3 life lessons learned while learning to sail

“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than those you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the wind in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

-Mark Twain

You know from previous blog posts that I often encourage you, my dear readers, and myself to step out of our comfort zones. Since I walk my talk, I did step out of my own comfort zone during my May break. I went sailing!

Trust me, setting foot on a sailing boat in order to really sail it is way out of my comfort zone. I have the highest respect for the sea (we have recently witnessed its full force on Fuerteventura) and am in awe with the power of the wind.

And you know what the funny thing is? It was a most relaxing holiday. My husband and I spent one week of sailing in the Dutch province of Zeeland, enjoying its natural beauty, the clear waters, small islands and surprise visits of seals and seagulls. Nature was kind to me (moderate windforce), my husband patient with me (an excellent sail instructor) and I had the best of times.

I learned so much in one week and those learnings go far beyond learning to sail and steer a boat…

Learning to sail brought me so much more than learning to sail.

1. control is an illusion

As a regular reader, you know that I post every Friday at 07.00 sharp, local time. My (extended) family can tell you that I plan visits to Holland such that I get the maximum out of my precious time with them. My pupils can tell you that I am always well prepared and organised and always return their tests the next lesson. Do you get the picture? Yeah, I like being in control!

As a newbie sailor I often felt that the wind was controlling my boat more than I did. Even experienced sailors cannot always control when and where they want to sail. The wind, weather and currents, all external factors, will always influence your choices. That can sometimes lead to a major change of plan, not easy for control freaks!

Being fully in control of the provisions on board…

In real life we often think we have got control, can steer, can direct, can dictate. Yes, we can. But not always. Life has got its unexpected twists and turns and it is good to realise that control is an illusion, but that you can adapt to what life throws at you!

“We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.”

– Dolly Parton

Proudly steering our boat, a Bavaria 30 cruiser, rented at demarage.nl

2. listen to learn

We have got 2 ears and only 1 mouth. Maybe that is because listening is double as useful as talking. As a teacher I talk a lot, always willing to teach my pupils something new. I have even started this blog, which is talking on a screen, to teach and inspire you.

One night we moored here; a little island where we only heard the water, wind and birds.

Of course I also listen. I read the comments and mails from you and implement your ideas and tips in my blog and life. Thanks for those! I also listen to my pupils, so I can guide them even better.

Being more a petite pupil than a petite teacher during our sailing week in Zeeland.

The abundant amount of listening during our week together on a sailing boat was very refreshing for me. My husband was my teacher, the talker, and I was the learner, the listener. It was interesting to be in that position once again and it will certainly help me with my work at school. I have personally felt how much good listening helped me learn.

“When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.”

The Dalai Lama

3. slow down and enjoy life

Time slows down when sailing. Your speed of travelling is slower than when driving a car. Your cooking costs more time, your washing up too…Sea air and sailing make you tired in a good way, so we slept a lot during that week! Normally, when I am on holiday I plan a lot, I see a lot and I do a lot.

I was not the only one relaxing on our little boat…

During our sailing week we only saw a tiny bit of Zeeland. There wasn’t a lot of wind and there was a lot to learn, so we went slowly from harbour to harbour. To my surprise I loved this slow speed. It wasn’t about seeing a lot, nor about sailing a lot. It was about being! Being in the moment and that made me feel good and relaxed.

“Slow down, simplify and be kind.”

Naomi Judd

3 valuable lessons learned by stepping out of my comfort zone. I wanted to share them with you, so you can take these lessons with you too (with or without sailing).

Thank you for reading and make sure to tune in again next week. I will post my 100st blog post!!!

Explore, dream and discover this week and talk to you again next Friday!




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    1. Thanks Liesbeth! We really had a great time. My story, indeed, tells it all, as do the photos. Love, Lieske

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