Monday, January 17, 2022

Letting Go of the Myth of Progress


Me in the Kitchen

I was meeting recently with some friends on Zoom. Because of the latest Omicron wave of the pandemic, so much of our social life has gone back to virtual meetings for the time being, and the topic we were discussing was what our goals and dreams for the future were, once this Omicron wave subsides. I thought it was a fitting topic for the beginning of January, when so many of us set goals for the upcoming year.

I used to be one of those people. Although I didn't make New Year's resolutions per se, at the beginning of each year I typically took some time to review the past year's life events and accomplishments, and then wrote up a series of goals for the upcoming year. 

In true Type-A fashion, these were not vague wish statements such as: "I hope to exercise a little more this year." No indeed. I wrote out goals that were specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely, or SMART goals. Examples of this type of goal is: "I will walk for a minimum of 20 minutes a day, 6 days per week." Or, I will sustain an average of 9,000 steps per day each week."*

My goal list usually consisted of 5-7 main categories, each broken down into subcategories, with goal statements under those. For example, the categories might be: Work, Health, Creativity, Social Life, Family, and Travel. Under Health, I might have subcategories such as Fitness, Food, and Work-Life Balance, and then under each one of those, I would develop SMART goals, often with associated timelines. I have written about this goal-setting process and some of the stumbling blocks here

A Sunny Day at Mount Washington

So, anyways, when I was thinking about our discussion question in advance before meeting on Zoom, I was stumped. I had set no goals for 2022. I felt no desire to set goals for 2022. Was it because the past two years taught me that there is no point in setting goals, because as soon as we make a plan for travel or to get together with friends and family, another wave of COVID comes along with new public health restrictions that kibosh everything?

No, I am still a great believer in goals and plans. I would not have had the interesting life I've had if I'd been goalless throughout my life.

I used to visualize my life as a trek up a mountain. Each time I reached a summit, I would see another peak appear in front of me, and then I'd shift my aim to reach that next peak. My life was a life of endless striving, always going for the next big thing. My personal myth of progress.

Notice the past tense. Now that I've retired, have I given up? Am I just sitting here waiting for death? Certainly, in my younger years, that was how I dichotomized it -- move forward making progress, or sit still and fail/die. 

Abby with Stick
As I've settled into retirement, I've come to see a number of things quite differently. For example, I've stepped away from the academic life, which in the first few years of retirement included doing research, giving talks, publishing, reviewing manuscripts, and supervising students. It's time. I don't miss it. And I don't feel like less of a person because I'm no longer striving toward that next scholarly peak or adding another line to my CV. I climbed that mountain and now it's behind me.

I have been sitting with something Rob said to me. "Why are you always wanting to rush off somewhere else? We live in a beautiful part of the world in a perfectly nice house. Can't you just be content to stay here and enjoy what we have?"

His comments lay bare my myth of progress. If I always have my sights set on the next destination (summit, accomplishment, goal completion), do I even have time to notice where I am right now? That is Zen wisdom, to live in the moment, because the moment is all we really have. 

So I said to my Zoom friends, "I didn't set goals for the year. I think I'm letting go of striving and the myth of progress."

But does a leopard change its spots? Maybe the real truth of it is that work obligations used to suck up most of my waking hours. Now that I'm retired and able to spend time walking trails every day with Abby, cooking healthy meals, sleeping enough, spending time with friends and family, hanging out with Rob, writing, skiing, painting, doing yoga, and so on (and hopefully travelling again soon), I actually have the life I always wanted. I don't have to set goals to get here. I'm here.

Christmas 2021 Photos 

One brother and all three of my kids were here with their families for Christmas this year, and we had a wonderful time together. The good life.

With Daughters

Christmas Dinner








Son and his Fiancee


* Why 9,000 rather than 10,000 steps a day? Because I had read a research article somewhere that evaluated whether the popular press had settled on 10,000 steps because it was a nice round number or because there was research evidence that 10,000 steps was, in fact, the best daily walking target for most people. The conclusion of the article was that, for most people, any increase in daily steps yielded health benefits, and specifically for women over 60, an average of 9,000 steps per day yielded the optimum health gain for the time spent (with daily steps beyond 9,000 still beneficial, but at a diminishing rate).

Saturday, October 16, 2021

A Reading on Writers Radio

An exciting announcement -- I am going to be reading from my novel, The Age of Grandchildren, on Writers Radio. The program will air every hour on the hour from October 18 to 31. 

Hosts Carole Harmon and Ingrid Rose, and technical producer Gary Sills, are the creative minds behind Writers Radio. They host interviews and readings by all manner of writers, produce the programs, and air the them on their online radio, The writers' pieces are interspersed with selections of Gary's music.

My reading has been paired with a reading by friend and fellow writer, Gail Madjzoub. Although our novels are quite different in many ways, Gail and I both explore the experiences of young women coming of age in rigid societies, what it means to be seen as an outsider, and the personal costs of following an ethical path. Host Carole Harmon has titled our program Liberty's Children

Gail will read first, and here is how Carole introduces her book:

Gail Madjzoub

CRIMSON INK : A Novel of Modern Iran


Based on historical facts, Crimson Ink traces the multi-generational interweaving of three Iranian families through decades of great social change and upheaval. The novel is grounded in Gail's knowledge and experience of living within an extended Iranian Baha'i family over the course of her twenty year marriage.

The setting of Gail's reading is in the city of Shiraz, Iran. It’s early Autumn of 1955. The country is gradually emerging from the throes of its most recent clergy-led pogrom against its largest religious minority, the Baha’is.

Six year old Fareshteh and her mother Farah set the stage for the turbulent events to come.

My reading rounds out the program. I read three brief excerpts from my speculative fiction novel, The Age of Grandchildren. This is how Carole describes my book: 

Judith Lapadat


Judith Lapadat's coming of age novel takes place in the imagined near future, in a world ravaged by climate change. Best friends Becca and Honor have grown up in an all-female collective sheltering beneath the ruins of a bombed university. 

Honor is a runner who carries trade packages to the wall surrounding their shelter, Becca is her watcher. Mother Stella is their group leader in this closed society. Judith's readings take place over a two day period which will awaken the girls to aspects of their world they have never suspected.


To tune in, go to and click on the play button anytime between October 18 and October 31. If you don't have a chance to listen during this time frame, our program will be archived afterwards on the Writers Radio website as a podcast. If you would like to receive announcements of upcoming programs, you can also subscribe to Writers Radio. It's a great way to support this wonderful initiative.



Thursday, August 26, 2021

Afraid, Disappointed, ....and yet still Hopeful

Photo of Lytton, BC, by Cole Burston, The Guardian


I am afraid. No, I am terrified.

We have spent the last 18 months living through a global pandemic. 

This summer, wild fires ravaged British Columbia, making this the worst wild fire season on record. At any given time, as many as 280 fires are burning in the province, and people in communities throughout the southern interior have been on evacuation alert, or evacuated from their homes for days at a time. 

The small community of Lytton burned to the ground during the heat dome earlier in the summer. In addition, as many as 570 people in BC died this summer as a result of high temperatures during the heat dome.

I live in a part of BC that is a rain forest. Yet, we are experiencing a level 5 drought (the most extreme level) and haven't seen more than a few drops of rain in two and a half months. The soil is rock hard, the local trails are closed because of fire risk, and the shrubs in our garden are dying. Rivers are running dry, salmon are not returning to spawn, and marine life has been decimated by high ocean water temperatures combined with extremely low tides.

People all around keep saying, "Get used to this. It's the new normal." But it's not the new normal. Things are about to get much, much worse. Because if we don't take action immediately and worldwide, we face the specter of of runaway, unstoppable global warming, according to the sixth IPCC report on the physical science of climate change. 

That's why I'm terrified.


We are currently in the middle of a federal election campaign in Canada. Two years ago, the Liberals under Justin Trudeau were elected with a minority government, and now Trudeau has called another election in hopes of obtaining a majority this time around. 

In a recent survey asking Canadians what they think is the most critical threat facing Canadians, more people cited climate change than any other issue, including government deficits, unemployment and the economy,  income inequality, and food security. Eighty-eight percent of Canadians said they have been personally impacted by climate change, and 78% said "they are very concerned about the negative impact of climate change on future generations." Between 73% and 84% of respondents recommended the following solutions: Industry adopting cleaner energy sources, increased use of renewable energy and clean electricity, use of new technology to offset carbon emissions, reduced fossil fuel usage, and implementation of government policies to support all these solutions. 

Yet, climate change has scarcely been mentioned by party leaders on the campaign trail. One exception is Annamie Paul, leader of the Green Party of Canada, who, unfortunately, has received relatively little press coverage. 

We don't have much time left to shift our trajectory away from uncontrollable heating of the earth. An election campaign is the ideal time to focus on the changes we want to see, and to elect leaders who will work to address climate change. 

So, I am disappointed. Disappointed and scared.

I am disappointed that the Liberals have made little progress toward meeting climate change goals during their two terms in office. Instead, they used our tax dollars to buy a pipeline. 

The New Democratic Party is a socially progressive party that I supported for years. Now led by Jagmeet Singh, the federal NDP has been silent on climate change policy and instead, seem to have put their efforts into propping up the Liberals. 

And, while federal and provincial politics are different, our provincial NDP party under John Horgan has been a huge disappointment on environmental matters. They have have gone ahead with Site C dam development in the northeast of BC, a liquid natural gas plant in the northwest, and spent millions of policing dollars to harass and arrest protestors at Fairy Creek, Canadians fighting to save one of the last intact old growth ecosystems on southern Vancouver Island (796 people arrested since May). This has occurred despite a forestry report they commissioned recommending a moratorium on logging stands of old growth, which the provincial NDP pledged to support last fall. 

The federal Progressive Conservative party platform under O'Toole, not surprisingly, recommends increased criminal penalties for Canadians who protest against pipelines or other "key infrastructure."

Aside from the Green Party of Canada, our federal parties are not taking the climate emergency seriously. 

Therefore, I now actively support the Green Party, federally and provincially. Rob and I went out a few days ago to put up some large Green Party campaign signs. As we wrestled with the big heavy signs, struggled to pound stakes into soil that was as hard as concrete, and tore our jeans on blackberry brambles, at one point we looked at each other and asked, "Where are all the young people?" 

In our electoral district, why are the people erecting the signs, running as candidate, and coordinating the campaign all old-age pensioners? Where are the people in their twenties, thirties, forties, and fifties? Have they given up on the democratic process? Are they too busy, too cynical, too alienated, or . . . ? I'm disappointed.

Still Hopeful

Yet, I am still hopeful. I am grateful to the many protestors at Fairy Creek, people of all ages, who have showed up week after week for the past year to protect the old growth. Some of those big trees are a thousand years old, and they are very effective carbon sinks. Old growth forests provide habitat for animals, including many on the endangered list. Only 2.7% of BC's old growth still remains, and once it's cut it's gone forever.

The RCMP arresting protesters at Fairy Creek, The Narwhal


I am still hopeful, as many of the younger people in my life are very involved in making the world a better place. They are working to raise awareness about issues of social justice, including violence against women, mental health support, and acceptance of racial and gender diversity. They work to improve public transportation, environmental health, and community planning to address climate change. Social justice and climate action go hand-in-hand.

Having seen the way the scientists, medical experts, and leaders at all levels from local to international have worked together to adopt public health measures to keep us safe and to develop a COVID vaccine in record time, I know that humans around the world can accomplish a lot in the face of an emergency. It gives me hope that we will attack the climate emergency with the same sense of urgency.

We still have a window of time, although it is shrinking rapidly, to avoid the worst consequences of climate change. 

One place we all can start is by getting involved in this federal election. Ask your local candidates how they will address climate change. Ask them about specific issues, like old growth forests, pipelines, raw log exports, job transition support for resource workers, and corporate subsidies. Get the climate emergency into the spotlight at campaign events. Learn what each party's platform says about climate targets. Volunteer to help out in the campaign of a party that has a strong record of action on the environment.

Still hopeful. 

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Welcome, Abby!

We have someone new in our lives. 

Abby on the Couch
This is Abby, who has come to live with us. She is a Standard Schnauzer, and she's 5 years old. Did I mention cute? She's very, very cute. And, characteristic of Schnauzers, she's a girl who knows her own mind.

Abby in Backyard
She has been with us for less than two weeks, but has already settled in. In the photo above, Abby is hanging out by the fishpond in our backyard.

Playing with Boomerang

A Drink at the Pond


She loves to play fetch with the squeaky bacon-scented boomerang that my son and his girlfriend gave her. Keep-away is another exciting game. She has met my two grandsons, who were delighted that likes to play fetch.

Oliver on Dog Bed

Rest at the Summit












She is a wonderful walking and hiking companion. We have a network of off-leash trails right outside our door. She has already discovered all the best place to get a drink or wallow in the mud. 

Yesterday, Abby and I climbed Notch Hill and had a nice rest in the shade when we reached the summit.

Our cat, Oliver, has taken over Abby's dog bed. But she's okay with it.

Rob with the Pets
Although Abby hasn't lived with a cat before, it looks like Abby and Oliver are quickly becoming pals. 

Wherever we go, she likes to jump in the car and come along.

A Walk on the Boardwalk

We are delighted to welcome Abby into our life.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

The Continuing Saga

In my last post, I wrote about how a section of our back retaining wall collapsed last autumn. Throughout the fall and winter, we worried about how it could possibly be repaired, and whether we would find anyone to do the work. We called some excavating companies, but they were not available or willing to do the work.

In October, the owner of a local excavating company came and looked at the fallen wall and said he could do the work but he was very busy. The earliest he could come would be in March. 

In February, we hired someone to demolish the shed and remove several more sections of the fence. Larry from the excavating company said he'd stop by at the end of February, but he didn't, and we couldn't get in touch with him. And then late in the afternoon of March 12, a Friday, Larry dropped by. He apologized, saying he'd been extremely busy, but he could start the job next week or the week after. 

That weekend, we dug up all the shrubs and small bushes that were in the section of the yard where the equipment needed to work. We set a few of them aside to be transplanted back into the yard later. The rest we gave away. Our friends D & G recently moved into a new house nearby and wanted to do some landscaping. They came over and helped us dig up shrubs, and took lots of them home for their garden.  

Early Monday morning, we looked out the window to see an excavator being unloaded onto our front lawn. The front lawn would serve as a staging area for the equipment, soil, drain rock, and large boulders for the new wall. 

The Excavator at Work

Excavator Tracks
It was fascinating to watch Jody, the excavator operator at work. The first thing he did was use his bucket to dig up the remaining trees and two large bushes and set them aside. We phoned D & G again, and they came over again. We sent them away with two more car loads full of trees and shrubs. We kept four of the trees aside to transplant back into the yard later. 

This photo shows the narrow area along the side of the house where the excavator came through to the backyard. The light coloured sand in the lower right corner of the photo is the location where the shed used to sit. It was built on a base of large concrete composite pavers resting on compacted sand. 

Jody used the excavator to dig down along the edge of the steep hill to create a wide, flat platform all along where the middle section of the retaining wall used to be. Soil from the backyard as well as the rocks from the old retaining wall went over the edge of the hill.

Once the earth platform was created, Jody and his assistant Parker built a new wall using huge rocks. The load of rock was deposited in our front yard, and then Jody brought over a bulldozer (skid-steer) and used its bucket to bring the large rocks around to the back. Jody laid down a row of rocks using the excavator, while Parker directed the rock placement from below. It was amazing to see how precisely he could place each boulder with the bucket and thumb. 

Old Wall Meets New Wall
Once the first layer of boulders was in place, they back-filled the area behind them with drain rock. They also put down geo-grid, which is held in place by the second layer of rocks, as well as by the garden soil that they replaced over the drain rock. 

Parker hand-built the connector sections between the old part of the drystone wall and the new wall. The remaining part of the platform where the new wall is now serves as a path along beneath the wall.

We did not have to tear down the gazebo or the fish ponds! In fact, the goldfish seemed completely unperturbed by all the work going on around them. Presently the gazebo is serving as a tool shed, as we no longer have a shed.

New Wall and Path
As you can see, the slope of the hill below the wall is very steep. 

The whole job of rebuilding the wall and cleaning up the work site was finished by Friday. Yes, that's right. It took only 3 1/2 days in total and cost less than half as much as Larry had quoted. We are very happy with our new wall.

Of course, the story isn't over. There's lots still left to do.

We will need to have a fence built along the top of the new retaining wall and at the side of the house. Without a fence, the deer will come into the yard and eat everything in sight. Although the landscaping at the front of the yard is deer-resistant (plants the deer don't like to eat), the backyard plants are not.

We would like to have a shed, and we need to re-landscape a big section of the backyard, and repair the damage to the front yard. We want to get some plants established on the steep slope below the wall.

The Backyard After the Wall was Finished

Before the excavating company left, they covered the areas where they had worked with topsoil, and left us some of the load for our future landscaping. Our first task was to replant the trees and shrubs that we had set aside.

Replanting Trees

It is a tremendous relief to have a new retaining wall in place. We are thankful that we contacted Larry when we did, because all of the contractors are extremely busy this year. There are a lot of new houses being built, and also lots of people are renovating. All of the tradespeople are fully booked. 

Look for another installment on this topic. In it, I will tell you about the fence, the landscaping, and the slippery slope. . . .

Sunday, March 21, 2021

The Wall Went South

This is a story about a wall. No, not that wall. 

Last fall, the retaining wall across the back of our property failed. Throughout the month of September, a lot near us was undergoing site preparation so that the new owner could build a house there. We reside in a very rocky, rugged, hilly coastal area, and so for three weeks we lived with the noise and vibrations caused by heavy equipment and a rock-breaker nearby. 

Fence Falls Over the Edge
The week that that the rock-breaking stopped, on a wet stormy day, we looked out the window and noticed that our fence had a sag in it. Our fence was built along the top of our retaining wall. Rob went out and inspected and saw that a few large rocks were bulging out of the wall and pulling the fence down. 

Thinking that the vibrations of the rock-breaking had loosened our wall, I immediately called our house insurance agency. But it was a Friday, and no agents were available to take my call. 

In heavy rain over the weekend, a section of the rock wall began to collapse. The collapse pulled the fence apart, and two sections of it went down the hill. 

The only thing that seemed to be keeping the fence from tumbling all the way down the steep hill was that it, and the big chunk of concrete it was attached to, was hung up on a small tree, part of the natural wild vegetation on the hillside. 

On Monday, I managed to reach an insurance agent, who transferred me to the insurer, who transferred me to someone else, who transferred me to someone else. I spoke to people in Toronto, in Calgary, and who knows where.

Fence Gone
Eventually, the company sent someone local out to have a look at the failed retaining wall. We waited to hear about the results of our claim.

In the meantime, the heavy rain continued nonstop. More of the wall fell away and the rocks rolled down the hill. Rob went out and dismantled the pieces of fence -- a dangerous job as large rocks and chunks of concrete loosened from the wall teetered precariously above him. 

A month after the event, we received news from the insurance company that they would not cover the cost of repairing the retaining wall.  

We began phoning excavation companies trying to find someone to come and repair the retaining wall. We knew it was going to be very challenging to repair for a couple of reasons.

  • The slope beneath the retaining wall is very steep
  • There is no access route for equipment to the retaining wall from below 
  • There is no access to the backyard for heavy equipment from the front of the house, either, because the house extends almost all the way across the width of the lot. A deck on one side stretches out almost to a large cedar hedge, and a fence and shed block access on the other side of the house.
Looking Over the Edge Down the Steep Slope

Fortunately, we own the land below the retaining wall, all the way to the road below. It has been left in a natural condition, so we didn't have to worry about damage to other people's property or to any landscaping below. Also, fortunately, our house is built on solid rock and is far enough away from the retaining wall and steep slope that we weren't worried about damage to the foundation of the house. 

However, the entire backyard is a beautiful garden. The previous owners were avid gardeners, and one of the reasons we were so attracted to this property was because we loved the landscaping. 

Around the end of October, we found a local contractor who said he could do the work. He came highly recommended by two friends who both have engineering backgrounds. However, he was very busy and said he couldn't do the repair until March. 

He said the shed and more sections of the remaining fence would have to be dismantled to get the equipment in. 

We were worried that as we waited throughout the winter, more of the retaining wall would fall away. We have ponds and a gazebo, both quite near the edge, and feared that we would lose both in the repair process. He said he thought he could reconstruct the wall without taking down the gazebo or ponds.

View From Below the Collapse
Meanwhile, we had one of the rainiest winters on record. Throughout the winter, we watched more rock go down the hill.

The Shed

I dug out several small shrubs and perennials from the area of the garden above the collapsed wall and transplanted them to other places in the yard. We left some shrubs and all the trees in place because they were too big for us to move. Also, we hoped their roots would help hold the soil in place until it was time for the excavator to come.

In early February, we hired someone to come and dismantle the shed and some sections of fence. I felt sad to lose a perfectly good garden shed. It seemed like such a waste. However, it needed to be taken down so the equipment could get into the backyard. 

I was also sad that we would be losing much of the beautiful garden in the backyard. 

The Beautiful Garden in October

On a rare sunny day last October, I took this photo of the back garden with all its colours. 

So, how does this story end? Did the contractor show up in March? Was it possible to repair the retaining wall? Did the fishpond have to go? To be continued...

Monday, January 25, 2021

Author Interview: Liesbet Collaert

Liesbet with Kali and Darwin
  Today I am happy to bring you an interview with the writer, Liesbet Collaert. Liesbet has recently published her travel memoir, Plunge. It is a fascinating account of ten years that she spent living on a sailboat and exploring parts of the world that most of us only dream of. 




You have spent most of your adult life travelling throughout the world, and you describe yourself as a nomad. In what ways is your nomadic life different from a typical western lifestyle?




The beauty of a typical western lifestyle, in my opinion, is the stability, comfort, and familiarity it offers. You know what to expect, you have neighbors/friends/family/ colleagues around, you easily find products in your grocery store, you have favorite restaurants, trails, outings, hobbies, and your planned activities usually work out.


Life on the road, or the water, as a nomad is insecure, unfamiliar, and rather challenging because of these reasons and others. Yet, the adventure and freedom make it worthwhile. My husband and I love that novel feeling of each new place, have learned to be flexible, and keep our expectations low or non-existent. We are self-contained, fix issues ourselves as much as possible, and don’t rely on people. We figure things out as they come and enjoy discovering unique locations, cultures, foods, …


Another big difference are the amenities everyone takes for granted: running water, unlimited electricity, reliable internet, a washer and a dryer. Each time I stay in a house of relatives, I embrace my hot, pressurized shower, the space in my room (I can walk more than one step before I bump into something), the fact that my computer can stay plugged in, and the real bed. If there’s a comfortable couch, I might never leave! 😊


Your memoir, Plunge: One Woman’s Pursuit of a Life Less Ordinary, spans about a decade. Why did you focus your memoir on those ten years in particular?


That’s a great question, Jude! I knew so little about writing books that the first time I ever considered this project, I didn’t even know that my kind of story was called a memoir. One of the first things I learned about that genre is that it covers a “slice” of your life. I wanted that particular “slice” to have a definite beginning and end. It seemed most intuitive to start with how I met my now husband, Mark, a life-changing, somewhat crazy occurrence that led to a new adventure. And, I finish the memoir when that adventure ended. Coincidentally, this period encapsulated ten years: my tumultuous thirties. In the epilogue, I leave the door open to the next adventure…




Briefly, what is your book about?




Plunge encompasses the ups and downs of a life less ordinary in the tropics. The story is about a 30-year-old nomad who seeks adventure and freedom at sea, but finds herself at odds with love, work, immigration, weather, and health as she navigates the world and her relationship.


The book is written in a unique voice and seamlessly intertwines travelogue and introspective, so the reader is immersed into each new scene, physically as well as psychologically. The story takes place in the present tense to accommodate this effect and incorporates foreshadowing, flashbacks, and cliff hangers, like a novel.




In your book, you present an account of the nitty-gritty experiences of life aboard a sailboat, and well as a close-up view of your romantic relationship. Can you talk about the challenges of writing about such personal material?




Most people who know me (including you, Jude) are aware of my straightforwardness and urge to be myself. My memoir had to be a fair representation of this. The two major factors that define my personality and feelings are my lifestyle and my relationship. But, how do you pull the reader into these situations? How do you make them understand what you go through?


This is only possible by allowing them inside your head and by being totally (some call it “brutally”) honest. Therefore, I touch on the good and the bad in my relationship; the strengths and the flaws in my personality. While lots of memoir authors struggle to put those moments and factions down, it came easy to me. Maybe because I hope that – just like in real life – people will take me the way I am; true to myself and others, while sometimes being a bitch.


I also mention discriminating elements about my spouse. He knows this; he was the first one to read my book. He also knows about my desire to tell the truth. His reaction when others ask him about those parts in Plunge: “It all happened. I was a jerk sometimes.” While it might put some people off, this “raw honesty,” most readers have complimented me about my voice and the themes touched upon and, whether they admit it or not, they can relate to many of the situations.


Liesbet and Mark on their Catamaran



As a regular reader of your blog, Roaming About, I recall posts in which you mentioned the frustrations of combining a writer’s life with a nomadic lifestyle. Please describe some of the issues you faced on the boat, and now while travelling around in your camper van.




These issues pretty much boil down to those differences between a nomadic lifestyle and a typical western one, described above. While we have solar panels to provide electricity to my computer and we can usually go about five to six days on our fresh water tank, I am never as productive as I would be in a house or a room with unlimited electricity, reliable internet, and a desk.


Problems often occur, whether they are weather-, dog-, errand-, or camper-related. Distraction abounds. And there is the fact that I live together with a husband and 60-pound furry creature in an 80-square foot (7.5 m2) metal box on wheels. Even when we decide to “sit still” for a while so I can write, edit, or promote, I struggle with not being available to my family members and feel guilty about hogging our one table, stressing out, and not partaking in walks. Finding a balance between my work and our “leisurely” lifestyle is a goal for 2021.




What did you find were some of the pros and cons of self-publishing?




Self-publishing is hard work! You need to be determined, patient, focused, and dedicated to make it happen. The process is time consuming and frustrating, especially when you are new to all the different steps (and there are many). You also need to pay for professionals upfront, so it’s more expensive than going the traditional route. And, I still feel there is less prestige than when “having a publisher.”


However, there are many pros. The first one: pulling it off quickly. Sure, I focused 100% on getting Plunge published this year, but the actual time involvement from the moment I received my final cover design to holding a proof copy in my hands was two months. My husband was a big help and we did all this from the road. Another positive of being self-published is that you hold all the strings. Decisions are yours, you can make corrections easily, offer discounts, work hard on promotion – or not, and it’s a huge accomplishment!




I imagine that you plunged into learning a lot of new skills when you went the self-publishing route. Can you share one specific example of something you learned?




The formatting process! Who knew there were so many decisions to make? Font style and size, spacing between the lines and towards the edges, placement of the page numbers (top, bottom, left, right, middle), kind of section breaks, order of the photos, where to hyphenate words at the end of the line, how about the chapter titles and table of content?




One reason I love reading memoirs is the chance to absorb an inside perspective about another person’s life. Can you share an insight with readers that came to you about yourself, your life choices, or your relationship, as you reflected on this period of your life in the memoir?




Yes. Because I wrote Plunge in the present tense, I wanted to mentally transport myself back to my thirties. In doing so, I realized how spoiled I had been in my twenties – I basically did whatever I wanted – and how, during the course of this story, I “grew up.” My experiences aboard our 35ft catamaran Irie made me realize I don’t always get what I want, that there are two people in a relationship, and that adventure comes in many different forms.




Do you have a new writing project on the horizon?




I have many ideas, but have not started anything new yet.




Is there anything else you’d like to add?




I want to thank you for your thoughtful and insightful questions, Jude, and for featuring me here today. I hope your readers will get a chance to read Plunge and that it entertains, inspires, or affects them.


Liesbet and Jude in 2018

I'm pleased to feature this author interview here on Dr Sock Writes Here today. I initially met Liesbet through blogging, but in 2018 I had a chance to meet her and Mark in person when they came to Vancouver Island and stayed with us.


I greatly enjoyed reading Liesbet's book. It gave me an inside scoop on some of the joys and challenges of the sailing lifestyle, and reminded me of the many of the important life decisions One makes in the decade of their thirties.  


To read more about Liesbet’s adventures and her writing life or to purchase the book, click here:


For more info about Plunge:


To buy on Amazon:


Liesbet’s alternative lifestyle blog:


Liesbet’s sailing blog (2007 – 2015):


Liesbet’s Amazon author page: