Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Life on board as a Storyteller (Or Navigating Nausea)

On board SeaDragon: Friday 20 November

My intention to sail the Atlantic with scientists and sailors is to create stories that are imbued with facts and embroiled with enchantment. The rest of the crew were excited to hear that there would be a storyteller on board and have been waiting curiously for story time.

Well, they would have to wait – because the only story I wanted to tell was about sea sickness. Sick when I stood up, sat down, ate, drank, thought, spaced out, kept still or moved around. The motion of the ocean created panic and longing within, like my stomach was flip flopping with dread every few seconds. Oh no, I had made a terrible mistake, I had envisioned being saturated in creativity, not sick and sweat.

”Keep hydrated”, they told me with a smile, as my dinner met the waves one more time. The water on board is H20, salt water double filtered to strip it of salt and minerals. It tastes of sadness. Others on board describe it differently but we all agree it is disgusting. I wonder if in its emptiness it reflects the feelings deep at the bottom of us. Those feelings that are hidden well with strategy and effort. We drink this water and it brings it up to the surface, all that is hollow within. Here on this boat I have had to face those feelings, soothe them and hold them so they do not take over.

Being sea sick has been no fun but it has brought a deep resource out of me. I have had to reach down into the fathomless depths of myself to find the stamina to fulfil my duties and stay connected to this epic adventure.

It comes in waves, the currency of the ocean.

Then one night I did it. I sat up on deck with the wisdom watch team and the wonder of the night enticed me to tell a story. To tell a story about the infinite skies under, well infinite skies was a treat full of awe and magic. The next night I told a story of wildness and encouraged the watch team to howl at the moon. Then came fox dreaming woman with her musky smell of love.

Last night we gathered in the cockpit at dusk, and I told the story of Tam Lin and the thin veils between the worlds above and below. It was rewarding to feel everyone listen so deeply.

Before I boarded I presumed I would be telling stories about sea creatures, Atlantis, dolphins, selkies and whales. The tales I have told have been full of rich earth, knotted trees and characters longing for home as I tune in to the collective consciousness.

An unexpected side effect of this journey has been that old stories, ones I have told for years and have settled into a familiar groove have been washed through with water. As I tell them shores, lakes, rivers, pools, fountains and waterfalls appear where before there was dry land. It feels like a delicious gift, a moistening and enrichment of my story soul. A welcome drink for a thirsty listener.

By day in my notepad I do write stories of the deep blue. Of life on board boats and treasure lost at the bottom of the ocean. I enjoy sneaking my ship mates into the stories, re-imagining them in secret as the warriors, queens, animals and pirates.

What a gift to get to know such extraordinary women. I hope they continue to be special guest stars in my stories for years to come. Where else would I find a Norwegian engineer mermaid. A welder with a wicked wit from San Francisco or a Boston Whale rider? I have also drafted a story about Ascension Island, a goddess story that celebrates natural child birth and gives children the welcome to earth that each one deserves.

I will leave a copy of it on board in case the beautiful artist on the next eXXpedition Stella Marina feels inspired to illustrate it (no pressure Stella!)

My imagination is bursting with stories of all colours and shapes, journeys, quests and cradle tales. I look forward to sharing them with you when they are ready. I hope they bring oceanic wisdom, deep belly laughter and sweet dreams.

Watch this space.


Sunday, 22 November 2015

Dear Noah, Happy Birthday

On board SeaDragon: Thursday 19 November

Well Noah it was six years ago today that you shot out of my body in less than four hours, a speed you have kept up! I remember those first few days when we lay in bed at Plot Street Cottage. I lay there stunned as my heart flooded with a new kind of love. I remember you tiny and squashed, and watching your body slowly unfurl was as wonderful then as it is watching your childhood unfold today.

As I write this I look out at the Atlantic Ocean and it is as infinite and vast as the love I have for you. I see you Noah, majestic, gentle, funny, enthusiastic and kind. I remember when I left I said to you that you would find me in the water, that we could connect across the ocean into the water you drink and wash in. I hope you have also felt me hold you at night and laugh with you in the day. I was on watch one evening and felt your head resting in my lap. Lovely.

I know you have had some hard times without me but I also know that you have been well loved and cared for. The ocean and the women on board are teaching me to hold you more fully and how to rise to the challenge of adventure. The science is showing me how we can take care of the world for your future.

All I have left to say is Happy Birthday!

Go for it!

Trust yourself!

I love you!

Love mummy x

Welcoming in the Four Directions

On board Sea Dragon: Monday 16 November

Welcoming in the four directions of the compass; north, south, east and west. Reaching down to the 3000 meters of ocean deep below us, stretching up to the sun moon and stars above. We come to you, Yemaya, Goddess of the ocean and King Neptune, we come to you as a circle of hearts, Queens of our time, thanking you for safe passage, clean water for all. May we be of service to you, to protect our oceans and the earth.

The crossing of the equator is an event that has been building in anticipation for some days now. It’s a major milestone and something that was discussed via Facebook even prior to our departure. How would we celebrate and commemorate this moment, how would we thank Neptune and the Goddess of the sea, and make sure that our ceremony was fitting, appropriate and inspiring? We had bounced a few ideas around over the last few days and the one that stuck was to celebrate something for which we were thankful and to use the opportunity to let go of something that we no longer wanted. Negative feelings, a part of ourselves that no longer helps us move forward positively.

We were woken by Imogen around 7.15am, saying that we were about 15 minutes away. Many of us ran around getting ready while others made use of a few spare minutes of sleep. It wasn’t until sometime later that we realised that the minutes Imogen had been talking about were minutes of latitude, meaning that there was still quite some time before we would actually reach the equator. This gave us time to really prepare. Heather had bought us all sarongs in which to dress, Christine had brought temporary tattoos with which we decorated ourselves, and Sarah adorned herself with ocean blue sequined pants (which she wore on her head). We decided to share our positive messages aloud, but to commit our statements of intent to paper and ultimately to sea and to Neptune. As we crossed the equator, Imogen thanked Neptune for our safe passage and our beautiful oceans, and then each of us in turn expressed our gratitude for our lives, our oceans and our futures, whatever felt right for each individual. Sarah hailed the ocean Goddess Salacia and Neptune to hear our wishes and gratitude.

As we entered the Southern Hemisphere, we celebrated the experience that we are sharing as a group. The discussions on board have been open and embracing, and I know that this has helped us to see our futures more clearly, to concentrate on our deepest feelings and accept them openly. Our watch has become a family. We laugh, cry and laugh some more together. We support and ridicule each other in equal measure. Since crossing the equator, there is a sense of renewed energy and a calm lightness among us. It’s a day of significant change; we now look forward to altering our course later this evening and heading west to Recife, marking a new direction of the boat and in our lives. We are celebrating Equator Day with a day off from science school and some grilled cheese on toast!

We are sending a shout out to our follower(s). Our number one fan Sam Dendys sent an email touching our hearts, comforting our souls and continuing to fuel our motivation. We hope you continue to enjoy the blogs from our watch team. 

Amanda, Sarah, Jess and Jan


Thursday, 12 November 2015

Amazing Grace

On board SeaDragon: Thursday 12 November

I am in my bunk, there is just enough room to roll onto my side but not enough room to touch my toes. There is a shelf four inches above my nose . When I first scrambled into it, it felt like a coffin but tonight it is more like a cocoon.

I am reading my friend Jack's book A Case Full of Insects, a young boys adventures around the world. Below me Imogen, Emily and Holly have their head in the engine, using intelligence, experience and a healthy dose of trial and error to fix a problem. I feel like a six year old in the back of the car, holding my breath and wishing I had a magic wand to make it all better.

I must have fallen asleep because the next thing I am being woken for my watch, the engine hatch is down and all is quiet below deck. I put on my one size fits all waterproofs which give me the silhouette of a garden gnome.

The night is dark, the rain is lashing and we are one watch member down as Jan is having an evening off after cooking and cleaning all day.

It is left to Amanda, Jess and I fulfil our watch duties. We start off quietly as the rain lashes horizontally and we retreat into the hoods of our waterproofs like shy snails until Jess suggests we learn a song and soon we are all singing about cheese and Amanda is enthralling us with tales of the Yukon, of gold mines and best friends. I relay to them what I have just read, that the man who wrote the hymn ‘Amazing Grace’ sailed out from Darkar  with a cargo of slaves, when he was out in the Atlantic ocean he had an epiphany, realising that his cargo was as human as he and he set them free. We sang Amazing Grace, pretty much in tune, apart from that high note.
He turned the tide, Captain Newton, inspiring the anti-slavery campaign. As we sing I make an intention to the waves that our campaign can be as effective. That we can change habits, policy and people. We sit in silence for a bit.
Then the wind came.

Read My Lips

On board SeaDragon: Lunchtime Sunday 8 November

Read My Lips, t
hat is the name of the cup of tea that Amanda, the mermaid student from the Yukon just passed me. She has been telling me about a semester she spent on a Tall Ship, I could tell you more but I will encourage her to blog about it. She does it best.
The tea is rich and delicious, full of chocolate and hibiscus. I am enjoying it even though I know it will come back over the side later.

Imogen, our skipper announces that we have reached a way point, a significant change in direction.

Our next way point is Ascension, one of the world's remotest islands. If you want to navigate a ship you need to know its destination.

Where am I heading? I am using this moment to get clear on mine. I am changing course. I am heading to the effortless embodiment of my full feminine human potential and my willingness to share it unselfconsciously with the world.
Destination Ascension.

Night watch

On board SeaDragon: Sunday 8 November

The moon is a tangerine smile, the sky rich with stars.
We see dolphins dancing in phosphorescent waters.

A locust drops into the cockpit and we discuss whether or not to kill it.

By 4 am there are thousands of them and we spend the next day picking them out of our shoes, cups and beds. We hose, hoover and shoo them off the boat.

The challenge of the locusts has bonded us as a team.
Amongst their hard black bodies flutters the tender wings of a butterfly.

I am reminded of the story of Pandora's box.
We have brought hope with us as we cross the Atlantic.
A welcome guest.

Night watch

On board SeaDragon: Saturday 7 November 4am

In Native American ceremonies throwing up is called "getting well". It is something to be done proudly in front of the tipi fire. It is illness moving out of the body physically.

I really got well last night. I was crouching at the helm but Holly heard me from the heads.
When it was over I sank back, my body no longer filled with the tension of trying not to be sick. I was surrendered and open. The ocean sought me out with her white tipped fingers, uncovering and soothing me, enveloping me in her vast soft waves.
The energy of a whale came close "I am Steady," it said, "Steady Mama".
The barrier between myself and the sea, one I was keeping firm and boundaried had dissolved. I was still on the ship but also deep in the sea, ambiotic fluid for parts of me about to birth.