I always loved that line from the Vice Presidential Debate of 1992. Yes, I am quoting from a VP debate of 1992. That makes me … officially old. Lately, I’ve been feeling like I am in the midst of a “mid-life crisis.” I never really knew what that meant. I turned 40 and while I was bummed it didn’t really change much. I turned 43 and thought, well, I’m still this side of 45. But this year I turned 44. And it has just about ruined me!
So I was hoping if I’m having a “mid-life crisis” does this guarantee I will live to 88? Because that would be grand. I’d stop worrying so much I think. Well, maybe not. I guess I am feeling 44 because my children are suddenly no longer littles. I have big kids now. I’m past that stage where when people ask you how old your kids are and you say anything under 8, they respond with a great big smile and that knowing look of how crazy life is with little ones.
I suppose part of the problem is that I always dreamed of what my life would be like when I got married, when I had babies, when I had toddlers. I never dreamt of what it would be like having one in high school, one in middle school, and one in elementary. I suppose 44 has been difficult because this is where my dreams ceased to exist. All my life, I had a plan. I was going to get married, have babies, be happy – in that order. I didn’t plan for what happens next. And now the babies are growing up and I recognize happy is a life-long pursuit.
I also never had a career plan. Babies, my plan was babies. I did not know I would be able to turn my love for lettering into a career. I didn’t know I would have to give up that career just as I was landing some amazing clients to study homeopathic medicine to save my son. And then my oldest daughter. And then my youngest daughter. I don’t regret the 6 years I gave up lettering to study medicine as it has saved our family so many times and has forever changed our lives. But I find myself starting over at 44 and it’s like the past 12 years didn’t happen.
Blogs weren’t even really a thing when I started Paperwhite Studio in 2001. We barely had internet! I was one of the first few calligraphers to have a full website. For so long I was ahead of the game. Now, I am forever behind. And I am more than thrilled to see so many new faces in lettering land. And I am so happy there is such a huge interest in contemporary lettering. Things have changed in the lettering community as well. And sadly, I’m not part of the “old school” group and I’m not part of the “new” group. Which is pretty much how I’ve spent my whole life, somewhere in-between fitting in. I’m just out here in cyberland typing to myself.
But that’s OK. I’m still doing what I love. And with the kids growing older, I have the time to be in business again. I told my husband I have this really cool idea for a lettering venture but I am worried I will spend all this time on it and fail. I’ve had my fair share of failures. I spent one week making all these beautiful fairy tutus, wands, and crowns for a fundraiser for my daughter’s cheer team. However, at the school fair, we were put on an end that didn’t get much through traffic and I barely made any money. I have about 50 tutus, wands, and crowns in the garage if you ever have a need. I spent one year way back in 1995 making a bunch of wedding items and spent all this money to go to a wedding vendor fair. I spent $600 for the entrance. I sold $35 in goods. This past spring I spent a few hundred on fabric for my oldest to start her own business making ID purses. She sold 5 before she got bored of it. Of course, I’ve already cut all the fabric so it can’t be used for something else. If you need an ID purse, (or fairy wand) I’m your girl.
However, you can’t be successful if you don’t take chances. And in 2001, I walked away from a promising career in corporate human resources, put an ad in Martha Stewart Weddings, and bam, I had a busy, thriving calligraphy business. And I feel so blessed to have been successful. You win some, you lose some. So I told Husband (as I affectionately have referred to him since our wedding day 19 years ago), maybe I’m too old. Maybe I had my time and now it’s time to just let it go. Maybe I can’t learn the “right way” to blog, and run a business, and homeschool my kids, and at least try to keep my house halfway clean. Maybe I just do what I love and whatever will be, will be.
He responded, “Just be who you are and it will be alright.”