By Jackie Leavitt

I am thankful for so many things. It’s true every year, but this one especially.

A year ago, I would have never imagined what I would have done and what I’d currently be doing. It wasn’t even in the realm of possibility.

Last year I was (as I affectionately put it) an international mayonnaise saleswoman. I was living in one of the best cities in the world: San Francisco. I was dong many things I loved, including blues dancing, morning dancing (with Morning Gloryville and Daybreakers), storytelling (with Fireside), and a counseling program (Interchange Counseling) that shifted how I approach the world. I had amazing friends that were thoughtful, kind and fun.

There was a lot to be thankful for.

And then two months later, I left my job. And soon after, I embarked on a journey that would start a completely new chapter in my life, although I didn’t know it at the time. It took months at sea for me to slowly sort through thoughts that had been simmering under the surface of my consciousness. It took months for me unhook my system from the stimulations of a modern life and slow down to truly appreciate the moment, rather than being distracted by the past or future. It took me months to recognize what thoughts were my own, and which ones were voices from society, influencing me to make decisions based on what other people valued. And it took months of listening to my own wants, meeting amazing people and seeing real examples of how to successfully avoid the hamster-wheel 9-to-5 routine for me to finally understand that I have control over every aspect of my present, and I have the power to create the life I want and to reject what I don’t.

And that’s an incredible power, which everyone has.

I realized that, in my day-to-day, I want:
…to be physically active and outside
…to have time to write
…to continue learning languages and about other cultures
…to be surrounded by a good community
…to travel

Living on Bueller introduced me not only to living long-term at sea, but to the possibility of making a career (at least for now) on boats. I met a wonderful, adventurous woman, Claudette, who encouraged me to look into this path that she did after her son moved to college several years ago: being a stewardess on a yacht. Not only would working on a yacht pay the bills and give me free room-and-board, but it would allow me to live closer to my five day-to-day wants much more than any other profession I’ve ever done or considered.

So after sailing for four and a half months and traveling through Colombia for two months, I embarked on a new life stage, pursuing a cooking/crewing/stewing life on a sailing yacht. I flew to Fort Lauderdale a few weeks ago to take my STCW basic sea safety course, then started cooking on a research vessel for three weeks before skipping over to the BVIs to rejoin Lars aboard Bueller for a couple weeks. My next step will be cooking aboard a sailboat heading to Mexico for a few months.

Today, Lars, Paul, Ashley and I are preparing a massive, delicious meal in the boat’s tiny galley, and I feel so thankful to be in this beautiful location with these wonderful people to celebrate Friendsgiving in the best year of my life.