The Encore Voyage, and it’s resulting reduction in salary, began as an exercise in cheap. Well, not so much cheap as an effort to figure out ways to reduce our daily spending. We were drawing on our savings when we first started, and needed to make our cash stretch as far as possible. Little by little we began whittling things that seemed less than critical in our lives. I found out that standing at the ironing board, doing Jeremy’s dress shirts, would not, in fact, kill me. I learned that I can read a recipe, and with the extra time for shopping, I can be a pretty good cook – I have not killed him yet, either! We don’t need to pay a lawn service, and mowing and digging and planting are something we take pride in. Early on, I used my extra time to go through every closet in the house, getting rid of unused junk. The point is that this Encore Voyage is causing us (allowing us) to reevaluate what is really important in our lives, and we’re learning to
Take Control of What’s Important…
- We have learned not to squander – It’s not that we were wasteful in the past. It’s just that we didn’t give as much thought to where it was all going. We are more selective about how we choose to spend. Whether it’s lunch out, purchases for our house, travel, or even groceries – it’s now purchased with much more intentionality. We differentiate between what we want, what we need, and “Yeah, it would be nice to have…”
- We pay more attention to our health – It’s amazing what happens to you when you no longer have company supplied health care. That little journey into self-insurance was quite the wild learning experience. But more importantly, we started looking at our lifestyle and choosing different actions. There’s now time for the gym. We go for more walks. We eat better. I know it’s hard to believe, but we haven’t eaten a meal in a fast food restaurant in nearly two years! Ok, we’ve had a taco or two, but you get the idea.
- We pay more attention to our home – Pre Voyage, our day looked something like this: Get up, shower, leave for work. Get home, dump your stuff, figure out something to eat. Veg out in front of the TV for a while, maybe a little time on a computer, go to bed…Repeat. Home was just the place where we went when we were not at work. Now that we’re here most of the time, we are more aware of a sense of space. We are working on making every inch of our home live in a way that gives us comfort and makes us happy. It is evolving through paint, rearranging, rededicating spaces and eliminating the unnecessary or unused. Ahhhhhh…….it’s so peaceful and cozy now!
- We choose our leisure activities more carefully – I’m not even certain why it happened. Perhaps it’s because we are no longer so exhausted. Maybe it’s because we need to get out of the house sometimes. It could be that we don’t have the adult contacts that we used to have when we were out in the workplace. For whatever reason, we now choose more carefully how we spend our free time. We plan for it. We make more deliberate arrangements with friends. We look for events around our city that would be fun. We read more, we explore more, we dance more – and we’re having a hellova good time!
- We pay more attention to each other – Who would have thought that we could learn anything new about each other after being married for nearly 33 years! Working together has uncovered a bunch of previously unknown quirks. And who would have thought that, because we are living with more intention, we deliberately plan more quality time together! Most nights we set the dining room table, turn off the TV and share a glass of wine. We decide together what the day will bring.
- We have a passion to learn and create – One of the best things about the Encore Voyage has been having the time to be curious. Nearly every day I find myself stumbling upon something that I want to learn more about. Sometimes it feels as if my brains will explode because there’s so much out there that I want to learn, so many projects to complete, so many activities I want to try. So much to explore – So little time.
Many of my baby boomer friends who are getting ready to retire have expressed a concern to me that they will have so much less after they retire. But that’s not the case at all. What we have found is that reducing the clutter, both physical and mental, has allowed us to reinvent a lifestyle that is much, much more!