Leaving the safe harbour

I stumbled across a quote;

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Mark Twain.

For a while I was a member of a gym. Mostly, I went in the evenings, it was crowded. Upstairs sweaty people pounding on gym equipment, classes thumping in the background, music blasting. Downstairs, the pool had 3 busy lanes, almost always someone was a little bit too slow in the middle lane and the slow lane was just very slow. In the fast lane, where I never ventured, I would guarantee there would be a bloke swimming the butterfly stroke creating waves across the pool and drenching the middle lane with his wake. The spare space was used for lessons. An instructor loudly encouraging children on.

Sometimes, I’d make the effort and get up early. It was an entirely different experience. Occasionally, I would find myself first in the empty pool. I love an empty swimming pool. I’d savour those few moments before anyone else arrived. Sitting on the edge, knowing that slipping into the pool would be cold and I’d catch my breath. Then stretching into strokes, slicing the still water, all the ripples created by me. Swimming first thing in the morning was exhilarating and energizing. Worth the effort of leaving a comfortable warm bed.

I have been redundant over a year. It seemed unimagined at the time and then suddenly the months have slipped by and I’ve slipped into another life. A whole set of seasons has past. We’ve managed better than we anticipated. We have adapted our lives been cash poor but time rich and benefited from that. I’ve spent a lot of quality time with my son. Time gained. The washing gets done, the house is clean and there is always milk in the fridge. Life has been less of a juggling act. A lot has happened; my mother has died and nothing has happened; I don’t have a job. I don’t think I’m a stay at home mother, but I’m not a working mother either.

As a family we’ve had time to think and talk. We could stay in a warm bed and go with the crowds. Sometimes doing something a little different reaps its own rewards. There where times when I got up early to swim and found a few other people and the bloke doing the butterfly stroke had the same idea. That was the gamble. It was disappointing but still good to swim in the morning.

It’s time for a change, to explore, dream and discover. At the beginning of December we relocate 160 miles South. It means new school, new home, hopefully new friends and new jobs at the moment all of that is uncertain. We’ve decided to leave the comfortable and dive into a new pool. Sail away from the safe harbour.

If you could sail away from the safe harbour what would you do? Tell me I’m curious.



  1. Peggy

    Wow, this quote means a lot to me. I found it on a scrap of paper on my friend’s bedside table in 2010 and loved it. My husband and I were in between jobs and about to go travelling on our narrowboat. I started a blog about narrowboating as a family, quoting Mark Twain in my very first blog post. Six months after our travelling journey began, my friend died very suddenly from cancer leaving behind two girls aged under three. She never got around to sailing away from her safe harbour. Meanwhile, I got to travel on our boat, and eventually blogging became my new career.
    So, well done for throwing off the bowlines Gemma. Sounds like you’re gonna be living nearer me 🙂

  2. Midlife Singlemum

    Wow! I’m so full of questions like:What were the pull factors of your new destination? Not just being nosy but because I’m fascinated by relocation. If I had the courage I would relocate back to the UK. However, I’m too scared of giving up all the lovely things we have here and what if I find I don’t like it as much as I thought I would? Please keep us posted and good luck with everything. xxx

  3. suzanne

    Great post Gemma! I would love to have the guts to do what you’re doing and relocate, even to another country, just to have the experience. We nearly did it when our kids were younger but now the eldest is of secondary school age, I couldn’t do it! where are you moving to? what are your reasons for moving? I think sometimes it takes your hand being ‘forced’ in order to go for it.

    1. helloitsgemma

      I am going to write another post about the whys and whats. Now seems the right time but from some aspects its terrible timing. I guess it’s one of those things – there is no perfect time and once school is factored in it becomes so much harder.

  4. Older Mum (@Older_Mum)

    Loved your words – and I used to swim a lot and he had swimming pool politics – the fast lane butterfly guy – down to a tee. I always used to swim in the medium lane and get buffeted by the ripples from the fast lane. Sounds like you are about to make a very positive move! Take a deep breath and fly! We are looking to move next year – we were supposed to do it this year, but then life happened – so it has to be 2013! X.

  5. Emma

    Desperate to ask you so many questions!! How exciting though. It is good to leave your safe harbour. I have done it. It’s good to push yourself, push your limits and of course there will be difficult times, but you gain so much in experience and in life. You will be fine xxx

  6. Anna

    Wow what fabulous news! A brand new start and brand new opportunities – sounds wonderful. I’ve always had wander-lust, since having a family I’ve thought it would be too difficult to up-root again, but your post is making me think otherwise.
    Good luck with it all…especially the packing!x

  7. Anya from Older Single Mum

    What a beautifully written, fascinating post. I knew half the quote and it’s spurred me on to exciting things before now, but it’s good to learn the rest. I love swimming so this was particularly meaningful. I wish you the best in your new adventures. Go on, tell us, where are you gonna be?

    1. helloitsgemma

      thank would be amazing. I could arrive accidentally at dinner time alot!
      I am unlikely to move back to London because once you leave you appreciate the benefits of ‘personal space on public transport” and you can’t return. Equally only a lottery win would buy us a flat.

  8. mummymummymum

    oooh where will you be? I’m not sure where I would go, maybe up North to be nearer family and help, maybe in between, maybe somewhere snowy clean and more empty…

    Good luck Gemma x

  9. HonestMum.com

    Wow. Beautifully written post. How amazing, wishing you all the best with the move and new direction. I think for us perhaps a move stateside when the kids are older. LA but away from the Lala bit but close enough to dip in. Who knows, not imminent and my folks would have to move with us.

  10. e1aine

    I’d move to North Devon, as near to the sea as I could afford (so probably not very near). Sadly I don’t have any practical ideas so it will have to remain a dream.

    I’m in Cambridgeshire if you are coming any where near this direction.

  11. Melksham Mum

    Firstly I love that quote. I sometimes wish I had taken on more challenges and new adventures as I feel a bit stuck now. OH is currently redundant and trying to start up a new venture. It’s scary, I feel a bit uneasy, I worry about his redundancy money running out soon and not surviving on my wage. I wish I could pack us all up and move to a house by the coast so the sea breeze could blow our worries away. Maybe one day. Good luck with your move and give me a shout when you’re this way?!?

    1. helloitsgemma

      Some of what we are doing makes me uneasy and it is utterly scary but sometimes life throws stuff at you and makes you rethink. I think once kids get bigger it gets harder and harder. Maybe we could both win the lottery and yes I will be nearer you! yay!

  12. Louise

    Great quote and wonderful post as always! We are thinking of moving, not too far but enough to make a big change in our lives – new school, new friends, new home etc but keep having second thoughts. To be honest I think it is because we haven’t found a house we like more than the house we are in yet! So perhaps we are cosy in our safe harbour! Food for thought….

  13. Ali C-S (@Over_A_Cuppa)

    I missed this post so you are move, 160 miles I am guessing London area especially if there is a chance of a job. Life is funny, our gamble for more quiet and relaxed life paid off while the children were small, now we are somewhat trapped by our decision we made 10 years ago. Regrets, occasionally I do, which I feel cross with myself for feeling like this. I notice in your comments people mention the coast I am about to go for a walk along Rock beach with the dogs but life really isn’t a ‘beach’ all the time 🙂 x x x

    1. helloitsgemma

      I think it’s really hard especially with children to find the ‘right’ decision. There are always other options. I think so many people would love what you have – but equally the practicalities make the day to day difference. I know from spending time with friends who live rurally I couldn’t.

  14. Pingback: The Next Big Thing | Helloitsgemma

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.