Authors

Becca and Darren Christensen

 

About Her

About Her

Hi y'all, I'm Becca! I'm pretty goofy, love to learn new things and take on tasks or activities that others wouldn't dare. I like being different, but also struggle with it sometimes. I am an organizational queen who finds peace in things being juuuuust right. I am a major type A perfectionist with an extremely loud people-pleaser voice in my head. I know...I'm working on it! Darren and I live pretty outside the box right now on a couple acres in the Texas hill country and we absolutely love it! We started this blog with a desire to share our life with you - our current adventures, those leading up to sailing the world, and of course, following our sailing journey. Have you ever heard the saying, "Your life's a message to the world, make sure it's inspiring" or "Be the change you want to see in the world"? I really take these to heart. I want to leave my mark and sharing my life, thoughts, struggles, fears, triumphs and successes with you is one small way to start. I want to live my best story and inspire you to live yours! We have to start somewhere, though, so let me tell you a bit more about myself. 

I grew up the first born of three and I am pretty sure I have all of the typical traits of a first born child. I was large and in charge when it came to picking out my clothes, playing with friends and finding activities and crafts to entertain myself. I could not get enough of Belle and Ariel, so I often dressed up in my princess gowns that my Grams made for me and sang to my sing-a-longs - remember those?!? I also remember my mom letting me wear yellow jellies, pink shorts, my aqua Little Mermaid shirt and a sloppy side pony tail...all done by myself. With my mom, I felt the freedom to express myself and try new things. She made me feel safe and strong, like I could go out on a limb but she was right there on the side if I needed help. I probably kept her pretty busy as I started talking at a very early age and probably didn't stop very often to give her a break. I wanted to know about everything...you know, the infamous "Why" stage. I built blanket forts behind the couch and in my room, ran "school" sessions with my friends and wore out my Easy Bake Oven. I also grew up listening to music in my room. Actually, that's a lie. I grew up with most of my furniture pushed to the edges of my room so that I could dance to my music. Any type of music. I think I had a dance routine for almost every popular Disney song along with many others! There really isn't much music that I don't like. If a song makes me want to dance, makes me happy, motivates me or makes me want to sing...I like it. Except rap...I have a hard time with that genre, but all the rest typically works. 

Around 4th grade,  I turned into a bit of a tomboy. I preferred the Ninja Turtles and Batman to my sister's Barbies and remember stealing her Barbies and cutting all their hair off (I know, that's mean...but it was so much fun!) I found that I fit in better with the boys - I liked to run and play at recess and they got over things so much faster with so much less drama! I still needed my mom as she was always my rock, but as I grew older, my desire to have my father's attention and affection grew as well. In retrospect, I think this is where my people-pleaser voice started in my head. I tried to figure out what I needed to do or say to earn his love. I did it all - did my best in school to be at the top of my class and participated in sports, playing until I was exhausted. I drew him pictures, wrote notes and told him of all my accomplishments when he got home from work. I was a great kid, excelling at almost everything I did, but I started to doubt that slowly over time as all of my attempts to earn his love only seemed to work for a little while. If I wanted continuous love from him, I needed to work harder. The lie in my head was that I was not worthy of love as I was, but rather that I had to earn it. I say "the lie" because now I know that is what it was...but you don't really know that when you're a kid. 

In high school, my girly and tomboy sides converged. I enjoyed being a girl and looking nice, but I also steered clear of too much girl drama and participated in volleyball and track. The thing I remember most about high school now is that I wasn't really part of a particular group. I mean, I was an athlete, and most of the athletes were "popular", so I was kind-of in that crowd...but I also loved my interior design and cooking classes that were mixed with many other groups of students. I was in advanced Math since 4th grade, so I was buddy-buddy with the nerds, and I also good friends with the football players that struggled in my regular English classes. The good thing about this is that I always felt like I fit in no matter where I was on campus. The bad thing about this, long term, is that I didn't really create any deep, lasting friendships because no one really got me. I was still just trying to make everyone happy and earn their love/friendship. I went out of my way to help people and to this day, I don't know if they even realized it. Of course, at the top of the list, I was still trying to impress my father.

School work was easy for me for the most part growing up. I wasn't the absolute smartest person ever, but I was good at figuring out what I needed to know for each class and how best to learn and study it. Basically, I learned how to play the game of school well - or at least that's how I think of it. There were, of course, the classes that were more challenging - I didn't pass my Calc I exam as a Senior to get college credit, but then nailed it when I took it again in college. Spanish was another class that was easy when it was fun, but then in Spanish III when we basically just translated the textbook, I lost interest really fast. The classes that I did the best in were always those that required critical thinking and lots of reflection. I have always been good about reading information, reflecting and sharing my thoughts and writing or creating a project around them.

One event from high school that will forever stick in my mind is one of my volleyball games. First, you'll need to know that I was not the best. I worked my ass off at every practice and was the best teammate that I could be. The group of girls in my grade, however, where a super talented bunch. I was told by our coach that she could put my on the JV team and I could play all the time and be the star, or I could be on Varsity with all my classmates, but that I probably wouldn't play much. Well that sucks! What's a girl to do? I wanted to be with the girls my age. My thought was that I could work even harder, lift more weights, run faster, push myself... maybe I could become "good enough" to play more. As the season went on, I practically killed myself to earn game time (later learning that I had suffered a sports hernia), but it really didn't work. I became the best bench teammate that I could be and tried to shove my disappointment down on game days. So...anyway...back to the story I will never forget. I typically asked my parents to come to home games to see my team play, even if I wasn't playing. On one particular occasion, I had invited my father. He said that he didn't really want to come because I wasn't going to be playing anyway and the games were long. Ummm, excuse me... what the hell?!? That cut to my core; I still remember the stab to my heart to this day. But what did I do? I wanted nothing more than my father to love me and at this moment it seems that he would love me if I said it was ok not to come to my game...so that's what I said. "Sure, that's alright. I understand." This moment, was a turning point though. I started to see the light outside of the deceptive darkness that was my father, but just a little sliver.

As I began to approach the time in high school where you feel pretty forced to determine what you are going to do the rest of your life, I started to think about what made me happy. After all, I thought, if I'm going to spend a ton of time and money in a field of study, I should enjoy it. My mind was quickly made up that I wanted to be an interior designer. I absolutely loved redecorating my room, helping my mom decorate the house and pretty much every moment that I spend in my interior design class. I also enjoyed helping others think through their designs and giving/receiving constructive feedback to make them better. Perfect, first decision made...or so I thought. Just when I thought I had my college plan figured out, I was told that no matter how good I became as an interior designer, that it would not put food on the table and that I needed to pick something else. Now who would tell someone that, you ask? At this point in the blog, you know very well who. No mysteries here! First decision not made...back to the drawing board. Ok, well what degree is along the same lines as interior design but would make more money? I rattled my brain and checked college catalogs for their program offerings. How about Architectural Engineering? Surely that choice would be approved by my father. 

I applied to a few schools; the University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M and Texas Tech. I did so thinking that I would get into UT Austin and live at home so that I didn't have to pay for dorms. After all, I had been told that I would have to get financial aide or pay for my coursework, and we all know that adds up really quickly. I was accepted into Tech and A&M, but the cost of living on campus seemed out of reach. I was holding out for the one closest to home. I received my letter from UT in the mail and opened it with confidence. I had been accepted!...to attend UT San Antonio for my first year and then possibly be given the ability to transfer to Austin after that. What?!? That's not going to work! Now what do I do? With not much choice and very little time left to decide, I enrolled in classes at Austin Community College (ACC), determined to figure it out as I went. 

ACC was actually really great! The small classes allowed me to ask questions and really understand what we were studying. Of course, they were also significantly more affordable than universities and very close to home. I was sailing through my classes and actually enjoying them. My new plan was to take all of my preliminary courses for the Architectural Engineering program and then transfer to UT Austin for my junior and senior years. Perfect plan, Becca - well done! Except my classes became less and less interesting and more and more stressful. I can't even remember the titles of the chemistry and other ridiculous courses that were on my list. Did all of this really have to do with Architectural Engineering? If it did, then maybe I didn't really want to do that. How do I know for sure? There were no advisers at ACC who are in that field that could help me figure it out. Just me. So what's a girl to do when faced with pursuing a career in a field that is slowly not interesting her at all but will likely "put food on the table"? Re-evaluate! Ok, so I like helping people and I'm really great at explaining things and being organized. What occupation allows for these things, and has the same basic pre-requisites that I already had so that I haven't wasted my time? I landed on becoming a teacher. At the time, it worked perfectly and made my shoulders feel much lighter.

Right about the time I started to get my career plan straight was when I started having incredible pains in my abdomen. I took several trips to the ER, drinking horrible liquids so they could do all of their special scans. They determined that it was just ovarian cysts and the pain would pass. I coped with it for another 6 months or so until finally it got so bad that I couldn't even stand up. This time, instead of going to the ER, I went to see a specialist. Again, numerous tests and scans were completed to get the best idea of what the hell was going on. Within a week or so, she had determined that I had a fibroid on my uterus along with a three inch mass that she could not identify. The plan was to go in to surgery to remove the oddly positioned fibroid and then have a general surgeon with her so they could determine what the mass was and how best to handle it. I have to say that awaiting a surgery as well as major surgery prep is a nightmare! You can't help but worry about the outcome, especially when the doctor doesn't even know what is wrong. Also, you have to be in a horrid gown with incredibly tight leg warmer things and have IV's coming out of your arms like you are a science experiment. I was doing alright, all things considered, until I saw my doctor in the hall, and then I freaked out. They sedated me and that was all I remember until I woke up. As I slowly opened my eyes and started to feel alive again, my doctor came to discuss how the surgery had gone. She had removed the fibroid and then they had found that I had a sports hernia in my groin (where the groin splits but doesn't pop out) and my right Fallopian tube had become diseased, detached itself from my uterus, stuck itself in the hernia gap and wrapped itself up into a ball. What was going to be a three inch cesarean-like scare turned into a four and a half inch scar, my groin was wrapped up in a mesh-like substance and I was minus a freakin' tube??!!?? Awesome. Oh, and giving birth is still possible, but very risky. All of this news is not exactly what you want to hear when you are 20 and you are just starting to figure your life out. As many times in my life, though, I took the freakin' sour lemons that I was given and made some lemonade, determined to not let this bump in the road stop me. I went on to finish my ACC work and then took courses at a remote location for Texas State University that was closer to me and offered small classes in Early Childhood Education. I loved what I was studying and excelled at everything. I graduated with several honors in 2007 and was immediately hired for a 4th grade position. 

Now, during this time of discovery and a bit of turmoil in college, I met someone at work. This man was so sweet to me and really seemed to love me for who I was...I didn't have to earn it, which was refreshing. I went through several more situations with my father that pretty much made up my mind to leave. After being screamed at on the street, constantly having my privacy invaded in the bathroom (totally inappropriately) and watching my father hit my sister with towel repeatedly, I was out! I stayed with my mom for a bit, who had gotten out of the house about a year earlier, but she only had two bedrooms and her apartment was a little crowded. I decided, then, that it made the most sense to move in with my new boyfriend. I lived in some shitty apartments with him throughout the remainder of my Bachelor's degree and as I started my new career as a teacher. We had been together for 3 years and shortly after graduating, we decided to get married in a little backyard ceremony. Not much muss and fuss, just super simple. So it seemed like my life was turning around and that I was finally breaking free of my father, recovering nicely from my major surgery and had a new job in a career that made me happy. I even bought my very first home and was settling in, painting and decorating to my heart's content. Believe me, I thought the same thing. This is perfect. I couldn't ask for anything else. What could possibly go wrong? (Famous last words)

Well, nothing as far as I could tell, until one day I intercepted a call on his phone that made me wonder if I was the only one in his life. We fought about it, talked a lot, and finally, I was convinced that he was telling the truth and that everything was going to be ok. Not until I received a knock on my door a few days later while my husband was at work did I know how bad it could get. Two detectives arrived at my door asking if they could come in. Having watched several shows on TV, I said no, I'd prefer not unless there was a reason. They promptly handed me the warrant to search my home and practically pushed me over to the couch where I was told to stay. They were not really friendly at all and didn't give me any information. I was panicking! What was going on?!???? Finally, another detective arrived who was much calmer and polite. He got me a glass of water (which I had been asking for over a half hour) and sat me down at my dining room table. He explained to me that my husband had been arrested at his place of work and he was being charged with sexual assault on multiple minors. Flipping through his little booklet, he rattled off some of the ages of the girls - 15, 17, 16, 17, 16. He further explained that I had done nothing wrong, but that my home had to be searched because of his actions and for possible evidence against him. I was allowed to make phone calls as needed, so the first person that I called was my mom. Although she could barely understand me through my sobbing, she came to my aide as quickly as possible. I remember sitting there at my dining room table, which was covered with my scrapbook materials for the vacation that we had just taken. My sadness quickly turned to anger and I threw my wedding ring at the wall and then preceded to completely fall apart. All of this is remembered in slow motion in my mind, I feel like I could explain every little detail of that day. The following days and months followed very quickly, though, and although I remember snippets very well, it's also somewhat of a blur. I cried and had several breakdowns, got really angry, saw a lawyer and went to a divorce support group (at age 23, might I add). I charged through the steps of grieving and decided, with the help of some amazing support from my mom and Grams, that my life was in fact not over. I transferred to work at a different elementary school, for a fresh start, and packed up all of his shit...scratch that...I threw all of his shit into boxes as quickly as possible and put it all in the garage - including the couch which had been part of one of his horrendous acts. I went through all of my stuff and began to wipe him clear out of my life. I even had a nice burning of photos that was quite therapeutic. If only I could have wiped/burn him out of my head with such ease. I'm actually proud of myself, looking back, that I was able to bounce back rather quickly.  I didn't know that the trust issues would take a bit longer to work through, but luckily, when you meet the right person, they will love you enough to work through them with you. Oddly enough, it was during this time of rebuilding, when I was searching social media to try and meet new people and make new friends, that I met Darren. More on that in another post.

Phew! That was a  doozie. I feel like I've told you a lot about what I've been through, but not a lot about who I am today. Let's see - 

I love cooking! Trying new recipes, experimenting with ingredients, putting a fantastic dish together...it just brings a smile to my face! We are pretty healthy in our eating habits, so I love finding new ways that we can make different creations that are delish and don't make us feel blah after consuming them. Darren is the boss when it comes to home repair, but I am the boss in the kitchen (#kitchenboss). He does take direction very well, though, so cooking together is one of our favorite things to do. I also enjoy reading (mostly fiction but some non-fiction to continue to learn and grow as a person), working out (barre, yoga, light weights, running, etc) and sailing (we have more learning to do, but we love it!).

Things I don't like:  First, music at the end of a movie or TV show - seriously. It's always so loud and I don't want to sit around and watch the credits. When the show/movie is over, it's end scene for me! Second, drama. I hate drama. I'm not going to hold a petty grudge against you but pretend to be your friend. If I don't like something that you do, I'll probably tell you in the nicest way I can and or just not hang out with you. I can't even stand shows or movies that have too much unnecessary, petty drama. I'm so over it. Third, I despise dry sandwiches, tacos or food in general. I like my food to have a sauce of some kind. I cannot eat a taco without having some delicious salsa or avocado cream or some sauce to liven it up and make it all work. I did try to explain this once to some friends and it went very poorly. You can't say that you like wet sandwiches. Moist doesn't work and neither does saucy. There just isn't a way to explain it other than saying that I don't like them to by dry. Finally, mosquitoes. They love me. I hate them. That is all. 

Darren and I live on some acreage, so I help take care of our many fruit trees, the greenhouse, the chickens (aka the Chickensens), mowing or spreading mulch. We've also built our own houses...with our own hands...yes, us...only us...twice...so we are usually finishing or fixing those project up in some way. I love creating things: I have a map wall that I want to create and lots of other art projects for the house that I haven't even started yet. I do my best to make sure my cup is filled back up on the weekends for the busy workweek ahead, so I also enjoy napping, chilling out and watching some sailing shows or anxiously waiting for Game of Thrones to start Sunday evening.

What am I proud of? Completing my Masters degree while working full time and building our first little studio size house was rough to say the least. Oh, and for part of that time we lived with my folks until our house was ready...living out of a box. I'm proud that I passed with flying colors, but also that I didn't let my new degree and all the time, effort and money that I spent to earn it dictate what I would do next in my life. I learned so much during that time, mostly about myself. This was the first time that I turned my ability to reflect back onto myself and really dug deep into who I was, what I wanted and what I didn't want. After seeing where I was in my career and life, I determined that I needed a change. I literally didn't sign my next year's teaching contract and left school for the summer with no job offers on the table. It was a big risk and a lot of friends thought I was making a mistake. We all would have laughed it off if we'd only known that I would land a phenomenal new job with my current team just a week after I left school. I transitioned into the mortgage industry with no experience, but with a boss who knew my talents were invaluable and that she could teach me the specifics. I am now the team captain of our successful mortgage team - acting as a backup or double for the loan officer and managing all loans from beginning to end. Our focus is truly on the relationship built during the home buying process, which people typically only do a few times in their lives. I get to help people, explain each step in what can be a daunting process and keep our team organized and efficient. There is no job that is stress free, but I am so glad that I've found a place where I can shine and be appreciated for my efforts. Lesson learned from my Masters: I think a degree or any schooling, coursework or non-traditional education one pursues is not so much about the content, but how we grow through the process. Lesson learned from taking a risk: Why not go out on a limb, that is where the fruit is.

I'm also proud of my continued growth in being ME. I am continuously working on deciding what I want and balancing life to make sure that I'm at peace and happy. Working on yourself is hard sometimes, and not something that people talk about all that much. I'm perfectly ok admitting that I'm under construction and probably always will be. I think investing in myself is possibly the best investment that I can make, though, and I would encourage everyone to do the same. Looking back, I'm thankful for the struggles I had. Without them, I would not have found my true strength or my true self. I would not have realized that I was done being a caterpillar and my wings were ready for me if only I took a chance to fly. 

My dream for the future? I want to travel the world. I want to try new foods, experience different cultures and live outside the box (even more so that we already do). The best way to do that, that we have found, is to do so via sailboat. I am inspired by so many Youtube sailing shows - Chase the Story, SV Delos, Sailing La Vagabonde, Ran Sailing, Follow the Boat, Sailing Uma and Gone with the Wynns. I want to have an amazing adventure that is completely out of the ordinary and share it with you. There is so much to see and experience other than my little corner of Texas and my busy office life. It's a little scary to think about leaving land and heading to sea one day, but as Darren often reminds me - If your dreams don't scare you, they are not big enough. 

I cannot wait to share more about me and my adventures, both big and small! I'll see you in the next blog!

So You Think You Can Propose?

So You Think You Can Propose?