|For this installment of Participate in Your Life, I have the pleasure of introducing you to the Orton Family. Several years ago, I met Erik during a conference in NYC where he was one of our guest speakers/performers. The next year, I was able to meet his lovely wife Emily as well. They are an amazing couple, full of energy and laughter and they exude graciousness. Forever, I will equate the tagline, “You only live once” to them and their philosophy of life.|
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, your family and your background?
|Erik & Emily 2013|
In our home, we encourage creativity, entrepreneurship and a personal relationship with God. We try to celebrate excellence
and ingenuity in every field. We love to sing and make music together. I love it when my kids tell me why they love geometry or the periodic table; when they say, “I’ve got a new song to play for you”, or when they show me a picture they’ve taken
or a drawing they’ve made. It has been important to my wife and I to teach our kids to think for themselves, to be independent and create their own individual paths in life.
In July of 2014 our oldest daughter, Karina, turned 17. Most likely she will leave home within the year after that. If we waited any longer, we would go – eventually – but not with all of our kids. Finally, we realized it was either time to go sailing this year or accept that it would never happen. And one of the goals was to go with all our kids; so we decided it was time.
I could have stayed at the same job. We could have kept living in the same apartment, driving the same car, living a great life. Because we have a great life. We’re so happy. We actually don’t think we could be any happier. We just believe this earth God gave us is beautiful and we want to see more of it. We want to meet more people on it and we want to do that as a family. We don’t expect to come back happier, per se. But we do hope to come back with our minds and hearts expanded, to love, appreciate and understand people and the places we live more deeply.
Plus, Emily and I are both turning 40 in 2014. We’re considering this adventure an “intermission.” We’ll stretch our legs, get a drink, use the proverbial mens/ladies room, look each other in the eye as much as we can, and then dive back in for Act II. So in December 2013 we bought a boat, I gave notice at work, and we bought plane tickets for the whole family to St. Martin. In February 2014, we flew down with what we could carry, plus 2 guitars, 1 fiddle, 1 mandolin, 2 ukuleles, 1 churango and a tambourine tucked in one of the guitar cases, and moved aboard our boat. We’ve been living on it full-time ever since.
What have been some of the payoffs to living in close quarters with your family for months? Some of the drawbacks?
The one drawback seems to be getting seasick. If you’re constantly on the move, your body gets used to being at sea, but if you stop and hang out at an anchorage for a week or even just a few days, your body de-acclimates and you have to go through that adjustment again next time you head out. That’s no fun.
Payoffs – One payoff, is the new islands we discover, seeing sea turtles, hiking into the rim of a volcano, empty sandy beaches, all the exotic stuff you think of when you imagine the Caribbean.
And we’ve also made some amazing new friends. That was the second thing I did not anticipate: the deep friendships. On land, we’re all so busy going to work, doing homework, serving at church and in the community, and many, many other good things, but that doesn’t leave us much time for family and friends.
For over two months, we’ve traveled closely with two other sailboats. Between our three boats, there are twelve kids. The kids love to play together and we all help each other out. It’s really quite marvelous. The dads help me learn how to fix things, install things, and run a better boat. We teach them how to write songs, play instruments and record their music. We get together for taco nights, we bake cookies for each other, our kids teach each other new skills, we share dive and scuba gear, and we sail together for companionship and peace of mind. We rely on each other. I never would have expected this. It’s marvelous.
I would say this, I’d rather go down in a sinking boat off the coast of Greenland, than going everyday to a job that I hate. And besides, sinking off of Greenland isn’t really that likely : ) Sure, we all need to make money and pay the bills. I’ve worked plenty of jobs in large part for the money, because providing for your family is honorable. But I’ve been able to enjoy those jobs, and excel in those opportunities because they always moved toward a larger vision of the kind of life I want to build for myself and my family. Sure there are risks in going sailing, but there are also the risks of not going. How often do we think about those other risks?
through Europe or Central/South America
perhaps unfamiliar but meaningful?