23 October 2017

Well, now what?

Having spent nearly thirty years with my wife I found that life became less of two lives, and more of one. In losing her I lost at least half of me, of what I have become over these many years. I know I am a better person because of her, because I know what I was before her. 

Throughout our time together we lived through good and bad and in many places, had five children, three of which are now grown and on their own. Our lives were rich and full, and we found ways to make it work. We chose early on to live on one income, we both believed in having one parent home with the children. We did well, our children did well, we were happy.

With each job change or move we often discussed at length, and even on smaller decisions we'd chat about it. Almost invariably she'd tell me it was up to me and I'd say "it's up to us". On the biggest decisions we ever made she'd say "I'll go where you do, and I support what ever you decide".

Four months have passed, the kids and I have moved back to Minnesota though we still own the Utah home. I resigned my job as a Vice President of Field Service at Vivint Smart Home, God bless them as they were so supportive. I miss those folks tremendously and hope they are all doing well.

So why did I resign from probably the best job I ever had? Simply put I don't function the same as I did, as they say, beside every good man is a good woman. Without her I just couldn't function the same. Will that ever change? I don't know. Additionally, I still have two underage children, my fifteen year old daughter and my six year old son. 

This leads me to the title of this post. Now what? I'm not rich, not independently wealthy. We made some good decisions along the way, other than the mortgages (in the process of selling the Utah home)  I'm essentially debt free. Some reasonably good investment decisions helped too. We always lived modestly, preferred eating in than eating out, didn't over extend, didn't pile up credit card debt, just lived reasonably and within our means. Still, gotta do something right?

She always said I could write, and I often did but only for her, I wrote short stories, even a novel or two but never sought publishing. I also wrote for this blog but this is primarily a place to share some experiences, and keep a digital diary so to speak. I appreciate all of the readers here, many of you have reached out to me with support and it humbles me to see the heartfelt responses to my posts. Sincerely, thank you all. 

I've always felt the pull of the wilder places, wilderness being the solace of the soul. The mountains and deserts call to me. One of the highlights of our time in Utah was jeepin' to the many remote locations, getting into the high country as well as the low. 

What does all that have to do with what happens next?

As some of you know who follow american_grouch on instagram I've been building a overlanding jeep and trailer. She and I always enjoyed exploring and road tripping. We spent much time together in remote places and often talked of doing more of that after retirement. I'm going to continue that dream and hope to make a modest living doing so.

So, can I make a modest living as an adventure travel writer? Is there a market for chasing the remote corners of the Americas? Backpacking, canoeing, wilderness trekking, how-tos and so on, is there enough interest in these things? I don't know, but what I do know is what she would say. 

"I'll go where you do, and I support what ever you decide".


  1. Hi Jim, thanks a lot that you share your thoughts with your readers here! The decisions are up to you and it is absolute clear that your life without her is much different than it was before. It takes much time to find a new way thru that all and light at the end of the tunnel. It's not about forgetting her, it's about getting to grips with your life - not now, not tomorrow....but each day a little more. This is hard, but important and you owe it yourself and your children if you want to stay afloat. As stupid as it may sound - if the decision was up to me, i would say that a job with a safe monthly salary is a important thing. It doesn't need to be a top salary, just enough to pay the bills and live a modest life with enough spare time for yourself. I don't say that your idea to write is a bad thing, but it is hard to calculate and pay bills on that. Try it, but try not to make your life dependent on it.

    Best regards from autumnal germany,

  2. Hej Jim,
    I can only agree with Stefan here.
    I would not dream of ruining this dream of yours, but I sure do hope you're running into something, not away from it. I know (or think I do) you to be a man of reason, but given the circumstances....
    Take it slow, brother. One day at a time. And give it time. You need that. Everyone does.
    I have been facing a similar situation; a life alone. My 25 year marriage was about to end, but we managed to stay afloat. The repercussions that would have had, would have made me make a run for it, literally. And that was not mearly as serious as your loss.
    Like I said, take it slow. I'd love to read about your adventures at a later date, knowing you did the right thing.
    Peace, brother.

  3. Hi Jim, your writing is wonderful and rich. I cannot imagine the void that your are facing, but I do know that getting out, staying active, and pursuing the dreams that both of you discussed is key to continuing all that you have become. Life is truly amazing and she would want you to continue with those pursuits. Enjoy each day as it comes and continue to plan carefully as you have done. The path will become clear as you do. The love that you shared will continue to be your strength with family and friends at your side. Stay strong. Best Regards, R67

  4. Do what you love and love what you do.

  5. Do what you love and love what you do.

  6. Hello old friend!!! It has been awhile....as always good luck in you ventures! You will do well. Take care!!!

  7. Is there a way to PM you with a question?