Beth Hill Poulin

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When asked to write my woman of worth story I hesitated. I was Wonder Woman for years; or thought I was and indeed was proud of that. I did wonderful things with wonderful people and it felt good when people said they didn’t know how I could do it all. In many cases I did it all because I had to, but in others it was like a challenge. What else could I take on that would continue the Wonder Woman façade?

The short story is that Love wins, not Wonder Woman!

I was driven from an early age, whether it was just drive or a feeling of not being good enough and having to be better I am not certain, but at this age I wonder. I had to get top marks. I finished a 5 year high school program in 4. No spares, no free time, involved as much as possible and yet feeling like I didn’t really fit in. I had lots of acquaintances but wasn’t sure how many were true friends. I ached to be part of the “in” crowd not really sure of what that meant. I had no time for boys and although I had the romantic fairy tale ideas that I had read about, none really understood me. (My brother told me years later that they were afraid of me!)

I went off to university and although the intention was to go one way, fate would have me go in a different direction. Rejection from my desired program hurt but I was flexible and continued on a similar path, ultimately ending up in Teacher’s College. I was married just after graduation and as luck would have it, had a teaching job the following September teaching FRENCH! (My degree is in Biology but I had studied and loved my French courses.)

I fell in love (or thought I did) during the last years of University and married earlier than all my friends. In the first 5 years of my marriage I cultivated further interest in French, taking a few hundred students to Quebec on an exchange program over the course of 4 summers. I also coached and judged Synchronized Swimming, and continued to teach French as a second language.

I fell in love further upon the birth of my first child in 1993. Over the next 5 years that love grew as the number of children increased to three. My love for them is never ending and immense (although they might have argued that in their teens). After 12 years of marriage and a lot of learning, my husband and I separated and for the most part I raised three children on my own.

Love wins.We made it work with a lot of love. There was never any doubt that although we couldn’t live together, both my ex and I loved our children. The kids and I had wonderful adventures in our little antique house in a wonderful neighbourhood, and we thrived. I took on the challenge of renovating the antique house and worked part time to spend precious hours with those I loved most. Again, I didn’t know how to relax.

Love wins. Old friends re-appeared and life was new and exciting again.  One of my oldest friends showed up one day and my world was electrified. We maintained a long-distance relationship for three years with many adventures before he returned to Canada permanently and we were married in 2007. It was a magical small wedding with family and friends on the beach of Lake Erie at a friend’s cottage.  We continued to have adventures, which was much easier in the same country, for 3 years. We bought a building that was to be his photo studio and office in the short term and our retirement home in the long term. During renovations to this building, my love developed an infection that turned septic and within 5 days he went from thriving to gone. I didn’t understand how love could win in this case.

But it does, Love wins. I had never loved like that before, nor may I ever again. My heart was broken, and I was left with a life in pieces and 3 children, now in their teen years. It was our love for each other, the love of God, and the memory of the love of an incredible man that got us through the toughest times. Love appeared in the strangest places. A friend of my daughter’s, who was struggling at home moved in with us for a bit and we shared love with him. The building contractor, who had lost the love of his life years previously and was a lot like my late husband became a great support. Friends stopped in frequently to listen and hold me together, sometimes with the best hugs that only great friends can provide. My love had left me plenty to do and a whole community of people to help me through. Hallelujah for support systems!

Love wins. I tell people that my late husband led me to the current one. They have very similar personalities and although the speed at which our relationship developed was alarming to some, it felt right to us. We were together 4 years before we got married. It was again a small event attended by close family and friends. I continued to teach French and mentor French teachers. My husband, with me in the background, ran a cabinet design and manufacturing company until a trip to Florida and a trip to Haiti changed our lives once again.

With 2 of my three children out of the house and the last set to graduate we were looking to downsize. The plan was to build a smaller house close to water. The plan changed when Danny found a 50 foot boat on his trip to Florida and after my trip to Haiti I was happy to entertain the idea of being a full time live aboard. The boat was big enough for his daughter, the 2 huskies and the two of us. There was no room for the other kids to visit long term, but they had their own lives and we didn’t expect them to be frequent visitors. I made the decision to retire after 28 years of teaching. We sold the house and moved aboard the boat full time June 7th, 2016.

We had adventures with the boat even before we left Port Colborne as we were hit by a 100 ton dinner cruise boat during a summer festival. We recovered and headed south in late October. After beginning the year at a real school, Alyssa, my stepdaughter became my only student as we home-schooled on the boat.   (Cont'd at Right)

We had adventures with the boat even before we left Port Colborne as we were hit by a 100 ton dinner cruise boat during a summer festival. We recovered and headed south in late October. After beginning the year at a real school, Alyssa, my stepdaughter became my only student as we home-schooled on the boat. Although I taught her the school curriculum, together we learned so much more as we travelled 2500 miles from Port Colborne ON to Boca Raton, FL that first year. We learned how to toss ropes, tie ropes, set anchors, navigate, trust each other, steer, handle the waves and not make each other walk the plank.

Our route took us through the state of New York via the Erie Canal, and New York City (HAD to stop there!). We bounced on the bottom. We even rescued friends who were stuck on the bottom. From NYC we proceeded south on the ocean around Cape May, New Jersey, up the Delaware to Chesapeake City MD, and down through the Chesapeake Bay. We entered theIntracoastal Waterway (ICW) at Norfolk VA. We then followed the ICW all the way to Boca Raton Florida where we stayed for 4 months anchored in Lake Boca. The early cold of that first late October finally gave way to heat in Jacksonville FL and I stopped shivering. The dolphins at our side in places made things exciting. We explored new towns and marinas as well as navigated the ICW as it had changed with the last hurricane.   

In late April the boat turned North, and we headed home taking the reverse route with a few different stops. There is more daylight in the spring, so we could go further each day. We have decided on some favourite stops and since we intend to do this for years to come we were content to race through some places to get home, knowing we would stop longer later. We have now done the route completely twice, logging over 10 000 miles on our diesel engines.

We have had very few mishaps related to mechanical issues and although Danny is amazing and knows all about how to repair diesel engines, he would rather do maintenance than repairs. This winter (2018) we embark on a new adventure and have rented a cottage on the lake to maintain our desire to be close to the water. We are still close enough to the marina to be able to do maintenance on the boat that is now on “the hard” (land). Danny is planning some renovations to the boat before our planned departure in September 2019 to cruise south again. While we are landlocked, I will spend more time with family and friends and continue to build my business built on my love of helping others. It is much easier to have pot luck dinners with old friends when the distance is shorter.

How is love winning on the boat? We have made many friends who also love this lifestyle. We have had to adapt to living and loving in 650 square feet of boat that we are generally on together all the time. We have learned how to navigate together and alone on our moving home. Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is flexible. Love is understanding.  Love wins.

All things are better when done in love. We will continue to live and love in this way until such time as we decide there is another better way but for now, life on a boat is pretty awesome. You can read about some of our adventures on our blog at www.Cruisingdragonfly.com  I will be updating it further in the coming months as I seem to have been distracted lately. Relaxing happens best when I am at the helm of the boat with no other distractions.


            Beth Hill Poulin is a Proud Member of Our WOW Directory
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