Adventure #1

One of my goals for 2012 is to go on adventures.

When I committed myself to this goal it was pretty amorphous. I didn’t know what the adventures might be, I didn’t know how many to commit to, and I didn’t know if they would involve my whole family or be more personal in nature.

I still don’t have everything planned, but <drum roll> I’m pleased to announce Adventure #1:

I am making an experiment with minimalish travel on my family’s upcoming trip to Disney World.

About a year ago I started mindfully removing the excess from my life. In keeping with that theme I’m interested to find out how little I can travel with. I traveled light to Mexico this summer, but this will be my first trip where I will have to wash and re-wear clothing to get through the week.

Here are pictures of everything I’m bringing…

“OMG, he didn’t pack a toothbrush!”
-My wife has the whole family’s toiletries in her bag so I didn’t show any of that.

My biggest concerns are all about the weather.

  • Florida gets lots of rain, sometimes. Should I bring a raincoat, or is that just excess stuff to carry around? Maybe a pocket size poncho?
  • What will the temperature be like? The last time I visited Florida was during the Vancouver Olympics…it was warmer in Vancouver. Should I bring a jacket?
  • What footwear will be best for 7-10 miles of daily walking, carrying kids, pushing strollers, and handling changing weather conditions? A second pair of shoes takes a lot of space, but starting the day in yesterday’s soggy gym shoes is a recipe for blisters and I doubt they’ll let me go barefoot.

The biggest change for me is reducing the amount of stuff I bring along to do. In the past I would have brought my PC, phone, 2-3 magazines, a couple of books, my rooted nook color, an iPod of music, and an iPod of French language podcasts. Isn’t that ridiculous?

This time I’m bringing my HP Elitebook, the rooted nook color, phone, chargers, and a moleskine journal. My hope is that the PC never comes out of the bag and the phone never rings. However, being prepared for that is part of my job so I’ll bring them along. The nook color will keep me occupied on the flights and has a guidebook loaded for the rest of the week. The moleskine is just more fun to write in than Evernote.

In addition to what is shown in the photographs I have a diaper bag inside the backpack. This second bag is a feature of diapers and children’s snacks. One day it will stay home when we travel.

Today is not that day.

Hearing of people living with 100 things or fewer, I can’t say I am minimalist, but I think minimalish fits. I’m excited about stripping away the excess from my life in order to make space for the things that matter. I’m looking forward to taking another step down that path, I’m sure it will be an adventure.

For information on minimalist travel check out these posts at Zen Habits and Miss Minimalist.
My efforts look pretty weak compared to these two, but you start where you are right?


Why would anyone want to build a boat?

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

-Langston Hughes

When I was a kid I helped my Dad build a boat. He was great to work with and a consummate teacher. That was lucky, because I made a lot of mistakes. Many times I learned firsthand that I should have followed his advice. He graciously allowed errors into the finished boat because the process was more important to him than the product.

Despite the errors I had one genuine point of pride. I hand carved an ash mast step to extend our 2nd hand hobie rig to the necessary height for our sail plan. It was a tricky piece of work and I did it all myself. Looking at it today with a critical adult eye I can’t see how it could be better. That experience of mastery, of doing something really well, was a high. After that I always thought I would build a boat myself. One day I would create and launch a beautiful craft that would match the artistry of my mast step.

You need three things to build a boat: time, money, and space. I always seemed to lack at least one, so I contented myself with looking at plans and reading about techniques. I gradually deferred the boat to the nebulous “someday” where ideas and dreams are put out to pasture.

Then, my Grandfather died. Like me, (like you?) he always dreamed about things he would do someday. His dream was to build a log cabin. He bought the land and had the knowledge but he never broke ground.

I realized that my own plans were gradually slipping away.

That’s why I’m building a boat.

I started soon after his death but at some point I lost focus and the project languished in my garage untouched.

Then the strangest thing happened…I noticed.

I noticed that time was passing me by again.
I noticed that I wasn’t working on the projects that interested me and energized me the most.
I noticed that I was checking off the mundane tasks of life that didn’t really matter to me.
I noticed that I was tired and it was hard to get up in the morning.
I noticed my kids asking when they’d get to ride in the boat.

That’s why I’ll finish it this year.

Tell me in the comments, what will you finish this year?

2012 Eccentric Goals

There will be no recap of my progress towards 2011 goals, I just can’t do it.
It’s not that I won’t do it, I literally can’t do it.

A year ago I experimented with several different apps and programs for recording goals and to-do lists. This spring I had some virus issues and migrated to a new PC. Somewhere in all of the changes I lost all of my 2011 goals. I have files on my goals going back to 2006, and maybe some paper records from before that, but 2011 is conspicuous in it’s absence.

I wash my hands of what I was supposed to do, here’s what I actually did…

  • Traveled to Canada for my first trip outside of the US since I performed in Europe in 1992. I got to watch my daughter dance with the Windsor Symphony. It was awesome.
  • Traveled to Mexico with Jeanne for our first kid free trip in 8 years. Big first step in our long-term travel ambitions.
  • Heard Derek Sivers’  youtube video “Hell yeah, or no“. This has totally changed my thinking on priorities and allowed me to remove a lot of unproductive drag from my life.
  • Started reading blogs for the first time (I know, crazy, right?) and discovered minimalism. I’m not a minimalist, but the philosophy has let me get rid of a lot more of the unproductive drag referenced above.
  • Implemented the Kinect hack on a friend’s Mac and started to think seriously about picking up some consulting gigs.
  • Exercised enough to maintain fitness but not enough to injure myself. This is actually a huge accomplishment for me. I always push too hard, gut it out, and break down. The only concrete goal I remember for 2011 was to heal. I wanted to finish recovering from a bad ankle injury in February 2010 and not injure anything else. 100% success!
  • Made significant progress learning French. I was able to hold coherent conversations with native speakers in the few opportunities I had and my reading skills are much better.

Lots of other things happened, but I’m so pumped about my plans for the upcoming year I’m ready to move on.

I’ve cleared enough space in my life recently that my mind is running wild with possibilities. The toughest part of setting goals for 2012 has been deciding which one’s I’m ready to commit to, which are just passing fancies, and which I need to place on my “perhaps” list for some unspecified date in the future.

Without further ado, here are my eccentric goals for 2012:

1. Complete and launch the wooden rowboat I am building in my garage.
2. Post to cultivatingeccentricity every two weeks, minimum.
3. Reduce my waist size from 34″ to 31″. I’ll grant you that this is not an eccentric goal, but my means to achieving it will be. More on that later.
4. Monetize at least one of my ideas and make a minimum of $500 of income on the side.
5. Go on at least 4 Adventures. I have one family adventure planned and another in mind. I’ve also made some scheduling progress on an individual pursuit. I’ve never set a goal like this before so I’m pretty pumped.

These 5 represent my crazyawesomehellyeah projects. If I accomplish these I’ll have an awesome year and be a little more eccentric than I am now.

What are you planning? I’d love to hear about it.

Happy New Year!