Let It Go

Perhaps it was the length of time that it took for us to sell our house. Lulled into a little bit of complacency. Everything seemed to be as it had always been. Life on automatic pilot.

When we sold our house earlier this month, we knew that we would have a lot of work ahead of us to downsize. Part of that work involves a significant change to the amount of stuff that we have been carrying with us through our married lives.

On a deeper level there is much, much more going on.

I have been really struggling with this part of the change. And I know why. I am scared about my mortality.

When I hit 60 years of age earlier this month, I was in a bit of shock. Where did all the time go?

As we begin this process of downsizing, I am asking different questions. Looking at all our stuff, it is easy to get confused about where we are going to next. Was this stuff what my life was all about? How did I get here? Is here where I wanted to be?

And there is sadness. Even to the point of tears.

I did not expect this part of the journey to be so challenging.

Peter Walsh wrote a book called Let It Go, Downsizing Your Way to a Richer, Happier Life. I picked it up last week and read it cover to cover in one sitting. Recommended if you are going through downsizing or know someone who might be starting to downsize.

Too many people sleepwalk through their days, worrying about the future and regretting the past. As they fantasize and catastrophize, they’re missing vast swaths of their real lives, which are going on without them. Surrounding yourself with meaningless clutter further blocks out the real world and further impedes you from being in your life.

You now have a marker that serves as a starting point of a new life… pack up the possessions that are meaningful to you, and go have an adventure!

The Waterfall

waterfall

I am an optimistic chap, and you should be, too. Much the best approach to life. But let us have another candid moment. Turning sixty can be awful damn bad if you don’t watch out. And even if you do. Think about it. Some people actually die in their sixties. Not hit by cars or fallen off their bikes. Just die, of semi-natural causes. Like heart failure and cancer-of-the-this-and-that. It is highly unlikely that you will die, of course; I understand that… But death is out there somewhere, and it can make you moody. You keep hearing the waterfall in the distance, and you wonder all the time, What’s that noise? As if you didn’t know. Scary. Very, very scary.

Younger Next Year, by Chris Crowley and Henry Lodge.

As I think about our 30 goals for retirement, the sound of the waterfall keeps getting a bit louder.

Turning sixty can be bad. A friend that should be enjoying life in his sixties is now enduring the final stages of terminal cancer. He is only a few years older than me.

There is a fear. Not so much of death itself, although I hope that it won’t be a long, painful, drawn out affair. The fear? Time.

Not enough time to achieve the goals that we will set for ourselves during our retirement years.

One of the most important goals for me will be focused on physical fitness, and not the generic “I will be a healthy person” type of goal.

I love cycling and my hope is to ride as much as I can during most of my retirement years. I started into my winter training program a few weeks ago, spinning about 7 – 10 hours a week. Intense spinning. Hard, painful workouts.

But the goal is not to complete the winter training program. The goal is to prepare for specific rides and events.

In retirement, one of my goals will be to participate in no less than one Gran Fondo a month for the first year.

I will use this calendar to plan for the Gran Fondo nearest wherever Lorraine and I happen to be.

And, whenever I find myself thinking too much about the sound of the waterfall, I will think about why I need to keep pushing myself on a bike.

Riding gives me life and it keeps me living well.

Goal one down.

29 more to go.

An Outpost

Outpost

We are working through our retirement plans, anxious to make our way on the road with our coach. There are stunning places to visit in the United States and, as future snowbirds, we have no concerns about finding the types of parks where we would like to stay during the fall and winter seasons of Canada.

Canada, though, is proving to be challenging. We are required to live at least 153 days in Ontario if we want to continue to be covered by our healthcare system. The question is: where would we stay during that time? Most of the parks that I have researched in Ontario are, well, not quite what we would be looking for as part of our stay. Not bad for a night or two but not something we would want to use for a week, a month or a season or two.

When Lorraine and I went to visit Hearthside Grove Motorcoach Resort in Michigan, we really loved the place. And touring the sites gave us an idea.

Our current house is way too large for the two of us. Our first thought was to sell the house and travel full-time. Now we are thinking that we may want an outpost in Ontario, our own tiny house with our RV, as a base from which we can travel and return. It would provide a permanent residence, a potential site for when we come off the road, and it would be expressly built for our lifestyle and our coach.

All of the photographs on this site are taken by me. Except for the two that follow. They are from the Hearthside Grove Motorcoach Resort website. It was seeing this site, Lot 148, that gave us the idea.

Hearthside1

Hearthside2

Once we have sold our current home, what would prevent us from finding a suitable lot in the country, not that far from where we are now, and transform it into a small oasis with a tiny house and a nice area for our coach?

The house pictured above is roughly 600 square feet. And it has a small storage building along with some nice landscaping and a paved drive. Looks just perfect for a couple of castaways to spend a bit of time when landed in Ontario.

We actually have a much larger version of this arrangement right now. Our coach is parked alongside our home and we have been basically living out of the coach during the summer. We do make some use of the house but really all of that space seems quite excessive now. Our current house has about 6,000 square feet of space. And we have almost 7 acres of land to maintain.

With an outpost, we would still have the flexibility to travel whenever we might wish. We could close up the outpost and reopen it whenever we made our way back.

Still dreaming a bit I suppose. But I think a project like this — I would do as much of the building and landscaping as possible — would be fun to do over the next few years during the spring and summer months in Ontario. And we would have our adventures in the south as we follow the nice weather in the fall and winter.

One Little Spark

Imagination

We all have sparks, imaginations.
That’s how our minds, create creations.
For they can make, our wildest dreams come true.
Those magic sparks, in me and you.

Imagination, imagination.
A dream, can be a dream come true.
With just that spark, in me and you.

I have a personal blog that has been out on the web for a pretty long time now, since April 2004. It gets quite a bit of traffic for what it is, mostly my own random thoughts and pictures about what I experience in life.

People do comment on the posts. I had posted about bringing our new coach home on that blog and someone elected to send me this encouraging note:

Great! But what’s the main rational in general, and how does this make sense though compared to other possible options, particularly longer term?

The person was thoughtful enough to include a number of links to things like how to invest and live abroad. Links that have absolutely no interest or relevance to me personally.

But the phrase “how does this make sense though compared to other possible options” was what caught my attention.

The underlying assumption, how does this make sense, is really another way of saying to someone that it really doesn’t make sense at all especially when compared to other more sensible options.

I think back to a team member from my time when I worked for a large Canadian bank. This was about ten years ago. He was approaching retirement. He had a dream. His dream was to sail. He bought himself an older sailing vessel. He spent a couple of years getting it ready to go. He had to spend some time getting himself ready to go, including hip replacement.

Sailing is not for me. For Ted, though, this was his passion. If I remember correctly, he did not even have that much experience with sailing. He was determined. He wanted to retire early to pursue his dream, which he did. I was excited for him.

Here is a recent shot of Ted and Ronalie from March of this year.

CastleMendes

Don’t they look awesome? Happy? Healthy?

Ten years have passed. And they have been travelling the world on a sailboat. Life is good for my former colleague. He followed his dream.

How does this make sense though compared to other possible options?

Follow your dreams. Naysayers will never understand them.

What Happens Next?

Waterfall

The time that we spent at the Hershey RV show last September was a milestone for Lorraine and myself. And not because of RV shopping. That part was fun and educational. That part was really an outcome from a much more significant decision, a time when we decided to dream about our future and to answer the question: what happens next?

I was quickly closing in on sixty years of age when we went down to Hershey. I was very uncertain about the future and, frankly, a bit concerned about the lack of vision for life after work.

How could it be that at this time of my life, I was so anxious about what happens next?

I thought the plan to get to retirement was pretty straightforward: get the kids off to a good start, save money, pay off the house. Only, there wasn’t a plan on what we would do during retirement. Aside from planning for it, we hadn’t really talked about how we would live during that time of our lives.

I had read Chris Crowley’s Book, Younger Next Year. This book was really life changing in many ways. Highly recommended.

In his book, Chris talks about the waterfall. The waterfall is the moment in time when our life ends. As we get older, it becomes louder. We can hear it. We know that it is coming. We think about it more and more. And it challenges us to think about one of life’s more important questions: what happens next with the time we have left?

Chris highlights four important attributes of living life well until we reach the waterfall: exercise, nutrition, connecting with others and kedges. A Kedge is his term for ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

All I was focused on was getting to the number.

Lorraine and I spent most of our time talking about the future in terms of the number. What number do we need to retire? What number do we need to live well in retirement? What number do we need to deal with the unexpected during retirement?

I had built highly complex spreadsheet models going out thirty years. I had introduced multiple scenarios. Retire early, retire late. Different rate of inflation numbers. Different rates of return from our investments.

I would go through the number with Lorraine. Is this the right number? What if I had made a mistake? What would happen then?

Lorraine kept telling me that the last thing she was worried about was the money.

I did not have the presence of mind to ask her what the first thing was that she worried about.

But I knew.

It was us.

It was about our ability to keep growing and developing as a couple. To take those wonderful moments that we have been able to enjoy together over the past thirty-five years of marriage: the long weekends, the one-week vacations, the evenings out here and there. To build anew our relationship.

Live life.

We started dreaming about what life could look like after retirement. And we knew what wanted: new adventures.

We started to think about traveling. And then about traveling in a motorhome. And to do so full-time.

I started researching on the web. I came across Gone With The Wynns. And RV Dreams. And many, many more.

Retirement will be an exciting change and a lifetime accomplishment. Lorraine and I will create the future us.

  • We will pursue a new chapter of life — the best time of our lives
  • We will follow our passions and our dreams
  • We will awaken our spirit
  • We will rediscover joy and serenity in life

So, although part of the journey on our blog will focus on our new RV, which has been a terrific and fun experience, what happens next is really a challenge to think about the future. Our future. The future us.