Welcome! I’m Jen!
I’m honored that you’ve landed here in my little corner of the Internet.
My perspective, “my lens,” is shaped by the death of my fiancé when he was just 40. That’s when I changed, literally, everything about my life.
I was 37 years old, and my dream to start a family with Jeff died with him. Since Option A was no longer on the table, I vowed to kick the shit out of Option B.
I rekindled two cherished and long-delayed dreams. One to travel the world, the other to write a book. Now I live both dreams full-time. These are my stories, and this is my journey through grief, globe, and healing. It is my sincere hope that sharing these stories will help you, too.
The Day Everything Changed
Before I could grieve the loss of my dream for a family with Jeff, I needed to ride the unpredictable waves of acute grief caused by his death.
And I needed to work through a lot of anger.
Jeff was diagnosed with advanced esophageal cancer on Feb. 14, 2018 – our first Valentine’s Day together – and he was gone less than four months later. I wrote this bittersweet post on the anniversary of his diagnosis:
Traveling the World Solo
One month after Jeff died, I quit my job to travel the world. I was struck by the fact that – of the 296 days that I had with Jeff – I spent far too many nights away from him because of work trips.
In my previous life, I was a workaholic. I postponed my dreams to write a book and see the world. Then Jeff’s death taught me that life is too short to wait.
For me, there is life before Jeff and there is life after Jeff. I spent that first year after he died traveling the world solo and rediscovering myself and my soul’s purpose. I like to say that traveling solo taught me to unlearn myself:
Walking the Camino
Before I met Jeff, I didn’t even own a backpack. One year after he died, I decided to walk 500 miles across Spain on the Camino de Santiago. Out there on “The Way,” I decided not to return to my job and to start my own freelance writing business instead. I also made some other hard life decisions.
I think walking the Camino serves as the transition point for me between acute grief and embracing post-traumatic growth.
Grieving stripped me down to my barest self, revealing to me who I am and what I want to do with this precious gift of life.
Today, I travel full time while freelancing and writing a memoir. I sold all of my stuff back in Chicago and consider myself a nomad. I can’t imagine going back to a life filled with seven-day workweeks and so much stuff. I miss Jeff every day, but I also choose joy every day. That’s just one of the many things that he taught me:
I’ve lived in:
- Washington D.C.
- Portland & Seattle
I grew up:
- in the Pacific Northwest
- without learning to ride a bike
- as an only child
- with two amazing parents
- for the Governor of Illinois
- for the President of the USA
- as the tourism director of IL
- for Homeland Security
- for myself!
I’m trained in:
- teaching meditation
- teaching yoga
- holistic healing
- trauma release exercises
- journalism (master’s degree)