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This is not a soundbite.

It’s the end of a little vacation at home for me, and I’m feeling a flickering combination of contentment and depression.

I am content with the food in my kitchen (bolstered by a trip to Costco today), and the dinner to come. One of my housemates made homemade guacamole and chips as an appetizer, and I’m about to eat chicken and dirty rice and drink sangria, all made by him. I’m excited about the variety of meals I ate these four days, and all of the lunches I can bring to work for the remainder of this week. I’m hopeful that the bulk-sized container of unsalted mix nuts is enough to sustain me during my snack cravings there for quite a while. I’m looking forward to making a white bean fennel soup for tomorrow’s dinner.

I am feeling a sense of accomplishment about further research and tweaks to my finances – I set up a new ING savings account set up just for the Surly bike (which I got to see and touch in person on Sunday), and also asked Alex to explain compound interest formulas to me so that I could calculate the benefits of paying off my low interest student loans versus investing in retirement.

Part of being sustainable for me is getting my expenses really low through natural means (gardening, cooking, buying used and making my own stuff whenever possible) and ultimately marginalizing my involvement with the full time work treadmill. I need to continue pulling in a full time salary now, but the more of that I save, the better my options get. This may sound like sacrifice, but it’s really more about being satisfied with the little things.

When I go back into work tomorrow, everyone is going to ask me what I did with my vacation, and they’re going to expect stories of events and faraway places visited. My answer won’t fit into a few soundbites. But here it is:

I fed chickens out of my hand, rode my bike, planned a meal budget, put (half) of a border up around the garden, read books, sat in the sunshine, reveled in finding a beautiful old glass butter dish for $2 in a thrift shop, ate delicious food, made granola, researched options for our upcoming conference in Seattle, and basically allowed myself to pretend, for just a few moments, that I had achieved early retirement. I wasn’t bored. I still worked, but I did what I loved. And those fleeting moments were the kick in the pants needed to see life in a whole new way, and to do even more to structure my life so that I achieve that status much, much sooner than I ever believed possible. 

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