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We are jetting across the country with a couple backpacks and heading for our new home in Florida. For those who haven’t had a chance to read our stories, here’s the cliffs notes version of the past year.
Over the next few days, we’ll slowly move items from our POD onto the boat while at the same time edit the current inventory. As we have come to discover, roughly 60% of the stowage space is devoted to spares. At the same time, a significant amount of the remaining space is filled with Bill and his wife’s personal and household items. So we’ll have another go at trying to apply our minimalism strategy to the contents of our boat after having done it with our house.
After we decided to buy a boat to sail around the world, we knew we would eventually need to get rid of a lot of stuff. The first part of this adventure was finding a boat and also making sure not to buy more stuff and upcycle whenever we could.
At some point however, we needed to get serious about downsizing and so we set out a plan called 30-weeks to minimalism. Each color in the photo above denotes a different month in which the activity began. Here’s how we fared over the weeks:
- Week 3 - how to tackle sentimental items
- Week 6 - what clothes should you bring for a cruising lifestyle and how many & what type of linens will we need on board
- Week 7 - does a foodie need to sacrifice all her kitchen gadgets and what do we need for the rest of the space?
- Week 12 - once you’ve narrowed down what you want to take, here are some strategies to upcycle your stuff
- Week 15 - don’t forget to deal with your digital assets
- Week 20 - all the furniture can’t come with us aboard, so 80% of the large items moved out over Labor Day weekend
- Week 22 - inventory s/v Rachel J Slocum and determine what we will keep
- Week 25 - after the survey and sea trial, edit some more
- Week 26 - moving aboard s/v Rachel J Slocum TODAY!!!
Minimalist vs Minimalist
When you embark on a transition to downsize, what happens when you come across another minimalist? I call it “Battle of the Deflectors.”
We had a few such experiences where we invited family and friends over to help themselves to free stuff. They turned us down. Oh, they were polite about it… Polite and unyielding. Some of them already had begun their own minimalism journey. So while we were thwarted from our goal, we were happy for them.
As you can see, we had pushed off some things to evaluate until after we got back from Florida. This would give us the chance to take measurements of s/v Rachel J Slocum while at the same time take an inventory of what Bill already had stored on board and what we also wanted to keep.
If you’re part of the Serenade Wind crew, we will provide the full interactive file as a starting point for your 30-weeks to Minimalism plan.
Past 2 Weeks
Since 80% of our stuff was gone by Labor Day, we had a few remaining items to be picked up. We had already transitioned from sleeping in our bed to Silvia’s bed. All of our dressers were emptied and now hanging in the closet (yes, including underwear).
Over the next few years of our voyaging life, we will be traveling back to visit family and staying with my mom. Rather than hauling clothes back and forth, we thought we would keep some clothes with her, so we had a chance to set aside some more personal items. This is helpful as well so we can swap out clothes aboard that are threadbare or in disrepair.
Within 5 days, we packed the remaining 20% of the items that were to come with us to Florida and loaded up the POD which will be driven to Ft Lauderdale and be available for us to access in 12 days. We were quite pleased that we were nowhere near filling half the volume of the POD. Looking at the stack of items, we were pretty confident that we could squirrel away clothes, household, tools, galley and pantry items aboard RJ Slocum. Excluding spares which we do not plan to displace, 88% of the stowage was accounted for.
For the remaining items identified, cousins Ellen, Paul and Janet as well as friends Nick, Subu, Jason and Hasmik were scheduled over the two weeks of our return to pick up items. Suddenly, we were no longer sleeping in our bed. Rather than be displaced to the floor in sleeping bags, we decided to stay with Mom for a few days.
Never underestimate the emotional impact of this change. Andrew and I had our moments freaking out while going through this phase. We had second thoughts and wondered what we were getting ourselves into. Whenever either of us experienced anxiety, we would stop whatever it is we’re doing and talk it over. At the end of the day, we had just the two of us to rely on to get through this.
I think back to times in the past where I have picked up and moved across country. My home address has changed over a dozen times; Andrew, close to the same. When you’re younger, there’s a fearlessness underlying the optimistic attitude that comes with starting a new life. We’re not young, and we’re not fearless.
Year in Color
Somehow starting a new life in our 40’s is a bit tougher. Perhaps we have lost our naivete. I notice how the range of emotions we experience is more acute. I am able to do this because I track highs and lows (and the reasons for them) in our bullet journal as well as our daily moods, called “A Year in Color.” The colors represent the following:
- Blue = Happy / Energetic
- Green = Focused / Productive
- Yellow = Neutral / Content
- Orange = Tired / Low Energy
- Pink = Anxious / Stressed
Close to the end of each day, I will ask Andrew, “What color is your day?” How we choose the color depends on the mood that predominated throughout the day. Our goal is to have “yellow” days and not to experience extreme high’s or low’s. Looking back over the past few weeks, the vast majority of our days have been “green,” so much so that we have to intentionally schedule rest days despite looming deadlines.
Highs and Lows
There’s another tracking tool we have in the bullet journal. It tracks the highs and lows of each day. With a one sentence description, I would pin point an experience to jog my memory of what are the highs. Some examples from the past month include:
- playing with kitties
- dinner with family and friends
- shrimp po boy
- nap time
Some examples of our lows include:
- sciatic pain
- derailed day, nothing going according to plan
- overwhelming heat
- mosquito bites
From time to time, I will revisit what has been written and it gives me an appreciation of the state of our lives. What does it mean when the worst thing about your day was having mosquito bites? It’s annoying, however if that is the very worst life has thrown you, you are actually making out pretty well.
This will be particularly interesting as we do a retrospective every month on each day’s highs and lows. There could be more freak outs about the boat, feeling overwhelmed by not knowing what to do, etc. And so if they do occur, we can put those experiences into context, take a breath, and figure out how to manage our behavior to reduce stress or ameliorate the negatives.
Most notably, these past few days staying with my mom have been a challenge. Andrew and I knew it would be going into it, yet we also saw the benefits that would come from this experience.
On one hand, our last handful of days in Southern California can be spent in a meaningful way with my mom, making it a tangible experience that she can hold onto as we set off across the country. On the otherhand, living under the same roof as adults when my mom may not have updated her lens about her daughter can cause mismatched expectations and awkward dynamics. A great example of this is characterized in a story earlier this year in relationship with money.
In these situations, my default behavior is to compromise. My reaction is to jump to conclusions. And in seeing this occur, Andrew objects trying to be an advocate for me. In turn, I see this as a criticism, and our discussion gets heated while my mom quietly steps into another room to avoid the conflict.
Everyone’s walking on eggshells, and one wonders:
- Is it worth addressing the dynamics head on when we’re about to leave?
- Can you expect two head-strong women to change?
- Should we just stay on the surface and just get by?
For many of my friends who are children of immigrant parents, I think you can relate to these cultural and generational challenges. These issues come to a head when you’re in a confined space, and with time on your side, you may have a chance at improving the relationship.
Time is not on our side.
In the end, we did what we can in the time alloted to us. We didn’t walk on eggshells. We worked on asking clarifying questions rather than jump to conclusions. We didn’t expect long-lasting changes; we only hoped for achieving symbiosis in the short term and laying a foundation for our return visits.
During our final days in southern California, we turned over the keys of our Mini Cooper to Janet and Edi to use for the time being until they are able to sell it on our behalf. We also turned over the keys to the Tesla to Nick and Brit, on the condition that they can take us to the airport. Finally, we turned over the keys to the house to my tearful mom.
The transition to a minimalist lifestyle is complete.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
From time to time, we’ve all encountered this irksome question often asked in job interviews. In 2015, Andrew and I had just married. I don’t think I would have predicted Florida and certainly not living on a boat.
Yet here we are in 2020.
Follow us on our adventure as we cast off and explore the world. If you would like to support us, join the crew.
Thanks for reading!
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