Sunday, July 13, 2014

Retiring with Intention - 12 Ways


This morning I decided to write at the table on my patio, while enjoying my morning coffee and the smells of the summer day before the heat sets in.  It occurred to me that before the Encore Voyage I rarely took the time to just be observant about sights and sounds around me.  The Encore Voyage is changing us...Jeremy and I are choosing to live our lives more intentionally.  We get to decide what to make of each day.  The other night, while enjoying a glass of wine, we made a list of those things in our lives we really value.  Here's our list:

1. Our marriage - We both agreed that this is number one on our list.  Our number one priority is each other.  Jeremy once participated in a leadership training seminar where the speaker instructed the participants to take a sheet of paper, fold it in quarters, then write the things they valued most in each of the four quadrants.  After that was done, participants were instructed to tear off the least valuable thing and throw it away.  This was followed by the next least valuable, and the next, until each person was left holding only one quadrant.  The eye-opening part of the exercise is that people in the room threw their kids, God, their wives in crumpled wads onto the floor...because they thought they should value "becoming a vice president...." 

So often we hear that "marriage is hard."  Call me crazy, but I've never found this to be the case.  There is nothing hard about being kind, being thoughtful, putting the other person first - it's just that over the years we grow complacent, and forget the person we married in the first place.

2. Developing  soul - enhancing relationships - OK, I must admit that I have stolen this lovely expression from Erika over at All Things E, because she is spot on.  At first, we thought the important thing was our family members...but then we realized that while we will always try to support "family members," the label of 'family' is not what counts.  We have many people in our lives who are closer than family (gal pals, you know who you are).  More importantly, there are people whose relationships we wish to nurture because they add such a fulfilling quality to our lives.  So whether it be relationships with God, with siblings, with family members or with acquaintances, it seems important to intentionally decide how and with whom we spend our time. Thanks Erika, for putting that little tidbit into our brains.

3.  Learning new things - One of the best parts of the Voyage has been the opportunity for us to take on new challenges.  When I was teaching, I used to tell my students that they needed to learn something new every day, or they might as well have stayed in bed!  We delight in the notion that there is an entire unexplored world out there and we can learn about anything we can imagine!

4. Building and creating - High on our list is the notion that we value our creative yearnings. Anyone who has seen my craft closet knows that I can never be tied down to one thing.  I have stacks of PhD's (projects half done!)  The opportunity to try our hand at new creative ventures makes us both thrive.

5.  Exploring new places - It could be travel, it could be places in our own town. It could be a picnic in the local countryside.  It doesn't need to cost money.  There is so much in this world to see and experience.  We value our wanderlust!

6.  Reading Forever - Borrowed that phrase from Nook at B&N.  So many books, so little time.  Nuf said!

7.  Appreciating and making music - Music has been important to both of us since we were very young.  From playing my piano, to learning to play the sax, to enjoying the fruits of our local symphony, to good old rock and roll...we want our lives to have a sound track.  Which brings us to number 8...

8. Supporting the arts -  Shakespeare, local theater, dance groups and galleries, just to name a few - Life is about collecting experiences, and the arts provide us with some of the richest.

9. Health, physical activity and self-acceptance - We have been giving a lot of thought lately to our pursuit of good health.  We eat a lot healthier lately, and I have logged hundreds of hours at the gym in the last two years, cycling and treadmilling to nowhere and challenging my muscles with weights.  It has occurred to me that all those hours at the gym may not be the best use of  time.  What if, perhaps, we actually took a walk or went for a run or swim?  What if we climbed a trail instead of the Stair Master? How about walking the golf course, climbing real stairs, parking at the far side of the parking lot?  It seems to me that an intentional life would value more authentic types of activity.  

With that in mind, I've also decided that I'm tired of searching for a different me.  Yep, I'm a little heavier than I'd like to be - I'll keep working on it.  But it does me no good to wish for the body of that college girl 30 years ago.  And it is self defeating to keep saying, "Six months from now I'll wear a smaller dress size."  So I'm committed to doing the best I can to keep this body healthy and strong, and to be OK with the woman in the mirror.

10.  Good Food - Exploration for our senses! - Keeping in mind number 9 above, we decided that exploring good, real food is something we both value.  We want to experience the flavors and combinations of different cultures and cuisines - from fresh tomatoes and lettuce that we grow in our garden to cheeses, wines and dishes from other countries.  That's not an excuse to eat an entire cake in one sitting (again, see number 9.)  It is, however, a statement that protein powders and tofu are just not going to cut it for us...we crave real, whole delicious foods creatively prepared!

11.  Taking time for rest, relaxation and meditation - I used to go through life like a freight train.  Now we have realized the value in taking some time to just be...time to think, to recharge, to de-stress and to let go.  Oh, I wish so much that we had learned this value while we were working for others.  Because we now take time for ourselves, the quality of our lives has improved ten-fold.  You should learn. from. our. mistakes!

12.  Gratitude and giving back - These days we pay more attention to how blessed we feel to be able to travel this voyage.  We are thankful that we have 'enough.'  In fact, we have more than we could possibly need.  We've come to realize the importance of giving back and have found that greater selflessness is life enriching.  And face it - It's not hard to look around and find a need to be filled.  

When I look at our list, it's clear to me that none of this is about accumulating "stuff."  A successful life isn't about money or possessions.  Every item on this list is about how we act..those behaviors which enrich and give fullness to our lives.  Yes, I realize that people, including us, still need to work for a living.  For us, intentional living is about trying to make our actions fall in line with what we value. It's about paying attention to what we do, and determining if those actions fit in with our list.

So how about it...what do you value in creating an intentional life?  Leave a comment - I'd love to hear!

                                                                                              Lynn

Monday, June 30, 2014

Retirement Togetherness - 10 Steps for 24/7 Success

It seems that whenever we tell people our story, one of the first questions they ask is, "How can you stand to be together 24 hours a day???  Apparently, this is the thing that keeps some from making the decision to retire at all. Jeremy has talked with lots of guys who have said, "I'd love to do what you have done, but I can't imagine what I'd do if I had to stay at home with my wife all day!"  Yikes!  Ladies, I don't know what we're doing to scare our men out of retiring, but if your hubs is feeling this way, take him by the hand, get your coffee, sit down and share this blog with him.  It really isn't that difficult!



I will admit that some of our friends say that our relationship is somehow unique...that we are not a typical couple.  Now I don't know if that's true, but I can tell you that, by choice, there are certain premises that we have adopted over the years, that seem to be working during the voyage:

1.  We made a conscious decision to be kind and respectful to each other.  Neither one of us will participate in a fight.  I can hear some people right now saying, "If you say you never fight, you must be lying."  Well, believe what you will, but here's the deal...My mamma taught me to "keep a civil tongue in my head."  That advice has rung true for a lifetime.  It does not mean that I am not honest with the hubs, or that we never disagree.  It simply means that if  I'm about to say something hurtful, I bite my tongue!  I will wait until calmer heads prevail, and then we'll figure out a way to discuss.  I have always judged it this way - Would I say this to my best friend?  Many times, the answer is no - I wouldn't say something to my best girlfriend because it would hurt her feelings.  Why, oh why, is it true in our culture that married people believe that they can say anything to each other, without regard for hurting feelings!  The one thing I am most proud of in our relationship is that in the 35+ years we've been together, Jeremy has never, ever said an unkind word to me!  And while I know this is not true for all, it's something to consider...

2.  We have separate individual spaces in our home.  Early on, we realized that each of us needed a personal space.  In our home, we created separate "offices," but it could be a desk, a corner, a room, or even a garage.  There is some truth to the concept of the man cave, just as I had need of a 'woman cave.'  We each need a place to retreat to, to hold our stuff, to call our own...

3. We've been careful to keep and nurture separate outside interests.  He's a car guy.  I'm a golf girl.  He has guy pals.  I have gal pals. He does guy stuff.  I do girly, crafty stuff.  The point is that by continuing to go our separate ways, learning new things, making new friends, engaging with others, we bring a fresh perspective and new topics of conversation to the table.

4. We've learned new things about each other...and adjusted.  You would think that after being together for so long, a couple would know just about everything there is to know about each other.  WRONGO!  I would never have believed it myself, but being together during the work day hours was very illuminating.  Who knew that the hubs was such a linear thinker, who absolutely hates to be interrupted when he's involved in a task.  For a couple of months there, I about drove him crazy when I would derail his train of thought.  I'm sure he learned some choice things about how I operate as well.  The point is that we always keep #1 in mind, while working out ways to co-exist!

5. We became more flexible in our roles around the house.  It's not unusual that during their working careers, people fall into a sort of routine about who does what in running and maintaining the household - He mows the lawn, She does the laundry, He takes out the garbage, She does the cooking...But when the perception of available time changes, the nature of the roles must change as well.  Early on, I started feeling like I was the "charwoman" at our house, while he was working hard to build the business.  We learned that we needed our roles to be more flexible.

6.  We plan, always with consideration of the other person in mind. We share a calendar on our computer, and we make sure that we communicate what events get scheduled. Neither gets to plan an event involving both without consulting the other.  No one's event is more important than the other's.  You would think this would be a no-brainer.  But in retirement, it's easy to fall into the trap of "Of course, we'll both be there!"  Or, "Sure, I can schedule the plumber to come, cuz hubs will be home." It only takes a couple of times of misguided expectations to figure this one out.  I hope you learn from our missteps...

7.  We've become better listeners.  You see numbers 1-6 above?  Well, in order to make them work, you've got to listen...really listen to what your partner needs, thinks and feels.  Just sayin'.

8.  We find ways not to take it all too seriously, and to laugh at the quirky things that happen daily.  And they will happen...believe me they will! I did not know until recently that hubs is able to quote a huge amount of Looney Tunes dialog!

9.  We are a team in all things.  We plan together, make lists together, prioritize together, budget together.  I can see why the guys in the introduction to this piece don't want to be home if they feel that they are alone in the journey.  The voyage is a shared one in every way.

10.  And finally, our guiding principle - When we were first married, we both read John Gray's Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. (Gray, 1992), and for all of our married lives we have taken to heart what we believe to be the most important phrase of the book:


Men want to be appreciated, 
Women want to be cherished.

It's quite simple really, and if you think about it, so very, very true.  And to that end, I try to make sure that every day of his life, I let Jeremy know how much I appreciate him - things he does for our business, for me personally, for us as a couple.  And every single day of my life, I feel truly cherished by him.  And in the end, that's all it really takes!

                                                                                                                  Lynn





Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Affording the Encore - 12 Ways We Cut Costs

When we first began the Encore Voyage, we had a few moments of total freak out at our complete loss of income stream!  Then, cooler heads prevailed and we took a deep breath. We realized that we would most likely not starve, at least for a day or two.  To all you youngsters (and by that I mean anyone under the age of 40), listen to me now:

We are living proof that you absolutely, positively,
 need to have an emergency savings plan in place!

And that means before you go out and buy those jet skis or that snowmobile that you think you absolutely must have!  You don't need it nearly as much as you will need to live in the event that you lose your income!  Just sayin'...

So back to the story...For the first couple of months we were able to draw upon our savings, without raiding our retirement account, while we figured out what to do.  We decided to start our own small business, and having some cash set aside allowed us to get that started. Having your own business takes lots of work and drive, and is the topic of many other blogs, from which we have learned a great deal.  But I also started following The Minimalists and Be More With Less, and I started thinking about how much we really need to be happy.  Now don't get me wrong - this is not about being cheap.  I want to have some cash in hand just as much as the next guy.  But it is about really evaluating how and where you spend your hard earned money...and that's where we woke up!

In the years when there was a much bigger income in this household, we spent a great deal.  I don't want to think of it as being wasteful, but let's just say we 'squandered' quite a bit.  We didn't really give it much thought until recently. The Encore Voyage has started us thinking about some ways in which we could be more wise about our spending:

1)  We reduced our cable TV package to the minimum package.  When you actually sit down and calculate the cost of higher level movie/sports packages and then compare that figure to the number of movies or events you actually see, the cost per viewing for this convenience can be ridiculous.  You can rent a lot of movies from Red Box for a buck...

2) We paid attention to how we use the heat and air conditioning in our house.  Rather than just set the thermostat and forget it, we took an active roll in closing shades, opening windows, adding another layer of clothes...and cut our heating and cooling bills by 4-10% over the previous year.

3) We cancelled our subscription to the newspaper.  It was a habit that was simply adding to the bulk of the recycle bin.  Lots of access to local and national news is available on my tablet.  There's even too much news and I must be cautious not to let electronic media rule my mornings!  I even found a free app to replace the comics and my favorite daily word puzzles!

4) I monitored our cell phone use and ultimately reduced our data package.  Not because we put ourselves on any type of data diet, but because we were previously paying for data that we were not using!

5) We have changed the way we eat.  We now rarely eat at fast food restaurants.  Not only is this change way healthier for us, but it saves us a lot of money!  It is amazing how much fast food we used to grab, just for convenience. Seriously - I used to have the phone number for Pizza Hut memorized!

6) We plan, shop for, and cook more meals at home.  I'm a much better cook now that I have time to plan and shop for groceries.  I'm not "extreme" about any of it, but a coupon here and a trip to Costco there all adds up to savings.  Not to mention that we have found we actually love cooking, chopping, and drinking wine in the kitchen together - An added benefit!

7) We got rid of a bunch of magazine subscriptions. That stack of magazines that are sitting there unread???  Yeah those - You don't need them!  You can find most of that stuff on line, and I have learned that your magazines should not cause you stress!  Bu-bye!

8) We turn off the lights!  There were times when this house was lit up like a Christmas tree! Crazy wasteful!

9) I download books from the public library.  Probably cut my book purchases in half!  My Carpe Librum post will tell you how.

10) We spend waaaayyyyy less money on both gas and clothing.  Because we now work primarily from home, we don't need nearly as much.  The savings on gasoline is huge!  And because our minimalist efforts are paying off, reducing all those clothes in the closets just makes everything seem lighter and less stressful!

11) I don't know if this is going to be a savings, but because I have more time, I'm making many of my Christmas and birthday gifts.  Shhhhhh...don't tell - quilted things for everyone!  And lots of pleasure for me!

12) Our next step will be to get rid of our land line telephone!  Why is it that everyone under the age of 35 has already done this, and everyone over the age of 35 has a hard time cutting the cord?  We're about to take the plunge, because the only calls on that number are usually solicitations!...And just like that, there's another 20 bucks!

So, you see, it's not about being cheap.  It's about paying attention to where the money goes!  And it's about deciding with intentionality how you want to live.  So how about it...Do you have any other strategies that you've used to cut costs?  Please be sure to share in the comments!


                                                                                                             Lynn



Monday, June 9, 2014

Carpe Librum (Seize the Book)


One of my favorite things about retirement and this Encore Voyage...Here's a Hint:

It's the BEST!!!  To finally have the time to read, read, read, read and then read some more - well, just heavenly.  And to not pay the penalty.  Here's how it goes when I read in bed.  I tell myself, "Just one more chapter." - Then look and I've gone the next 100 pages, OR I tell myself, "Just 15 more minutes." - and look to find yet another hour has passed.  The Encore Voyage allows for such nonsense without having to explain my glazed eyes to my boss in the morning.   In my post, The Barnes and Noble Date, I shared how we love to go and pet and smell and touch and generally support brick and mortar booksellers.  I also have a confession to make.  I've had my Nook for several years, and I love it, too.  I love being able to have lots of books with me when traveling, and I love being able to adjust the light (particularly helpful for past my bedtime reading!).  So I guess you can say I'm bi-literary:  I swing both ways.  

But in my subtle move toward minimalism, I've also been reducing the number of actual books I have around the house.  It's a little bit like giving away a child, I know, but it can be done, at least in part.  It's easier knowing that I can still access those wonderful works with a tap of the screen...

And my latest rediscovery on the Encore Voyage?  The Public Library!   Come on, face it you boomers and retirees...when was the last time you roamed around your public library?  Here's a news flash:  You should go!  No seriously, get your rear down to your local library and take your electronic reader with you, because here's what I've learned:  There's a high probability that your library will have a talented young techie person who will get you hooked up with downloading from the library's e-collection. It's easy peasy...They will help you download and start an account for OverDrive Media Console:


It's quite simple.  You will need an Adobe account (easy to set up the first time - just an email and a password), and it's all free.  Then wham, bam, thank you library - You are in business.  You select your local library and are directed to it's e-collection right on your e-reader.  Coolest thing ever?  You can check out and download books from wherever you happen to have a wi-fi connection!  Generally, you can check them out for 14 days or so, and then they are just deleted.  Right??? No books to return, no worrying about overdue books.  And the hours and hours of browsing potential, without anyone thinking you are some weirdo!   If a book isn't available right now, you can place a hold on it and the library will notify you by e-mail when it's available for download.  Once you have the account, you can even put Overdrive on your smart phone, for those moments when you are bored at the DMV!   Just thinking about it makes my eyes glaze over with reader bliss...

So carpe librum and hurry over to your local library!  Then let me know how it all works out for you!

                                                                                             Lynn

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

My Absolutely True Criticism of Part-Time Crazy Parents

If you ever read the "About" page on this blog, you may remember that I had mentioned I may blog about "some nonsense and musings that occur to me."  Well, here comes a doozy...

When the Harry Potter series was first published, it caused quite an uproar among parents, who believed that it was rooted in evil underpinnings.  I don't know, perhaps it was written by the devil himself...In any case, being the teacher that I am, I felt the need to read it for myself to find out what all the hubbub was about.  In the end, I read all of the books - Twice.  Now I'll be the first to admit that I didn't particularly care for the dark quality of the later books, but all in all, here was my opinion:

I'm sorry, mom and dads, but there's not a kid alive who does not think that troll boogers, vomit flavored jelly beans, moving staircases and three headed drooling dogs are about the coolest things ever!  And those kids began to want to read...and JK is a stinkin' genius! - Just my opinion...

So you must know that this little news flash was sure to catch my attention:


Idaho’s Meridian School District Votes to Keep Hold on
 ‘The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian'

It seems the local school board had voted 2-1 to keep Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Little Brown, 2007) off the curriculum's supplemental reading list. Once again, parents were up in arms about the "inappropriate" content of the book, and the criticisms were flying in all directions. I even read a post where parents accused teachers of trying to take over their parenting responsibilities.  We'll get to that one in a bit...

So being the retired teacher that I am, I simply had to find out what the fuss was about.  I read the book from cover to cover in one sitting.  And here's the deal:  The book is written from the perspective of a fourteen year old Indian boy who lives on the Spokane  reservation.  It is written in the voice of a teenage boy - it has some profanity and a couple of references to homosexuality.  It seems that the earth shattering part for the complaining parents is this line:

“And if God hadn't wanted us to masturbate, then God wouldn't have given us thumbs. So I thank God for my thumbs.”  Yup, this discussion of the big bad M-word takes up less than 3/4 of one page...

I know it will probably tick some people off, but since this is my little portion of the blogosphere, I get to say what I think, right?  (BTW - People who know me will tell you that I always say what I think!) So here's my opinion:

Are you kidding me?
  THAT IS THE PART OF THIS BOOK UPON WHICH YOU WANT TO HANG YOUR HAT??!!
  THAT IS THE THING THAT STANDS OUT TO YOU AS MOST IMPORTANT???!!!!
  (And yes, I'm yelling! - Geez!)

It is abundantly clear to me why this book was the Winner of the 2007 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature!  It is raw, gritty, and insightful, and has the potential to develop empathy in a generation of young readers who are generally not so empathetic.  Jeremy and I talked about this book all the way home from Portland, and I found myself wishing that I could use this book to teach a group of high school sophomores! I can only imagine the depth of discussion which could be teased from young people.  The book tackles huge issues like self-determination, alcoholism, bullying, friendship, violence, Indian culture, and stereotypes. Publisher's Weekly describes it as "so emotionally honest that the humor almost always proves painful."  Even Pam Juel, the Library Coordinator for Joint School District #2, said that the book "presents a compelling demand that readers experience the world through a lens that, in many cases, is an unfamiliar, and perhaps uncomfortable, perspective."

So it saddens me that, like troll boogers and wizardry, some parents can't seem to get past the possibility most teenage boys have grabbed their dipsticks and might identify with the topic. And no mommy, I have never met a teacher who yearns to take over your parenting responsibilities.  We do, however, wish you'd grow a pair and have those conversations with your sons and daughters.  Violence, profanity and that big bad m-word do exist out there in the world.  You fear your child will be influenced by reading about it?  I'm not so sure that's what you fear.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Who Are Your 2:00 AM Friends?

Do you know who your 2:00 AM friends are?  You know, the people in your life whom, if you were in trouble or needed help, you would not be afraid to call in the middle of the night?  They are the ones who, without question, would come running.  Jeremy and I are blessed to have several people in our lives that we can, with certainty, classify as "2:00 AM friends."

Lately, in our conversations about intentional living and simplicity, we started making a list of things we truly value.  High on the list was a phrase we borrowed from All Things E's post - "fulfilling, soul-enhancing relationships."  Wow!  That's a pretty powerful and moving descriptor!

And that started us talking about the relationships we've formed, both new and old.  For example, we recently traveled to Portland for a conference, where we were able to connect again with what I called "annual friends." Every year, we attend this conference.  There are friends at this event that we see only once a year.  Each year, we get to know them a little better, become a little closer.  And each year, we meet new people - people who sort of take your breath away with their intellect, personalities and skills.  Amazingly talented, funny, awesomeness - Truly soul enhancing!  Next year, they'll be among the "annual friends," and already I can't wait to see them and to add more to the group.


And then there are those friendships that have been formed in our pre-retirement years.  Often, they were forged as a direct result of our careers.  It's no surprise that many of my friends are educators, or that Jeremy's friends come from the fields of architecture or construction.  So what happens when you retire, and you no longer have that "day-to-day, in-the-office" contact? We've started paying attention to the value each of these people has brought to our lives, while making intentional plans to keep those friendships strong - phone calls, lunches together, notes and cards, invitations to just hang out, golf games, and yes, even social media has played a part.

If we didn't make a conscious effort, valuable friendships could slip away during this Encore Voyage.  It is because we value those "fulfilling, soul-enhancing relationships" that we must be mindful in taking deliberate actions toward preserving and enhancing them.

So how about you?  What meaningful steps are you taking to cement your 2:00 AM friendships and to create new ones?

                                                                                                  Lynn


Sunday, June 1, 2014

Our Minimalist Epiphany

About 15 years ago, Jeremy and I purchased a 21 acre parcel of land south of town.  In the time since, we've built a storage shed, acquired some farm equipment and have a local farmer using the land just to keep it productive and to keep the weeds down.  Our plan has always been to finish paying for the land, and then to build a custom home, designed by Jeremy, of course. What's the point of marrying an architect if you don't use him at least once, don'tcha think?

That's the preface to this story...About a week ago, we received an e-mail from a friend and his wife, telling us their new address and contact information.  It seems they had sold their five acre farm for the following reasons:  "The cycle of mowing, irrigating, fertilizing, mowing, fixing fence, paying to have the tractor fixed, mowing, moving pipe, paying for water, replacing pumps, and mowing" had finally gotten the best of them.  They wanted to be able to leave for one, two, even three weeks and travel without worry...

Now, let's add  this moment...In reading Twitter, I ran across this little gem from @joshua_becker at becomingminimalist


 We own too much stuff. And it is stealing our joy!

And in an eye-opening moment, my world sort of got rocked...

It could not have become more clear if Joshua Becker had walked up and smacked me in the head!  What would possess us to move toward a life which included more and bigger property, more stuff, more work, more stress and less time for future endeavors?  And in the conversation that ensued, we arrived at several enlightened conclusions and even more questions:

Goals and plans change over time - The plans we made 12 years ago just don't make sense the way they used to.  And over the next few days we examined our dreams and plans with real intention and honesty. It was an illuminating discussion about why we had wanted the land, the new home, the things we had accumulated...an awakening of sorts.

We are holding on to stuff for no good reason -  On the guest bedroom closet shelf are two brand new sleeping bags (wait for it...) which have been used exactly ONE time!  I don't know why we have them...Anyone who knows me would realize that it is highly unlikely (read: NOT GONNA HAPPEN) that I will be camping anytime soon - My idea of roughing it is a Holiday Inn with a hard pillow!  I am keeping them because I bought them, and therefore don't want to fess up to a bad decision!  And then I started going through every closet ...Just sayin'...

Some stuff we keep because we think it's sentimental - It really just isn't - In that trip through the closets I mentioned above, I came upon a bunch of collectibles that I have acquired over the years- they just aren't my style anymore.  Or how about the hundreds of LP albums from 30 years ago that grace an entire shelf.  Now I can see perhaps keeping a couple of Beetles albums, but Sheena Easton???  Seriously?  We don't even OWN a turntable anymore!  This little voyage of ours is causing us to closely examine what we value.

Paring down our stuff is energizing - As it turns out, owning the property and all of that farm equipment was ultimately causing us stress.  And the decision to sell, reduce and donate is lifting a weight off our shoulders.  It is freeing up space, finances, time and emotions.

We have gained a sense of gratitude for the things we have, and an intentionality about how and why we use and keep our possessions.  We are not getting rid of stuff just to be doing it.  It's not about monetary value.   Instead, we ask, "Is this thing important to me, and why do I need to keep it?"

We have been given an impetus to examine this Encore Voyage and to have a critical conversation about what's really important - Where do we want to go from here?  What are our dreams and wishes?  What adjustments do we need to make to our current path to live every day with simplicity and to its fullest?  What do we really value?

And so I'm planning to sell or donate four large tubs of children's books.  They are my personal library, collected over a nearly 30 year career.  I thought I would be sentimental about giving them up - that somehow they represented imparting a love of reading in so many children...and in a way, they do.  But it is much more fitting that I share them with some new teacher, who will use them to continue the tradition.  The joy of those children and their journeys will always be in my heart.  It's not the books that keep them there.

                                                                                                Lynn