Cast Away

 

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Mark Twain

Have you ever felt a deep longing to do something, but fear held you back?

I’ve always wanted to live a simple life on a beautiful tropical island. I tried it once with my husband when we were young. We loved it so much that I wanted to try it again with our kids. I wanted to immerse them in the peace and beauty of nature, to nurture an appreciation for the little things in life. That was my dream.

Then the Great Recession hit. It was a time of stress and sickness, a time of loss. But somewhere deep inside me a glimmer of light flickered in the form of a feeling, a craving, a question:

Why can’t we live our dreams?

The more I thought about it, the lighter I felt. Then it hit me…

We’d already sold our house and most of our possessions. Why not Go with the Flow? Why not sell it all?

Why not sell it all and live our tropical island dream with the kids?

But I had to sell the idea to my pragmatic husband first. I needed a pitch, an angle, a hook. Hmmm… What could it be? What was my hook?

Hook. That was it! Fishing was my hook.

You see my husband, Brian, is an obsessed saltwater fly fisherman. For him, casting a fly to a tailing bonefish on a shimmering, tropical flat is a potent stress buster, a powerful form of meditation.

I had my hook. Now all I had to do was cast out my line. The conversation went something like this…

“Bri-an,”

“Yes?”

“I was thinking…”

“Oh no.”

Nervous chuckle.

“How would you like to live in a place where you could fish for bonefish every day?”

“There are no bonefish here.”

“Yes, I know.” Pause. “But what if we lived in a place where there are bonefish? Somewhere hot and tropical with beautiful, crystal-clear flats?”

“We can’t afford it.”

“But what if I have a way to afford it? “

Direct eye contact.

“Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…” I could almost hear the reel scream.

That was the short version of my pitch. Of course there were many other conversations, but generally the whole process was easier than I thought.

Instantly the energy shifted. Instead of serious resignation and a sense of defeat, we felt an almost child-like excitement. A spark ignited. The spark of adventure.

Three months later we packed eight bags, swapped our cell phones for fly rods and moved to a tiny, tropical island in the Bahamas. It was then that I realized:

Loss can lead to living your dreams.

Change your attitude. Change your life.

So if you really crave something, cast away and see if you can catch it. Don’t spend your life wondering… what if? Don’t let regret rule.

You really can live your dreams. It’s all up to you.

Live light and live happy.

Karen

Strip Away Stuff

Enough is a feast.

Buddhist Proverb

Ever thought you need more storage space or a bigger house so you can organize all your stuff?

You are not alone. But I learned through experience that buying more space is not the answer.

It all started one rainy weekend at home. My husband decided to risk his life and venture into the dark depths of our junk-crammed storage closet looking for a forgotten tax file. Stretching up high to an overloaded shelf he pulled on a box.

Thwack!

A plastic singing bass slapped him in the face.

“We need more storage space! We need more shelves!” he screamed.

Soon we had to sell that house, and our real estate agent spoke those dreaded four words, “You need to…” Oh no. Wait for it. “You need to… declutter.

Aaaargh! So much stuff. So little time.

Digging through all our possessions, I was shocked at how much junk we collected over the years. Expensive junk. What was I thinking? I hardly even used this stuff. Then it hit me like a runaway U-Haul.

We don’t need more storage. We need less stuff.

So we had a garage sale. We sold a jumble of ugly, old furniture teetering in the garden shed. Et voila! We reclaimed an entire outdoor room of storage space. We recycled magazines, and finally I could dust under the coffee table. We gave away clothes. We donated books.

Giving felt great. It created space. And whenever I wondered who would most need the things we wanted to give away, the perfect person would magically show up.

Like my neighbor, Bettina.

A year earlier she lost her only child to a brain tumour; her precious, luminous ten year-old daughter. After a year of unimaginable grief, I recently heard that Bettina and her husband were in the process of adopting twin toddler daughters. Maybe they need some toys, I thought, as I tripped over a Fisher Price farmyard pig. I called her over.

Bettina took one look at the sea of puzzles, princess toys, ponies, and girly paraphernalia. “Thank you so much,” she sobbed. And she pulled me into a bear hug.

I was shocked. I felt so unworthy. To me this was stuff the kids no longer cared about. Closet cloggers. To Bettina it was hope; hope of a home filled once more with the laughter of a child. Hope that grief would loosen its grip. Hope of happiness.

I realized that for Bettina, accepting the toys was an act of great courage. It was her way of opening up her heart. Daring to love again. Embracing vulnerability.

“Thank you,” she said again, and her gratitude made me glow.

A simple act. A powerful reaction.

As we move through life, stuff can weigh us down. Assets can become liabilities: Extra stuff to stress about. Extra stuff to store.

Giving can free us. And it reminds us of who we really are.

We are not our possessions. We are not a big house with a granite kitchen, a media room, and a double-car garage. We are not a new car with leather seats and a wood dash. And no, we are not a plastic, singing bass. (Thank goodness).

We are not stuff.

We are love and light and joy.

Stripping away our stuff felt so good that we decided to keep going. We sold more stuff. We packed 8 bags and our fishing rods, and we moved to a tiny tropical island with our two kids and our geriatric cat.

Join us on our adventure as I share the pearls of wisdom I found along the way. I hope I can light a little spark in you and help you find your path to peace and joy.

Live light and live happy,

Karen