On Early Retirement

· 4 min read ·

Both Sheila and I look back fondly on our university days, writing term papers. In keeping with the theme of wordsmithing, the mental picture of meaning and intent gets slowly refined from raw stream of consciousness into something solid, contiguous, and understandable. It’s been a rare pleasure to be able to reflect on our thoughts prior to committing them to digital paper - time being the limiting factor when you’re working a 9-to-5(6/7/8/9…). So what does one do when freed from the need to be in an office for at least 75% of the waking day?

Let’s start with the importance of rest, as April showers bring rain to Boston. It was a long winter. One topic that has resurfaced again and again as we weathered the early nights and cold of the now foregone season was the importance of proper recovery. Sheila had begun working at BKBX, an adventure training center in Lower Allston in December, and part of the gym’s mission statement (the crucial duality between exercise and recovery) proved to be eye-opening. Though the both of us are morning people, we soon found that waking up at 4:30 AM every day to get Sheila up and ready for her morning shift was going to be more challenging than either of us had initially anticipated. It was only with due diligence on both of our parts after a few weeks of burning the candle at both ends that we realized the only way to sustainably continue would be through militantly ensuring we got to bed at the proper hour.

Neither of us are very good at saying “no” to a workout, and we also had to learn to husband our strength appropriately. As well, the cold sapped at our overall pool of energy in ways we hadn’t previously been aware of. Learning to celebrate our bodies’ ability to be strong - both when working out and when resting - became more and more rewarding. Recognizing our limits will continue to be a challenge, I’m sure - journey over destination, after all - but it feels good to be more mindful of my own energy as it comes and goes in waves. It should comes as no surprise, though, that since finishing work, my own ability to recover and marshal my own strength has shot up. Which brings me to my next point -

Early Retirement is the BEST

Enjoying a break during a Getaway weekend prior to officially “retiring”
Enjoying a break during a Getaway weekend prior to officially “retiring”

She keeps joking that I’m celebrating the first few weeks of my early retirement. After working in corporate America for nearly 9 years, I can only find myself agreeing with the assessment that a break is long overdue. My coworker and good friend Francis and I used to listen to BJ The Chicago Kid’s “Dream II” - which samples a famous interview with Will Smith where he talks about how he was average in every way but one - his “ridiculous, sickening work ethic.” I felt that way, many times, on the job. There’s nothing that set myself apart as a software developer beyond what amounted to a willingness to work harder than anybody else. Despite this, I always found myself amazed by the … boredom (or perhaps helplessness?) exhibited by those with the free time that I craved in my own life. Now, only a week in, I cannot stress enough the happiness and joy I’ve experienced in no longer working a full time job. I have so much time! That is to say: hard work is important, and it pays off. Rest is equally important, and it pays in more ways than one. Especially in this day and age of frequent stressors in life and at work, I’ve become a huge proponent of also allowing myself to relax. Stress relief is not easy - but it is essential.

For the first few days, I diligently fleshed out our blog proof of concept. I wanted to get this out of the way; we leave for our Westward explorations on April 21st, and I wanted us to be set up well before then. Being able to alternate focusing heavily on the blog with enjoying the Spring weather in Boston allowed me to learn some new technologies at my own pace, giving my brain the chance to process information in a realistic and non-pressurized way. At the same time, I could pause to bake sourdough bread, exercise, go for a walk, drink some coffee, meal prep, etc … In short, there was never an overabundance of time and I never found myself without something to do.

Yesterday, Sheila and I drove out to the Fells to do some trail running. Our story together began with running, and though we don’t run as much as either of us used to, we enjoyed getting a little lost on the trails:

The Boston skyline from the Fells!
The Boston skyline from the Fells!

Afterwards, we celebrated by making some veggie burgers a la Scott Jurek’s lentil mushroom burgers. Though we often use this recipe as a base, I also highly encourage modifications. Last night, we:

  • swapped bread crumbs (full disclosure: unless it’s our homemade sourdough bread, we never use bread crumbs; too many ingredients we can’t pronounce on ready-made crumbs) for oat flour
  • replaced the mushrooms with boiled carrots (boiled to soften!)
  • replaced the lentils with beans. We usually use lentils but hadn’t had time to pre-soak / treat our lentils with lime. Anybody with a sensitive stomach will want to do this, or risk some post-meal distress!

I had mine as an open faced sandwich (pro-tip - this is messy AF). Sheila’s approach was far better:

Sheila championing the veggie burger
Sheila championing the veggie burger

Yum! In keeping with the theme, it’s now time to foray outside. Despite the rain, it’ll be a nice stretch of the legs, and I’m sure to have fun exploring under this cloud cover. Ciao!


Adventure travel blog by James Simone & Sheila Murray. Travel along with them on their backpacking trip(s) as they actively explore the American West, Europe and beyond:

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