Sometimes it’s selfish. Sometimes it’s for self-defense.
I last posted on this blog about a year ago. I have not been much better with Heels and Tevas, a blog I share with a dear friend.
But I was active on Facebook, and wrote and responded to emails until a few months ago. Then, I went nearly completely silent on Facebook and only checked email every few weeks. It just happened and I didn’t know what to say about it.
So, I’ve been silent.
Yeah, I know what you are thinking, I’m not the silent type and EW would not say I’ve been exactly silent lately. But, I’ve certainly been quiet online where for years I’ve been verbose.
I’ve been so rarely on Facebook that dear friends and family have checked in to see if I’m O.K. I’ve practically ignored my personal email account and I’ve largely walked away from contact with SSCA (an organization I care about, that employed me for three years in a part-time job I mostly enjoyed.)
It’s been a hell of a year (well, eleven months at this point). And I was very much not silent during most of it. In fact, I reported, and asked for help, and expressed gratitude, and fear, and love, and terror, and fierce focus, and love, and gratitude, and frustration, and a bit of anger (at nothing really, but being angry then was normal, I think).
Should be footnote 1- Some of you reading this follow the blog but not Facebook and may not know that EW was diagnosed with cancer in November of 2018. He is fine. It was a strange year.
And so, earlier this summer, I went silent. Dark. Quiet. Under the radar. At least twice while we were cruising I wrote about not being in contact with friends and family---once while we were in the Bahamas in 2011, and again when we crossed the Atlantic in 2014. Those out of contact moments were not in my control.
This long 6 to 8 weeks (has it been more?) of relative silence was absolutely my choice. That does not mean I actually planned it, but I certainly continued it. I did not wake up one day and decide to leave Facebook for a while as friends and family have done. This wasn’t an announced break. I simply went silent. Kind of. For me. (Again, EW, would never call this a time of “silence”. He hasn’t had much silence since he met me. Poor man.)
So, here are the highlights that most folks not living nearby and not involved in my day-to-day life don’t know.
We Are Back Aboard the Boat
We moved back aboard the boat early in September and it has been by turns mildly frustrating and mostly wonderful. We are on a mooring at the St. Augustine Municipal Marina, and I have once again discovered that living-aboard is my preferred lifestyle. (That’s the wonderful part. That EW agrees, makes it more wonderful.)
The boat needed work before EW was diagnosed and no magic boat leprechauns with a pot of gold have repaired the boat in our absence. (Oh darn.) We moved off the boat before EW’s surgery and lived ashore for over 5 months---the longest we’ve been off La Luna for over 15 years. EW has probably 75-80% of his physical strength back and is learning to temper his activities so that he does not get overtired --- mostly. We take it one day and one week at a time.
He has completed a few projects, has plans for others, and we have some that may stump us. We have decided to give it time, do things as we can, and see how it goes. If his strength isn’t enough or the boat needs too much, we’ll move on to a plan “C” or “D”. But we have a stove, a small refrigerator, most of the comforts of home, a new dinghy motor and a reconditioned newish dinghy that is not pink, and we like living aboard. So we work and play and rest and repeat. He’s starting to play music again. Life is good.
Finally, a Great Full-time Job in St. Augustine
I have a new job and that transition certainly contributed to the silence. Earlier this summer, financial considerations at SSCA led us to a mutual and respectful parting of the ways. EW and I are still proud members of the organization and we will (soon) continue to volunteer. But my work there involved a lot of heart and a huge amount of Facebook time (and struggles). I did not know how to separate in a manner that took me from paid and involved to non-paid and helpful. So I disappeared. I’m not proud of that, but I have to believe that is what I needed to do for me.
Should be a Footnote 2- (An aside to SSCA members: I approve of most of the recent decisions the Board has made. We support them and the proposed by-law changes. They have had a thankless job for the past few years and have put in countless hours. My advice to fellow cruisers: Join or re-up and volunteer.)
I was extremely fortunate to have been recommended for a fantastic new writing job here in St. Augustine and was hired by www.visitstaugustine.com almost immediately after parting with SSCA. As you can imagine, with a few medical bills, and many boat projects, getting work was pretty important. I worked the new job three to five days a week while I kept my two-day-a-week office job at St. Augustine Shipyard through August. In fact, due to a co-worker’s planned vacation at the Shipyard and my new job, I ended up working 14 days straight at one point. And that further drove me away from communicating with all of you by Facebook and email. I now work in an office (on a Mac!) 8 hours a day, five days a week. That is both wonderful and something to get used to.
They say that new habits take 21 days to click, and after 21 days of not using Facebook and personal email very much, I then had a reluctance to go back. Still, I missed knowing what was happening. Who had a 1st or 75th birthday? Who got a new puppy? (Lots of new puppies in my circle. I love that.) Who sold a boat, renovated a house, created a brick porch, got a new job, lost a job, won a blue ribbon, got a horse, sold a house? Who had a milestone that I didn’t know about?
How Do You Break a New Habit?
This post has been rolling ‘round my brain for a couple of weeks. I knew that I’d have to write it and that I’d have to jump back on the connection wagon – email, Viber, Skype, and Facebook. Because I’m all about communication and connection. Because I started to feel disconnected, disrespectful, and ungrateful. Because there are people and organizations that I should and can help. Because that’s who I really am. I am not often silent.
What makes us walk away from something familiar? What motivates us to go back? What difference does it make? Many people have made a positive difference in my life and in EW’s. I want to be involved and connected and definitely not silent. So it’s time. It’s time to suck it up. Go through the emails. Read, respond, delete, file. Share and respond on Facebook. Listen. Learn. Help. Hug. Live. Because, while EW and I do very well with just the two of us, we do better when we are a part of something more.
I’m sincerely sorry I worried you, let you down, disappointed you, or made you feel less than important. That was wrong. I would hope that if such a time comes in the future I would recognize it sooner and be more upfront about backing away. But let’s not kid ourselves. I probably only have these few months of relative silence in me in this life. I am not the silent type. Now I just have to get back into the habit of reading, posting, responding, and assisting. I hope it takes less than 21 days.