The rice was rinsed, the water was boiling. I poured the rice in, gave it a stir and checked my watch. ‘Okay, eight minutes. What should I do? I need to finish filling out the boat registration form; I need to get my books together to return to the library; I need to…how many more minutes on the rice? six.”  I stopped myself.  It was Sunday afternoon. How about, instead of multi-tasking, I simply stir the rice and take eight, now six, minutes to breathe.

Sailing on s/v Whisper throughout the Caribbean I hardly ever multi-tasked. In fact, I may have even forgotten how to multi-task. My stress was blissfully minimal.  I divided my stress into two categories: big stresses and little stresses.

The big stresses on Whisper were: are we sinking? is the anchor dragging? are we going to smash into the rocks? Yeah, pretty big things to worry about.  I didn’t have any small stresses.  I simply did not let myself get stressed out about getting to the marina on time to fill up our water tanks; or, did we have enough gas in the dinghy engine?  I have never felt so completely  relaxed in my adult life.

Living on land, my life is filled with little stresses: get to work on time; get to the market (P.O., library) before it closes; send in a check for boat taxes; don’t forget to pay marina fees; etc. etc.

As I stirred my rice for six more minutes yesterday afternoon, I decided to try to cut down on my little stresses.  No matter what, a land-based life has more responsibility and commitments than the cruising life, but I can be in control of that life and I can work to eliminate those little stresses that add up to one big stress.


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