When Barriers Block Your Sailing Dreams

Those who know about websites and blogs are probably familiar with the term SEO, the tools we use to make sure people can find the things we write that might answer their questions. This post uses none of those tools, because I’m not sure that there is anyone else out there searching for a “how to” on overcoming the types of roadblocks that always seem to propel themselves into our collective path toward adventures and life goals.

I think it’s a common reality that we get sidetracked by these things, but add in a healthy dose of PTSD, a neurodivergent personality type, or some ADHD tendencies (or in my case all of the above) and you can really end up in a spot where your dreams feel more like a dead end. That’s why in this post I’m going to discuss some of the ways I keep myself on track when disaster throws out that “road closed” sign.

While I won’t send this out using the standard tools, in some misguided effort to help people find this, I will put it here hoping that someone, ANYONE, reads this and is inspired to take that next step. That they find themself walking around the road sign, with their eye on that ultimate destination, be it an adventure, a business, or any other dream, because something in this post helped pushed them past the mental block that chance threw in their way.

Find Others Who Have Journeyed Before

For sailing, this one is easy. The number of YouTube channels, books, blogs, and other resources out there are amazing. But, and this is an important but, DO NOT rely on only the positives. While you want to relish the dreams of what you’ll see and do on your adventure, you also want to understand the challenges.

While this might seem counterproductive to pushing past the hard times, this actually serves a couple of purposes for me. First, it shows me that I’m not alone. Others are struggling with the same dream every moment. If they can do it, I can too…I just have to be as determined as they are. Second, it frequently shows me that it can, in fact, get worse than what I’m currently dealing with. When our shed burned down and took our sails with it (and knowing we did not have the resources to replace them), I could have given up. But thanks to all the reading I’ve done I knew that we also could have lost some part of the boat to damage in a place where even money wouldn’t make it immediately easy to remedy. If I’m going to do this it requires a level of determination, and it’s the same for you (no matter what your dream is), so get out there and do it! If you fall down, or the universe puts roadblocks in your way, get up and keep moving forward!

Find A Community

This is perhaps one of the more important pieces of the puzzle. A community will not only give you a place to rant and vent when things go wrong, but they’ll also give you some of the “others who have journeyed before” elements. Only better. You’ll not only be able to see that these things happen to others, but you’ll be able to brainstorm, get advice, and even get tips on what NOT to do (after all, we don’t want to make a situation worse).

There are a lot of places this community can happen, depending on where you are in your journey. It might be classmates if you’re just learning, fellow sailors at the marina or on a day out on the water, or even members of the community with particular knowledge of sailing. If sailing isn’t your dream, apply this to your goals. Where are the people who are doing, or talking about, the thing you want to do? Go there and find them.

This might even include online groups. For sailing there are groups for new sailors, long term cruisers, sailing with kids, sailing with cats, and just about any other subculture you can think of. While I belong to several, if you are like me and are a woman whose dream is to sail, I consider the group Women Who Sail to be, by far, one of the most important and supportive groups I belong to. Their very active Facebook group discusses everything from how to sail to what to do in emergencies, and even some of the unique struggles that surrounding sailing as a woman (sexist behaviors, trouble with male crew, etc). Perhaps most importantly, they truly provide unbelievable amounts of support for each other. I’ve seen them ban together to help fellow sailors in a variety of situations. Which brings me to my next point.

Ask For Help

Questions that start with “How do I…,” “Where do I…,” “What happens if…,” are all appropriate if you find the right supportive community (even if you aren’t currently in a bind). A lot of your questions will have already been answered, and those that haven’t will almost have someone who can pass the knowledge along. This is true of any group that specializes in what you dream of doing.

Beyond that, there are people who have been in your spot, dreamed of doing the impossible (whatever that is for you), and then did it. And some of them will want to make sure you can too. When the aforementioned shed burned down, I couldn’t imagine how I’d replace the sails. I couldn’t even imagine how I’d find the information, as a newbie, to scour the used ads on Facebook marketplace of the newspaper.

My first step was to go to one of those communities and ask, “Help, how do I even find out the size of the sails?” This would have been hard to push past for me as a sole dreamer, but it was worse when I thought of my daughter. She wants this more than I do. I never would have pushed past dreaming if it were for her drive to do this. I thought of what she needed. I cried and vented my frustrations. I got support, including help of determining the size of the sails.

But then someone stepped up and did even more. They offered to help us get ahold of sails. It would cost, but they could arrange them at cost, which would put them in a realm that made it even remotely possible for us to manage. This woman, who is as responsible for the fact that we are moving forward as we are, was named Kristen Cooper VanWieren and she and her husband own U.P. Sailing Co in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

The thing is, Kristen isn’t just someone who helped us. She’s an amazing sailing instructor who’s helped dozens of woman (and men) accomplish the dream of sailing with her affordable courses and private instruction. She has a reputation in the community of being someone who is an understanding and caring teacher, as well as a someone with years of experience and knowledge backing her.

When asked about her in the group we are both members of, everyone raved about the level of support they felt they got from this couple. If you’re following this blog because you have the same dream we do and are in the Great Lakes area, I can tell you hands down that they are one of the best options for sailing instruction…or just about any other marine service you need (from boat deliveries to consultations).

Give Help

And that brings us to this last point. BE Kristen! The community is only as strong as it’s weakest member. While you may not be able to rescue someone in need (literally or metaphorically), you can give support, advice, or even just a real or virtual hug, when they’re having a tough time! If you help make the community stronger, you remind yourself why being a member of that community is so important (and you make it important for others).

While we frequently think of those ways that others can help us past a block, think of how good it will feel when you’re able to help someone else who is years behind you on the journey. This is true of the dream as it applies to your small world as well as the larger community.

Tie It All Together

Every time I think “I can’t do this!” I remember the people who have come before me and did. I think of all the people out there who can help us achieve this wild and impossible dream. I consider those who believed that my daughter should have the resources to follow her vision, and thus allow me to go along with the dream that had also become mine. But most importantly, I think of how I can help my daughter, and young women like her, as they attempt to be everything that their souls tell them to be. And that is what propels me forward!

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