I rush to the Chesapeake Bay to fill up on sailing adventures. I explore the Bay with my boyfriend, Jordan, on Base Camp, our simple and reliable Pearson 31. You too may know the magical moments: smooth winds, gentle waves, fiery sunsets, jumping into the water to cool off on a hot day, laughter at dinner on a boat, the calming of the body and mind at the end of the day. I am grateful for all of this, but what I truly love about sailing is its harsh and unpredictable side. It is the unexpected, uncontrollable sides of sailing that are changing my life, for the better.

Not long ago, Jordan and I and a group of friends ventured on a week-long trip down the Bay. Our first day was a 40-nautical-mile journey filled with excitement. Shortly after we got underway, clouds rolled in and winds picked up considerably. Strong gusts prompted us to reef our sails, and then to reef again. There were was a bit of rushing around the boat when we lost the main sail batten and a lot of balancing of our bodies to counter the boat’s heel, and much strategizing to stay on course. In the end, we were safe.

While I have been picking up important sailing skills since meeting Jordan two years ago, I still retain fears of the unknown. I cherish sailing for its remarkable ability, on days like this one, to make me face my fears and to make me stronger. And I know much of that strength is rooted in perspective because when I step foot back on land, I see things differently. When my plans change suddenly, I think of gusts tipping the boat without any notice. When I have a hard conversation, I think of relaxing my muscles as if I were adjusting to the boat’s constant movement. When severe weather forces me to hide in our home, I think of being ever-so-grateful for my life exactly as it is. And while enjoying a stunning sunset, I remind myself that I am also able to relish a rain storm and its blasting winds that tear through layers of clothing and make me shiver.

Sailing is a force of nature because it is entirely dependent on exactly that: unpredictable and uncontrollable forces of nature. And being exposed to these forces is crucial to embracing life just as it comes. I am looking forward to future sailing adventures with an open mind and heart.