The Voyage: Roz Savage
Day 18: The 10-Step Life-Changer
Roz Savage
11 Jun 2008, The Brocade

I sometimes get asked how I made such a dramatic change in my life, from salary slave to ocean rower. I always feel like a bit of a fraud when I answer, because I really kind of stumbled out of one life and into a very different one, with my only guiding principle being that I wanted to look back and feel proud of the life I had lived.

But last night, as I was trying to get some sleep (not easy when the ocean is slapping you around) I was thinking about a friend of mine who struggles with his weight - as do many of us, but his weight gains and losses are more epic than most. And it inspired me to try and come up with a suggestion for how people might change their lives for the better.

My idea is this: Humans are creatures of habit, so by far the best way to make long-lasting changes for the better is to acquire good habits and drop bad ones. Simple enough so far?

This, however, is much easier said than done. The early days are the hardest, before it becomes a habit and is still a conscious effort. So the cornerstone of this plan is not to backslide. Once you're a few days into a new habit you've already done the hardest part, so don't make yourself go through it again. Reassure yourself that it will only get easier as time goes on.

So the first thing to do is to decide your objective. I'm using weight control as an example, inspired by my friend, but you could apply the same plan to: - living a greener (or bluer) lifestyle - being a more caring spouse - being more effective at your job - taking a more relaxed attitude to life - or anything else you choose.

Then identify the 10 (or so) good habits you would need, and the 10 (or so) bad habits that you would drop, in order to achieve that objective. If you're not sure where to start, read a relevant book (see below) or pick a role model. Obviously, apply some intelligence here. Your role model may be a knockout salesperson and she may wear 4 inch heels, but the two are not necessarily connected, and it may not serve you well to do the same. Especially if you are a man.

So my particular example lists would be something like this (ranked from hardest to do to easiest to do, and I've just put 7 here so as not to get too long-winded):

My habits to lose: 1. iced caramel latte and bran muffin (for coffee-shop and journal-writing ritual) 2. wine 3. cookies 4. beer 5. good bread and butter 6. spirits (hard liquor) 7. sugary breakfast cereals

My habits to acquire: 1. Two hours of exercise, every day, and ride bike to gym 2. One hour of exercise, every day, and ride bike to gym 3. One hour of exercise, 5 times a week, and ride bike to gym 4. One hour of exercise, 5 times a week 5. One hour of exercise, 3 times a week 6. Go for a weekly hike with a friend 7. Park on far side of parking lot from where I want to be so I have to walk more

Then you put your plan into action. You start with the easiest item from each list (#7 in the example above), and you apply both at once. The idea is that you are so excited about your new good habit that it distracts you from your bad ex-habit.

Then, when you feel like those two new habits are sufficiently ingrained that they are now part of your lifestyle, move on to the next item up the list. There is no rigid timescale on this - just move to the next step when you feel comfortable that the last one is well bedded in.

The idea here is to start with some easy wins, and hence cultivate the most important habit of all - the habit of success. There is absolutely no point in setting yourself impossible targets and getting into a pattern of failure and self-recrimination. Make your easy habits as ridiculously easy as you like - just get into that habit of succeeding in your goals.

For me personally, I think I could get up to #3 or #2 on the list before I would start to really struggle. But that doesn't matter. I might decide that this is as far as I am willing to go - that a couple of days off from the gym, and my cherished coffee-shop/journal therapy routine, are luxuries that I am going to allow myself to continue - now knowing that they ARE luxuries, a real treat, rather than just mindless habits.

OK, so it's not going to change your life overnight, but most long-lasting changes are NOT overnight wonders - they're the result of continued application. But it's not all hard work - it really does get so much easier when it becomes a matter of habit rather than conscious effort.

And the best feeling will be when you look back in a few months or a few years, and see how far you've come from where you are today. The sense of achievement will make it all worthwhile.

So that's my idea. I haven't had a chance to test it - caramel lattes and bran muffins being, alas, very hard to come by on this part of the ocean - but it seems sensible in principle. Let me know what you think.

Hey, who knows, maybe I can publish a self-help book which will be a runaway success and I need never struggle for sponsorship money again!

Relevant books: Greener (bluer) lifestyle: 50 Ways to Save the Ocean (David Helvarg) Better spouse: I've no idea, although I'm sure there are hundreds in your local bookstore Better at your job: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Steven Covey) More relaxed attitude: The Art of Effortless Living (Ingrid Bacchi)

Other stuff:

Watermaker worked today. Danger of urine-drinking averted for another few days at least.

Weather and seas still rough. Forecast is for better conditions tomorrow. Hope I can still remember what to do with those long paddly things on the side of my boat.

(Picture: Weather needs to change - Roz at sea August 07)

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Day 17: A Greener Way: The 12 Volt Lifestyle
Roz Savage
10 Jun 2008, The Brocade

After calmer conditions yesterday, today the deck was once again being lashed by huge waves. Sitting around for 20 minutes getting hypothermic while I waited for water to boil on my Seacook stove did not seem a good idea, but I was sick of surviving on snack foods and wanted a good square meal. So I decided to try out Plan B.

I've got a small flask that looks like a thermos, but instead has an electrical heating element and a cable that plugs into an ordinary cigarette lighter socket. I crammed my boil-in-the-bag meal inside, topped it up with water, and plugged it in. After waiting 15 minutes in the relative comfort of my cabin, I had piping hot chicken-with-herb-dumplings. It wasn't going to win any awards for gastronomic excellence, but at least it was hot and it wasn't nuts or crackers. It was the first time I'd used this flask, and I was very impressed. Definitely a keeper.

All of my onboard electrics are run from a 12V system. Solar panels send power to three large marine batteries, about the size of car batteries. The power goes via charge controllers to stop the batteries over-charging. Some of the electronics are connected directly to the batteries (like my stereo amplifier, watermaker, Marinetrack tracking unit and onboard cameras) while others I plug in and recharge as their batteries run low.

Most of these plug-in items have cigarette-lighter plugs (satellite phone, iPod, GPS) but some have to first be plugged into an inverter that converts the power from DC to AC (AC is what you get from the wall socket at home) - things like my laptops, and camera and camcorder batteries.

So I am entirely self-sufficient on green, sustainable, solar energy.

Even when I'm on land, I recharge things in my car whenever I can. The power is being generated anyway by the mere fact of driving, so I may as well use the power there rather than plugging phones etc into the wall at home. It's not exactly green energy, as it comes from driving, but as I have to drive anyway I may as well get my moneys-worth out of it.

So it's a small step in the right direction, and every bit really does help! If you haven't already come up with your pledge for World Ocean Day, maybe this is something you could do.

Other stuff:

Yesterday I briefly harboured hopes (I should know better) that the winds were on a downwards trend, but today it is back to business as usual - Force 8 or 9. Uncomfortably windy. The good news is that I am being whisked at a brisk pace in the right direction - southwest - but truly I'd rather be rowing. The sense of achievement is so much greater when you've actually done something to get there. The forecast is for calmer conditions by Thursday. Here's hoping.

Meanwhile I am listening to Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion" and pondering the existence of God. Seemed like an appropriate thing to consider while I am out here. My cabin is feeling increasingly like a hermit's cave, and I am looking increasingly like the Wild Woman of the Sea. Apparently there have been requests for more photos of me. Not until I have had a chance to get out on deck with my hairbrush and make myself more presentable. So for now we have:

[photo: a couple of my 12V electronics - satellite phone and GPS - with the power inverter that converts from DC to AC power ]

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Day 16: Raging Seas
Roz Savage
09 Jun 2008, The Brocade

An ocean rowboat gives you a unique perspective. I am more IN the ocean than ON the ocean. Being inside my cabin is very much like being inside a wave (although marginally drier) - I am surrounded by the sounds of the ocean. And recently the ocean has been sounding mightily annoyed. I now understand why seas are said to "rage".

When the wind is at its strongest, the water sounds as if it is vibrating, a rapid marine pulse, as if I am in the arteries of a person in the throes of an apoplectic fit. I can feel the tension and enormous kinetic energy of the waves.

Then when the waves splatter across the hatch, it is as if the sea is spitting in my face. It is just as well that I don't believe the ocean has a soul, or I would find it very hard not to take this personally.

If the ocean did have a soul, she would have every right to be spitting mad. For so long we've abused her and exploited her, dumping trash in her either deliberately or inadvertently, hauling out millions of tons of fish without any consideration for the long-term survival of the fish populations, leaking oil and other toxins into her waters in the impossible belief that she can absorb this level of pollution indefinitely.

We are a world out of balance, and that applies to the oceans at least as much as to the land. Just because most of us don't see the damage we are doing out here doesn't mean it isn't happening. Just because we don't want to know about it doesn't mean it can't harm us.

Re-use, recycle, reduce. Choose fish from sustainable species. Buy organic produce. Believe that you can make a difference.

And that's all I have to say about that. (For now.)

[Photo: my Zen Dog drinks mat - a gift from my dear friend Romy. Calms me down when I've been having a good rant!]

Other stuff:

The watermaker worked today. Yesterday it didn't. The day before that it did. The day before that it didn't. This is very trying on the nerves.

Conditions on deck are relatively pleasant today. Fewer crashing waves. Hoping this trend continues. I've got a couple of cuts on my butt from falling over during the rough conditions, but once they're better I'm keen to get back on that rowing seat.

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Day 15: It's Cool To Be Blue
Roz Savage
08 Jun 2008, The Brocade

Happy World Oceans Day!

As well as my row being a project of the US-based nonprofit Blue Frontier Campaign, I am also a Blue Ambassador for the UK-based charity The BLUE Project - so all in all I am about as blue as blue can be. ("I was walking in Memphis..". Oh, no, sorry - different kind of blues.)

The BLUE Project was set up by renowned sailor Conrad Humphreys, and its key message is "Be Blue, Be Cool" - in other words, it's COOL to care about the environment, and COOL people take action to make a difference to the world's climate and oceans.

To mark World Oceans Day today, the BLUE Project is asking you to make a BLUE Pledge, a bit like Margo's pledge that I wrote about a couple of days ago. Make a simple promise online to change just one thing that will make a difference for the better. See their website for more details.

I've been trying to think what I can do. I already do these things:

- Use a re-useable grocery bag. Tip: I find it hard to remember to take my re-useable bags with me, so I always carry a Chico bag in my handbag. It scrunches up super-small into its own carry-pocket, so I always have it handy for those impromptu purchases. We'll also be having some VERY nice re-useable grocery bags for sale via this website within the next couple of months - and they are made from recycled plastic, and can themselves be recycled when they get too old and tatty - so they're really super-green! Or blue. Keep an eye open for them here. - Carry a re-usable drinks mug, so I don't have to use a disposable cup when I give in to the urge for a caffe latte - Recycle any domestic plastic waste - Choose products with less packaging when there is a choice - Use a Brita water filter jug to refill my Nalgene water bottles so I don't need to buy bottled water

So, given that I'm already living a true BLUE lifestyle, and I'm rather limited how much bluer I can be in my present circumstances, I've decided as my pledge that I'm going to create an online petition to encourage others to do the same - ideally through lobbying the legislature at some level to create incentives to be blue.

I've already enlisted the help of David Helvarg from the Blue Frontier Campaign, and hopefully we'll have something drafted by the end of this month. I'll be putting the petition on, with links from this site and also from my Facebook page.

In the meantime, you can buy a copy of David Helvarg's book, 50 Ways To Save The Ocean, which will give you lots of ideas of what you can do to help.

When our petition goes live, I hope you'll sign it, and get all your friends to sign it too. I'll make sure we launch it with a splash (so to speak) so you will definitely be aware it's happening.

If we pull together, we can make a world of difference!

[photo: The BLUE Project slogan on my boat: Be Blue, Be Cool. Photo taken about a week ago, when conditions were a lot calmer than they are today]

Other stuff:

Five days since I was able to row. Probably another four before I can row again. Ho hum. My dear old Dad (God rest his soul) used to say that only boring people get bored. But there again, he never spent over a week confined to a cabin just six foot by three foot by three. Options for entertainment are limited. Unfortunately the deck is just too dangerous and unpleasant a place to be, so I while away the time in my little rabbit hutch, looking out the hatch at the waves, and looking forward to more favourable conditions.

After several days of being swept southeast, I am now managing to make some progress west. This is good news.

My watermaker refused to work today. This is NOT good news.

You win some, you lose some..

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