If you were to ask me to describe the past month to you I’d have to say that there was a lot of activity. So much so, that the wheels on our car seemed to always be spinning us to somewhere. September turned out to be one of the busiest months both Brenda and I have had in quite some time. I am a little bit amazed that we were able to keep up such a high pace in order to get through it all.
My month was filled with the usual set of meetings for the non-profit groups I am active in. Although most of the meetings were of the regular once-per-month variety, I did have a few additional committee meetings that fit into the mix. One proud moment was on September 21, 2018 when I cut the ribbon to officially open an interpretive walking tour for a group I have been the Chairman of for the past five years. That was a good day filled with stories, song, food and great visiting.
As I had been promoting myself as running for a seat in the local municipal election since January, this month was where it all suddenly became very real. Nominations closed on September 14, 2018 and I had to have my nomination papers in order and submitted prior to that. I went in a few days before and was pleased to discover that all my documents were correct and that I had finally become an ‘official’ candidate. I have been actively promoting myself online to this point.
Brenda and I have continued to vend JamBusters! and Watkins Products at the Oliver Indoor Flea Market. One weekend I went alone as Bren was busy with another activity and we both took JamBusters! on the road to the annual Similkameen Sizzle pepper festival in Keremeos, BC on September 15, 2018. We also vended together at the final Princeton Chamber of Commerce outdoor market three days later. We will be skipping the final weekend of the month so we can take a short break. Brenda was working strings of eight and ten hour days canning in the kitchen to keep up with the demand and to fill inventory.
Although my job order number is lower this month than last, the number of articles written is very likely close to a record. At one point I was writing between 6,500 and 9,000 words a day to keep up with the number of articles that were ordered. I stopped taking orders a week before we planned on going away for a few days so that I could completely catch up. That meant a week plus of ten and twelve hour days for me. The goal was a break, so the work is always worth it.
Keeping Track Of Our Midlife Career Changes
We obviously like to stay busy and I often look back to when our lives were just as complicated but far less productive. That is what I see the most about the changes we have experienced in the past couple of years. The changes have made us very productive. I’m pleased to see that this is the case.
I don’t really see myself actually retiring in the sense that one who reaches a certain age quits working. This is probably why I have never really considered retirement as part of my future plans. If I told you what both my wife, Brenda are currently doing in our lives, you would likely say we are working two full-time careers, even if we happen to be working for ourselves.
That’s the ways it has been for at least the past year. Brenda has been spending a lot of time in the kitchen and I have been spending a lot of time upstairs in the home office writing. We both realize that what we are doing are perfect fits for our skills and commitment levels. You could say we are probably doing what we should be doing with our lives at this point.
This is the specialty food product line we developed in 2014. Brenda has a knack for creating some pretty awesome jellies, jams and salsas and this has really taken off. Our original approach was to sell the produces from our downtown storefront location on Bridge Street in our hometown of Princeton, British Columbia. That worked out for the first little while.
Eventually, JamBusters! took over the front entrance to our office. When we closed the downtown business in mid-2016, JamBusters! was already in the process of establishing a regular vending schedule. Without the storefront we shifted to vending as often as we could. In August 2017 we added vending at the Oliver Indoor Flea Market in Oliver, BC on weekends.
The regular exposure, combined with a few key seasonal outdoor and indoor vending events has helped to elevate the JamBusters! brand to a full-time job for Brenda who still makes each and every product by hand in our kitchen. Summertime is intense with all the produce ripening at about the same time so inventory gets expanded and replenished at this time.
Looseink Freelance Ninja
I launched my ghostwriting career in early 2014 to help increase our household income when things slowed down with the newspaper. I quickly gained a handful of clients and cultivated business through them and actively pursued other writing jobs. I started writing full-time in September 2016 as the newspaper had been closed by this time and freed up some time.
Over the course of the next year I built my clientele to the point where I had been hired as a staff writer for two different marketing firms and had several other regular customers. Instead of writing a few days a week, I had built the flow of business up to the point where some weeks I am writing every day. My plan is to keep it to no more than five days a week when possible.
Where’s The Semi-Retirement Part?
That’s a good question. We were too busy going through our midlife career changes to slow down, I guess. Regardless, the home-based businesses we have give us a lot of freedom, even if it doesn’t sound that way. As long as both of us stay organized, we can shuffle our workload to the point where we can get partial days off to focus on other things that need to be done. To me, that’s what semi-retirement looks like. I know I’d rather keep doing this.
I sometimes find it hard to believe that we are where we are today. I remember more than one conversation with my wife, Brenda where we were not too sure what was going to happen once our newspaper business was closed. It was two years ago this week when we finished printing our last issue. It was intentional, not accidental, either. Business was no longer booming and a combination of things just added up to us choosing to quit trying to tread water anymore.
I’m not sure that I’ve actually looked at it in that way. Not the treading water part but the part where we were intentional in closing the doors to a business we had worked so hard at for well over a decade. I like to think that we picked the date of our last issue (July 26, 2016) because it has some significance. However that was not the case, it was the final Monday of the month and we printed the Similkameen News Leader early on Monday mornings without fail.
More Than Just One Anniversary
The unusual thing about the date was that it happened to be an anniversary for me and I didn’t know it when we first chose to finish our run at the end of July. The date of our very last issue was the sixteenth anniversary of my first day on the job for the weekly community newspaper. It was three and a half years later when I bought the business and took over the day-to-day operation of it with Brenda. But for now I’m marking the second anniversary of our career changes.
The Plan Without An Actual Plan
I can’t say we had pre-planned our midlife career changes because that was not how it happened. Brenda was two and a half years into JamBusters! (her home-based specialty food business) and I had already spent the same amount of time as a freelance writer “on the side” when we closed the paper. Neither of our part-time hobbies was generating a lot of money, but they were definitely showing potential if we could only dedicate more time to both of them.
By ceasing publication of the one career that took up most of our time, we freed up the space we needed daily to attempt to make our hobbies slightly more than that. Again, none of this had been planned but when we started talking about the possibilities, it sounded far more than just plausible. It sounded like a doable plan. So that was pretty much what set us in motion to see if maybe we could convert something we were already doing into something worth doing.
Your Opportunity Awaits You
As it turns out, our midlife career changes started with that very logical next step. It wasn’t long before both of us realized that we had the answer to our future already in hand – we just had to use it. If you are contemplating a career change in your midlife, it is not nearly as scary as it may sound. Yes, we did lose some sleep early on as we were worried about whether or not we could pull it off. However, some things worth doing have an element of risk involved.
You won’t know until you take that first step.
My name is George Elliott. I have been in the Media Industry since 1978. I spent 23 years in Broadcasting and worked in a total of six different radio stations located in southern British Columbia Canada during my career. In 2000 I switched gears and moved into the Print Media Industry at a small town, local weekly newspaper. In 2004 I bought the paper and operated it with my wife, Brenda until July 2016 when we closed it. I launched a freelance web content and article writing business from my home in January 2014.