Your dreams can be bigger than your fears.
It’s a vision of paradise. Shafts of sunlight stream through windows in the clouds, illuminating towering rock pinnacles. Royal palms crowd their bases, rising above a turquoise sea. Luminous white birds glide between the spires and agile mountain goats scamper around precipices. The remote island paradise, Fatu Hiva, lies near the center of the South Pacific. You can’t drive or fly there. It took a decade of self-discovery and a treacherous, five-year sailing odyssey for me to find my way.
(Trigger Warning) My story began at age eleven after sexual assault, and like many stories of violation was soon hushed. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment I lost my voice: my perpetrator’s body slamming into mine; Mother screaming that I was “ruined for life,” her hands wrapping around my throat, almost choking me to death; waking up alone in a hospital; a team of physicians poking metal instruments inside my battered, pre-pubescent body; or a judge slamming down his gavel. I do know that the years that followed were ones of deepening silence.
Through an observant high-school teacher, I discovered an art history book of world masters. Paintings by the artist, Gauguin, were mesmerizing: colorful, alluring images of sensuous people and untamed landscapes. He lived in the Marquesas, a group of islands in French Polynesia, and his life there captured my imagination and sharpened my longing to escape. I dreamed of wearing a sarong and bathing under the shimmering waterfall. While much of my life had to play out before I started this adventure, I never lost the dream.
Forty years later, seeking rejuvenation, I quit my job, sold my house, and embarked on my lifelong dream—to sail 12,000 nautical miles to Fatu Hiva. Along the way storms at sea and PTSD flashbacks threatened my life. A tribe of courageous women stepped in to guide me, including a “third-gender” leader in the matrilineal archipelago of Guna Yala, Panama, a sailboat captain who had completed two world-circumnavigations, and a therapist who had climbed near the “death zone” of Mount Everest. Throughout my journey I met many women of courage, and witnessed incredible strength and beauty inside others who had been violated.
The truth can be hidden for years; dreams can elude. I went searching for a place I wasn’t sure existed. It was in pursuit of this dream—sailing a small boat to the Bay of Virgins—my voice emerged. I dedicate this site to wise and compassionate women, around the world with stories and inspiration to share.
I am now writing a customizable workbook, Knowing Acts—Engage in Healing to honor and support survivors and to share what I’ve learned sailing through a trauma-filled sea. It includes over thirty pleasant-to-use exercises with music, art, poetry, mindfulness, and more, to defuse sadness, grief, anger, and feelings of numbness or loss. If you or anyone you know is suffering from overwhelming emotions Knowing Acts provides a calming practice for a personal healing journey. To learn more about Knowing Acts or to pre order please click here.
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