As we sat sunbathing on a little island in St Pete Florida 1997, we watched a trawler sail past us with the owners having dinner at a little white linen-draped table out back, complete with vase of flowers and a candle and I said to Shaun, “that’s what I want one day when we retire”. In that moment, our intention was set!
Our girls were 11 and 9 then and the years have passed, but we never forgot our dream for the future. I make vision boards (I write about mine with pics later on in this blog) and it really works for me. Putting your goals up visibly makes you act on them. Of course on my second board (I had completed all the goals on my first board and made the next) I have a picture of a trawler on it, just like the one we saw in 1997 as part of my long term goals.
One day, Shaun read a little book called Millionaire in Flip flops (by Sue Cooper), which he bought in Key West when we were there for me to run the marathon. The foreword begins with story of the Mexican fisherman and it was an AHA moment for him. This story is featured in our newspaper article on the blog too. Do yourself a favor and read about the fisherman...
Our retirement plan, was to pay off the house we were living in, have a condo in Tampa, a live-aboard trawler here and an apartment in Antibes, France. He came to the realization, while reading this invaluable little book, that we didn’t have to wait. We already owned a small condo on Tampa’s Bayshore and we had saved enough to be able to buy our boat during the years.
Our 30th anniversary was that November, 2015. After Key West we went to Cancun for a week to celebrate. With some free time between flying and lying on beautiful beaches, he made sure I read Sue’s book too. The story of the fisherman resonated with me immediately and I said WOW to Shaun, why haven’t I seen this for us before?! I honestly feel that we get so conditioned to live as expected. Get married, buy the house with the white picket fence (we did literally!) have 2 cars, have 2 and a half kids, a dog and work until you’re too old to pay for all this “stuff” and then retire when you’re probably too old to enjoy it! Makes no sense! At least not to us. He smiled wryly and never said a word more.
About a week or two later, Shaun said; Let’s go to lunch. I asked where and he said “never mind, its a surprise. Of course I loved that! We drove towards St Pete which is about 25 miles from us. I knew the boat show was on. I said to him (with a few choice words added) “If you’re taking me to the boat show for lunch I’m gonna be so mad at you. We cannot afford a boat yet. At least not the size I had in mind. (old thinking…house, mortgage, kids etc)
We had lunch at Cappy’s (in the marina) not in the boat show thank goodness, and he seemed very distracted while I chatted away as usual. After we ate, he hurriedly asked me to walk along the Pier. So weird, I thought. What on earth is going on with him? We held hands and when we reached the end of the pier, he turned me by the shoulders to face him.
“I love you so much and I want to spend more time with you than ever…We can retire tomorrow” he said. He was choked up and his voice was quivering. “did you rob a bank” I asked?! And how did I not know about this! We laughed and laughed and had tears in our eyes. “But how”, I said?? My clients, our girls, our house (my studio was at our home but separate from it) my furry babies? We walked across the grassy way to the other side of the marina and sat with our feet dangling over the edge. He said, “we give our house and furniture to the girls, we won’t need it anymore. We chatted over some of the ideas and details and within a couple of minutes, I said “YES, Let’s do it!” I loved the idea of giving to our girls while we are still with them, not once we are gone. Tammy was wanting to expand her little family and their house was too small for another nursery and so on. We had set Justine up in her little home too and my clients, whom I loved so much, are still my friends today, standing with us through this transition in our lives. It truly has been the most freeing and exhilarating feeling to follow though on your dreams and make them become a reality. What a gift! It was December 15th, 2015
We called the girls on the way back from our lunch and told them to both meet us at the house. My folks were staying in the condo at that time and I went to them immediately to tell them of our plan before seeing the girls. My father is a such a wise and wonderful man and when he speaks, I listen! And just like before, when we chose to move countries, he said “Do it!” “Don’t wait another day. It’s right for you and your family”
By the time we got home, our minds and hearts were set. As I opened the door, I distinctly remember thinking as I walked in and looked at the beautiful cabinet I had made with French doors, the gorgeous sofa and unusual decor… “don't need this, don’t need that, won’t miss that and so on. My minimalist lifestyle was unfolding before me and I was ready!
We excitedly told them of our plan and they were thrilled, for us and also for themselves! We worked out how our business would function with them as the main shareholders now, releasing us to be able to move around a travel at will. They both work for us, Tammy since her high school years and Justine too, after becoming a mommy. They are such a blessing and a joy to us and things had come full circle for us all.
We started, that night, to look for a boat. The first one I found, the very first one… was the trawler on my vision board! We were so excited…but it was in Canada and I truly wanted it. Outwardly, she was stunning and JUST what we both wanted. We negotiated the price that we needed and did all the inspections. She failed horribly and would have to have both motors replaced! Sadly, we had to move on. After a whirlwind trip around Florida, with co-incidences so many, we could write a book about it, we stumbled upon our Happy Wife. We bought her on Tammy’s birthday, May 18th 2016.
Shaun named her Happy Wife and our tender as Happy Life. He said, that I can choose any boat I want to live on the ocean with as long as I am on it with him! How sweet is that?! I couldn’t love him more. My only criteria was that it be a “home” on the water, not a built-in boat, which is why I have always loved the trawler style. It had to have a regular bed for us, no feet in a corner or heads under a bulkhead…and a tub. Well, finding a tub on a boat is no easy feat and when we saw how much work we had to do on the helm of ours, I suggested the clawfoot tub to replace all the rotted deck boxes etc. The yard work was completed in Ft Pierce while we were away in Europe. We worked on the interior of our boat for 7 weeks straight on our return. We completed exhausting 12 hour days before we could move on. That first night on board was September 19th 2016
My heart was in my throat as we lit the candle at OUR dining room table, complete with flowers, at the stern of our boat. We tearfully toasted, Happy Wife, Happy Life…which is our everyday toast now wherever we may be. We feel utterly and thoroughly blessed to be living this life today. We truly have achieved OUR American dream and reaching our goals is just the extra cherry on top!
Our journey from land to sea has taught us so very much…gratitude for things great and small, to live life to the fullest, to take life by the horns and go along for the ride, to act NOW, we always “think” we will have time “one day”.
Because we are not tied down (how’s that for a pun lol) we can travel and truly live our best life together. Living an "uncluttered" life is so fulfilling.
If you are reading this and thinking of making life changes, don't wait...just do it now!
This is our home now... :-)