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Transitioning to the world of to-dos

Wondertime girls at Roberton Island, Bay of Islands, New Zealand

Wonder. Time.

I realized yesterday what it is that has been driving me crazy lately. Anxiety has been creeping into my soul once again, a sense of hurry that starts as soon as I open my eyes each morning. The feeling that there is not enough time in the day. Going to bed each night thinking of what I didn’t get done that day and wondering if I can get it done tomorrow.

It’s my new to-do list.

One of our most favorite places in Auckland so far? The library!

One of our most favorite places in Auckland so far? The library!

I haven’t had a to-do list for well over a year now and as we head out of cruising mode and into – what? – work/school/errand/shop/whatever-you-call-this-not-moving mode I’ve starting making the lists that ruled my life before we spent all our days exploring little bits of land by sea. It seems there’s a lot to do to fit in to city life, and more importantly, make and spend money which is mostly what every metropolis seems about. I’ve got lists of things to buy, places to explore, homeschool activities to sign up for, items to complete for our work and student visas, books to read, blog posts to write, boat projects, appointments to make….

Did I not have these things before? What has changed exactly? Sure, some days were busy during our time in the islands. When we got to town there were provisions to buy, laundry to drop off, ice-cream cones to eat. Emails to write. Um. Hmm. I guess that’s it. Must be why I hadn’t had to jot down any tasks – there really weren’t any.

But we must have eaten a lot of ice-cream because here we are working on that cruising kitty again. And doing that in a new country requires a bit of red tape. And the price of not having a to-do list for a while simply means that quite a few things just got pushed into the future and we’ve finally met up with them. Then again, I just like making lists and tend to jot down any old thing that crosses my mind to do.

But then those lists tend to rule my days: I check my daily tasks in the morning and plan out how I’m going to get them done. The girls beg for pancakes but I make oatmeal again because pancakes take too long to make and clean up. I feel anxious when the girls want to get out the paint when I’m planning on heading out in an hour to the laundromat. Everyone wants to walk to the playground but I am struggling with the fact that I have 10 starred emails in my inbox…. By the end of the day I am exhausted and – of course – I check my to-do list and defer the four undone items for tomorrow.

Pt. Erin Community Pool

We love hot summer December days at the pool

One of the lessons that cruising has taught me is to take the lessons that cruising has taught me and bring them to the life we live when we are not moving. This one: that the best days are not the ones where I get the most things done. The best days are the ones without a list leading the way, where we just let the day unfold and explore the world however we feel that day and let whatever happens, happen. They are the days when we take the time to wonder.

We had such a day last weekend: Saturday morning dawned with a list of things we needed to do to go visit friends who live several hours up the coast for the weekend. We packed, made a treat to bring, showered. Out in the parking lot we found a screw embedded in the front tire of our car and drove out to a tire shop on the way out of the city (resulting in four brand-new tires to replace the bald ones). At noon, we found ourselves sitting in northbound traffic with the rest of Auckland’s residents heading out for a long New Year’s weekend. After taking nearly two hours to travel what normally takes 20 minutes, we phoned our friends and regretfully made plans to visit after the holidays. We felt terrible.

Nothing to do!It was a beautiful sunny summer December day so we headed over to the community pool for an afternoon swim. On the way home we got an invite from some new friends for a BBQ dinner at their Auckland home and drove over that evening. The wonderful visit and dinner culminated with a night stroll under the full moon to a park reserve near their home. We walked in the dark into the trees which led to rock caverns that were illuminated with the tiny fairy-lights of glowworms. It was absolute magic, an unforgettable evening for everyone. I couldn’t have planned that day if I tried and tried.

So this morning when I woke up I did the best thing I could think of to reduce all the weight these to-dos have been putting on my soul and our days: I started deleting them.

The view from our cockpit - our new playground!

The view from our cockpit – our new playground!

With her rust stains, chipped paint and bowsprit, Wondertime sticks out like a sore thumb amongst all the other slick and fast New Zealand boats. But we love her anyway.

Here’s Wondertime in her new Auckland slip. With her rust stains, chipped paint and bowsprit, she sticks out like a sore thumb amongst all the other slick and fast New Zealand boats. But we love her anyway.



  1. Dani says:

    Happy New Year Wondertime crew!! Over the Holidays my husband and I had over a week off with hardly any commitments. After 2 days of this we were the happiest and nicest to be around than we had been in years. We both said we couldn’t wait to start cruising to experience this further.

    Can’t wait to hear how settling in goes as far as employment.

  2. Teacher Kaylene says:

    Hello friends! Congratulations on making it to New Zealand! I have loved reading about every step of your journey.

    I laughed out loud when I saw the picture of Leah reading Splat the Cat. We have been reading Splat the Cat books in Red Class. We all love them (especially your friend QF!)

    Happy New Year! Happy New Zealand!

    Love, Kaylene

    1. Sara says:

      Hi Kaylene! Yes – can you believe that big kid is Holly?!? We hadn’t been to a library in well over a year and the girls spent an hour reading new books and didn’t want to leave. Love it!

      Happy New Year to you as well — we miss you and can’t wait to come visit you and Olympia!


  3. Teacher Kaylene says:

    Oops. Upon closer inspection, that must be Holly reading Splat the Cat. The girls have grown so much! 🙂

  4. Hi Guys! SO great to catch up on your life a little bit. This blog is so a propos for me right now and I think you greatly for writing it Sara. I’ve just begun the daunting task of unloading Pandion and readying her for market (yes, we’ve decided to sell the old girl…so SO sad) and it’s been overwhelming and emotional and I too wake with huge lists that alter my behavior in ways I don’t like. But today I took my list and completed the first two items that were must-dos and moved all the others to tomorrow. Then I took the dawg for a long, delicious hike and spent the rest of the afternoon doing what I wanted in the glorious sun. I felt totally guilty until I read your post and was reminded that I also had the same realization you did. So, thank you again!

    I love your BLOG and reading it is a treat. Miss you guys and hope to meet up again some day. Love, Lola