After much thought about the cruising family aboard sailing vessel Rebel Heart and their loss this week. My heart aches for them while they are in need of love and support from the community and world around them. Whenever something tragic happens the media is there to point fingers and asses blame, even when they know nothing about the people involved. This family just lost their home and yet now they have to deal with negative press and everyone judging their actions. Mainstream media is heartless, twitter is ugly and Facebook rants. I can't help but think that we now live in a world devoid of compassion and full of haters.. One of the FaceBook posts that got my blood pumping was one where a lady thought all of the money that folks are giving to these poor people to help them rebuild their lives should be given to the Coast Guard! I wanted to ask her what made her an expert on life choices and parenting. So my mind raced with thoughts of my own life choices and situations my family has found themselves in in the past, situations where we had also lost everything and where we needed the help of Police and Fire Departments.
As a mother of five children who have been mostly raised aboard Wandering Dolphin, in the midst of our final preparations to leave Panama on our own voyage in the Pacific to Hawaii just days away, I started to look back on our life choices. We have made bold choices as a couple for our family over the last 25 years. Our story started in a simple one bedroom house with a white picket fence until our first born son Jimmy was born. Then we move up to a five bedroom house with the works (and a fence of course.) We had a jump start on the normal American nine-to-five life but one day we realized that living in that BOX was not for us. We wanted more.
Once we began to follow our dreams the world opened up. We experienced God's Grace and great adventure. Lives and not just our own were changed for the better and we continued to dream. Folks, there are choices everyday you live. Some are as simple as, "Will I drink water from a plastic bottle today or from the tap?" "Do I fly or take the train?" "Where do I want to live?" "Which way should I drive to work today?" Everyday is filled with choices and every one of those choices has consequences that you cannot know... some are good... some are tragic.
In our 26 years together, we have made plenty of choices. We have had great adventures, mountain highs and deep lows. You cannot plan for the unknown. Here is an example from our life.
We were relocating to Montana from Wyoming in 1993 to start a Boys home.. A gust of wind came off the mountain top, it hit our little 19 ft travel trailer and flipped our Ford Explorer. Everything we owned was in either that trailer or the Explorer. Our baby was in that car! Think of all the accidents just like that which end in tragedy! God Blessed us and no one was hurt but the car and trailer were destroyed. Can you imagine someone then saying to us, "Interstates are to dangerous! Only bad parents would take their Children on the Interstate!" or filling the media with condemnation saying, "What the hell where they thinking taking their children out there on that highway for that dangerous drive?"
"They should pay the EMT's for their time", "All donations should go to the people that helped in the rescue".
These are examples of what is being said to the family of Rebel Heart. It is unbelievable and it breaks my heart.
Later in our life we lived on a farm in Montana with all of our kids. Most of you would say that this would be a wonderful safe place to raise a family. It used to get to 45 below zero in the winter, with a wind chill it would be 70 below! If a kid walked out the door without a coat in the winter unobserved they would be dead in six-minutes! Safe? HA!
Later a house fire burned that place to the ground. NO lives were lost, but the entire house and our belongings and everything owned by our friends were suddenly gone.
What if you were us and after this fire you suddenly received unsupportive, even hateful mail even from those who you thought were your friends? Suddenly hate mail calling you bad parents hit you while you are recovering from this devastating loss?
The very post I referred to in the beginning was posted by a lady on a Facebook Page dedicated to lifting this family up and helping them out!
In our travels as a family over the last eight years I have been to places that are called "safe" and proper to raise your family. Many of these places have bars over the windows of every dwelling and high fences with barbwire on top of all of the schools. Murders happened everyday in the streets but if we told people we were buying a house there they would think it was great. I'm sorry, those are not the places I want to raise my children! My own father-in-law, who had spent his whole life in Wyoming, was distraught at the thought of our kids swimming off our boat in 30 feet of water for hours with no life jacket. In his world this sounded crazy but my children don't live in his world, they are sea people! My children can literally swim all day, laughing and playing like most kids play on a playground! Again, one person sees a perfect place and another calls it dangerous!
Just a few weeks ago in my home state of Washington there was a mudslide that took many lives And many rescue workers had to sort through the mess. My prayers go out to those who are hurting. Would you ever think of punishing those people because of where they choose to live, build a house and raise a family?
What about the families that took a family vacation in Thailand when the Tsunami hit. Was that poor parenting on their part?
I am thankful for the men and woman that risk their lives daily for me, the Military, the
Coast Guard, Firefighters, Police and my list goes on. They have made a life choice to be todays Heroes. Do we judge these folks because their profession is risky? Or do we pray to keep them safe daily? Do we encourage our children to play it safe or to admire and become one of these heroes?
As a parent my choices today will mold and add to my children's character. Some of us choose to live in the house in a neighborhood, a home on a countryside, an apartment in New York City, in a hut on an island or perhaps a boat traveling the water. My hope is to give my children the vision to dream, the courage to adventure and compassion for the people around them. Every parent wants to keep their children out of danger but locking them up in a house full of TV and Internet is, in my opinion, the real crime against the future.
So those of us on board Wandering Dolphin encourage all of you to dream, and to be courageous. Live your dream. Experience your adventure. Make your life count for something. Your dream will not be your neighbors dream, but just maybe you will inspire them to get out of their boring unhappy rut and to actually begin living.
We are FOREVER grateful to those who have helped our family heal and rebuild. My Heart and Prayers are now for the Family of Rebel Heart.
Liv'n Our Dream...About to journey out for 30+ days offshore with our kids, and a boat full of love to the brim.
S/V Wandering Dolphin