Smooth Sailing

Imagine you are a boat, sailing on the waters of life. The wind is sweet, the sails are set, the course decided. You are almost floating through life. What do you do? Do you relax, put your feet up in the air, take a siesta while the sun warms you and the breeze cools you?

Or do you stay in the captain cabin making plans, repairing little things here and there, working non-stop to get your boat in the best possible shape it can be?

storm

storm

If you feel more like the top one - the relaxer, you use just the energy you need to get by. It can feel great to relax and save your energy and rest, not think ahead. No shame there! But when you notice a little leak, or something to improve, you can use all that energy you saved and invest it in your boat.

Okay - let's leave the metaphor for a moment: the boat is you and how you are sailing is the ease in your life. If you are a relaxer, you will have a really quiet week and use that week to watch netflix, lie on your bed and do nothing. You might choose the version of laying in the garden and being in the sun, or going out and out and out with people you like. Is that a problem- no. But maybe there is a book you have been wanting to read, or a project you want to start, or a grandma you haven't called in a while. Maybe there is a relationship issue that keeps simmering, maybe you have been feeling tired. Maybe you should go to the doctor.

Sometimes space opens up in our lives and we barge in to chill. We think now is the time to let go and we will deal with the world when we need to. And then the tide changes and a period with more stress rolls in (if we go back to the metaphor; strom is coming): deadlines, work, drama. And you praise yourself lucky you relaxed while you still could, you start looking forward to the next time you will be able to and you plan a vacation.

Maybe you identify more with the second one - the worker: when the storm eases you finally have time to do it all. You fine-tune your to do list and you get to work. You fix all the leakes and you fix leaks that are not even there yet. You make up scenario's in your head that will never happen. You catch so much fish to eat that you won't even be able to keep it fresh. You want to be prepared for everything.

But then when the storm comes, you are so freaking tired you lose perspective on what needs to happen, so in the end it did not even matter. When the sky clears, you see the new leaks and you throw yourself into getting your boat back to perfection to make up for the loss of time.

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You do not have to pick one of the two. I used to be a worker. Never stop. Untill I could not take it anymore and I turned into the opposite, relax and ignore became the motto. I will deal with it later. The delayer/procrasitinater and the perfectionist/overworker have the same problem: a mismanagement of energy. They move from crisis to crisis and whatever they do in between does not serve them. Working without relaxing will leave you depleated. Relaxing without working will keep you where you are, in a cycle of up and down.

But there is a third option of being: the relaxed captain. Do not take your responsibility for your boatlife lightly, but do not take your energy for granted.

Being relaxed and taking time to take care of you while you are on this wild ride of life, allows you to stay connected to you. You are on the boat and you feel the sun, the wind, you see the dolphings. You know what the wood feels like and you pay attention to the colors around you. You actually really care about the boat, and how it gives you a means to cross the sea. This connection will make sure you are awake, when the storm comes you can feel your heart, you can keep your perspective and you can make intuitive choices that keep your boat sailing. You keep your own energy high, your self nourished and replenished at all times, so in crises you actually have a well to tap into without running out. You have a lot of yourself to give, you show up for the task.

But because you are not just relaxed, but also the captain: you also do the work. You notice where your boat needs work. Actual work, not just work to keep busy. You see where you are losing energy, maybe some water keeps coming in in the same place. You have heard you can upgrade the way you eat on the boat or there is a new type of sails on the market. You do the work to repair, and you do the work to improve. The work, in this case, does not come from a place of fear but from a place of responsibility. Of pride in what you do.

A relaxed captain is both taking ownership of his ship and enjoying the ride. Your boat learns to take the crisis, it takes a hit but it does not go down. It recuperates quicker and quicker because the captain is on top of his game, and because of that there is more time to enjoy, more ease in the journey, more time to swim with dolohins. When the strom comes, the captain does not hold his breath, he does not need to fear because he is ready, and he recognizes what the storm is here to teach. He learns the lesson and goes with it. The storm becomes a challenge, not a disaster, a way for him to optimize his art, to feel the ocean in his soul.

Moving from crisis to crisis turns is replaced by sustainable maintaincance. It might not be the sexiest term, but that is where it is at. True peace, true succes comes not just from the big big moments, but from the work you do in between. 

So check in with your boat: with your life. How are the waters, smooth or stormy? If they are stormy, chances are you just need to keep doing what you are doing - now is survival mode, you hold on.

But when the water is smooth and your sail is set and you have space: ask yourself what is needed.

Where am I losing energy now? What is slowing down my optimal performance? What baggage on the boat slows me down? What makes me vulnerable in a crises? Have a look at your habits, your routines, your relationships, your money spending, eating and drinking and be honest. Have a look at your heart, your mind and your body. Be the captain and take ownership of your ship. Keep what you need and what feels good (not everything needs to be useful).

Then see how you can improve? What skill did you notice you lack? What do you like about other ships that you don't have? What dreams do you hold for your boat that you never start to make reality? Maybe you always wanted a bright orange boat: buy the damn paint and start painting.

Using the time in between hits to upgrade your energy and your life in a way that serves you, will make the storms easier to handle.

You are a boat, sailing on the waters of life. The wind is sweet, the sails are set, the course decided. You do not need to desperately relax, while being nervous for how long it will last. No, you have confidence in your power to keep the ship going even when it gets tough. The smootheness of your ride does not just depend on the water, it depends on you and you are up for the task.

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