On a houseboat, the boot stripe is a trim strip between the bottom paint and the topsides. When we moved into our boat, loading it with more gear than she carried as a vacation vessel, the boot stripe had to be raised two inches. While we were literally "rebooting" our water line, we were also rebooting our lives.
With help from a new book, Reboot Your Life: Energize Your Career and Life By Taking a Break (Beaufort Books, $15.95), your liveaboard dream may be more do-able than you think. The authors know their topic. One is an expert in financial services. Another was security advisor to a United States vice-president and another is a retired Fortune 500 president. Another "sabbatical sister" is a careers expert.
They've taken 12 sabbaticals among them. Known in academia but uncommon in other careers, a sabbatical is a leave of absence without loss of seniority or benefits. Sometimes some salary is paid. Employers may require that the time be used for continuing education. The hope is that you'll return to the job invigorated and smarter.
Is a houseboat calling you to Bali Hai? The authors begin with formulating the dream. Your dream already involves cruising, but there are many other considerations such as where you'll go on the boat and how long a sabbatical you'll need.
Let's say you have to comply with company rules about getting a master's degree while you're gone. Or you may be required to do charity work or update your professional skills. Have a plan. You might cruise to a marina within commuting distance of a college, live onboard while going to school, and cruise on weekends and vacations.
Once you have a plan, the authors suggest ways to present it to the boss. The next hurdle is finances. The authors interviewed people in all ages and walks of life, from medical and the ministry to blue collar workers. All had devised a financial plan, taken a sabbatical and returned to "real life" energized as never before.
Funds are found in more places than you think. Your company might provide a gift or loan. You might have medical or vacation time coming to you. Some companies provide a scholarship for additional education if you promise to bring your new skills back to the workplace. Scholarships are also available from trade schools and colleges, service clubs, charities, ethnic groups, etc. Income could also come from renting out or sub-letting your house, getting a student loan or asking family to help.
You could also do what we did. We sold the house, cars and furniture and quit jobs. However, cutting all ties is scary, and not really what a sabbatical is about. We were lucky and our sabbatical turned into a new way of life, making a living as a travel writer and photographer team.
This book has answers for the inner and outer voices you'll hear before, during and after taking a sabbatical. Some friends and loved ones will cheer you on. Some will rain on your parade. Inner voices may scream "Can't" or "Hurry, push harder!" After your sabbatical, the authors suggest that you take stock and regroup. You've made a lot of changes. Some should be made permanent. The book's checklists are invaluable.
The personal stories of the four "sabbatical sisters" are inspiring too. Jaye Smith founded a company that would allow her to support her sister's three children after her sister died.
When the children grew up she took a sabbatical, and then developed a new career. Nancy Bearg was stressed out from her job, parenting and a divorce, so she took a sabbatical. Rita Foley has taken four sabbaticals. Cathy Allen has taken two, one of them 11 months long when she was in her 30s. She took another in her 50s.
The authors advise that we save 15 percent of our time for ourselves. That's often easier said than done, but we can usually care for others and our careers best by taking good care of our own physical, spiritual and mental health. This book is more than pie in the sky. It's a step-by- step guide to the great escape. Perhaps it can float your boat.
About the Authors Gordon and Janet Groene lived full-time on the go for ten years and they hold the NMMA Directors Award for boating journalism. Their books include Living Aboard and Creating Comfort Afloat. Janet posts new galley recipes weekly at www.BoatCook.blogspot.com.