Clutter and The Ten Year Plan

I have a lot of stuff. Not nearly as much as some, but still plenty. I'm not a hoarder, so don't expect to see me on any reality TV shows anytime soon. During my last move, I took the opportunity to slim down how much stuff I cart around, and I have a pretty good handle on the clutter, but I still have a ton of stuff. Far more than I need and far more than will work for my ten year plan.

Over the years I've heard many folks talk about their dream retirement, and it often involves buying an RV and traveling around. I've never understood the appeal. Why would I want to live in a 'camper' clogging up the nations highways and spending all of my retirement money on gas? Also, what's the appeal of KOA campgrounds or WalMart parking lots?

No thank you!

But, replace the RV with a sailboat, one capable of bluewater1 sailing, and now you've got something. That idea gets me excited. I could easily spend a season or two wandering around the Keys, or years exploring the Canadian Maritimes.

And the more I research the idea, reading books and learning what others have done, the more I love the idea.

That is the germ that grew my ten year plan.

I'm turning 50 this year. That's right, in June of 2015, I become a quinquagenarian! This soon to be arriving, yet somewhat arbitrary milestone, got me thinking about retirement and what I'd like to do and what I'd like to learn over the next 5, 10, 20 years, and the thing that keeps floating to the top is travel. Naturally the two notions, travel and sailing, grew together and began forming into a plan.

60 seems like a good time to retire. It's not so far over the hill that adventurous pursuits seem out of reach, and not so soon that I try and fail because I'm ill prepared. 10 years feels like a good, solid amount of time to research and implement a plan of this magnitude.

I have run across several key resources so far, several books, videos, and blogs. Of the tons of resources out there, a few stand out. The first I'll mention is Distant Shores, a video series by Paul and Sheryl Shard. I enjoyed it so much after watching the first few trailers, I purchased all 10 seasons. I have some favorites which I have watches several times. The shows tend to be more travel log, but sailing is always a part of the show. My only wish is that they would do more sailing specific coverage. It's worth checking out and also worth reading their blog.

The Cruising Life, by Jim Trefethen is a terrific book with solid real-world opinions and information. Jim tends to be a bit opinionated, but he is clear and upfront about that in the book, and his self-depreciating humor make it an enjoyable and educational read. Probably the greatest secondary value of the book is the large recommended reading list at the end.

Sailing a Serious Ocean: Sailboats, Storms, Stories and Lessons Learned from 30 Years at Sea is quickly becoming one of my favorite books. The author, John Kretschmer writes with a lovely fluid style and he has a real knack for portraying the feel of a place or a situation. I highly recommend it.

I have been reading Peter Walsh's "It's All Too Much" recently. I've known about the book for a while, but have done a good job of ignoring it since I really don't want to face my clutter demons. But I have good reason to now. The ten year plan will require a significant reduction in clutter and a streamlining of what I have and use on a daily basis. This includes everything from books, to pots and pans.

My first stab at clearing up some unused stuff is books and dvd's, and to narrow it even further, I'm starting with the books and dvd's I've already ear-marked for the used bookstore. The only problem with the used bookstore, however, is I usually walk out with more books than I went in with. So I'm going to try selling a few on, and a few on eBay. eBay is working well so far.

A lot of what Peter Walsh emphasizes is the emotional toll of clutter, and reading the book has forced me to look at my car/apartment/life in general with a new critical eye. I don't have folks over for dinner because I have crap everywhere. I'm rapidly losing the ability to use my master bedroom closet, despite the fact that it's the size of a small room, because stuff migrates there…stuff I seldom if ever use.

One area of clutter I don't have a plan for yet, however, are the small items that I do want to keep. The question is how small is that pile of things? Will it be a small storage unit of stuff? And if so, am I willing to pay for a storage unit while I'm cruising around the Med for 10 years?

I have much planning still to do, and much learning still to do, and I plan to keep this blog space as my periodic outlet for cool pictures, fun stuff I'm learning, and just general bitching.


Bluewater is sailing out of sight of land, making ocean crossings, or sailing beyond the continental shelf, "She is bluewater sailing." ↩ 

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