My name is James Thorpe. I live in Concord, New Hampshire with my 5 year old daughter, Matilda Grace, and our dog, Jackson. I spend my time reading, writing, playing basketball, exercising, learning guitar and singing, making memories with Matilda, eating my veggies (with no meat), and running a lawn care business.
After barely squeaking through high school (actually, I dropped out and had to return to finish) I started cleaning cars at a local dealership. I tried a couple of college courses but failed…and wasted a bunch of money. I spent my time with a small, close group of friends, tinkering with our cars and motorcycles, and being lazy, live-at-home young men.
The suicide of one of those friends changed my outlook. I was 22. I enrolled in some college courses at NHTI – Concord’s Community College and decided that I was going to teach high school English…go figure! I could barely articulate my thoughts at the time, and boy did this pursuit help me in the most fundamental of ways.
I was shooting a basketball in the college gymnasium between classes one day, when the coach walked in and asked if I was playing this coming winter. I had lost my passion for the game though, hadn’t played since I failed off of the junior varsity team, and I was already 22 years old. I told him the truth…that I didn’t think I had it in me anymore. He convinced me otherwise, and motivated me to give it a shot. This was a very pivotal moment in my life. I practiced a very dedicated training schedule, while also focusing on my academics. I really enjoyed my two years at that school, learning the fundamentals of education and building a skill set within the sport that I was falling in love with again. I was able to contribute to the team, and fortunately drew some interest from a coach at a small, liberal arts college nearby.
By this time, I was 24 years old. I was a late bloomer for everything though, and I still felt very young and insecure. My next school (Colby-Sawyer College) was a little out of town, and now the plan was to room on-campus. I felt a little out of place…I was way older than all of the other students. I wasn’t interested in partying or much of the other social stuff. For the most part though, everyone was accepting of the ‘old guy’ on campus. It wasn’t much like the movie ‘Old School’ but sometimes I pretend.
At that time, I found these amazing ‘things’ around me. There was a gym and weight room with a strength coach. I was part of a college basketball team that traveled on a big bus.
Not a yellow school bus or mini vans! I was student-teaching at a reputable high school, where I found some amazing friends and mentors. There was this amazing library at Colby-Sawyer, award winning for its architecture. I used to find dark corners and cozy nooks there to work in for long hours. I had these great professors…all quirky and unique and accessible. I had many one on one conversations with these teachers in their creaky old offices. Those conversations, the practices and training, the late nights laying on the library floor…I can see how I was truly building something there. Simply put, it was an undergraduate education… but now I see how much of it is part of the fabric that I am today. How fortunate was I to almost ‘miss the bus’ to an experience like this, but hop on just in time. On top of that, my grandmother told me that we are related (through marraige) to the ‘Sawyers’…one of the founders of the school. How cool!
After graduating, I started teaching high school English and coaching basketball. Before I knew it, I was married, had a house in Concord, New Hampshire, and even had a dog (Jackson is a Shiba-Inu…who’s ever heard of that breed?).
When the news came that we had a child on the way, I started mowing lawns in the summer for extra money. It turned into a business that is still running today! It’s called East Concord Grass Roots. Click it to see it!
My daughter, Matilda Grace, was eager to be here, showing up two months before her due date! We spent a month in the NICU before she was ready to go home. This was such an unforgettable experience. Unfortunately, my marriage didn’t last long…only two years. I’m not proud of going through a divorce, but I am proud that we came together to work amicably, and with somewhat of a smooth transition, we made a decision that would make everyone happier. We do have to share our time with our daughter, which can be difficult. But Matilda seems to be a very happy kid. That means the world to me.
We live in this 1000 square foot house, built in 1910. I’m always working on something here, and always taking on projects too big for me. They never seem to be done either…I’ll have to think more about that. I have dreams of living ‘off the grid’ and chickens and gardens. For now, I’m happy with cutting my own wood for the stove and insulating better.
At some point, my company was becoming a lot to handle…especially in the Spring and Fall, when I’d be teaching high school English while trying to run the business. I also was feeling burnt out with the teaching and losing some passion there. In the Spring/Summer of 2015, I was told I’d have to take a 10% pay cut for the upcoming school year, due to enrollment being down, and restructuring of the alternative school I was at. I was already crying over my paycheck after a long week, wondering if that was really what I was worth. Matilda was 2, and I wanted to figure out a way to be home with her. I didn’t want to send her to day care. So I walked away from teaching, went all in to my own business, and never looked back.
Once Matilda was a little older, we decided to send her to a Montessori school 3 days a week. Those are the days that I work. And I’m able to stay home with her the other two days. When the landscaping season is over (from December to April), I really don’t work. I have set up a couple of extra things that I do on the side to help with income…but that’s it! I’m such a home body, and feel so fortunate to be here as much as possible. I get to spend so much time with Matilda, which I feel is most important for dads (there will be a post on this), and especially while she’s at a young age.
Don’t get me wrong…sometimes we do leave the house! I try to do things that bring joy, laughter, and fun as much as possible. We’re all about the beaches of Maine, museums, the library, movies, etc. We even got to visit Disney last February, which was so memorable.
Matilda loves dancing, being in recitals, and really anything ‘stage’ related. Here’s a picture of us at the theatah (say it with a British accent), going to see Cinderella. I love this picture,
because Til is standing like a pink flamingo…and the guy in the back is putting out a heavy vibe (Jim Carrey…Dumb and Dumber), and I think he’s checking me out…haha!
So here we are. I’m 38 now. I’ve been working out hard lately at this great gym, trying some indoor rock climbing, and I can never wait to get out the mountain and road bicycle. I still try to play basketball in the local men’s league, even though my knees often ask me to quit. I’m always trying new things, and still have a passion for learning. I’m finally reading and writing as much as I want to, and only wish I started sooner! I still think about teaching again someday, but I’m really an introvert at the core. I love my time with just me!
I’m very proud and appreciative of my journey up to this moment, and have a deep gratitude for those that helped me along the way. It is through my connection to others that makes it all so rewarding. Thanks for joining me!
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