Adjusting Course into the Unknown

Posted May 18th, 2009 by Stephanie Reiley and filed in Issue 5: Future Plans
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When I was in my twenties, I used to draw up these detailed 5- and 10-year maps for my life course.

800px-carta_marinajpegWhat I discovered, however, is that typically a few years into “the plan” my life would take a dramatic turn that took me clear off the edge of the map and sail into the realm  cartographers of older times noted as “Here there be monsters”. In my case, I rarely encountered anything that dire.  Instead, toppling over the side of the map usually proved to be a far better adventure than what I had initially planned for myself.

As I have grown older I’ve learned to be far more appreciative of allowing the future to unfold in its own unpredictable yet magical way.  So if my plans for the future in my tiny floating home seem a little nebulous, I hope you can at least understand from where I’m coming.

After a year of angst, bills, and contractors, I am finally in my floating home. That is a huge step forward from my perspective.  I have a home again and I where I dreamed of being.

There is still, however, a great deal of work to be done on the inside.  But, as one of my regular readers, James, pointed out when I was lost in the middle of one of my home renovation panic attacks, I really do already have everything I really need.  Now it’s just a question of making it more visually attractive and comfortable.

Floating homeMy immediate plans for the future are to finish off the renovations on my house and actually make it a home.  My goal for this summer is to try to finish the top deck and front room of the house (consisting of my kitchen, living room, and sleeping loft).  After that, I intend to handle the bathroom remodel and back guest room/office space.

I’m guessing “Phase 2″ will not happen until next summer, however.  Both I and my bank account could use a chance to catch our breath.  While I’d love for things to be done quicker than that the cost to my well-being and higher-level goals would probably prove too much.

What I’ve recently come to realize is that by focusing so intently on all the day-to-day details of restoring my tiny home, I’ve really lost sight of the broader picture of why I chose to downsize in the first place.  In simplifying my residential footprint and lifestyle, my hope was to have more time to focus on the things that really mattered to me–time in nature, creative pursuits, and nurturing deeper relationships with others.

Between trying to juggle the responsibilities of my current profession, home renovations, and writing for two different websites regularly, I feel as though I’ve lost touch of my higher-level goals.  I’ve been too focused on the “How” rather than the “Why”.  It’s time for me to catch my breath and reorient.

Beyond just making my home a inviting and beautiful place to live, my goals for the next five years are the following:marina

  • Deepen and broaden my network of friendships and relationships with loved ones
  • Spend more time enjoying the outdoors
  • Continue to grow as a writer
  • Improve my financial integrity and pursue financial independence as it is described in Your Money or Your Life
  • Get re-involved with sailing
  • Become a mother before I am too old for that to be feasible

It’s a short but deeply meaningful list for me.  And that is pretty much right where I hoped to be when I first embarked upon this journey.

In taking time to consider where I currently am and where I hope to be in my own life I’ve come to realize that a good portion of the discussion of the small home movement focuses on the “How” rather than the possible different reasons “Why”.  Certainly, that is been true of my own writing on Coming Unmoored.

My suggestion to those of you who are currently determining your own path to downsizing your lives is that while you’re figuring out the mechanics of how you intend to do what you dream, that you also spend some time writing down your own authentic answer to the question “Why?”  And that as things progress for you, you check back periodically to that answer to confirm you’re still on course.

I wish you all the best on your own journeys and will continue to keep you posted on my own.

Photos by Tammy.