Saturday, March 20, 2010

How did we get here?

There was recently a request for more information about where Shawn is and how she is doing. We recognize that there has not been much blogged about her recent individual adventures with Bikram’s Yoga. We keep meaning to, so why haven’t we? Well, it is not as easy to explain or as outwardly exciting as our sailing adventures. But to be honest, it is mostly that Shawn is a very private person and this has been largely a journey of self discovery. However, in an attempt to be more open about what she is going through, following is some background that brought us to where we are.

We started practicing Bikram’s Yoga while attending graduate school in Fort Collins, Colorado, in 2002 and immediately recognized that it benefited us both in many ways. Aside from the obvious physical benefits, Shawn practiced Bikram’s Yoga because it improved her chronically low self-esteem by empowering her to find peace in the present moment and improve her self awareness, about her life and her potential. When she turned thirty in April 2005, she realized she felt stagnant while working at Stillwater Sciences, a wonderful, but ultimately unsatisfying job. Shawn remained at work for fear of poverty, lack of approval, and societal expectation. Over the next several years she began to live more intentionally. She shifted from the well respected position scientifically testing rivers to working and living on them as a multi-day river guide and educator. This was a more emotionally fulfilling change, though less lucrative and rarely understood by others. During the remainder of each year, she practiced yoga daily and lived on and outfitted Tao with Chris, while continuing to explore her sense of self.

In November 2008, we (finally) set sail out of San Francisco Bay in Tao. We spent 3-months sailing down The Outside and 4-months sailing along the Baja peninsula in the Sea of Cortez. These were seven months treading lightly on the planet, living off-the-grid, and close to nature on the water. Though it is often idyllic, this lifestyle has required many sacrifices. We both took substantial pay cuts to realize our dream of cruising and we've been drawing down our savings to continue. Onboard Tao, we live with Grizzly in fewer than 250 square feet of space, we have no running or hot water, no flush toilet, no refrigeration, no address, and are at the whim of the weather. We reuse and recycle everything, and draw all of our energy needs from the sun. Shawn has been happy with these sacrifices, but she has struggled to find the balance between her wanderlust in nature and yoga. Though there have been several blissful days spent practicing yoga on the beach in Mexico, she has missed the centering of daily yoga practice and its benefits to her self-confidence.

As hurricane season approached, we decided to put Tao on the hard. Chris had plans to guide for another season in Idaho over the summer, 2009, and after a considerable amount of thought; Shawn decided to commit to a 9-week Bikram’s yoga teacher training. She had been thinking about it for years and suddenly realized that she was ready and didn’t want her opportunity to slip away. Thus began the most dangerous part of our cruising lives yet- returning to the States and re-entering the rat race. We thought we would both be back to the boat by Thanksgiving... First, the training got pushed back a couple of months. Then, Shawn realized that the 9-week training was only the beginning- she had to gain some experience immediately while everything she learned was fresh. This, in turn, led to our most recent shift in cruising plans.

It has been a shaky transition, but after initial frustration at our cross-Pacific plans being postponed, we have both approached our dilemma with a positive attitude. In working toward becoming a solid yoga teacher Shawn is doing some much needed self-improvement and Chris is facing a fear of his own- sailing and managing Tao singlehanded. Although we are not currently physically in the same place, each of us knows that to be strong while separated will indeed make us stronger when we are back together in the near future. And don’t you worry; we still have big plans to sail together!


  1. Sail on, sailors!

  2. I love that you are both following your dreams and facing the daily challenges. You have both come so far! Thank you for sharing.

  3. Sarah Jaquette RayMarch 29, 2010 at 7:50 PM

    Nicely written, thanks for sharing, and keep on rockin your dreams!