Living Large Takes a Rebel Heart

Maia aboard her family's sailboat. Photo by Diane Selkirk


Thanks to all of you who have been patiently waiting and watching for more posts here at Living Large.

I didn’t intend on taking such a long break, but my favorite saying since moving to Our Little House has been, “Life is something that happens while you’re busy making other plans.”

It was a long, cold winter here, as it was in much of the country. It was the roughest winter we’ve had since we moved here.

I’ll be posting more about that on Friday.

In the meantime, I’ve watched with interest (and sometimes shock) to the reactions to the story of Charlotte and Eric Kaufman, the sailing family that last week had to be rescued from their foundering sailboat, the Rebel Heart.

(If you haven’t heard the story, catch up here)

They were experienced sailors and had lived on their boat for the past seven years; the past three of those was with their oldest child and their youngest, a 1-year-old, who was very ill when the boat broke down.

Reactions to this family’s plight has been mixed, ranging from outrage that someone could put their children at such risk, to commending them for giving their kids a childhood of exploration and adventure.

When my husband first saw the news, his reaction was predictable: “What were they thinking?”

My husband is safe. He’s always chosen paths that were as predictable as possible.

I’m more of the risk taker, the adventurous one. I was the one who wanted to jump at the chance of a weeks-long cultural exchange that would have taken me to Istanbul (unfortunately, I was very ill at the time and couldn’t complete the training process).

The boat, trips, building Our Little House and finally moving here was all at my urging.

So when my husband asked what these parents were thinking, I told him of all the wondrous things these children have done so far in their lives and if their parents continue on this path, all they will do.

They’ve seen and experienced things during their childhood that most of us never will have the opportunity to experience or see.

I learned this lesson through Diane Selkirk, a writing colleague I “met” many years ago on a writer’s forum. She and her husband are also experienced sailors and since she was three, they’ve sailed with their 12-year-old, Maia.

I’ve lived vicariously through their adventures Diane’s posted to social media knowing all the while that Maia didn’t have to just read about exotic faraway lands or dolphins and starfish in books as the majority of us did, but she is getting to live those adventures every single day.

“Maia’s now put in more sea hours than shopping hours and is more familiar with the stars in the sky (in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres) than the ones in the tabloids. She’s graceful and self-assured, in no small part because of her unconventional childhood,” Diane writes in a recent essay in defense of sailing families.

Diane’s full essay can be read here.

I reminded my husband that life is full of risks. Parents risk their children’s lives every time they buckle them into a car, let them ride their bikes, get into a pool or even leave them at school.

I also reminded him that we also live an “unconventional” life in a small home, waaay out in the woods.

People have questioned our choice and others who choose to live the tiny or small house lifestyle.

Would the Kauffman’s have left port if they knew their baby would relapse and become ill again? No.

Would we have moved knowing our whole plan would be derailed by an economic recession not seen since the Great Depression. No.

I can honestly say that I wouldn’t have even moved here had I known that our plans of building a larger home were not going to come to fruition.

But I will say that is one thing in life I’m glad I couldn’t foresee. Life is all about risks – indeed having a rebel heart – and living is all about overcoming the challenges those risks sometimes present.

It’s called Living Large.

Read more on Friday about our winter here at Our Little House. What do you think, do you think the sailing life puts children at unnecessary risk, or do you think the risks are worth the rewards?