Thursday, October 29, 2015

Use(less?)(ful?) information abounds

The other day my mom and I were sitting side by side on the couch, each with our own computer in our lap, pinning. I know, real quality time. I chortled and showed her a pin that popped up on my page: how to chop up a cauliflower. Her response: who goes to the effort to take photos and write a blog post on how to chop up a cauliflower? Just get out your knife and start chopping!

That got me to thinking about how much totally useless information abounds on the internet. We're filling our heads with junk. Factoids, fake factoids, rumors, urban legends, inconsequential stuff. We over-parent, over-share, over-think. Yet, at the same time... how exactly do I chop up a cauliflower? How do I shred cabbage without a food processor? I'd better do a quick check online before I make the same coleslaw that I've made for years, because maybe someone has a better way.

And maybe someone does have a better way. That's when the internet gets good. Push past all the crap, all the distractions, and we get something amazing: information and community. Real, actual, legitimate information abounds on the internet, and the community that writes it, reads it, and shares it is awesome.

I read a lot of blogs and I often think about how well documented our world is now. We take thousands of pictures of our kids, teenagers take thousands of themselves, and how many cute cat videos are there online? We're constantly snapping away and sharing the big and little details of our lives. What will this look like in 100 years? Will we look at them in 100 years? Will we still be documenting in 100 years? Here's an opinion piece where the author asks us to stop using the internet. Heck no!

But here's the thing, no matter uselessness of all the information out there, I love my online communities. I'm in a local mom's group where we trade info on daycares and pediatricians; I'm in a global mom's group where we find and give support and advice; I'm in group for women sailors where we can ask boating questions and give advice in a judgment-free zone (turns out that the sailing world is pretty macho and there are a lot of know-it-alls out there); I'm in a sewing on boats group where we share our projects and get ideas about, yes, sewing for our boats. Etc.

The world is wide open and the internet gives us the space to find people with common interests and share and learn from each other. So, yeah, there is a whole bunch of crap online. And, yeah, I spend way too much time reading the junk when I could be reading an actual book (although I try my hardest to stay away from those online quizzes). But my love affair with the internet is wide and deep and I am not embarrassed about the amount of time I spend tapping away on Facebook and other websites. I love my online community!

(Although I'd be negligent to forget to add that the internet is a fabulous vehicle for my own procrastination.)
image courtesy of ChurchMag

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Breaking out of the mold

Compelling street art from Philadelphia
image courtesy of The
I think it can be safely said that I've never really fit into any mold. Quitting a lucrative and challenging career to live as a sailing bum in the Caribbean, living on a boat, raising kids on a boat, no 401k or life insurance to speak of - I've done it a little differently than my peers.

Yet, at the same time, it's so similar. My husband works full-time, I stay at home with the girls. We have kids. We go grocery shopping. Two cars. Bedtime at 7:30 (for the kids, not us!...although, some evenings...). On a day to day basis, my life veers more toward the hum drum than the unconventional lifestyle that it looks on the surface.

In brief
I want: an unconventional, nontraditional, exciting, adventurous, travel-filled, challenging life that pushes me out of my comfort zone and gives us lots of family time.
I currently have: a pretty staid suburban life. (Albeit aboard a boat, but, still. The boat doesn't go anywhere.)
What we're working toward: a nomadic life, based on family time and free time. 

To further complicate, I was raised and schooled to be a feminist. I struggle on a daily basis against this 1950s lifestyle that we've created for our kids. If I lived in a bubble, in a vacuum, where I wasn't influenced by societal norms and expectations, I'd be totally fine to sit back and say: this is what's working for our family, right now. It will change, it will evolve, but, right now, it's working for us.

But we don't live in a bubble. And I know our kids are happy and living a good life, and, generally, I'm happy and living a good life. But then I come across a study that says that kids of working moms are more successful later in life; that kids that are raised in families where household work is split evenly are more likely to be engaged fathers and men (moot point, I guess, for us since we have two girls, but, still).

The pressure
So I sit here, knowing that, like it has been for the past six years, our current set-up is transitory. We'll be doing something different, and then doing something different again. So I settle in to today, knowing that today is good. I'm looking big picture. Think 5-10 years big picture...then I get excited. The minute I can release myself from the pressures of the mold; once I know that, yes, I will be able to break out of that mold, my mind is at ease and I am so excited for that future to come.

It's amazing to me how much influence our peers and society has on our fundamental beliefs. I feel like I am pretty strong and certain in how I feel and what I am doing, but, yikes, the minute I get too settled in our (floating) suburban lifestyle, I start freaking out. Must set goals, must make plans, must do more. 

The pressure to do more; the pressure to compete; the pressure to measure up and reach certain goals = it's not just adolescents that feel peer pressure.

I read a great article by Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love and Committed to name two of her books), that urged women to just "lighten up." You're good enough, you're doing enough, just chill out and enjoy life. I really struggle with that and I can spin myself in circles and wrap myself up in endless arguments about what I want to be doing, what I am doing, what I should be doing. When, really, I should just lighten up.

Sunrise, at anchor off Amelia Island.

(And the truth that I know: when I am out on the water, on a sailboat. I am happy. Satisfied. Content. Fulfilled Some fundamentals never change. I've known it for 12 years: all I need is a sailboat.)