No one is any good at saying goodbye

If we are lucky we consciously experience farewells, then we can say goodbye with each other. An essay about saying goodbye, what I learned from it and what saying goodbye taught me.

When you say goodbye, you have to let the goodbye get near you

My friend Sophie and I had met to have breakfast together one last time before she would begin her own travels in the afternoon. At the time, I was packing my life into boxes and slowly began to say goodbyes. I told Sophie that I already had to say farewell to people I loved. About how I observed that everyone dealt with the situation differently.

Sophie asked me if I was already about to say goodbye to her. I answered sincerely that I could not really let this get to me just yet. After that Sophie asked me if I actually knew what it meant to say goodbye.

I didn’t know the answer to your question, although I had already observed the farewell several times with friends and family – I had forgotten to observe myself in the process.

What does it even mean to say goodbye?

So at that time I had already said goodbyes without knowing what it actually meant to say goodbye.

Today, a few weeks later, I would explain farewell as follows:

To renounce someone or something in a more or less set framework. The farewell presupposes in a certain way an awareness of the circumstance or framework of at least one of the participants.

In any case, saying goodbye is an individual process. A space or state you enter within yourself. A kind of devotion to the shared experience, but also to the frame in which the past took place and the change at the fulcrum of the farewell.

In any case, saying goodbye is an individual process. A space or state you enter within yourself. A kind of devotion to the shared experience, but also to the frame in which the past took place and the change at the fulcrum of the farewell.

Do we still have to say goodbye nowadays?

Yeah, we should. For example, when the frame is irrevocable and irreversible. Nevertheless, I think that we have forgotten to say goodbye, we simply lack the practice in it, because the generation of our grandparents was probably even more familiar with saying farewell than we are today.

We’re spoiled. Almost everywhere where we go we are online. Establishing a connection requires only one tap and the voice is already in your ear or an beloved face on the screen. We send each other photos and always report on what we have experienced. One remains connected in a form of communication that has burst into all our lives and which today is hard to imagine life without. Maybe this is the reason why I didn’t know the answer to Sophie’s question before.

If availability on journeys is again not a given

My journey was meant to be different. Hitchhiking on boats across the oceans of the world means that the Internet is not available, mobile phone reception is not a matter of course. What remains? In an emergency, the satellite telephone on board – too expensive to make unimportant calls. It remains the luck to find a marina or perhaps a café on land that offers wifi. Postcards, letters. I have to be prepared for the fact that I won’t have Internet for several weeks. I also have to explain to friends and family that I don’t know how many days or weeks I won’t be available.

Dad has already asked how many days without notification before he shall send a rescue team after me. When I started talking about weeks rather than days, and that I couldn’t tell him an exact time, he didn’t feel very comfortable.

If I don’t say goodbye, I won’t miss anybody

So I tried not to say goodbye to anyone under the guise of farewell. I told everyone we’d stay in touch, we heard a lot about each other and we’d meet again and everything was as it always was.

Until that day with Sophie I didn’t know how to say goodbye, I could only go on without looking back. Firmly convinced that it was not a goodbye. Sure that I will take everyone on my journey and that one day I will come back and find everything I have longed for in the meantime. If I just refused to say goodbye, I wouldn’t miss anyone.

Trying not to say goodbye turned out not to be feasible for me. My last working day was to become a small celebration with my dear colleagues in the evening. Everyone approached me and wanted to say goodbye. With hugs and a flood of moving words and wishes. I have experienced so much appreciation and love that the sheer string of people who wanted to say goodbye simply overwhelmed me.

This was probably the last farewell party I ever wished for in my life.

To say goodbye requires a closeness to oneself

From that day on, I wanted to take time for each and every one of my loved ones. So for the upcoming farewells it meant many dates. I marked out the framework for each of them, as best I could: Limited reachability for an indefinite time, while I sail around the world with strangers on the boats they own.

The frame, however, is only a small part of the farewell. To say goodbye you have to open your heart and allow the moment to happen. Also something so many of us have forgotten, including me.

Time will not stand still, the constant change is inevitable, even something that I wish to everyone. Some people accompany you only a part of the way and enrich you for all your life that is to come. When you say goodbye, it’s about opening your heart.

To take a farewell also means to give a farewell

“For me, saying goodbye means taking a small part of the person with me on my journey, but still letting go of most of the person,” Sophie said.

People have found each other to let go of each other when the time comes. Letting go: This means to release someone in freedom and self-responsibility and to give love on the way.

When I say goodbye, I’ve braided Sophie’s hair. A braid, I imagined, as it was worn by the Vikings when they set out to explore new worlds.

Farewell begins in a moment but is not over when the moment is over. Instead, you carry the farewell with you and slowly let go, piece by piece. Sometimes without ever really letting go.

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I dream of the Atlantic

About the plan to sail the blue ocean

A little over a year ago, I wrote a sentence down: “I dream of the Atlantic.” At the beginning of this year a boat was chartered and I spontaneously hired a boat to make the best use of the remaining holiday from the old year. After my last trip, I never wanted to board a sailboat again.

Why I never wanted to go aboard after my first cruise

My first sailing trip on the sea was in June 2018. I no longer wanted to travel alone and wanted to share my experiences. By chance I came into contact with the Soul Sailing Crew. The founder Uwe invited me to join them on a trip. Sail & Yoga was the theme and I was immediately enthusiastic about the concept. People at my age on board, as well as a yoga teacher and a sailing instructor. The trip was to start in Olbia, Sardinia and went north along the Costa Smeralda to the La Maddalena Archipelago National Park. To the “Caribbean of the Mediterranean” so they say. The water was emerald green, the sunsets were violet and the atmosphere on board was very harmonious. Every morning and every evening yoga and meditation was offered ashore. During the day we sailed from one breathtaking bay to another.

I found an indescribable lightness and balance in myself. My mind suddenly felt free. My first sailing trip was so fulfilling that my mind resisted to do another trip.

My fear: it will never be as wonderful as it has been.

The first sailing on the Atlantic Ocean

That’s how I still put it eight months later when Martin called me. His plan: The circumnavigation of Lanzarote, the fourth largest island of the Canary Islands in the eastern Central Atlantic. Martin talked about his experiences of sailing the Canaries. He talked about waves that were high and long so that the land disappeared on the horizon and the boat moved up and down between the waves like an elevator. He talked about whales, turtles and dolphins. So I remembered this sentence I wrote in 2018: “I dream of the Atlantic”.

When the waves piled up directly behind the harbour walls and the hull of the sailing yacht crashed through them, I sat on deck, my life jacket on and clicked into the fuse, and smiled so wide that the next day I was bound to sore my cheeks. It turned out to be even more wonderful.

The wide grin and the euphoria washed off in the following days and feelings of contentment, balance and self-sufficiency took up space in my head. I had found something in myself that I wanted to hold on to – My personal momentum of happiness. Freedom on the wind.

The search for lightness and freedom

I did not succeed capturing those feelings that I had just experienced. Can you keep the feeling of freedom when you go back into your own cages?

I began to look for it. Four weeks later I took part in a skipper training session in Greece and observed once more how I became light again as the boat left the harbour. Compared to the powerful waves of the Atlantic, the Saronic Gulf was smooth and steady. And my head found that lightness and freedom again.

What had to fit together was put together. I did not rush anything. A few weeks passed and I quit my job. I didn’t know what to expect afterwards – a large part of me was afraid of this uncertainty, the other part looked to the future with confidence. In my head, an infinite number of possibilities were overturning that could reveal themselves to me. The sheer endlessness of options and experiences behind it took over my mind. But no idea resulted in a good gut feeling. But a Facebook post would soon change that.

Sign on aboard of Sailing Maia

Sailing Maia, that are Peer and Claudia and their eight-month-old son Leo. They wrote in their apost that they would like to take their boat across the Bay of Biscay before the storms in autumn will begin. They are looking for fellow sailors. The timing was perfect: at the beginning of August the Maia is to leave its home port in Flensburg and will be brought to Almeria, Andalusia. A milestone cruise, through the Baltic Sea, the Kiel Canal, the North Sea, the English Channel, along the Bay of Biscay and finally through the Strait of Gibraltar. A distance of about 1800 nautical miles, the equivalent of 3333 kilometres. There it was again within reach: The Atlantic Ocean.

This time the gut feeling was right, but the spark of courage was missing to apply me as a crew on the Maia. I let a few days pass, but the post didn’t get out of my head and I began to carefully tell friends about it.

Finally I took my mobile phone and wanted to give it a try. I wrote an e-mail and attached to it a small video, in which I personally wanted to say hello and introduce myself. My heart was beating up to my neck and the camera was shaking because my hand in which I held the phone did not want to stop trembling.

One day later the answer followed, I was on their list of favorites. A video chat in group with the desired crew of Peer and Claudia followed a few days later. We introduced ourselves, the plan was discussed, expectations and wishes were exchanged and in the end we asked for a binding commitment.

“Yes, I am most definitely in!”

Travel preparations for an unspecified period of time
Since then the weeks have flown by. The travel preparations feel as if I had suddenly taken a second job. A seemingly endless to-do list, on which new things always complement each other as if by themselves: Vaccinations, insurance policies, administrative formalities, travel banking, tax declaration, finding subtenants, buying camera accessories, first aid kit, and many, many small things on top.
The preparations are for a trip that is likely to be longer than a trip across the Bay of Biscay. The idea is to sign up as a crewmember on more boats and seize opportunities along the way.

On to new shores

Meanwhile, I had the last working day in my first job and slowly started to say goodbye.
It’s hard to talk about destinations when I want to be crew aboard traveling the route of the boats. But I know that my dream is within reach. I want to experience more of the Atlantic, the place where I found my personal momentum of happiness. My freedom on the wind.

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About the fear of starting something new

About the fear of starting on something new – This is Collecting Freckles

How about starting this blog with a post that explains (first and foremost to me) why on earth it is so hard to start something new. Well, before I begin: This is Collecting Freckles, a freshly launched blog – and this is a journey. This is my journey and maybe – maybe it will grow into something, that adds some value whilst you spend your time on the internet.

Let me put in a nutshell what the idea of Collecting Freckles is

This blog is not the start of everything, but a thought that I have been carrying in the back of my head for a several years. A thought that is shaping into something achievable. This blog is a medium that will share parts of it. A journey – starting before it begins.

Many people go on a world trip and share amazing pictures, start to blog and vlog to keep in touch with family and friends and share their experiences and adventures they had in the big world. South-East Asia is a thing, so I’ve heard. Anyways. I have the same plan – to travel the world. To get myself some adventure. I am curious and driven to see and experience what’s behind the horizon. Holy moly – I sound like a true traveler. Already!

You might have sensed some irony and I did not put anything in a nutshell yet. Let me try again. Who would have thought blogging is so hard!

I plan to travel the world. This blog is about everything I will learn along the way. Starting before I even hit any road. Because, let’s be real, I will be sitting around watching documentaries, reading books and blogs, consuming vlogs and articles in various magazines for quite some time. Scribbling along the way in my digital notebook. And why not start to share it now. (Does the shell of a coconut count? Well – you have read it. So I guess it’s a yes.)

Planning is one thing, but getting started is a whole new level of seriousness

Why starting something new terrifies me

You get the Idea. Nothing extraordinary, nothing fancy. Not even sure whether there is someone, who will have interest in it anyways. But why is it than that I’m so tense about this first post on my blog. Why is it, that dreaming about something and planning it is one thing, but when it gets real – as real as setting up a first real blog post on my own website – it’s making me anxious and afraid? Well I guess I am a big chicken.

Blogging means putting myself out there – and that gives me chills

I put myself out there. I start to publish things I am dreaming about for years now and I don’t want to be judged or laughed at. I don’t want to have the obligation to anyone to justify myself or my decisions – towards anyone but myself. Writing this first post and pressing “publish” is nothing that can’t be undone. But creating a channel is also about vulnerability and it’s about opening up. To someone I might know or (and I don’t know whether that is better or worse) to someone I don’t know. To someone I’ll probably never meet. To someone like you, who is reading this post. It feels big. Way out of my comfort zone, I can’t help it.

Thinking about it – and testifying it by writing it down – it’s (again) nothing extraordinary, nothing fancy to put myself out there. Nothing that I don’t do almost every single day. The audience might be different. It might be not as selected as in day to day life. It might be a little surreal though. So, hey you! Nice to meet you. Be my guest. Share your thoughts, give me your opinion. I will appreciate it and thank you in advance! Let’s just try to make it cozy here. I would very much like that!

Beginning does not imply to get it perfect right away – The panic of making mistakes

I am a perfectionist. What’s is the estimated world population of perfectionists? Maybe I am one and I am trying to get rid of it. The truth lies somewhere in between. I like to create things as I envision them. I can’t stop till everything just feels right. For instance when I am drawing or designing something. But there are many aspects of my life I am SO NOT a perfectionist. I can start and run a chaos like a business. Not that I have much experience in starting businesses – but for handling chaos I gained some skills.

The question is: why am I so eager to try to make a perfect first impression here?

Because I care.
Because I don’t want to mess this up. This is something that is likely to grow as part of my dream. This will be a space where I will be reflecting my thoughts and experiences.

I wrote three posts and rewrote them three times. I made 100 lists about what has to be done before I can upload the first real post. (You might not be aware of it yet – Lists are kind of my thing.) I wanted to start my whole blogging experience with something that feels right.

I wanted a nice logo and a cool theme and all my colors set. All my plugins installed and everything fixed and looking like the blog I have envisioned. Chic and fresh, not too serious and fun to read. I wanted a style, something that would give the whole thing a certain character. Everything.

My point is: Till I will have achieved that, a lot of time will pass and nothing will happen. As long as I am waiting and working for the right moment to first publish a post I will reach no one. Neither get a comment, nor a feedback.

The first lesson blogging has taught me – Saying “Hello world!” is not for chickens

Well, this post is my first blogging experience – The first step, but always one at a time.

I won’t have fun writing if I try to force myself into something I don’t enjoy. Being scared I don’t enjoy. Trying too hard I don’t enjoy.

Well, I guess, lesson learned in a very early stage. I am pretty sure that I will have to remind myself with every other post – over and over again. Because I tend to forget my own short glances of wisdom. Good thing that’s now here, written for internet-eternity.

Or more likely: Every time I will put myself out there – to reach you, the fear will probably tickle again. So make yourself less scary and say hello in the comments 🙂

x Sanni

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