November 20, 2019

Declutter - Delete - Repeat



I would like to start 2020 with as clean a slate as possible: a house that is a joy to live in, not a maintenance and cleaning hassle, a day with obligations and appointments as required, but just as much time to simply live, enjoy each other and family, and my hobbies. Also, a decluttered mind that tries to avoid all the noise and distraction coming out of Washington, social media, and my own thoughts that aren't productive.

Besides getting rid of clutter in my home, garage, attic, and storage shed, I also want to launch myself into the new year with a renewed focus on cleaning up the clutter in my life and my mind. 2019 has been a tough year for many reasons: a few personal health issues, some financial concerns, and an almost uncontrollable anger over political stuff. Businesses that seem solely driven to profit off our fears and weaknesses (can you say Facebook?), or sell products that are knowingly deadly (Boeing?) aren't helping my mental state.

I can do little about that type of stuff, except to keep all of it an arm's distance away. Ignoring all our challenges isn't the answer, but neither is obsessiveness about it. 

So, how do I plan on making 2020 a better year?

1) I start each day reading the newspaper. The front section is filled with stories that can leave one upset, depressed, angry, or simply in a foul mood. So, generally, I read  the business, sports, arts, and entertainment sections first. I save the front pages for last. Even so, I get riled up.

Starting with this post, I am skipping the front section entirely. There is nothing on those pages that will make my day better, more productive, or more satisfying. Whatever is being reported is part of the past. I can't effect it or change it. Knowing about all the death and destruction, political stupidity, or man's inhumanity to man cannot add anything good to my day. If something really major happens, my various email alerts will tell me.

2) Even though we use cloth shopping bags for our weekly grocery shopping trip, we still accumulate plastic bags from all sorts of sources. I just learned that the store we frequent accepts the old plastic bags that our city does not want in the recycling can.  A local organization takes the returned bags and uses a process to turn them into blankets for homeless shelters. 

Along with the cloth bags, a week's worth of plastic bags will go with us to that store for recycling. It helps others and cuts down on the bin full of single-use plastic.  We have discovered a company that makes doggie poop bags that are 100% bio-degradable. According to their web site, over time the small bags break down and decompose into carbon dioxide and water.Obviously a bit more expensive than using normal plastic bags, but we still need something to clean up after Bailey, so this is our choice.

3) My goal is to delete at least 50% of the apps on my smartphone. Generally, they are sports or political in content. Others are for "productivity," yet they seem to have the opposite effect, eating away at my day. Still others that can go into the trash can are duplicates. I pay for a subscription to Spotify, which satisfies all my music needs. I don't need Pandora or Amazon music on my phone since I don't listen. Delete.


4) I have found great relaxation in my new-found interest in oil painting. I can see progress, marginal though it may be. More importantly, it quiets my mind as I only focus on the paints, the colors I am blending, the feel of the brush on the canvas, and even the process of cleaning up. Now that the weather is nice here in the desert, i have set up a table and supplies outside, which makes the time spent on painting even more enjoyable.

5) The attic holds past tax returns, receipts, and other unnecessary paperwork from years ago. Anything older than 7 years (except paperwork relating to the sale and purchase of properties) will meet their fate with a shredder. It is too easy to stash unneeded stuff up there.


6) It is time to sell several of my ham radios. Because of all the electronic noise and static our modern society generates, it is becoming increasingly difficult to reach other hams with a transmitter and antenna. Most of the time I use the Internet or my smartphone to talk with others "on the radio." So, decluttering my office and raising some extra cash makes sense. The hobby has changed; I must admit that and move on.

7) Betty will start receiving Social Security checks next year. We have discussed what to do with the extra income. The decision? Use some of it to undertake some needed home renovations. As we spend more time at home, making the space reflect our interests and tastes becomes more important. Some furniture that has been part of our life for 30 years has seen better days.

We will delete some of it and replace with pieces that bring us joy. Along the way there are a few things that simply take up space. Decluttering will remove them from our home. The kitchen is kind of drab. Betty says repainting the cabinets and  changed the counter tops will make the space more inviting. Oh, and she has hated the white porcelain sink since we moved in. Stainless steel would make her happy. 


8) Whenever I worry about my investments I will repeat to myself the mantra from a previous post: Retirement is a self-correcting process. My anxieties are most likely badly overblown. Whatever has, or will happen, I will deal with it. Frankly, my nature is to overthink things, so this will be a tough one for me. But, if I can keep focused on this core belief, 2020 will be a good year.

Declutter - Delete - Repeat: 2020 here we come!




56 comments:

  1. Excellent post and great reminders!

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  2. What an interesting hobby, ham radios! I seem to declutter all the time, or maybe it is more rearranging stuff with more being moved and only a small amount actually leaving the building. In the process of decluttering, I have found several new in the bag shirts.
    They are now hung up and in their proper place.

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    1. I still use the ham radios occasionally, but not enough to justify the space or the money that someone else will pay for them. It is a hobby that is best enjoyed if living on a farm far from power lines, huge TVs, and other sources of electronic clutter.

      Unfortunately, you are right about decluttering. Sometimes the best intentions yield minimal results.

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  3. I commented with my Google account as your site suggested but it came up as unknown? Here it is again with my website tags.

    Nice post Bob, I think it will make me do something similar. Greatly reducing politics in the coming year will be an absolute necessity for my sanity. That doesn't mean sticking my head in the ground, but instead, keeping things at arm's reach as you say.

    My Aspie traits allow me to focus on one object and screen out almost everything else. My picture puzzles, photography work, and graphic designs are the means to do that. I plan on doing more of those in the coming year.

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    1. I have been reading about Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager who has become the face of climate change activism around the world. She has Asperger and admits it helps her focus on a single problem with great intensity.

      Google Blogger does odd things, now and then. Thanks for your second attempt.

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  4. Love this. I am about to plan and write about something similar. I have given up on both news and papers and an settling for quick news summaries do I don't go completely insane. I don't have as much decluttering to do as I did before but one of my goals is to get more immersed in stuff I already have hobby and creativity wise.

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    1. I will be looking for your post, Barb.

      The next Democratic debate is tonight (Wednesday). Since it is close to a dozen people repeating parts of their stump speeches and hoping to score a few good sound bites, I will pass. I can find a summary and opinions on the results later. Saved....3 hours!

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  5. Excellent post Bob and it resonates strongly with me. We recently started to declutter our basement, as we had no useful storage space there. Multiple garbage later, we now have space - hey Presto!

    I also understand your attempts to avoid the constant political nonsense which gets prime coverage in the media - even up here in Canada. Various parties blowing up issues to aid their own agenda. It never stops and as you say, we have so little influence on it so why bother with the noise?

    Derek.

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    1. You just went through your own interesting situation with Mr. Trudeau's reelection. Politics don't respect borders, do they!

      Our youngest daughter moved to a new apartment a few weeks ago. We had been storing her stuff in our attic, storage shed, and one side of the garage. It is all gone and we have more empty space than we know what to do with. Filling it up is not the plan!

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  6. I've been power down-sizing since spring and have tons more to do. Be prepared for more than a few walks down Memory Lane. Not all downsizing decisions are easy.

    Part of my New Year's plan is to continue getting more and more vigilant with cutting down on the use of one-time plastic. In addition to the clothe bags to bring to the grocery story, have you seen the mess bags you can get to put your produce in so you don't have to use those plastic ones from the store? I was going home with 6-7 of those a week, now it's just one plastic bag to put meat packages in.

    As for the political climate. Something as to give soon. The entire country is going through a mental crisis on that front and that's not good or safe for anyoen.

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    1. Power washing and power down-sizing: two good things to engage in on occasion!

      I am reading a fascinating, and terrifying book, On Fire, by Naomi Klein. We are killing ourselves and every living thing on this planet and time is almost gone to stop more damage. To deny the climate is changing and we are the primary driver is about as logical as claiming the sun really does rise and set each day. Subjects like this are the type I don't want to declutter from my life. They are too crucial.

      Politically, I believe our country will survive our present state of division and animosity, though I think some basic "facts" of American life are likely to change forever. I wouldn't be willing to bet that a sense of national shared community is in our near future.

      I have seen the mesh bags but never bought one. I will check them out.

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    2. One thing I have been doing at the grocery store it to put my produce directly in the cart instead of a bag.

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  7. Moving two years ago was an excellent kick start in doing some serious decluttering, primarily in that it was overwhelming to even think about where to place everything in the new house. We sold and donated several hundred pounds of items, shocked that we actually owned so much stuff, and after two years miss none of it. I have a decent number of bare shelves and drawers in our new home, and I plan to keep them bare. It feels great to have 'space' in every room. I'm also making a point to use up what we already have, re-discovering many forgotten items in the process. As just one example, I recently unearthed some forgotten holiday needlepoint projects, and have been having a wonderful time working to complete them, so I can give them as gifts this Christmas. And we are now pretty religious in following the one-in, one-out principle if and when we do go shopping.

    We've also spent an extensive amount of time and money since moving here to turn our backyard into a low maintenance oasis, which I think we have achieved. We enjoy spending time out in it almost daily, particularly in the evening to catch the sunsets, and it has resulted in not only being able to fire our gardener, but also to significantly temper our desire to go out for dinner 'just because.' We'd much rather enjoy dinner out on our beautiful balcony than in a crowded, noisy, expensive restaurant. Our dineouts are now primarily social engagements, a significant change from before.

    I've also diminished my online time significantly, and have recently re discovered, via our local library, the pleasure of reading a paper book vs. an e book. It all feels good, and increasingly important in a very noisy world.

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    1. I have always liked the one-out for every new one-thing-in idea. Do I follow it as often as I should? No, or I wouldn't need to declutter as often.

      Knowing the view you have from your backyard, I fully understand. I don't think I'd want to leave very often, either. You could always have meals delivered, but the carbon footprint....ugh!

      Our yard helped convince us to buy our present house.It includes a large lawn for dogs and young grandkids. The kids aren't using it much anymore and dogs can do their business anywhere. Now, I see it as an expensive and maintenance-demanding part of our home.

      Being the president of our local Friends of the Library organization has helped me appreciate the amazing resource a public library is to a community. It is so much more than books, though I have four on my side table right now that I checked out last week.

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    2. I've become a pretty good home cook, so takeout rarely has as much flavor as what I can turn out in my own kitchen. Plus, leftovers! Which is what I rely on when I'm having a 'I don't want to cook' day.

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    3. Forgot to add that about 90% of our yard is good-quality faux grass and stone pavers. I emphasize 'good-quality' because as much time as we spend looking at it, it needed to look good. The remaining 10% is primarily succulents and slow growing native shrub, which only demands about an hour of my time per month (yes, per month!). So perhaps you could focus on doing something similar in your yard to enhance it's pleasure and presence in your lives?

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    4. The plants we do have all low water use desert-adapted plants. But, Bermuda grass takes a lot of water in the summer and bi-weekly maintenance. I wonder how hot faux grass gets on 110 degree days. If it is too hot to walk on that won't work. The Bermuda grass does have a bit of a cooling effect, but stil.....That is something I can check.

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    5. Bob,I live in the so cal dessert, almost as hot as yours, and have fake grass front and back. My yards are both quite small though. The grass does not heat up in high temps, but it is not at all cheap to install. It looks really great and I'm thrilled that we did it.

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    6. Thanks for that feedback. Yes, it is not cheap. We would have to redesign the yard layout since the grass covers over 1,200 square feet at the moment. But, I would like to consider it.

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    7. What about peat gravel? Google Palm Springs landscaping for some possible peat gravel and succulents design ideas. Or Houzz.com. There are some gorgeous options out there!

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  8. Bob, I appreciate your intent to declutter not only your physical space but also your mental space. I am not a fan of the news and seldom watch or listen to it because it leaves me with the sense that nothing good ever happens in the world. Clearing the mental clutter is a challenge with my monkey brain thinking about family, relationships, the world, etc. Time in nature helps to calm that circus and quiet that monkey as does being absorbed in my favorite hobbies. In the process of clearing my mom's home I've been inspired to purge mine. I started with the coats in the closet, some of which have been hanging there for >15 yrs without being worn in that time. I am not a big shopper and that lessens the need to purge on the other end. I've been using a plastic bin to bring my groceries home in. That translates into one trip to the front door vs 2-3 laden with plastic bags. I just bought the reusable produce bags this past week. I bought an extra set to add to the family Christmas gift exchange. My word for 2019 is "flow." I need to allow the negative to flow through and past me.

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    1. "Flow" is a good word for the new year. With my refusal to read the front section of the paper I hope to let part of the morning recitations of the world's problems "flow" right past me.

      When Betty's dad died, we carted out dozen of big trash bags of unusable junk, as well as several truckloads of donations to Goodwill. We have promised our kids that when the time comes, they can clean up after us in an afternoon.

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  9. Bob, thanks again for an excellent blog, many elements in there for me to ponder and perhaps incorporate. I am at about the 6 month point of my retirement, just a newbie to most of the readers. I am beginning to settle down, calm down and get focused. Decluttering is helping, although it is going slow. I tell my wife the reason I moved such and such to another bedroom is so I can make a decision what to do with it it. Then in just a few months it usually ends up in the Goodwill or garbage.

    One surprise for me is that our kids (young, successful adults with careers and minds of their own) rarely if ever want any of our castoffs. They give us a polite, "no thank you" and do things their own way which is how we raised them.

    On your stainless steel sink, one small word of advice (not that you need it), buy a good one, that drains well and that you are reasonably sure is easy to clean. We bought one during a kitchen refurb, the first one offered to us by the contractor and it always has water spots no matter what my wife does. Part of it is the water here in San Diego which we can't control but this is an under counter sink and hard and expensive to replace and in hindsight we would have bought a nice porcelain replacement. Next renovation I guess.

    Yes, 2020 is a time for more change, decluttering will be a large part of it.

    Thanks again, Rich

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    1. I am fine with the porcelain sink, but she is not. Because the cut in the counter is not quite standard, it will be more involved than simply dropping one in. Our water is very hard, but i trust our water softener system will help with the dried droplets. I will be sure Betty reads your comments, but I am willing to bet there will be a change in 2020.

      I have written before about the thousands of old analog photos we have in massive albums. The kids aren't interested, but scanning the ones we want and disposing of the rest is tougher than I thought it would be.

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    2. Just to counter above, and support Betty's design decisin ( :-) ), we are close in proximity to Rich above, and likewise have hard water, however we've had no issues with our stainless steel sinks in 10+ years and counting (two houses). Just got one that's good quality, and therefore easy to clean. High end stainless steel items are immeasurably easy to clean, and keep clean, compared to their cheaper counterparts.

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    3. Another vote for SS sinks if you get a good one! Porcelain is nice when new, but it chips and stains. And the SS cleans up beautifully with Bar Keepers' Friend or the like. Hard water will stain it, but we find a good water softener makes all the difference. :-)

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  10. Yes, agree with Tamara, our error was choosing the first one offered. And we do have a Water Softener but we still get drops. Doesn't stop us from using it and doing a lot of cooking, just a point and as mentioned a higher quality should have been our choice. On ever home project I have done ( a lot) we spend hours and hours deciding what to do and then on the big day it is compromise after compromise after compromise. The workers want to get in and get paid and go to their next job. Organized bedlam! Good luck with yours, Rich

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    1. I always put off renovations as long as possible that involve other people. My wife is a perfectionist and no one does a job up to her standards!

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    2. In fairness, most contractors can be a challenge to deal with, and we perfectionists struggle with them. Ha!

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  11. Funny, I had rather read the bad news first. And, it don't read those other pages, anyway. And, I hate stainless steel sinks. It is like looking into a big, dark hole when I wash dishes. I like white because it looks clean when it is clean. Did you ever think that if you ever need the ham for communication that there will not be cluttered airways?

    This post was sort of depressing with no hope out of problems. But, others probably agree with you.

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    1. Thanks for your thoughts. And, just for the record, I am fine with the white sink but it isn't important enough to me to disappoint her.

      I see this post as encouraging in that there are ways for me (and others) to work around some things that are counterproductive.

      I have seven different ham radios for different uses. I would keep two of them just in case.

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  12. I had to chuckle a bit about decluttering things as we have been adding some (much needed) furniture to our life. Since our massive decluttering and move 2 1/2 years ago we have been careful what we add but it still seems to accumulate.

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    1. I swear things in our house breed when we are all asleep. That is the only explanation why things keep accumulating.

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  13. Bob, Good article and I totally agree with your overall approach. My wife and I have already employed several of your steps listed in your post and the de-clutter has made a noticeable difference. We actually got rid of our magazine and newspaper subscriptions as we found that littered throughout the paper was commentary that was political and opinion in nature which was presenting us a more biased view on even local activities and events (not even political in nature). With my wife still working and planning to work a few more years, I found myself spending too much time on items that were of no value and ones that I had no control over as well. I have also been uneasy about our finances even though all our calculations and investment advisers tell us we are in great shape. So, I decided one easy way to resolve this "too much time on my hands" situation, which it has really become for me being retired and my wife still working and me spending too much time on things I have no control over and are of little to no value to me, was to do the unthinkable - get a contract job. I am slated to start in December. The position is within my professional wheelhouse of skills and will have me working in a field I do truly enjoy (IT). If I do not like the job after a few months, then I can easily just resign as I will not be employed directly by the company I am supporting. This approach allows me to enjoy working on the things I enjoy, making extra income to save and invest, and keep my focus on things in my life that are important and not noise. I understand my path may not be the same path others might choose, but we are all unique and have different things that make us content in our lives.

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    1. Going back to work, even in a limited fashion like your contract arrangement, is not unusual at all, and can be a fun thing to do. You get to use the skills you have accumulated over all the years of full time work and do something you enjoy. Plus, you won't be reading papers or magazines that can be giant time wasters and upset an otherwise pleasant morning.

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  14. Great ideas! I have struggled to keep up with the news and not get buried in the insanity, too. It takes a conscious effort, and I think it's time to unsubscribe from a lot of my newsletters. I have the ability to read news without someone dictating what's important.

    Like your painting, I find harp practice totally absorbing and pleasant. More of that!

    We are in process of building a new detached condo, and this year will bring a lot of purging. I intend to start this in the New Year rather than wait until three weeks before we have to list our home. Less stress = better sleep!

    As for investments and the markets, I could lie awake every night given the world conditions. Like you, I have to trust in my ability to roll with what comes and continue to make retirement satisfying. And I applaud your use of extra money to upgrade your home with things you will enjoy. As we age, we spend more time at home and loving my environment is important to me.

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    1. WE have gotten along quite nicely for 18 years of retirement without Betty's Social Security check, so we decided to use it for "extras". Of course, if something dictates a change, we can just put that check toward living needs.

      Painting is fun. I am very much a rank beginner, but I am enjoying the journey.

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  15. Overthink things? Me? As I look over a major plan on how a group of five people can pack and distribute 100 baskets next week---for the 10th time! We have started to use recyclable bags (BTW- a good place to donate your extras---food banks!)
    I did run an impromptu class for four gentlemen on RMD and charities while doing some norm homeless packing with them. Endless charity work of schleping for money.
    I am with you. Walking way from the TV and reading only the local section of the paper (easy in a 10 page paper). I still love some blogs- but am reading them less (including a few on your roll which I love). I am trying to get more sleep. I'll be adding in art quilting and swimming for the winter months. Shaking the drag on my cheerfulness is key to my longevity.

    The general clutter kill continues as we plan to vacate here in three years. Simple. Simple, Simple. Like Rich, we are finding out kids want little of what we have. Selling art soon and finding homes for my ethnic hat collection. I refuse to do Goodwill and pollute the world more. Now if I could just talk my husband into giving up half of his tools.....
    Have a. good Phoenix winter Bob. I continue to enjoy this new line of posts.

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    1. Ethnic hat collection...that is a first for me. The things people collect and find enjoyment from is so fascinating to me. It really proves what a creative species we are.

      We will continue with the newspaper subscription since Betty does want to read the front section, but only if they keep giving us the special "new reader" rate. We are into our 3rd year with this paper but every six months I threaten to cancel and they renew at the 50% rate. If you don't ask......

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  16. I'm currently going through the same process as you Bob trying to make life simpler. I can't say retirement because I don't believe in it. This month I will be receiving my first pension cheque, first of many I hope! I'm also thinking of giving up my newspaper as all it contains is bad news and I'm getting tired of it. I need to find something else to do while I'm enjoying my coffee.

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    1. I'm so used to having coffee and reading a paper first thing in the morning I am also trying to think of a logical alternative. TV watching or a digital version of the news are not options.

      Recently, instead of reading, I have been listening to music while having breakfast. That is proving to be a nice change of pace for my morning ritual.

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  17. We have been fully decluttered now for over a year, and are having a hard time right now thinking about owning things again. We do have about 1000 pounds in storage right now, but have been talking about getting together with the kids and going through it all to see if there's anything they want, like our stand mixer, cookware and bakeware, etc. Whatever they don't want or take we'll downsize even further and get rid of it.

    Although I don't think we're ready to get rid of everything, living with less has turned out to be very freeing and has given us a new perspective on what we need to have a quality life. One of the reasons we're having such a hard time with reaching a decision about whether to continue traveling or settle down is because we're not quite sure we want to accumulate things again (furniture, appliances, linens, etc.)

    I gave up on the news ages ago for a variety of reasons. I read enough to know what's going on but refuse to be drawn into and frustrated by the ugliness of the news today and its sound bites, gossip, pundits and celebrities, ratings, and so forth. I think things have been broken or changed so much in the past decade (probably longer actually), and the divisions currently so deep that there's no ever going back to what was. As a country, we're going to have to find new ways of getting things done and getting along, a new "normal," whatever that is, and adjust. Change is never easy and sometimes it's ugly, but that's what's going on now and we're living through it.

    Also, the Mr. Clean Magic Sponges do a wonderful job on their own of keeping stainless steel sinks clean and shiny. They're also great for cleaning the window inside an oven, keeping the glass clean of grease and splatters without using any other cleaning products (or scratching it).

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to respond. If anyone knows about decluttering it is you and Brett. A year on the road with a few suitcases and backpacks proves what little we really need to be happy. I don't envy you having to decide what is next. Freedom of travel vs family, friends, and roots....that will be a toughie. However, as you have proven, no decision need be final.

      We use those magic white sponges to clean grout between the tiles in the kitchen and bathrooms. Good to know about their stainless steel use!

      Thank you for your separate comments about New Zealand. Yes, we are getting off the ship in Wellington and will only be in Auckland to catch a flight to Honolulu. Your ideas are soooo appreciated!

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  18. Hello Bob. I hope your post was as therapeutic to write as it was for me to read. I have been thinking of what I can do to step away from some bad habits I’ve gotten into. Like chasing headlines almost obsessively, hoping they’ll be in my favor, and feeling agitated when they’re not. So this morning I turned on a Classic Country music channel and I’m reacquainting myself with music I used to love but have tuned out for so long. You have inspired me to think about how I want to close this year in a better way, and how to make 2020 better. Instead of just creating one word for the year or writing down a few bullet points, I’ll write about it more comprehensively and with greater detail. For example, getting out of my comfort zone and detailing what that will look like in the coming year. Thanks Bob. I appreciate being able to reach out and share these thoughts.

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    1. In my career in radio music was the focus of my life for over 30 years. Frankly, I grew tired of it for quite a number of years.

      Now Spotify has introduced me to so many styles and sounds that I am unfamiliar with, I am like a kid in a candy store. Yes, I still occasionally sample my favorites from all those years ago, but I like nothing more than discovering a new artist and using Spotify's features to start listening to a playlist of that artist and those who are similar. Then, that leads to another new artist.....repeat indefinitely!

      Chasing headlines hoping for good news is a nice way of summarizing that particular problem. Now, it is clear to me that our national nightmare has a long way to go before being resolved.

      I used to pick a word for the new year, but that really was never enough to cover my goals. This more detailed approach is better for me, and you!

      I'm so glad you stopped by.

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  19. Great post! Now if it only came with the magic wand to actually CLEAR the house of all that no longer suits me... but that would be too easy.

    Social Security -- got a gem from a talk a while ago. The presenter said to live on only one Social Security check and bank the other as much as possible, as at some point, that will be the financial reality.

    Here's to clear vision in 2020!

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    1. Add to my 2020 list...invent magic wand that declutters while you sleep.

      My wife and I talked about that yesterday. If we had to, we could live decently on just our two SS checks. We have learned to value experiences and time over things, our menus are simple, and our needs are few.

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    2. Regarding the comment from Unknown... "live on only one Social Security check and bank the other as much as possible"

      What should you do with the banked Social Security money? It seems to me that reducing your (spendable) retirement income to just let it sit in the bank isn't going to do anyone much good except perhaps some combination of the IRS and your heirs.

      Of course we all want to be prudent but not using your Social Security that you've paid into for decades reminds me of a bit by a comedian I heard many years ago: "I have a retirement plan. I am going to eat a little bit of cat food every day. That way, when I retire, it won't come as such a shock."

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  20. In addition to ensuring you can live on just social security, I think it is important to know that the surviving spouse can live on the remaining income if left alone at some point.

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  21. Bob, thank you for this post. It reminded me that I actually enjoy the end of year because I feel I get to start over in the new year. And, like you, I start to prepare by decluttering, organizing and planning. I always seem to feel a strong sense of optimism going in to any new year.

    For me, 2019 was a big year of transition. It was the first full year of retirement at age 60, the sale of our home in Houston and a move to the mountains of North Carolina. We sold or donated furniture and household items as we were going from 2,460 SF to 1,400 SF and like you, much of our stuff was dated. I had bought a fixer upper in the mountains a few years ago and had been renting it on a long-term basis. So, most of this year has been spent updating/renovating the place so that, like you and Betty, it reflects our tastes.

    The hard work, I hope, is over, and now in 2020 I want to focus on building new friendships, hiking, cooking, health maintenance and more car travel. We spent a lot of money renovating and updating with new furniture, so I have had some anxiety over finances, but going forward, our living expense should be much lower. So hearing about the Self Correcting Process has helped ease my worry.

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    1. Yesterday afternoon I loaded up the portable outdoor fire pit and burned tax records and receipts from the early 2000s. They were only taking up space and are not needed. Plus, I got to enjoy a warm blaze for awhile on a cool afternoon!

      It sounds like you have earned a year that focuses on experiences and things that make you happy. I have been to the mountain area of North Carolina several times; it is gorgeous, and certainly much cooler than Houston in the summer.

      Yes, the fact that retirement journey self-corrects as we move through it does eliminate a lot of unnecessary worry.

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  22. Ah yes, clutter. At our house, we have lots of precious mementos (my stuff), tons of clutter (Rob’s stuff), and a garage full of boxes of junk (son’s stuff). Of course, from Rob’s point if view, it’s my stuff that is the clutter, and from my son’s point of view, there’s not enough room at his apartment for all his stuff, but we have plenty of room to store it. Sigh. The best thing would be to not buy it all in the first place. And, no more Christmas presents!

    Jude

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    1. We have been storing some or most of our daughter's stuff at our home for the last 3+ years. It is nice to have space again. Now, we are motivated to increase the empty spaces and organize what is left.

      I know what you mean about definition. Obviously, my stuff is valuable keepsakes while Betty's is mostly clutter. The junk is in the eye of the beholder.

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