This weekend I was lucky enough to spend the day with a large group of amazing women. I attended my very first women's only sailing conference in Marblehead. I was lucky enough to be here on a gorgeous day:
It was such an inspiring, empowering day. First of all, it was out of my comfort zone to go to this conference alone. Typically I would take a friend (and actually, I did ask a friend to come, but she couldn't) and pretty much hide behind the fact that I had someone with me, using that as an excuse to keep to myself. But like I said, she couldn't make it, and I went anyway. The day I would have missed if I skipped!
It was a gorgeous clear day and since we live about 45 minutes away, I had to get up early. I took my PFD (personal floatation device) and a bag full of clothes (boat shoes, windbreaker and hoodie) and hopped into our little car, put the top down and enjoyed the scenery. Already off to a good start! Once I got to the yacht club, I parked and walked in to register.
At first, I was pretty intimidated. We were in a large, open room with several round tables-most of which had women already sitting and chatting. There were a few empty tables, and normally I would choose one of those, waiting for someone to come to me so I wouldn't have to awkwardly join a conversation. BUT, this day was about learning and growing, so I sucked it up and joined a table that was pretty much already full and asked to sit with them. They made it easy on me and introduced themselves right away. And truthfully, I've found that telling people that I'm a newlywed living on a boat full time with my husband and a cat pretty much strips away any lull in conversation no matter where I am, so we didn't really have potential for awkward silences anyway.
So-after a little while to chat and have a breakfast of huge, beautiful berries and pastries, the panel arrived and we started. What an amazing group of women! It was comprised of one fairly famous author (in the cruising world, anyway), a captain who only sails with women and who has sailed around the world twice, another captain who owns a women's only sailing school (who is also a psychiatric nurse) and a non-professional, everyday woman who's been sailing with her family for...well, forever. (She was my favorite!)
I'm not going to go into specifics about what they talked about because it's really specific (women who sail) but they focused a lot on confidence, overcoming sexism in boating and how sailing has changed their lives. Wow. I mean, really, wow. They just blew us away because everything we've gone through, they went through. And they still make the same mistakes we make, even after all of these years (though a lot less frequently!). My favorite speaker, pictured below, said that "Sailing has been like a waterfall over my life". Now, I guess that doesn't really make a whole lot of sense. I mean...is that good? Is that bad? Who knows except for those of us that heard her say it. She was saying it's been magical-it's changed her life and given her more confidence in everything she does. It's deepened her relationships with her family and friends. It's shown her the good side of people from all around the world. And it's shown her that she can push herself so far and still survive. So cool. Oh, and by the way, she's 75 and still actively sailing!
Another speaker, whom I did not photograph, was this captain from Seattle who only sails with women. She's the one who sailed around the world twice. She looked like she'd be all business at first and I thought she'd be very technical and not spiritual at all-but I was wrong! She was delightful. She said that sailing is like riding a magic carpet. Again, wow.
I know this might sound really odd to those of you who don't sail, or boat at all. But if you do, you get it. You understand that being out on the water is like nothing else. And I can only imagine that as I become more and more competent a sailor that the feeling I get out there sailing with B1 will be even stronger. And all of that is magical.
On my way home I reflected on the day and thought about the seminars I took. Even though they were short, I left feeling more educated and energized to learn new things. When I got home, I had a discussion with B1 about what I learned, and felt really knowledgeable and like I could keep up-and like I was actually teaching him a little something (even though it was small, it was still new knowledge!). And I just can't wait to learn more.
I feel really blessed to have been a part of that conference...really, really blessed.