Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fluffy Flufferton

Though his formal name is Floyd, he goes by many others.  My dog is also known as Floydy Floyderton, Squishy Butt, Mo Fo and (my favorite) Fluffy Flufferton.  I love my dog.  Fourteen years ago, my husband and I fell in love with puppy in a pen at the St. Augustine Humane Society.  We named him Floyd and he wears a pink collar (yes, he's named after the band).  What joy he has brought to my life.  Floyd is my family - he is a gift from God. 

Floyd has taught me how to be a good mother.  He's shown me the power of unconditional love.  He is patient, compassionate, protective, funny and observant.  We love the same things:  cheese, the beach, watermelon and camping.  When my husband or I are sick, Floyd stays up at night and watches over us.  He lays his head in my lap when I am sad and let's me cry into his fur.  We adopted Floyd six months after we met - he has been a part of us almost as long as there has been an "us". I am so grateful that God brought him into our lives.  He makes me very happy and I can't imagine my life without him.      

Floyd is self-conscious.  If he is dirty, he will let us know that he wants a bath.  Really, he does - he walks into the bathroom and sniffs his shampoo bottle.  He's mastered the puppy dog look.  He can give you a look that will make your heart melt.  Floyd protects us from strangers, people who wear boots and/or hats, mean dogs and delivery people.  He also likes to watch the grill to make sure that squirrels don't steal our steaks.

One of my most favorite things about Floyd:  he absolutely loves cows.  He doesn't care about horses, only cows.  When driving by open fields, he looks out the window hoping to see a cow.  If we yell out "cow," he excitedly goes to the car window and wags his tail.  If we call out "horse" he doesn't even move.  Like I said, he likes cheese.  Our theory about the whole cow thing:  Floyd knows that cheese comes from cows.  He is my family and I love Fluffy Flufferton so very much.  Have you adopted a pet lately?  It will enrich your life in ways you didn't think possible.  Save a life!  Rescue a pet!   

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Beautiful Afternoon

A couple of days ago, my cousin Stephen came to visit.  He's recently completed his duty with the Marine Corps after serving eight years.  When I'm around him I am more appreciative of the meaning of family.  Even as I am writing, it is difficult not to cry.  I am just so full of love for Stephen and I feel so proud of him.  I'm proud of his heroism, courage, strength, compassion and openness. 

My husband wanted to introduce Stephen to a friend of ours, Jim.  He is 93 years old and served in the 101st airborne during World War II.  Spending the afternoon with my cousin and Jim was an experience that I will hold in my heart forever.  Though both men served in completely different wars, they had a very special connection with each other.  It was amazing to see Stephen try to verbalize his feelings about being in the military and Jim knowing exactly what he was trying to say.  They both understood each other and both soldiers appreciated the other in a way I will never fully grasp.

That afternoon, it was as if both men needed the other. Stephen needed Jim to show him that one can find peace and normalcy after years in the military and Jim needed Stephen to remember how it feels to be strong and proud.  As I reflect on that afternoon, I find myself feeling very emotional.  I am filled with love.  Love for my cousin, love for those who fought and died in wars before my time, love for my dad who served in Vietnam but never talked about it, love for a childhood friend who died in Afghanistan, love for all of the soldiers who continue to risk their lives for our freedom and love for my country.  Spending the afternoon with these two veterans was unexpected but extremely special.  It turned out to be a very beautiful afternoon.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hello, Mr. Fear

Gosh, I haven't seen you in a while.  I think that the last time I saw you, I was in grad school and dealing with issues such as competency, finding balance, writing 20 page papers after I had worked all day, lacking energy for three long years and a whole lot of stress.  Now that I'm thinking of changing my life again - you show up.  You definitely know how to crap on my parade.  I was all excited about embracing my dream of being free and living on a boat so I start reading about becoming a live aboard and who shows up?  You. 

I've been reading this book that I actually purchased over a year ago - The Essentials of Living Aboard a Boat by Mark Nicholas.  The author presents a very holistic view of the lifestyle and has been helping me prepare.  I'm learning about seacocks, anchoring, the U.S. Coast Guard, sewage, boat safety and sanitation, among other things.  Now that I am cramming my head with all of this brand new information - the only natural thing for me to do is get a visit from good old Mr. Fear.  Thanks, you freaking asshole. 

I am filled with anxiety about giving up my privacy as a liveaboard and the search and seizure laws that will apply to me.  I am also afraid of propane leaks, carbon monoxide poisoning, seacocks not turned in the right direction, the fact that I'm not sure what a through-hull is, sinking, mildew and learning how to navigate.  What happens if our engine quits?  I don't know how to use a radio.  Is everyone on the same channel?  Don't even get me started on the whole sewage issue.  Discharge and non-discharge zones, pump out services, macerators.  How the hell am I supposed to know what to do?  I just figured that living on a boat would sort of be like camping.  When your black and grey water tanks are full - you go dump them.   

You visit me at 3:30 in the morning, wake me up from a deep sleep and try to get me to change my mind.  Well, have you forgotten that I loathe being told what to do?  Screw you.  I am going to use your unwanted visit to become an expert boater and safe liveaboard.  I'm warning you to get the hell out of my life.  If you try to wiggle your way into my life again, I am going to kick you in the keester.  Then, I will meditate on all of the reasons why I want to change my lifestyle:         

  • freedom from being tied down
  • enjoying a brand new experience with my husband and dog
  • less clutter
  • fresh air and lots of sunshine
  • having no choice but to simplify
  • cheap waterfront property
  • being able to change my surroundings whenever I want
  • the purity of water 
  • because I am afraid and I never want to regret not doing something because of fear
  • life is short - why not?

    Tuesday, July 19, 2011

    The Art of Simplifying: The First Step

    The very first step my husband and I have taken in simplifying our lives and cutting down expenses has been to get rid of our cell phone service.  We were paying over $100 per month and it wasn't necessary.  Neither my husband nor I use the web on our phones even though they had the capability.  All we want to do is talk and text. 

    So, we terminated service with our cell carrier.  Then, we purchased a Magic Jack and bought a $10 home phone.  We also bought new cell phones ($40 each) and pre-paid phone cards.  Our new home phone service will cost us $20 per year and our new cell service is estimated to cost $40 per month for both phones.  This is a total savings of $820 per year (minus the initial start up costs of new phones & the Magic Jack).  Wow, I can totally think of better things to do with $820 than spend it on phone service.  In five years, we will have saved $4100 and we aren't sacrificing anything.  This was a very easy first step. 

    Monday, July 18, 2011

    The Art of Simplifying: Motivation

    My husband and I have started taking steps toward simplifying our lives.  Our motivation:  to be free from the the things that clutter our lives and our minds.  Though I've been blogging for only a a year or so, I still consider myself very new to this world.  As I search for like-minded people, creative individuals and those who want to embrace the simple things, I am amazed at how many beautiful writers there are out there.  Everyone is so inspiring. 

    I thought that I'd share my adventure.  I don't know exactly how to go about this - simplifying - but maybe by sharing some of my tips, it will motivate others to do the same thing.  Or, maybe the process of writing and sharing will just inspire me to not give up when I am feeling discouraged.

    My husband, my dog and I live in a four bedroom house.  We have a large den in addition to our living room, a dining room that we don't use and a really big yard.  I find this a bit ridiculous.  Though, what really gets to me is all of the little stuff.  Things shoved in drawers and cabinets, closets that are full of stuff, archives of paperwork - it all makes me feel claustrophobic.  I am really looking forward to freeing myself  and simplifying my life.  Let the journey begin.

    Saturday, July 16, 2011

    A New Path

    When I started this blog, my intention was to write about my journey in becoming a "live aboard".  It has evolved into whatever it is and I haven't gotten very far in regards to my dream of living on a boat.  I guess that there are short journeys and long ones - this is a long one.  I thought I'd summarize my journey thus far:

    February 2010 - My husband & I attend a boat show in San Diego and get the urge.  We fell in love with a 36 foot catamaran.

    April 2010 - We need a change but we can't quite figure out what needs to happen.  So, we start looking into buying a boat and moving to a marina. 

    May 2010 - Living aboard a boat at a marina in San Diego isn't as easy as I thought it would be.  The wait list for a live aboard permit is very long (almost 2 years at some marinas).  Things aren't working out as expected.  In discussing our future, my husband & I realize that we don't want to live in California.  It isn't home.  We know where home is and, after a very easy conversation, we decide to move back to Florida.  I give my notice at work and we start packing.

    June 2010 - I leave my job, we move out of our beach bungalow, sell our beautifully renovated 1957 camper (which was very sad) and we head back to Florida.  We drove both of our vehicles so I had to drive across country myself and couldn't sleep in the passenger seat like I would have preferred.  We get back home, it takes me a week or so to settle in, I start a new job and we learn to become Floridians again.

    January 2011 - We buy another camper and start camping again.  I had forgotten how much I love being in nature.  My husband & I camped in Salt Springs and swam in the springs - the water is 72 degrees all year long and very therapeutic.  Spending time in nature reminds us that we want to live a simple life, we want to be in nature and on the water.

    May 2011 - My husband bought a Jon boat.  It was the ugliest boat I ever saw (it actually was painted with camouflage paint).  We fixed it up and painted it a bright water blue.  One weekend, we motored over to a private beach, beached our boat, set up our colorful chairs, swam in the beautiful teal water and fished from the shore.  It was wonderful and that day the urge to live on a boat started creeping its way back into our lives again. 

    June 2011- We realize that we need to start minimalizing our lives.  Even if we never live on a boat, we still want to live a simple life.  I don't want my life to be cluttered with stuff that I don't need or things that don't matter.  Though my husband & I have sold our households twice - we still have a hard time getting rid of little things.  I am very cognizant about simplifying and minimalizing - I start thinking about the direction I want my life to be headed.

    Today, July 16, 2011 - We actually view a boat.  It isn't the catamaran that I have been dreaming of but, to be honest, we just cannot afford one right now.  We look at a houseboat.  It is a 1970 Nautaline and it is 43 feet in length.  It needs a lot, a lot, a lot of work.  However, being on the boat has really sparked our interest and I feel like we are headed down a path toward becoming a live aboard couple.  I'm not sure if this is the boat for us - we are still thinking about it.  Can we take on a project like this?  It will take a few months and thousands of dollars just to make it livable.  It'll take even more time and more money to completely renovate it.  It would be nice to live on a 2-bedroom and 4-patio boat, though.  Not only would boat living force us to simplify our lives but we would also be on the water (which feels very natural to both my husband & I) and we would significantly reduce our monthly expenses (I've been calculating & we could actually reduce our expenses by almost half).  Who knows what will happen?  The possibilities are endless.

    Wednesday, July 6, 2011


    What's happening in America?  I'm not one to watch a lot of news or TV shows.  Literally, I get 7 channels and I have an antenna that sits on my windowsill.  Other than a short addiction to "So You Think You Can Dance," I never watch reality TV.  Recently, there has been a plethora of stories on TV that have just blown my mind:  an advertisement for a new show called "Dance Moms", a pet shop releasing an official statement that they will no longer allow people to purchase a puppy when drunk, finding out that Sonic and Burger King are selling alcohol, hearing about a 12 year old boy beating his toddler brother to death. . . I'm in shock and I'm really scared.

    When did it become accepted to yell at children and push them until they cry?  What happens to the little girl whose mother tells her she's fat at eight years old?  Would someone actually sell a puppy to a drunk person?  What would that transaction look like?  Not only does most of America eat too much greasy processed food but now we are going to serve them a beer with that dinner?  A Whopper and a beer should be saved for those very special occasions when we are in Vegas.  What really happened to make a tween kill his brother?  Where were their parents?

    I don't understand any of this.  I can debate why we might be where we are.  I can analyze situations from different perspectives and look at opposing sides.  However, somewhere deep inside me I am truly flabbergasted.  Where are our morals?  What happened to human values?  After hearing about a horrible rape of a baby, I found myself praying to God.  I asked him to keep all children safe and when I realized how juvenile my prayer was, I started to get very angry with Him.  I just don't understand how we can hurt each other so horribly.  It just isn't right.  It occurred to me that He is probably just as sad as I am.  It isn't Him doing any of this.  It is us.         

    I am a social worker and as jaded as I am, I still want to save the world.  I wish that all children are loved and respected, the mentally ill and substance-addicted receive the treatment that they need, homeless individuals and families find shelter, the unhappy find happiness, animals are treated with compassion, no one ever has to feel lonely and people learn to embrace the important things in life.