Right Your Own Ship and Live Your Own Life

Helm and bare masts of clipper ship
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Which way is right?

In my bathroom hangs a crooked towel bar.  It was not hung crooked on purpose, but it now stays that way on purpose…


When I first moved to my house four years ago, I left behind a life and a lifestyle – I was finally moving on from some very bad experiences and a great deal of hurt.  We each deal with hurt a different way. For me, for a long time, I dealt with hurt head on, facing it every day, relentlessly – finally I learned to let go of that hurt, letting go of the thorn bush I clung to so tightly and moved forward, onward and upward – as it were.

My mother used to tell me the story of the man who had a thorn bush.  He loved his thorn bush and took care of it, but the thorn bush did not love him. He would grab a hold of it and wrap his arms around it and the bush would dig its thorns deep into his flesh, scraping and jabbing. A passer-by heard him cry, witnessed the scene and urged, “Just let go.” But the man only held tighter, proclaiming, “No, this my thorn bush.” You have to know when to let go.

I moved my family, as a single mom, to a run-down beach house in Laguna Beach, California which I loved from the moment I laid eyes on it and first walked through it. It was meant to be where I would live – I was meant to live here and raise the second half of my family to adulthood.  My two older daughters have moved on in their lives, flying the coop and following their own life pursuits. And my two younger children embraced beach life and made new friends quickly.

I have loved being a mom – it has brought me more joy — and more pain — than any other endeavor in my life.

Moving here to Laguna Beach became a time of healing for us, as a family – as well as a time of growth and stretching, risk and change. I had never lived in a beach town, never thought I could afford to, but here I am – four years later, still managing as a single mom with a will to move mountains – and I have… And I will.

Back to my crooked towel bar…

I put the towel bar up by myself – like I have every other towel bar in every other house or apartment I have lived in since 1984. But this time? I didn’t do a very good job – it still hangs crooked and it is the first thing I see when I walk into my master bathroom – every single morning.  I have left it that way as a reminder that sometimes, life is crooked and sometimes it’s our fault – we failed to measure or accurately distinguish potential outcomes of our actions or lack of actions.

Steering Your Ship

I recently bought a red ship’s wheel to hang over my crooked towel bar – again as a reminder.  I am in charge of righting my own ship.  I may have been the one who steered it off course or perhaps a storm blew up which I had no control over it – but me — I have to right it. Who else will?  It is my job.

Red Ship Wheel

I have become thankful for my bent toes and the crinkles around my eyes, while the slope of my 50-year old back continues to tell the story of my laboring life.
Do not fret the crooked towel bars, instead know that when your ship is crooked, the towel bar will appear straight.  And what a treasured sight it will be.

“Like a morning dream, life becomes more and more bright the longer we live, and the reason of everything appears more clear. What has puzzled us before seems less mysterious, and the crooked paths look straighter as we approach the end.” – Jean Paul, German Author

by Rayanne Thorn

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  1. Rayanne,
    Your red ship’s wheel is a great metaphor as you continue to own accountability for ‘righting your own ship’ while also sailing into (what sounds like) a prosperous and joyful life!

    Thank you for this poetic and moving metaphor!


  2. Thanks Jacqui! I took a pic of the red wheel and will add to the post…

    I love writing in metaphors, comes from years of writing poetry! 😉


  3. Red door, red carpet gala, red wheel….I’m beginning to sense a pattern emerging. Perhaps some new red heels are in your future. Looking forward to it.


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