Ponderings Of A Woman On The Water

I am a little introspective this morning about my life and the meaning and purpose of this group supporting women in love with the water and boating. I’m involved because of a commitment since my 20’s to supporting women and improving their lives, their rights, their abilities and their images of themselves. That, I see, is the essence of Feminism and I am a proud Feminist. I was pondering this morning if, at this age and place I find myself, I am doing enough toward my long-time passion, if I’m living my life well enough.

I thought about what I had said in my opening comments to our last Seattle Boat Show panel discussion that our involvement with boating gives us opportunities “to be role models of confident women in a traditionally male-dominated aspect of society.  Just by being an engaged and informed woman boater, you are helping to change another aspect of society where treating women as second class and limiting their opportunities has been rampant.”

Because I chose a boating life I’ve been led to some special women over the years who’ve inspired me and taught me important, sometimes subtle, lessons. One came to mind as I pondered the state of my life and activities this morning. Jeri Callahan passed sometime ago. She was a woman who made an interesting life on the water. As I wondered if what I am doing in all aspects of my life is ‘good enough”, I smiled at a something I remember learning from her.

“People should consider an appropriate shingle to tack above their front doors,” Jeri said as we laughed over lemonade on the shelf-sized deck attached to her ‘shack on a raft’ as she’d dubbed it, one of Seattle’s older floating homes. “Mine would read, Jeri Callahan, Philosopher Queen”. No ego, it came from a thoughtful woman willing to share openly of her thoughts and her life and thoroughly happy with the path she had taken.

She’d raised a family in a traditional suburban life. Alone after a divorce, she chose to pursue a new life adventure. Calling on a rental aboard a floating home, it was taken, but this gregarious, interesting woman made such an impression on the gal she reached, she received a call the next day saying that an old, very small barge was for sale and would she be interested. It was a scary commitment to make, but she jumped at the chance.

Jeri regaled me with antics from the annual New Year’s Eve swims with her floating home neighbors across Seattle’s Lake Union; and of ferrying tourists on historical tours she’d created to celebrate her water-based corner of the world. We celebrated the book she had written about the floating home community in Seattle. None of these things would have happened had she not been draw to the water.

A goose, in a planter next door was part of our social moment. It, like Jeri, felt safe and welcomed “nesting” amidst a community that not only looked out for each other, but the wildlife in their midst. Flo, who lived next door, did her laundry on Jeri’s barge. Jerry didn’t see it as a favor. “How lucky we are”, she’d say “to have that special time to chat over tea.” She ultimately helped the aging Flo to stay onboard her barge longer offering more “sharing” as Flo’s abilities diminished.

Values – it was a word that floated around in Jeri’s world and conversations. Studying philosophy in college had strengthened her sense of the underpinnings of thought and life but had not diminished the whimsy so much a part of her character. There was an interesting crack along one wall where she lived. It occurred when she had work done to straighten her little floating box. “It’s sort of like life,” said Jerry, “Sometimes when we strive too hard for perfection, we are reminded that imperfection is a part of everyone’s life, how we handle it says a lot about ourselves.” She enjoyed that crack on her wall keeping it as a reminder not to try to live life too perfectly.

Marilyn Michael

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Ponderings Of A Woman On The Water

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this! The timing couldn’t be more perfect as I have been pondering my own questions and challenges regarding being a solo owner of a 34 ft Cal.The challenges come from what feels like I don’t know enough to be out there solo coupled with being 62 and questioning my physical capabilities. On top of all that I enjoy the friendship and rhythm of sailing with others yet it seems a difficult task to find someone to go out on the water with me. Yes I will get my name on the list for desired crew and give in and create a facebook page solely for the purpose of joining “Women who Sail” and still I wonder if I’ve taken on something far beyond my present abilities while all I want to do is be out on the water.
    Just some musings in response to your post. Thanks again for putting it out there.

    • Catherine says:

      I would be interested in connecting to see if I’d be a good fit as crew. Catherine (contact info on “Desire to crew/Need crew” page)

  2. Linda Lewis says:

    Marilyn – What a beautiful piece you have written. You have channeled Jeri right into my soul. When I met you decades ago, you said you wanted to write things that would inspire women. And so you have. Oh yes, you are ‘living your life well enough’. I feel blessed to read this piece. And fired up all over again to help carry the banner for women… especially when they are on the water. Thank you Marilyn.

  3. Diane Lander says:

    Marilyn: I loved reading your thoughts. I share so many of them. Being on the water is SO very important to me; I would have never made it through everything I have been through since losing my husband in 2009 had it not been for the privilege of being able to be out boating on the water. The past four years of learning to be totally responsible for my 1928 42′ Lake Union Dreamboat, the Marian IIl have been some of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Your writing is so eloquent. Keep up the good work and the wonderful thoughts.

  4. Connie says:

    Beautiful Marilyn, thank you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s