we tend to do what we “should” do with a side of despondency. Here’s what I have to say about that now, “fffppffftttt.”
- Intention is everything. Get a mantra. Make a dream board. Plan your escape. Use your words. They are powerful. Set your intention to do this Crazy Dream every night before you go to sleep, and program your subconscious mind to help you. Each night, just think to yourself: I am a sailor. I am a cruiser. I love my life as a world ocean traveler (entrepreneur, blogger, divorcee, chef, etc.). You can even use your smart phone to record a guided meditation you can listen to each night about your intention before you go to sleep!
- Okay, I also went to therapy. Twice.
Step Six: Pay Attention to What is Offered (and Let Go of What is Removed)
You thought meditation was too woo-woo? Well, I’m about to lay another one on you. Synchronicity. Dude, you are not The Madonna. Angels are not going to sit you down for a chat about your purpose in life. The only way The Divine, God, The Universe, Primordial Wisdom has to communicate with you is with synchronicity. Serendipity. Providence. Unexpected Luck. You have to pay attention.
It’s weird and it takes a huge amount of courage, I am not going to lie. But, if you have someone offer you a work-from-home job that makes you excited. Guess what you should do? That’s right! Take it! Even if it’s kicking off your imposter syndrome. Even if you don’t feel qualified! You take it!
If you get offered a sales job that has the tiniest chance to introduce you to the field you are interested in and it makes you feel excited, you take it!
The big key is: it needs to make you feel excited. If you feel excited, you’re on the right path. Keep going! And, then take the next offer, and the next one.
And, for all that is holy. Let go of people, jobs, and relationships that either walk out of your life or kick you out of theirs. These are all opportunities for wake-up calls. Use them!
Man, this was a long post. Next week, I’ll visit the steps we took to procure the boat we currently have! Happy New Year, everyone!