Friday, January 27, 2012

"And he has a plan...."

For anyone who watched the SyFy channel's series "Battle Star Galatica" several years ago you will recognize today's title as a play on the words from the opening lines of each episode.  But the fact is I do have a plan.  Though fortunately I am not a cyborg or robot fixated on the destruction of the human race.

Over the last 2 - 3 months you all have read me complain about being injured - from my leg injury to my herniated back and you have heard me talk about being in a rut.  The fact is I am in probably one of the worst ruts I have ever been in during my entire life.  It is time for me to come out of it.  Realistically my extraction from this rut won't begin until I have the surgery on Monday. 

I do have a plan to transform my life and get out of this rut.  As I have laid awake at night or while I have laid around because I am in too much pain to do anything my mind has been in constant motion.  So I have laid out a plan that shortly after my surgery I am going to put into action.  It is specific and actionable, not some pie in the sky thing that isn't going to get me anywhere.  Here are the components of this plan.

1 - Escalate the purge of things from the house.  With one exception the house has been cleared of excessive clutter and now only the garage remains to have clutter purged.  I have to give myself some time to recover after the surgery, but the extensive purge of the garage will be completed by Spring Break (March 24th) of this year.  Though I have purged the excessive clutter from the rest of the house I want to take things a step further - I want to minimize my overall footprint of the possessions I have.  Yes - you heard it right, I want to embark upon a minimalist lifestyle.   It is hard to quantify a percentage of things I will purge but my expectation is that at least 30% of what I own will be purged between now and the July 1, 2012.

2 - Complete a design and decorating plan for the remodeling of my kitchen and family room by March 15, 2012.  I have two resources lined up who can help me with activity.  The first is a professional kitchen designer who I got through a friend.  References through the work that people have previously done is the best way to go.  Besides the professional kitchen designer I have a friend who is an excellent interior designer to guide me through the selection of what materials to use, the style of the rooms, etc.  My goal, providing it aligns with the schedules of the kitchen designer and my friend is to have the design complete by March 15th.

3 - Buy a substantial new portion of my wardrobe by April 1, 2012.  I tend to go through different styles of clothing at versus times.  For the last 2 years I really haven't had much of a style as I have gotten lazy and have been in jeans and short mode.  It is time for that to change.  I want to create a new image for myself and dress in a much nicer way.  This will help propel me out of my rut by just doing things differently like wearing a new style of clothes.  I won't be getting rid of all my jeans, shorts and t-shirts by far.  But what I will be doing is adding a new element of stylish clothes to my day-to-day rotation of stuff that I wear.  In general I will be a better dressed person and I will do a lot more to wear nicer clothes on more occasions.  Furthermore I will have the clothes tailored to my specific fit.  My build isn't exactly large and sometimes it is hard to find clothes that fit perfectly.  The sleeves are too long or the shirt is too wide - so whatever I buy is going to fit and fit really well.  Dressing nicely is a way to make yourself feel better about who you are and to draw positive attention to yourself.

4 - Select a contractor and get the kitchen and family room remodeled.  Once the plans are all drawn up it is just a matter of getting the work done.  Though I won't have the plans finished until mid-March, efforts will begin almost immediately to select a general contractor to get the work done.  I have a couple in mind and I intend to use the Colorado Home and Garden Show - which is held sometime in February to find some more companies I can look into.  All things remaining equal I would like for the remodeling to kick off by April 15th.  I am not going to put a target end date out there, because it really depends upon the contractor who is selected, the lead time for cabinets and the lead time for granite and other relevant materials used in the construction and decorating.

(These 3 pictures are pages out of Better Homes and Gardens Magazine about kitchen restoration.  I don't have any plan for the kitchen yet, but the kitchen shown in this article is absolutely gorgeous if you ask me.  This is the an example of the vision that I would like to create for the kitchen once it is remodeled.)

5. Rejuvenate the landscaping the whole way around the house.  This will be a project that I mostly do on my own.  I will use some contractors for specific activities like the removal of 2 large dead trees in the back yard.  Much of the rest of the work would be stuff that Zack and I could do.  It would be a fun experience for him as it would teach him a lot.  This would be a lot term project that would take me through the end of July to complete.

6. Diversify my assets and pay off all temporary debt by March 31.  Despite the fact that I have very good insurance, I have unfortunately gone through a large number of medical procedures in the last year.  As a result there has been a fair amount of temporary debt that I have built up.  Financially there is no problem to pay this debt but at times I have managed to get very favorable interest rates on keeping some of it around.  For example my one credit card offers 0% financing for all debt that you transfer to that card.  This definitely makes things worth while to keep some debt around.  Regardless as I finish what I hope is my last round of surgery I am going to pay all of this temporary debt off.  Additionally, because of negative market conditions I have kept some of my retirement funds invested in a number of European mutual funds.  Now that the market has recovered somewhat it is time for me to get my money out of Europe before it totally implodes and come up with a much more streamlined, diversified and balanced portfolio.  I am considering seeking professional advice to try and increase the overall return on my investments that I am getting.  This will allow me to do a number of specific things like pay for the kitchen and family room remodel, take action on the next action item I discuss below and then undertake what I will consider a "black box" spending program.  (The black box is a special program that I am considering that could pay serious dividends but it is not something I am talking about yet.  If that "black box" spending program comes to fruition I will write some lengthy blog posts about the entire program.  Until then....  it's a black box - LOL!)

7 - Though this next activity is not specifically needed because of any physical defect or mechanical issue, it is needed for my own sense of self.  By March 15th I want to have traded in my 2001 Honda Civic and purchased a new car.  I have a pretty good idea what I am going to get, but I am still uncertain so I don't feel like putting it out there and then having to pull it back.  This is something that is distinctly for me and that I have thought about for a while.  Yes - there might be a little bit of a flash to this car and no it is not a mid-life sports car for me.  I absolutely hate sports cars.  That is definitely not who I am.  More on this one later as when I purchase I will certainly be posting pictures

So that is the plan for the next six or so months to pull me out of my rut.  A big item that I didn't add to this list but is something I will really be thinking of is whether or not Zack and I will be staying in this house or buying something that is smaller.  I still don't really know where I am going to go with this decision.  But many of the steps that I am taking by seeking to minimize things and redoing my kitchen and family room are all aimed at allowing us to move forward to a new home if that is what I decide to do.  The unfortunate thing I face for the next year is that I want to remain in a place where Zack will be able to go to West Middle School.  So this does limit the places that I could purchase and perhaps keeps us in this house until Zack is completed with middle school.

We have all found ourselves in ruts at one time or another in our lives.  There are many people who have made significantly larger changes to get out of their ruts.  I remember reading a story in the newspaper several years ago about a guy from the UK who sold all of his possession and then took every cent of money he had and went to Las Vegas.  There he bet absolutely everything he had on one spin of the roulette wheel.  He put all of his money on black with a straight 2 to 1 bet.  Fortunately for him he won.  When asked why he did it, his answer was "I needed to make a change to my life".  I am never going to get that crazy in terms of making changes to get out of this rut, but I am going to do things that shakes stuff up and creates a new reality for Zack and me.

Thanks to everyone who sent me positive messages after my meltdown post of Wednesday night.  Your thoughts are definitely appreciated.  Stuff like that comes up every once and a while and I from what so many others who have lost a spouse or someone very significant in their lives it is normal.

I am down to about 60 hours til surgery.  Dear god, I can't wait.  The pain and absolute stiffness in my back, hips and leg seems to be getting worse.  I will be counting down the hours until Monday morning and when I head into surgery.

We have absolutely NOTHING planned for the weekend except one psychologist appointment for Zack.  I intend to keep it that way and just use the weekend to stay off my feet and try and keep the pain at bay. 

Well - I hope you all have a great weekend.  It will be very low-key for us but that is totally and completely OK in my book.

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

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