The old saying goes “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade”. However, in this age of “spin doctors” who create new images for the rich and powerful, why not put a little creativity into our own re-inventions and make lemon-coconut bars?
This was the personal question I asked myself seven years ago, when at age 44, I realized that a chronic health condition was forcing me to make a major change in my lifestyle and my career. I ran my own pre-school and daycare business, successfully I might add, for almost 10 years. My doctor strongly recommended I work fewer hours and that whatever I chose, it had to be less physically demanding.
I learned several things right away: 1. Having operated your own business doesn’t mean anyone else will hire you 2. A degree in communications from 1978 guarantees you nothing 3. Being over 40 and intelligent is almost a deterrent. Employers think you’re both over qualified and too close to retirement to want to give you a chance But I had to make a living. Finding a low-paying job was easy. Finding and building a new career was not.
When I first graduated college, I found a radio news job in the Los Angeles area right away. Upon falling in love and getting married, I decided to go into teaching (one form or another) for the next 20+ years, to ensure a stable family life. Now I was being thrust into morphing into a third career. I had always wanted to go back to writing.
I had 2 mantras: “If not now, when?” And, “There are no small articles!” Now I’m happy to say, I’ve had “lines”, “blurbs” and, thanks to a passion for cooking, many recipes published in major magazines, as well as several hardcover cookbooks and a major newspaper. I’ve also been lucky enough to be part of a couple of major magazine articles. Adding to that-I have a contract to do both free-lance feature articles and a column for the largest newspaper in Orange County, CA. I started my own blog, which I update on a weekly basis. A popular over 40’s women’s website asked me to write a twice weekly cooking column and features for them. No, I do not earn enough to be self-supporting, but that’s more than okay.
My “spin” hasn’t made me rich or famous, but it has made me both healthy and happy. My family has been supportive. In fact, my husband is the person who told me my idea for this article is one I should pursue, that it would make an encouraging “read” for many women who are at a crossroads of one kind or another. My daughter has my blog on her list of favorites and said she didn’t know I could be that funny!
In researching the “spin” factor on making a new life, especially when you are past the age many employers feel they want to take a chance on, I have talked to some wonderfully interesting and brave women, women who, by want or need, have found that you don’t have to settle for “lemonade”. Here are three who have been kind enough to share their “lemon-coconut bar” stories: (In the interest of privacy, names have been changed)