The Motion of the Ocean: 1 Small Boat, 2 Average Lovers, and a Woman's Search for the Meaning of Wife

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Overview

The humorous true story of a woman who abandons her tidy life to honeymoon across the Pacific on a leaky, old boat—only to find that sailing 17,000 miles is easier than keeping her relationship off the rocks.

“Somewhere fifty miles off the coast of oregon i realize the skipper of this very small ship is an asshole. he also happens to be my husband.”

While most thirty-somethings are climbing the corporate ladder or popping out babies, Janna Cawrse and her boyfriend Graeme take a ...

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The Motion of the Ocean: 1 Small Boat, 2 Average Lovers, and a Woman's Search for the Meaning of Wife

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Overview

The humorous true story of a woman who abandons her tidy life to honeymoon across the Pacific on a leaky, old boat—only to find that sailing 17,000 miles is easier than keeping her relationship off the rocks.

“Somewhere fifty miles off the coast of oregon i realize the skipper of this very small ship is an asshole. he also happens to be my husband.”

While most thirty-somethings are climbing the corporate ladder or popping out babies, Janna Cawrse and her boyfriend Graeme take a different tack: they quit their jobs, tie the knot, and embark on a most unusual honeymoon cruise—813 days across the Pacific Ocean on a beat-up old sailboat. Their goal? Relaxation and relationship therapy. But the passage from First Date to First Mate is anything but smooth sailing. From the craggy Pacific Northwest coast to the tropical isles of Polynesia to the bustling ports of Asia, Janna and Graeme must share everything: rations of Top Ramen, sailboat sewage duty, a boat the size of a bedroom, and every minute of every day. They realize: If their marriage can survive this, it can survive anything! Like all great love stories, Janna and Graeme encounter storms and disasters along the way…and plenty of reasons for make-up sex. And they discover intimate secrets about each other, difficult truths about love, and skills they’ll need to keep their boat—and their relationship—afloat. Written in the style of popular travelogues by J. Maarten Troost (The Sex Lives of Cannibals) and Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love), Janna Cawrse Esarey gives readers a satisfying mix of soul-searching and romantic comedy while she seeks to answer this crucial question: When the waters get rough, will she—a novice sailor and spouse—abandon ship? Or will she learn to navigate the world—and the one relationship that will teach her about sex, love, and the meaning of “wife”?

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  • The Motion of the Ocean
    The Motion of the Ocean  

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Equipped with nothing but an old boat and a new marriage, Janna Cawrse Esarey recounts her two and a half years at sea with wry humor, keen observations, and descriptions vivid enough to satisfy even the most seasoned traveler. As Janna and her husband cross the globe, they learn that sometimes relationships are the trickiest waters...yet all storms can be weathered with enough courage and determination. The Motion of the Ocean is the quintessential summer read for anyone seeking an adventure in life, love, or self-discovery." — Jen Lancaster, author of Bitter is the New Black

"Most of us would love to quit our jobs and sail across the globe, but very few of us have the guts — or the sea legs. Fortunately for us armchair adventurers, Janna Cawrse Esarey not only took this journey, she took great notes. The result is a funny, honest tale of how one woman found her comfort zone — with the sea, with herself, and with the notion of happily ever after." — Michelle Goodman, author of My So-Called Freelance Life and The Anti 9-to-5 Guide

"I didn't think it was possible to write a 'new' cruising yarn. However, Janna Cawrse Esarey has done it — from a female sailor's perspective. This isn't a story of a cruise; it is an insightfully-written story of a maturing relationship. Best of all, her pen is as sharp as her wit. She pulls no punches. I laughed and cried — and saw myself on every page." — Cap'n Fatty Goodlander, Editor-at-Large of Cruising World magazine

"An edgy, unique style and badass sense of humor." — Tania Aebi, author of Maiden Voyage and the First American Woman and Youngest Person to Sail Around the World Alone

"On her honeymoon Janna Cawrse Esarey and her fisherman husband set sail in pursuit of her childhood dream....Motion of the Ocean is a fresh and honest story on many levels. It's an entertaining read for those who enjoy a voyaging story or are contemplating an adventure, though in the end it's not about achieving the sailing dream — it's a love story in which Janna discovers how to live and enjoy life." — Amanda Swan Neal and John Neal, authors of The Offshore Crusising Companion

"Hilarious...you'll be wildly entertained." — Publisher's Weekly

Kirkus Reviews
Travel and relationship memoir from Seattle Post-Intelligencer blogger Esarey. After listening to Crosby, Stills & Nash's "Southern Cross" as a teenager, Esarey fell in love with the sea-but not the "literal, wet . . . get-a-degree-in-marine-biology sea . . . the lyrical sea . . . the transformative sea," she writes. "To the extent that women-girls have pickup lines, ‘I'm going to sail around the world someday' became mine. Boys eat that shit up." As did Graeme, the college sweetheart she eventually married and convinced to accompany her on her ambitious voyage. Onboard the Dragonfly a fight presented the perfect opportunity to explore the ten hard years that separated the couple's first meeting and this voyage, their honeymoon cruise. As their story unfolds chronologically in a series of small events, the author reflects on their time apart and ultimate reunion. But she glosses over many details, including what Graeme did for a living, and her tendency to substitute "blah blah blah" over dialogue, while occasionally humorous, may cause readers to question the focus of her attention. "The Green Box of Love" makes regular reference to the metaphoric significance of a gift box she's brought on the journey, but the author never reveals the container's actual contents. Throughout, the big question looms-can this couple make it? Fortunately, two years of cruising around the world offered a wealth of intriguing experiences, and Esarey ably brings to life remote isles and customs-particularly those in the South Pacific-most readers will never see. Her ruminations on these experiences, however, are mostly banal. Describing a beauty pageant for transgendered women in Samoa, she writes, "clappingwildly for those ballsy women carved out more space in my brain for words like beautiful and woman and normal."An uneven journey across the chartered waters of a romantic relationship.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416589082
  • Publisher: Touchstone
  • Publication date: 6/2/2009
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 829,163
  • Product dimensions: 5.52 (w) x 8.44 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Meet the Author

Janna Cawrse Esarey is a 2008 Jack Straw Writing Fellow and contributes to several sailing magazines including Sail and Cruising World. She also writes “Happily Even After,” a relationship blog for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. She lives in Seattle overlooking her friend and nemesis, the sailboat Dragonfly.

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Read an Excerpt

Looking for That Woman-Girl
Day after day, day after day,

We stuck, nor breath nor motion;

As idle as a painted ship

Upon a painted ocean.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

A Year and a Half Before the Voyage Begins

Shit. Shit. Shit. I've done it again. My watch is set five minutes fast, and still there's no way I'll make it on time. I have to finish this e-mail, print tomorrow's assignment, and make copies of — where did I put that book of engravings? Did I tell my sophomores Coleridge was an opium addict? Is there a faculty meeting this week? I could have sworn I put that book —

Focus, Janna, focus.

I type:

Mitch's writing shows great improvement, and our support will only further his progress. If you have any other concerns, feel free to contact me.

OK, that's fine. That's tactful. It's fine. Now end with Best or Sincerely? Best.

OK. Reread. Reread. Reread. OK. Ready to send. No, Sincerely.

SEND.

The student desks sit idle. My classroom is dark and cool. But someone has twisted the knob on the bathtub toy in my chest. flapflapflapflapflap. I start shoving stuff in bags — laptop, student papers, an illustrated copy of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, and the red brick that is my bible: Norton's Anthology of British Lit. Now, faculty meeting this week? Check desk calendar. Yup, Wednesday. And 6:30 a.m. student government tomorrow. And community service permission slips due Friday. Last Friday. Damn.

By the time I lock my door, walk halfway down the hall, return to get a book for my philosophy elective, lock my door again, go to the office and make copies, go to the faculty room to print out the assignment I forgot to print in my classroom, go back to the office to make more copies, and rush to the front of the school, I'm twenty-five minutes late. My boyfriend, Graeme, who's always on time except when he's early, has got to be pissed.

I open the passenger-side door of his blue 4Runner, and the stale smell of Taco Bell wafts out. "Sorry. Sorry. Sorry," I say, bunching my shoulders. He's listening to the Mariners' game and doesn't respond. I look to the back of the SUV, which doubles as Graeme's closet: climbing gear, wrinkled work clothes, a spare tire, an outboard motor for his twenty-four-foot sailboat. Not a lot of room. So I haul my laptop case, my purse, and my book bag into the passenger's seat with me and weave the seat belt beneath the whole mess. Then I turn to him.

"Really, I am so so sorry for being late," I say.

Nod.

"Graeme?"

He leans into the sound of the radio. Dave Niehaus's voice booms, "And the Mariners retire the side. No runs, no hits, no errors. Mariners five. Indians two."

Silent as a paperweight, Graeme puts the car in gear. The engine growls as we pull away from the curb. The mountain of bags on my lap is heavy, so I toe aside travel mugs and Taco Bell wrappings and Diet Coke bottles in the foot well, and stuff my bags down, bowing my legs around them. I lean toward Graeme and give my creeping underwear a tug. Then I fold my hands in my lap to wait.

I'll just be silent, I think.

Let Graeme cool off.

Wait till he's ready to engage.

Then I blurt, "Look, I really am sorry. So will you please just say something?"

His voice comes out slowly, stiff as cracked mud: "You want me to say it's OK. Like I always do. But the thing is, Janna, sometimes it's not." He clears his throat and looks away; confrontation for him is like the turn-and-cough test at the doctor's office. But he's had plenty of time waiting in the car to get his gumption up. "Being late is a sign of disrespect," he says. "It makes me feel like you value your time over mine."

Graeme continues for another two blocks, laying out "I feel" statements as gently as he would eggs, just like the couples counselor taught us. Everything he says is dead-on. Everything he says hurts.

"You're right," I say, when he's finished. "I'm so sorry I was late." The air between us hangs for a moment. Against my better judgment I add, "But I had parents to mollify. And copies to make. And. And" — my voice is wavery and thin — "there's just so much — "

"I know there's a lot to do, Janna. I work for a living, too, remember?" He takes a deep breath and softens his tone. "You've got to prioritize. You've got to put yourself first sometimes. You've got to find balance." I glance at him, and when he moves his hand from the steering wheel I think he's going to put it on my knee.

He shifts into fourth. "You spend your school nights planning lessons. And your weekends grading papers. And your evenings going to proms and basketball games and who knows what else. Our relationship gets the scraps of your spare time, and meanwhile you're more stressed than ever." He sounds genuinely concerned, which, aside from being nice and all, feels like a medicine ball on my chest; it'd be easier if he just picked a fight. Then he says, "At some point you've got to add me to your priority list."

My mind flares. At least I'm prioritizing teaching, not rugby drink-ups, I think, recalling our college days when I elbowed for his precious time. "You know, Graeme," I say, picking a fight of my own, "teaching isn't just a job. It's kids' lives."

"Yeah, well. It's my life, too," he says, hitting the gas through a yellow light. "And I need you in it." He pauses under the weight of what he's just said. Yet it's what he reveals about me next that touches the back of my neck: "The real you. The flesh and blood you. Not this stressed-out ball of teacherly perfection that's unraveling before my eyes."

My defenses jerk: Teaching takes time! It takes energy! It takes commitment! But as quickly as the thought comes, I see that a relationship needs time and energy and commitment, too. And my brain feels thick now, muddied with revelation. I was always the caretaker in the relationship; he was the taker. When did all that change? I cross my arms, close my eyes, and lean my temple against the cool of the window. The tears are coming now. What's happened to me? I think as I feel the car stop at a light. When did I become such a stressed-out whacko? My insides mix the cement of my thoughts. And when did I get too damn busy for love?

This time when Graeme moves his hand, he puts it on my knee. "I love you, Janna," he says. Then after a while, "Life's not supposed to be all work and no play."

I swipe my eyes dry, and the trees begin to tick by: Evergreen. Evergreen. Deciduous. Evergreen. To my silence he tries one last tack: "Look. What happened to the girl I knew in college? Who was fun-loving and up for adventure? The girl who wanted to sail around the world someday?"

The houses threaten to swim again, and I bite my lips in that monkey face that comes before crying. More sad than bitter, I say, "Don't you remember, Graeme? You broke up with her."

I was fifteen years old when I decided I wanted to sail around the world....

I sit cross-legged on the living room floor, my parents' record collection surrounding me like flower petals plucked and tossed in He-Loves-Me-Not fashion. I record every album to cassette, analyze the lyrics for double meanings, and transcribe quotes from Cat Stevens, the Grateful Dead, and Simon & Garfunkel onto my denim-blue school binder. I think: I've been born in the wrong era.

But then, on Crosby, Stills, & Nash's Daylight Again album, I hear a song called "Southern Cross." And though I've missed the boat on Woodstock and war protests, I'm carried away by something else entirely: the Dream of Sailing the World.

"Southern Cross" is about a guy who mends his broken heart on a sailboat voyage to the South Pacific. It's painfully beautiful. Catchy, too. And that day, as I teeter between girlhood and womanhood, the idea of making the passage from love for someone else, to love of oneself, speaks to me.

I take out a blue batik-print pad of paper and, with my ear to the speaker, write down the lyrics in block letters. I listen over and over to get the words right. These get pinned, among photos and dried carnations and green honorable mention ribbons, to the bulletin board beside my bed. Then, in my family's gray atlas, I look up the places in the song: Avalon, the Marquesas, Papeete — words that roll like primary colors off my tongue. And my dad explains the nautical terms "reach" and "off the wind," "waterline" and "following sea."

After dinner, I steal the globe from my brother's room and run my finger from California's Santa Catalina Island across four knuckles of open ocean to Tahiti. One knuckle = 1,000 miles. On my Walkman I press play and rewind, play and rewind.

I want to sail a-rou-ou-ound the world.

I want to be that woman-girl.

Who knows love can endure.

And so I fall in love with the sea. Not the literal, wet, let's-go-surfing sea. Nor the Cousteauian get-a-degree-in-marine-biology sea. But the lyrical sea. The transformative sea. The sea that inspires me, years before @ is anything more than shorthand, to end my senior quote in the 1990 Mercer Island High School yearbook with: FindMe@SthrnCrs.

To the extent that women-girls have pickup lines, "I'm going to sail around the world someday" became mine. Boys eat that shit up. None more than my college boyfriend Graeme.

Before meeting me, Graeme's great loves had names like Ingrid, Emma C, and Henrietta W — the names of commercial fishing boats his family owned and operated up and down the Pacific Northwest coast. Graeme first went to sea at age five; his job was to keep the boat on course while his parents hauled in salmon and halibut and tuna. By age six, he was gutting fish himself. And at age seven, he was so used to boat rules (can't go on deck without your tether) that one day on shore, he asked his mom for his life jacket so he could go outside to play.

By the time Graeme reached college he'd been fishing for thirteen years. And while he didn't harbor any mad dreams of living at sea (been there, done that), he thought it a good sign that his girlfriend did; it showed she was fun-loving, carefree, adventurous. The kind of girl he might like to marry someday.

But ten years later, during that fight in Graeme's 4Runner, I realized how far I'd traveled from the woman-girl I'd been in college. I no longer felt carefree or fun-loving. Or loving. Period. I felt stuck. Like Coleridge's Ancient Mariner, painted into a picture I couldn't get out of. A picture that, until that day, I wasn't aware I wanted to get out of.

Because as fervent and romantic and unrealistic as my long-lost sailing dream had been, so had been my teaching dream: I thought I could change the world one student at a time. And while the efficacy and advisability of this scheme is highly debatable, I passionately loved my job. I just didn't love the person I'd become through my job: a harried, perfectionist, martyring workaholic.

1 anxiety attack

3 major fights with Graeme

5 months' soul-searching

and innumerable therapy sessions later,

I came to understand that I was ready for a change.

Which is how I end up on the back of a Honda 650 motorcycle speeding toward what Graeme and I have dubbed the B-HAG Brainstorming Summit. The past five months of fights and freak-outs have convinced us we need a B-HAG (that's Big Hairy Audacious Goal, in Graeme's business speak) to give us a new direction together. Whether a few months' adventure or a long-term lifestyle change, we're not sure, but it needs to be mutual, something beyond his obsession with mountain climbing and my obsession with teaching. And we need to do it now — while we're still young, still childless, and still crazy enough to go for it.

I've dressed up for the occasion in a buttery beaded sweater set, cute black pants, and my number one accessory: a smooth-and-lift bra. But then Graeme tosses me a crusty, old rawhide jacket that looks like it's been in a wreck or two, which is precisely why he insists I wear it. And even though it's a hot August day, he vetoes my open-toed sandals in favor of hiking boots, and gives me gloves the size of moon boots to wear. "Safety first!" he says. When I pull on Snoopy-style goggles over my (neon yellow) helmet, the damage is complete. Sexy biker-babe Barbie? I'm Skipper, her dorky little sister.

Luckily, when you're riding on the back of a motorcycle going 50 mph with your arms wrapped round the man you love, sexy comes rushing back. We pull up at Anthony's, a splurge of a seafood restaurant at Seattle's waterfront, and in one swift arc I swing my leg off the back of the bike. I pull off my helmet and shake out my (limp, mousy brown) hair like in the movies. It's Saturday night. I'm ready to brainstorm.

Graeme locks the helmets to the bike while I rummage through my bag for my strappy sandals. There's my wallet, there's a condom, there's a tin of curiously strong mints. There are no cute, black, strappy sandals.

Shitfuck.

"Shitfuck" is the expletive my dad invented years ago to show my brother and me how silly we sounded saying shit and fuck every other word. It was so dorky it actually stopped us swearing for a while. But now, in my thirties, it's my invective of choice.

Shitfuck. No sandals.

I take Graeme's arm, push my shoulders back, and clomp gracefully toward the tall doors of the restaurant. I soon realize that if I had my (neon yellow) motorcycle helmet cradled under my arm, the hostess would at least have some context for my ensemble. But as it is, the expression on her eye-shadowed, diamond-nose-studded face reads: "Seattle fashion sucks."

When we reach our raised half-circle booth with its fantastic view of the water, I remove the jacket, scootch into my seat, and fold my feet clunkily behind the table's metal pedestal.

And that's our big, hairy, audacious start to the evening.

Anthony's is crowded and loud, and it takes a while for the server to get to our table. Graeme orders a 2000 Côte du Rhone — big body, soft finish, hints of black currant — and the B-HAG brainstorming begins: Move to Mexico. Bike across France. Become truck drivers. Of course, I don't bother mentioning that some couples our age go after that big, hairy, audacious goal called Marriage. Because every time the topic comes up, we argue. And, anyway, a wedding isn't going to get me out of this rut, or lower my stress, or help me find balance.

So we're sipping our wine and coming up with crazy schemes and looking out over the water. I'm off on a tangent about driving Graeme's orange and white 1973 Winnebago cross-country. "I bet we'd go to some pretty remote places," I say fingering the stem of my wineglass, "and maybe that would lead to some exotic outdoor, mm, extracurricular activities." My eyebrows do calisthenics on my forehead.

At this, Graeme turns back from the window and slaps both hands on the table. I think, He's taking this outdoor sex idea more seriously than I expected. But then he looks me in the eye and, in a why-didn't-I-think-of-thisbefore voice, says, "What about your old high school dream?"

I'm puzzled. "You mean marry Tim Fries, have two-point-five children, and impale myself on a white picket fence?"

"Noo," he says. "I mean" — he points to the sailboat masts swaying in front of the windows — "do you think you might like to buy a sturdier boat" — he's smiling really big now — "outfit it for the ocean" — his fingers wriggle like centipedes — "and sail it to the South Pacific?"

I look at him and I don't think, I like my outdoor sex idea better.

In fact, I don't even think: Do we have the sailing skills? Can we afford it? How do I leave my dog? my friends? my family? What if I get seasick? What if pirates attack us? What if a tanker or whale or hurricane hits us? What if he falls overboard? What if I fall overboard? What if we capsize? What if we die?

I just look at the man sitting across from me. The man I've loved off and on since I was nineteen years old. The man who's asking if I think I'd like to sail to the Southern Cross with him.

And I say, "I do."

Over Penn Cove Mussels in saffron and white wine broth, we plan: We'll buy the cheapest boat we can find. We'll take sabbaticals from our jobs. We'll sell our cars. We'll rent our house. And we'll go on a strict B-HAG budget: No more movies. No more restaurants. No more fancy wine.

By the end of the evening, we're both fully on board the Sailing Dream. All that's left is the biggest, hairiest, most audacious part of the plan: telling our parents.

Copyright © 2009 by Janna Cawrse Esarey

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Introduction

This reading group guide for Motion of the Ocean includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Janna Cawrse Esarey. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Questions for Discussion

1. The book opens with the author thinking her husband is an asshole, but after they survive a small calamity together, she says she's never felt so in love. When have you experienced this sort of flip-flop of emotions about a person you love? Throughout the story, how does Janna reveal both the positive and negative aspects of marriage? Of her husband? Of herself?

2. When looking at the mint color of the walls in her foyer, Janna says, "those little color squares are cruel jokes; they trick you into thinking you know what you're getting when really you never can tell." Is this an apt metaphor for choosing a life partner? Why or why not? What can prepare us to make this monumental decision? How does one choose the One?

3. Throughout the book Janna demonstrates that she finds it difficult to be on time or do tasks in a timely manner — in her words, she is a "Pokey Person." Graeme, on the other hand, is "one of those super-efficient so-called humans who gets twice as much done in half as much time." What are the pluses and minuses of each of these approaches to time? What kind of person are you when it comes to time? In what ways do time issues affect your own relationships?

4. The pink and blue division of labor aboardDragonfly challenges Janna's sense of worth in their sailing endeavor and raises questions about her new role as a wife. What perspectives do the other female cruisers provide to Janna about the division of tasks and, by extension, her role? Is Janna able to develop an appreciation for her value as a sailor and wife? If yes, how? If no, why not? How do you see the pink and blue division play out in your own life? Do these divisions impact your sense of worth as they did Janna's? Why or why not?

5. On the crossing, when sea and sky are ever constant yet always changing, Janna observes that "there's also a monotony in marriage that's equally delightful and dangerous." What does she mean by this phrase? What were some of the dangerous and delightful moments for Graeme and Janna while at sea? Were they able to make peace with this tension between extremes? Why or why not? How do you think this idea of staying attentive despite — or because of — monotony can help you to re-envision the moments in your own life?

6. Once in French Polynesia, Janna and Graeme "mark the passage" by getting tattoos together. How does this help them make sense of their ocean crossing and their first year as a married couple? Are anniversaries (birthdays, weddings, new years) important to you as a way to reflect on or celebrate the passage of time? Why or why not? What sorts of ceremonies or events help you mark your own passage through life?

7. Graeme and Janna's reactions to their engagement, approaches to sailing, and experiences along the way reveal that they often hold completely different views of the exact same event. How do these diverging perspectives strain and/or enhance their relationship? When has your experience of an event totally diverged from someone else's? How did you react when you realized you weren't on the same wavelength? What did you take away from the interaction?

8. Janna believes that their sailing honeymoon is a test of their boat, their seamanship, and their relationship. Do you think that Graeme would agree with this assessment? Why or why not? How else might Janna have viewed their honeymoon and the challenges they encountered along the way? If their journey is a test, how would you evaluate their success and/or failure?

9. Discuss the pros and cons of Janna's notion of the One, Graeme's anti-One thesis, and Frits's Green Box Theory of Love. Whose idea of love is most in line with your view? Why? Do you have your own personal theory of love? If yes, what is it and how have you developed this theory?

10. At the outset of their trip, Janna wonders if marriage is about agreeing to drink only from the relationship's cup and being satisfied with whatever sustenance it offers. By the end of the voyage, however, she argues for a couple's need for otherness in order to thrive in their togetherness. Do you agree with her contention? Why or why not? How does one go about building and maintaining otherness while staying close and committed to the person you love?

11. What does Janna mean when she says, "It's the space between, the getting from point A to point B, that terrifies and teaches us the most"? How is this sentiment borne out in both the actual and figurative crossings and spaces that develop between Graeme and Janna on their journey? What do you believe Janna and Graeme learn about themselves and their relationship in these spaces between? Identify some of your own crossings from one stage of life to another and discuss the strategies you used to overcome the challenges of the space between — whether it be between a new self and an old self, or between you and a loved one.

12. Back at home in Seattle, Janna says that what matters is "not the what but the how" — that one can have an extraordinary existence no matter how ordinary one's life appears. How is this philosophy true or false? What is your own big, hairy, audacious goal? What have you done or might you do to pursue it?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. Janna discusses her excitement in teaching "Meditation 17" by John Donne because of its message about the connectedness of humanity. Read "Meditation 17" at the website below and discuss the questions after. It's helpful to know that 1) church bells were rung as a call to worship and also when someone died, and 2) the essay opens with Donne on his sickbed, realizing he's so ill that the bell he hears could actually be for himself. http://www.luminarium.org/sevenlit/donne/meditation17.php

a. Beyond its theme about the connectedness of humanity, what other major themes do you see in this essay?

b. Janna reimagines humans as islands because of the changeable nature of our connections with each other. Do you agree with her reformed opinion that we may in fact be more like islands than pieces of a continent?

c. What resonates with you as you read this passage?

d. The phrase, "if by this consideration of another's danger, I take mine own into contemplation, and so secure myself," suggests that we may gain insight into our own personal stories as we consider others'. What do you think you will take away from your reading of The Motion of the Ocean? What has it revealed to you about your life, the goals you have achieved, and those you still wish to accomplish?

2. Visit Janna's website (www.byjanna.com) and listen to "The Rock Song" with your book club.

a. How does hearing the song differ from reading about it in the book? Now that you know Graeme and Janna's entire love story, what meanings can you unearth from specific lines and images?

b. What does the song underscore about the nature of Graeme and Janna's relationship?

c. Members challenge: Everyone has a love story, so why not a love song? Write your own verse or two to describe an important relationship in your life. Share the verse and, of course, your own love story with each other.

3. Cooking for your group? Visit www.byjanna.com for easy recipes (besides Top Ramen) that Janna and Graeme enjoyed aboard Dragonfly.

A Conversation with Janna Cawrse Esarey

You deal with your depression in a very straightforward manner in this memoir. Was that deliberate? Have you always struggled with depression and do you continue to struggle with it? What would you recommend to readers who see parallels in their experiences of depression?

I wanted to be frank about my own experience with depression because when we keep things hush-hush, we endow them with much more power than they already have. That's dangerous. My depression has visited me since high school — it drops in every now and then like an uninvited houseguest — but it doesn't define me. I find that the best way to give it the boot is to talk about it to a friend or a loved one, or — if it sticks around for a while or keeps banging on the door — a professional. And, yes, I still deal with it. In fact, one of the many factors in our decision to end our voyage was an intense, albeit brief, bout of pre-baby blues in Hong Kong. That made me worry I might also have post-partum depression (thankfully, I didn't). I didn't mention all this in the epilogue because it felt like opening a huge can of worms. But, since you ask, there go the worms.

You explored the question of what can and cannot be fulfilled by a marriage and one's partner and determined that it is best for each partner to diversify how his or her needs are met. Has your thinking about this question changed or expanded the longer you have been married? What have you found among others who are married?

I still believe it's true that we can't expect any one person to meet all our needs. However, now that Graeme and I have been together longer, and especially since we've had children, I see that how and where we get our needs met is a very delicate balance. At times Graeme and I have worried that we're getting too many needs met outside the relationship, and so we try to recalibrate and reconnect. We institute date night or red wine on the couch night or we read the entire Harry Potter series out loud to each other. We're very intentional about reconnecting because some baseline of needs (beyond the obvious: sex) need to be fulfilled within the partnership. Otherwise it stops being a partnership.

And if I may make a slight tangent: I feel like this otherness/togetherness balance becomes even more crucial for parents. It's so easy for moms, especially, to get needs for affection met by their kids, or to simply power through the day head-down because there's just so much to do. Connecting with a partner can go by the wayside. But I know that one of the best gifts I can give my children is to stay deeply in love with their dad. Often this is accomplished by spending more time with him. Sometimes it's accomplished by spending time with my girlfriends or time alone. I've realized that in order to be the best mom I can be, I have to stay connected to Graeme and stay in a healthy space myself — which, ironically, means taking regular time away from my children. It's that whole otherness-to-promote-togetherness dance again. Paradoxical but, in my girlfriends' and my experience, true.

You pay close attention to how our own particular lenses give us a biased view of the world. How do you think this memoir would have been different had Graeme written it? What do you think would have been some of his central questions or concerns?

If Graeme had written this book, it would have been about the weather and the sea and anchoring and sailing tactics and the ninety-nine uses of 5200 (his favorite marine epoxy). He would have included insightful anecdotes about the places we visited — he's a very good writer — and maybe a charming tale or two about love. But nothing about our relationship's doldrums. Nada about sex. That said, Graeme did have veto power, so this is a certified, Graeme-approved book, even if it is nothing like the one he would have written.

You discovered your purpose as a writer on this honeymoon voyage. How do you think your life would have been different had you not discovered your love for writing? Do you think your finding a purpose in life is in any way related to your notion of finding the One in love? Why or why not?

Several years before our trip, I told one of my oldest friends that I thought I might want to be a writer. I was really embarrassed telling her this because I thought it was such a ridiculous, impossible dream. My friend rolled her eyes and said, "Sheesh, Janna, you've always wanted to be a writer. Don't you see that?" Of course, I had no idea. So I guess I feel like I was bound to discover and rediscover and ultimately pursue my love for writing eventually. It just took the right timing — sort of like Graeme and me. Thank goodness I rediscovered writing on the boat, though, because otherwise I think I would have struggled even more with my role afloat.

But your question implies something more significant, more fascinating, too — namely, is there some One calling out there for each of us? I don't know. I'd like to think that everyone has something, many things actually, that makes them feel alive and useful and challenged and fulfilled. Writing does this for me in an intense, daily way, but other things ignite me too (teaching, making my daughters laugh, annual road trips with my mom). When it comes down to it, I think Graeme is right. We have to make our life the One we want every day, whether by pursuing a capital-P Purpose or by cultivating a certain attitude toward the little-p purposes that pepper our days. What's that wonderful Annie Dillard saying? — "How we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives."

What were the challenges you encountered as you strove to tell your story? What did you leave out that you wished you could have included in the memoir?

In terms of actually getting the book written, the biggest challenge was the insane writing schedule — a chapter a week — while piecing together child care for a toddler. That took serious juggling. Also, I got the green-light to write this book literally the same week I conceived my second daughter, so I wrote my memoir while pregnant, which is a small miracle considering how a pregnant woman's brain shrinks in inverse proportion to her belly growing (at least it feels that way). I delivered my book baby just a few weeks before I delivered my real baby, and then I was typing edits in between — and sometimes even during — nursing sessions. In fact, my youngest is sitting on my lap, shaking and sucking a monkey rattle as I type this.

In terms of story, I found it very difficult to edit my life down to a single storyline. I mean, just think of the myriad things you do, think, feel, say, hear, and see on any given day. Your day is like a quilt square with a very busy pattern. And if you sew that together with another seven-hundred-some-odd crazy quilt squares, you've got the fabric from two years of life. So I had to extract a single, solitary thread, stretching diagonally from one corner of my quilt to the other, to have a story that was short and coherent enough for anyone besides my mom to read. Think of all that left-over fabric — days and months, ports and storms, best friends and entire countries — undulating out beyond that thread. It almost gives me a yucky-stomach feeling thinking of everything I had to leave out (e.g., Sorry, Central America, you didn't make the cut). But I feel better when I remind myself that my book is a single thread from my life. It's not my actual life.

One of the most dramatic moments in the story is when you and Graeme choose to continue with the wedding and the honeymoon in spite of his mother's cancer. Did you continue to struggle with this choice on the trip? What did it mean to you and Graeme for his mother to give you her blessing? What would you like your readers to understand about that choice?

First of all, my mother-in-law's support meant the world to us — literally, because we got to go explore it. But she'll probably laugh at the idea that she provided drama in our tale; she is the most undramatic, down-to-earth person I know. At the same time, she's a huge dreamer and doer (like moving to Taiwan to teach English after her kids had flown the coop). For her — and, therefore, for us — abandoning big dreams was not an option. For one, she would have felt horribly if we'd changed our plans. And for two, she was looking forward to visiting us in Mexico just as much as we were looking forward to sailing there. Vickie's cancer was a palpable reminder to live our dreams relentlessly.

You introduced us to a whole community of cruisers, particularly women. Do you still maintain contact with the women you met on your voyage? What can you tell us about these sailing women and their approach to living such a unique life? What can they tell other women who are landlubbers?

Graeme and I keep in touch with cruising friends via email, and we've rendezvoused with some of them on land and at sea as well. Some are still sailing. Most are not. That's the thing about big adventures; they don't have to last forever, and when you return to your old life it's with renewed vigor because it feels like much more of a choice.

My closest girlfriend from cruising (who doesn't even appear in the book) is the perfect example. She was a high-powered businesswoman who was on the burn-out trail. One night, while watching Dawson's Creek reruns, she saw that episode where Pace and Joey sail into the sunset. My friend thought, Hey! if they can do it, so can I. The next day she googled "sailboat crew" and signed on for a voyage across the Pacific. She ended up having a wonderful romance with the captain of the sailboat she was on. When my girlfriend returned, she easily found another job, which totally disproves the idea that stepping off the treadmill for a year or two means you won't be able to get back on. In fact, I think she'd say that sabbaticalism makes for happier, more productive people. Makes me wonder what her next adventure will be...

You have a pretty active life online as a blogger on "Happily Even After" for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (http://blog.seattlepi.com/happilyevenafter). What have you gained from writing in such an environment where feedback is often immediate and potentially strident? What have been some of its challenges and benefits?

It's no fun when people tell me how stupid and lame I am. That happens, and it stinks. Blogging is a also challenge for me because it's supposed to be quick and short and off-the-cuff. I'm slow and long-winded and perfectionistic. And so blogging is good for me. It pushes me and my writing, and it definitely helped hone my voice for this book. But my favorite thing about blogging is how an authentic conversation can develop. I have readers who leave comments that are way more articulate — sometimes even longer — than the posts they're responding to. These people have become virtual buddies, online think-mates, a web of people striving for balance and connection. I love and appreciate that.

In your role as a writer, you seem to have zeroed in on the complexities of women's lives as they strive to balance love, family, work, friends, and self. What continue to be the prevailing concerns for the women you encounter and the unique strategies they employ to stay grounded in their lives?

Now isn't this the question? I mean, who doesn't struggle with balance when we have so many important and competing priorities? And for me at least, just when I think I have a semblance of balance, life goes and changes on me.

One of my girlfriends says the real problem is that we women actually believe we can have it all — since that's what we've been told — when really we can't. So women try to be the perfect worker, wife, mother, daughter, sibling, neighbor, housekeeper, cook, hostess, friend, and lover — all while looking fabulous. In trying to do everything, and to perfection, we drive ourselves nuts and/or end up feeling like we're doing nothing well enough. Men, in contrast, (according to my friend) cherry-pick a few roles and don't throw their backs and psyches out trying to do them perfectly. I'd be curious to know what other women and men think about this theory.

As for me, being the dreamer I am, I'm loathe to admit I can't have it all. But I have come to realize that I can't have it all at the same time. So I suppose my strategy — and that of my girlfriends — is to prioritize what matters most to each of us at this stage in our lives, and then let a whole mess of stuff slide. For my part this means, among other things, that I don't shower much, that our oh-shit drawer is now an entire oh-shit room, that our neighbors wheel our recycling bins in more often than not (for which I hereby publicly thank them), and that I don't open my snail-mail or e-mail nearly as often as I should. Plus I don't cook anymore — Graeme was always better at that anyway.

What keeps the women in my life grounded? That's easy. Each other.

What advice would you offer the reader who is inspired by The Motion of the Ocean to tackle his or her own big, hairy, audacious goal?

Take good notes! And tell me about your B-HAG on my website (www.byjanna.com). If you're blogging about it, which by all means you should, leave a link so others can follow you on your journey.

What is on deck for you and your family's next big, hairy, audacious goal?

My personal B-HAG is to finish that novel I've had kicking around my brain for so long. Our family B-HAG is to go cruising again with two little girls as crew. And Graeme's and my B-HAG is to make love last. Forever.

Janna Cawrse Esarey was a 2008 Jack Straw Writing Fellow. Her work appears in travel anthologies and sailing magazines, including Sail and Cruising World. She also writes ?Happily Even After,? a relationship blog for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Janna lives in Seattle overlooking her friend and nemesis, the sailboat Dragonfly. Visit her at www.byjanna.com.

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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Motion of the Ocean includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Janna Cawrse Esarey. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Questions for Discussion

1. The book opens with the author thinking her husband is an asshole, but after they survive a small calamity together, she says she's never felt so in love. When have you experienced this sort of flip-flop of emotions about a person you love? Throughout the story, how does Janna reveal both the positive and negative aspects of marriage? Of her husband? Of herself?

2. When looking at the mint color of the walls in her foyer, Janna says, "those little color squares are cruel jokes; they trick you into thinking you know what you're getting when really you never can tell." Is this an apt metaphor for choosing a life partner? Why or why not? What can prepare us to make this monumental decision? How does one choose the One?

3. Throughout the book Janna demonstrates that she finds it difficult to be on time or do tasks in a timely manner — in her words, she is a "Pokey Person." Graeme, on the other hand, is "one of those super-efficient so-called humans who gets twice as much done in half as much time." What are the pluses and minuses of each of these approaches to time? What kind of person are you when it comes to time? In what ways do time issues affect your own relationships?

4. The pink and blue division of labor aboard Dragonfly challenges Janna's sense of worth in their sailing endeavor and raises questions about her new role as a wife. What perspectives do the other female cruisers provide to Janna about the division of tasks and, by extension, her role? Is Janna able to develop an appreciation for her value as a sailor and wife? If yes, how? If no, why not? How do you see the pink and blue division play out in your own life? Do these divisions impact your sense of worth as they did Janna's? Why or why not?

5. On the crossing, when sea and sky are ever constant yet always changing, Janna observes that "there's also a monotony in marriage that's equally delightful and dangerous." What does she mean by this phrase? What were some of the dangerous and delightful moments for Graeme and Janna while at sea? Were they able to make peace with this tension between extremes? Why or why not? How do you think this idea of staying attentive despite — or because of — monotony can help you to re-envision the moments in your own life?

6. Once in French Polynesia, Janna and Graeme "mark the passage" by getting tattoos together. How does this help them make sense of their ocean crossing and their first year as a married couple? Are anniversaries (birthdays, weddings, new years) important to you as a way to reflect on or celebrate the passage of time? Why or why not? What sorts of ceremonies or events help you mark your own passage through life?

7. Graeme and Janna's reactions to their engagement, approaches to sailing, and experiences along the way reveal that they often hold completely different views of the exact same event. How do these diverging perspectives strain and/or enhance their relationship? When has your experience of an event totally diverged from someone else's? How did you react when you realized you weren't on the same wavelength? What did you take away from the interaction?

8. Janna believes that their sailing honeymoon is a test of their boat, their seamanship, and their relationship. Do you think that Graeme would agree with this assessment? Why or why not? How else might Janna have viewed their honeymoon and the challenges they encountered along the way? If their journey is a test, how would you evaluate their success and/or failure?

9. Discuss the pros and cons of Janna's notion of the One, Graeme's anti-One thesis, and Frits's Green Box Theory of Love. Whose idea of love is most in line with your view? Why? Do you have your own personal theory of love? If yes, what is it and how have you developed this theory?

10. At the outset of their trip, Janna wonders if marriage is about agreeing to drink only from the relationship's cup and being satisfied with whatever sustenance it offers. By the end of the voyage, however, she argues for a couple's need for otherness in order to thrive in their togetherness. Do you agree with her contention? Why or why not? How does one go about building and maintaining otherness while staying close and committed to the person you love?

11. What does Janna mean when she says, "It's the space between, the getting from point A to point B, that terrifies and teaches us the most"? How is this sentiment borne out in both the actual and figurative crossings and spaces that develop between Graeme and Janna on their journey? What do you believe Janna and Graeme learn about themselves and their relationship in these spaces between? Identify some of your own crossings from one stage of life to another and discuss the strategies you used to overcome the challenges of the space between — whether it be between a new self and an old self, or between you and a loved one.

12. Back at home in Seattle, Janna says that what matters is "not the what but the how" — that one can have an extraordinary existence no matter how ordinary one's life appears. How is this philosophy true or false? What is your own big, hairy, audacious goal? What have you done or might you do to pursue it?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. Janna discusses her excitement in teaching "Meditation 17" by John Donne because of its message about the connectedness of humanity. Read "Meditation 17" at the website below and discuss the questions after. It's helpful to know that 1) church bells were rung as a call to worship and also when someone died, and 2) the essay opens with Donne on his sickbed, realizing he's so ill that the bell he hears could actually be for himself. http://www.luminarium.org/sevenlit/donne/meditation17.php

a. Beyond its theme about the connectedness of humanity, what other major themes do you see in this essay?

b. Janna reimagines humans as islands because of the changeable nature of our connections with each other. Do you agree with her reformed opinion that we may in fact be more like islands than pieces of a continent?

c. What resonates with you as you read this passage?

d. The phrase, "if by this consideration of another's danger, I take mine own into contemplation, and so secure myself," suggests that we may gain insight into our own personal stories as we consider others'. What do you think you will take away from your reading of The Motion of the Ocean? What has it revealed to you about your life, the goals you have achieved, and those you still wish to accomplish?

2. Visit Janna's website (www.byjanna.com) and listen to "The Rock Song" with your book club.

a. How does hearing the song differ from reading about it in the book? Now that you know Graeme and Janna's entire love story, what meanings can you unearth from specific lines and images?

b. What does the song underscore about the nature of Graeme and Janna's relationship?

c. Members challenge: Everyone has a love story, so why not a love song? Write your own verse or two to describe an important relationship in your life. Share the verse and, of course, your own love story with each other.

3. Cooking for your group? Visit www.byjanna.com for easy recipes (besides Top Ramen) that Janna and Graeme enjoyed aboard Dragonfly.

A Conversation with Janna Cawrse Esarey

You deal with your depression in a very straightforward manner in this memoir. Was that deliberate? Have you always struggled with depression and do you continue to struggle with it? What would you recommend to readers who see parallels in their experiences of depression?

I wanted to be frank about my own experience with depression because when we keep things hush-hush, we endow them with much more power than they already have. That's dangerous. My depression has visited me since high school — it drops in every now and then like an uninvited houseguest — but it doesn't define me. I find that the best way to give it the boot is to talk about it to a friend or a loved one, or — if it sticks around for a while or keeps banging on the door — a professional. And, yes, I still deal with it. In fact, one of the many factors in our decision to end our voyage was an intense, albeit brief, bout of pre-baby blues in Hong Kong. That made me worry I might also have post-partum depression (thankfully, I didn't). I didn't mention all this in the epilogue because it felt like opening a huge can of worms. But, since you ask, there go the worms.

You explored the question of what can and cannot be fulfilled by a marriage and one's partner and determined that it is best for each partner to diversify how his or her needs are met. Has your thinking about this question changed or expanded the longer you have been married? What have you found among others who are married?

I still believe it's true that we can't expect any one person to meet all our needs. However, now that Graeme and I have been together longer, and especially since we've had children, I see that how and where we get our needs met is a very delicate balance. At times Graeme and I have worried that we're getting too many needs met outside the relationship, and so we try to recalibrate and reconnect. We institute date night or red wine on the couch night or we read the entire Harry Potter series out loud to each other. We're very intentional about reconnecting because some baseline of needs (beyond the obvious: sex) need to be fulfilled within the partnership. Otherwise it stops being a partnership.

And if I may make a slight tangent: I feel like this otherness/togetherness balance becomes even more crucial for parents. It's so easy for moms, especially, to get needs for affection met by their kids, or to simply power through the day head-down because there's just so much to do. Connecting with a partner can go by the wayside. But I know that one of the best gifts I can give my children is to stay deeply in love with their dad. Often this is accomplished by spending more time with him. Sometimes it's accomplished by spending time with my girlfriends or time alone. I've realized that in order to be the best mom I can be, I have to stay connected to Graeme and stay in a healthy space myself — which, ironically, means taking regular time away from my children. It's that whole otherness-to-promote-togetherness dance again. Paradoxical but, in my girlfriends' and my experience, true.

You pay close attention to how our own particular lenses give us a biased view of the world. How do you think this memoir would have been different had Graeme written it? What do you think would have been some of his central questions or concerns?

If Graeme had written this book, it would have been about the weather and the sea and anchoring and sailing tactics and the ninety-nine uses of 5200 (his favorite marine epoxy). He would have included insightful anecdotes about the places we visited — he's a very good writer — and maybe a charming tale or two about love. But nothing about our relationship's doldrums. Nada about sex. That said, Graeme did have veto power, so this is a certified, Graeme-approved book, even if it is nothing like the one he would have written.

You discovered your purpose as a writer on this honeymoon voyage. How do you think your life would have been different had you not discovered your love for writing? Do you think your finding a purpose in life is in any way related to your notion of finding the One in love? Why or why not?

Several years before our trip, I told one of my oldest friends that I thought I might want to be a writer. I was really embarrassed telling her this because I thought it was such a ridiculous, impossible dream. My friend rolled her eyes and said, "Sheesh, Janna, you've always wanted to be a writer. Don't you see that?" Of course, I had no idea. So I guess I feel like I was bound to discover and rediscover and ultimately pursue my love for writing eventually. It just took the right timing — sort of like Graeme and me. Thank goodness I rediscovered writing on the boat, though, because otherwise I think I would have struggled even more with my role afloat.

But your question implies something more significant, more fascinating, too — namely, is there some One calling out there for each of us? I don't know. I'd like to think that everyone has something, many things actually, that makes them feel alive and useful and challenged and fulfilled. Writing does this for me in an intense, daily way, but other things ignite me too (teaching, making my daughters laugh, annual road trips with my mom). When it comes down to it, I think Graeme is right. We have to make our life the One we want every day, whether by pursuing a capital-P Purpose or by cultivating a certain attitude toward the little-p purposes that pepper our days. What's that wonderful Annie Dillard saying? — "How we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives."

What were the challenges you encountered as you strove to tell your story? What did you leave out that you wished you could have included in the memoir?

In terms of actually getting the book written, the biggest challenge was the insane writing schedule — a chapter a week — while piecing together child care for a toddler. That took serious juggling. Also, I got the green-light to write this book literally the same week I conceived my second daughter, so I wrote my memoir while pregnant, which is a small miracle considering how a pregnant woman's brain shrinks in inverse proportion to her belly growing (at least it feels that way). I delivered my book baby just a few weeks before I delivered my real baby, and then I was typing edits in between — and sometimes even during — nursing sessions. In fact, my youngest is sitting on my lap, shaking and sucking a monkey rattle as I type this.

In terms of story, I found it very difficult to edit my life down to a single storyline. I mean, just think of the myriad things you do, think, feel, say, hear, and see on any given day. Your day is like a quilt square with a very busy pattern. And if you sew that together with another seven-hundred-some-odd crazy quilt squares, you've got the fabric from two years of life. So I had to extract a single, solitary thread, stretching diagonally from one corner of my quilt to the other, to have a story that was short and coherent enough for anyone besides my mom to read. Think of all that left-over fabric — days and months, ports and storms, best friends and entire countries — undulating out beyond that thread. It almost gives me a yucky-stomach feeling thinking of everything I had to leave out (e.g., Sorry, Central America, you didn't make the cut). But I feel better when I remind myself that my book is a single thread from my life. It's not my actual life.

One of the most dramatic moments in the story is when you and Graeme choose to continue with the wedding and the honeymoon in spite of his mother's cancer. Did you continue to struggle with this choice on the trip? What did it mean to you and Graeme for his mother to give you her blessing? What would you like your readers to understand about that choice?

First of all, my mother-in-law's support meant the world to us — literally, because we got to go explore it. But she'll probably laugh at the idea that she provided drama in our tale; she is the most undramatic, down-to-earth person I know. At the same time, she's a huge dreamer and doer (like moving to Taiwan to teach English after her kids had flown the coop). For her — and, therefore, for us — abandoning big dreams was not an option. For one, she would have felt horribly if we'd changed our plans. And for two, she was looking forward to visiting us in Mexico just as much as we were looking forward to sailing there. Vickie's cancer was a palpable reminder to live our dreams relentlessly.

You introduced us to a whole community of cruisers, particularly women. Do you still maintain contact with the women you met on your voyage? What can you tell us about these sailing women and their approach to living such a unique life? What can they tell other women who are landlubbers?

Graeme and I keep in touch with cruising friends via email, and we've rendezvoused with some of them on land and at sea as well. Some are still sailing. Most are not. That's the thing about big adventures; they don't have to last forever, and when you return to your old life it's with renewed vigor because it feels like much more of a choice.

My closest girlfriend from cruising (who doesn't even appear in the book) is the perfect example. She was a high-powered businesswoman who was on the burn-out trail. One night, while watching Dawson's Creek reruns, she saw that episode where Pace and Joey sail into the sunset. My friend thought, Hey! if they can do it, so can I. The next day she googled "sailboat crew" and signed on for a voyage across the Pacific. She ended up having a wonderful romance with the captain of the sailboat she was on. When my girlfriend returned, she easily found another job, which totally disproves the idea that stepping off the treadmill for a year or two means you won't be able to get back on. In fact, I think she'd say that sabbaticalism makes for happier, more productive people. Makes me wonder what her next adventure will be...

You have a pretty active life online as a blogger on "Happily Even After" for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (http://blog.seattlepi.com/happilyevenafter). What have you gained from writing in such an environment where feedback is often immediate and potentially strident? What have been some of its challenges and benefits?

It's no fun when people tell me how stupid and lame I am. That happens, and it stinks. Blogging is a also challenge for me because it's supposed to be quick and short and off-the-cuff. I'm slow and long-winded and perfectionistic. And so blogging is good for me. It pushes me and my writing, and it definitely helped hone my voice for this book. But my favorite thing about blogging is how an authentic conversation can develop. I have readers who leave comments that are way more articulate — sometimes even longer — than the posts they're responding to. These people have become virtual buddies, online think-mates, a web of people striving for balance and connection. I love and appreciate that.

In your role as a writer, you seem to have zeroed in on the complexities of women's lives as they strive to balance love, family, work, friends, and self. What continue to be the prevailing concerns for the women you encounter and the unique strategies they employ to stay grounded in their lives?

Now isn't this the question? I mean, who doesn't struggle with balance when we have so many important and competing priorities? And for me at least, just when I think I have a semblance of balance, life goes and changes on me.

One of my girlfriends says the real problem is that we women actually believe we can have it all — since that's what we've been told — when really we can't. So women try to be the perfect worker, wife, mother, daughter, sibling, neighbor, housekeeper, cook, hostess, friend, and lover — all while looking fabulous. In trying to do everything, and to perfection, we drive ourselves nuts and/or end up feeling like we're doing nothing well enough. Men, in contrast, (according to my friend) cherry-pick a few roles and don't throw their backs and psyches out trying to do them perfectly. I'd be curious to know what other women and men think about this theory.

As for me, being the dreamer I am, I'm loathe to admit I can't have it all. But I have come to realize that I can't have it all at the same time. So I suppose my strategy — and that of my girlfriends — is to prioritize what matters most to each of us at this stage in our lives, and then let a whole mess of stuff slide. For my part this means, among other things, that I don't shower much, that our oh-shit drawer is now an entire oh-shit room, that our neighbors wheel our recycling bins in more often than not (for which I hereby publicly thank them), and that I don't open my snail-mail or e-mail nearly as often as I should. Plus I don't cook anymore — Graeme was always better at that anyway.

What keeps the women in my life grounded? That's easy. Each other.

What advice would you offer the reader who is inspired by The Motion of the Ocean to tackle his or her own big, hairy, audacious goal?

Take good notes! And tell me about your B-HAG on my website (www.byjanna.com). If you're blogging about it, which by all means you should, leave a link so others can follow you on your journey.

What is on deck for you and your family's next big, hairy, audacious goal?

My personal B-HAG is to finish that novel I've had kicking around my brain for so long. Our family B-HAG is to go cruising again with two little girls as crew. And Graeme's and my B-HAG is to make love last. Forever.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 28 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Fabulous Read

    Recommended by Jen Lancaster's blog, I eagerly picked this up. Who hasn't harbored the idea of sailing away from it all? Janna Cawrse Easery weaves the tale of her and her husband's honeymoon sailing to the Southern Cross. It's relateable, sweet, funny and endearing. Couldn't put it down yet tried to hold off finishing it. Is definitely a re-read and pass to friends. If you've ever set foot on a boat or had a relationship that spanned your different 'selves' - this is the book for you.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 10, 2009

    adventures in couplehood

    Janna Cawrse Esarey handed herself the perfect real-life metaphor for her new marriage when she and her husband took off sailing across the Pacific for their two-year honeymoon, and she milked it for all it was worth--much to the benefit of anyone who reads her book. This is a good cruising story, if you're into that, but it's much more. You don't need to be contemplating an ocean voyage to get a lot out of this--you just need to be contemplating a journey through life with a mate--or already on one. This is real, it's honest, and it's a good time with a big heart.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 8, 2009

    A relationship book, a sailing manual, a traveling memoir, a love story, and the perfect beach read rolled into one

    In "The Motion of the Ocean: 1 Small Boat, 2 Average Lovers, and a Woman's Search for the Meaning of Wife," Janna Cawrse Esarey details her two-year long honeymoon spent sailing across the Pacific ocean with her husband-dangerous weather, piracy threats, exotic places, and rocky love life included. Tired of being the typical workaholic English teacher with a boring life, Janna decides to fulfill her childhood dream of sailing and enlists her enthusiastic husband for the ride. However, their romance is soon overshadowed by on-going problems with their boat "Dragonfly," cross-cultural misunderstandings abroad, and gender differences becoming increasingly apparent as a result of spending too much time together. Yet, armed with nothing but a rookie sailor's instinct, Janna's basic French and her husband's fluent Mandarin, they somehow manage to make the arrangement work. Through the pages of Janna's exciting memoir, we become a part of her unforgettable journey to foreign places and self-discovery. With her, we participate in the lobster-hunting and cross-dressing cultures of Polynesia, ride across rugged terrains only to have our bike stolen in Micronesia, and almost collide in a head-on crash with a Chinese ship in Asia. Marital woes, wacky co-sailors, and Janna's initial depression only serve to deepen this recipe for a tropical honeymoon unlike no other. Places visited include Mexico, Galapagos Islands, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and many, many islands one never even knew existed until reading Janna's captivating descriptions of them and her meticulous research into their historical legacies. During this time, Janna re-evaluates her past and searches for a new purpose in her future. Her tale is only too familiar for anyone who has ever caught themselves in the middle of unhappiness, and decided to abandon everything for their dreams. The stakes are high, and at a moment's notice lives like Janna's can be either made or broken. This book may be viewed in multiple ways: As a self-help relationship book, a sailing manual, a traveling memoir, a love story, or simply the perfect beach read. The writing is reminiscent of a best friend's diary: frank, easy to read, and refreshingly intimate. Not everyone can leave their old life behind on a boat bound for the Pacific with an on-again, off-again love interest turned husband, but the majority of the female population is sure to identify with Janna and her hilarious account of 'sailing' through life's ever changing tides, only to end up on the other side.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 2, 2009

    A Great Summer Read!

    The Motion of the Ocean is an entertaining, thought-provoking memoir of a woman's voyage, both across the Pacific Ocean and through the inevitable ebbs and flows of marriage. Throughout the book, the author tackles some of the "big questions" that many couples face when trying to figure out how to be an 'us.' From encounters with local islanders to frighteningly vivid descriptions of thunderstorms out at sea, to poignant reflections on an island's cross-dressing subculture, The Motion of the Ocean is at times serious, at times humorous, and always witty and thoughtful. If you like books that make you laugh, make you think, inspire you to see your relationships in new ways, and open windows into worlds you might never have a chance to see, then you'll love The Motion of the Ocean.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 28, 2011

    great book!

    As a man, I just loved a womens perspective on the trials and tribulations of life aboard with her man. It was well written and I enjoyed it immensly. I also became aware of just how different men and women are when facing different situations. I look at things along the road of life a little different now, and try to think thru the eyes of my wife before I get upset at our differences. amazing! I would love to have been there on the journey. My wife now has the book,I want her to read it and compare in her view how close she would handle the same situations and how she would be feeling along the way.. Thanks for a great book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 22, 2009

    AWESOME!!!

    This book was something that I had heard about on-line as a feature on MSN. I bought the book hoping it would be the entertainment on my vacation this past summer. And it was! It was entertaining, interesting, and above all she has a great sense of humor and is able to give her vision of her husband and her travels. I wish I had the guts to sail around the vast ocean with my husband.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 27, 2009

    Fun and thought-provoking read

    The Motion of the Ocean is a great summer read. The book delves into the ups and downs of relationships that any woman can identify with, while it takes you on a grand adventure that most of us will never experience. We travel with Janna on her two-year-long "honeymoon" budget sailing adventure around the Pacific with her new husband. The book will inspire you to think more about your relationship (Does "the one" really exist and will you know when you find him/her? Or do YOU make "the one" through hard work and effort every single day?). It may even inspire you to take on a new adventure yourself. Or it may just make you appreciate your safe, cozy sofa as you curl up and enjoy this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 2, 2011

    Great Sailing Adventure

    If you ever sailed a boat this is for you.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2010

    Awesome!

    I loved this book. I laughed and cried as I followed her journey on a sailboat and in a relationship.

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  • Posted January 9, 2010

    Not the best read....

    Do not buy this book if you are interested in reading about a couple who is sailing around the world. If you want to hear about the destinations in any great detail or even the ocean passages- you won't find much description here. This book is generally the musings of a newlywed woman on a boat with an unfortunate husband who has to deal with her seemingly constant insecurity. I give him full marks for not throwing her overboard.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 26, 2009

    witty book

    this book was chosen for a book club pick and i really enjoyed it. the writing is clever and it's fun to join the author on her personal journey of discovery. her story of traveling the pacific with her husband may not be every readers' choice for self discovery, but it was fun to go along on that ride to see a few things in a fresh new light.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2009

    Awesome

    Best book I've read in years.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2010

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