Dropping Ballast

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I was going through my husband’s closet the other morning helping him find something (yes, I found it… I always do) and realized that he has a bunch of clothes that he has very little use for just taking up space. Since retiring two years ago, he has seldom, if ever, worn one of his several nice suits. He’s had little need for a sports coat, and I’m pretty sure he hasn’t worn a tie more than a handful of times in many years. His current attire mostly consists of jeans or shorts and a comfortable shirt. He wears khakis once in a while, but often with flip-flops. Now that he’s taking culinary classes (for fun), he heads to school wearing funny striped chef pants and a chef’s jacket.

I suggested that we make some time soon to weed through his clothes. He will keep a few remnants of his past working life for those more formal events that come up now and then, but I hope we can get rid of a lot of items that no longer fit into his life.

In anticipation of my retirement, I stopped purchasing work-specific clothes awhile ago. No more pencil skirts, no more pumps; nothing that tends to function only as business attire. That’s not to say that I envision a retirement wardrobe entirely made up of “play clothes,” but I think the items I will reach for most often will be on the casual side, and definitely comfortable.

I plan to donate many of my work-specific clothes and shoes right away. Those that I can’t quite let go of yet, I will box up—with a date indicated on the outside—and store them somewhere convenient, but outside of my closet. If I go one year without needing the clothes, they will be donated too.

When my husband and I remodeled our house years ago and added the upstairs master bedroom, I got my own, rather large, closet. At first, the clothes I had barely took up half the available space, but, over the years, I’ve managed to fill it up… and then some (I’m much better at intake then I am at outgo).

Culling our belongings is an initial goal of our grand retirement plan. We are looking forward to acquiring more experiences than possessions, and putting greater value on traveling light and often rather than being burdened by schedules and obligations.

Of course, clothes are not the sole focus of our efforts to clear out the cutter. We have too much crap stuff in general and I think it is getting in the way of our ability to enjoy a calmer and more organized home. We are by no means hoarders, but let’s just say that, as we’ve navigated through our life together, we’ve picked up a few barnacles along the way. Many of the things we’ve acquired to complete our home are now just bulk we no longer need to balance our lives.

It will take some time and effort, but we need to scrape off the hull and empty the bilge. Life is too short – and getting shorter. It’s time to drop some ballast and sail on.

4 thoughts on “Dropping Ballast”

  1. I just discovered your website through Bob Lowry’s Satisfying Retirement blog. I read through your posts and have thoroughly enjoyed them! I retired a year ago, and faced a lot of the same concerns and issues as you. I feel like my retirement life is still evolving. I love to be physically active, so being retired has allowed me to do this on my time, whenever I wish.

    The whole clothing thing… I was thrilled to discover that my decision of what to wear each day changed from professional clothes, to choosing a pair of jeans and a casual shirt! Love it.

    We still have much to go through and give away or donate. Eventually I think we will move to a warmer climate, so no need for all those boots and winter jackets!

    Congratulations on your upcoming retirement. I’ll enjoy following your journey.

    1. Thank you for dropping by, Carole! I feel that I can learn so much from the journey of others such as yourself. I am looking forward to moving my work clothes to another closet – or, even better, to someone else’s closet via donation! I’m grateful that I don’t have boots and winter jackets to worry about… I experienced 23 degree weather on my recent road trip across the country and discovered that I’m too much of a whimp for that!

  2. One of my friends had to pay $1800 for dumpsters to absorb her “barnacles” when she and her husband sold their house in NJ and moved to NM.
    Although a move is years away for us, I have been systematically de-cluttering, slowly donating or trashing things that are no longer needed.
    You’ve inspired me to take a second swing through my closet to get rid of articles that require dry cleaning. No more need for that!

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