Who I Am, and Why I Do What I Do [Ep. 5]

You’re listening to Take on Life After 50, the podcast for people over 50 who want to supplement their retirement by doing what they love. I’m your host, Diane Ziomek. And this is where you’ll find practical how to’s and inspiration to create the life you deserve. Whether you want to replace your current income or to supplement it, I’m here to share my experiences, ideas, and even some of life’s lessons when it comes to side hustles.

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Episode 5: Who I Am, and Why I Do What I Do

Note: This blog post is copied from the episode script, which has been transcribed by otter.ai, and edited by me.

Welcome to Episode 5: Who I Am, and Why I do What I do.

I hope you had a happy holiday season, and that 2022 started out on a good note. My Christmas and New Year’s was quiet. But when the temperatures are hovering in the minus 30 to minus 40 Celsius range, it’s not a bad thing to not have to venture very far.

In my last episode, I said I was going to take the Christmas break to plan out the first quarter of 2022. And part of that plan is to increase the number of listings I have in my Etsy shop. I started off with five sales between my two shops the first two days of the year, which I’m quite happy with. To some it may not seem like much but for me it paid my fees plus I had some money deposited into my bank account this week. Anytime my fees get covered with a little bit of extra, I consider that a win.

More of my story.

January 5 marks the 20th month since I became a widow. And that life event has made me appreciate the people in my life so much more. We never know what each day will bring. And the world as we know it can quickly come crashing down. My world changed in a heartbeat. Or rather, when his heart stopped beating. The things I took for granted were no longer there, like him being here when I got home from work. We had plans, and many of those plans died with him.

One of my regular blog readers asked me today, what was different about me since I became a widow? And my first answer was, I don’t take things for granted now. I also told him I’m still trying to figure life out. Because when something like that happens, it’s not something that can be done in a week, a month, or even a year. I now do all the tasks and chores we shared. And I’ve become better at being self sufficient. And when something arises that I’m unable to do, I’ve learned to ask for help from friends or family. And when I’m asking for help, you know I must really need it because I’m pretty stubborn when it comes to certain things. And in the case of frozen water lines earlier this week (oops, I meant last week), I had to call a plumber. It was something that I couldn’t fix. And it’s just the way it happened to be.

We can’t always control our circumstances, but we can do what we have to so we can move forward. For me, that meant resigning from my job as a library assistant, and taking the time that I needed for me. Too many people are forced to go back to work after the death of a spouse. I know someone who has been, you know, told that she should go back and I don’t agree with that. I refused to be one of those people being forced to go back.

I did go ahead with our deck building plans that we had had. Although, I may have made the deck bigger than we had discussed. Taking on a massive project like that gave me something to do to keep busy. It also taught me to not be afraid of a chop saw. And that using one was much faster than a handsaw. And ironically, it was the handsaw that I cut my leg with. Go figure.

As I completed that project that was about six weeks in the making, I felt a sense of accomplishment. I had taken a pile pile of lumber and cement blocks that didn’t come with instructions, and turned them into a two level deck complete was railing and steps. The latter were made from stair risers I bought but the set between the two levels was made from wood. I do have to say, had anyone told me two years ago that I could have made a deck almost all on my own I would have told them they were nuts.

That life event made it even more important for me to pursue my dream of creating passive income. I started my side hustles and blog pre-widowhood with the intention of supplementing our income so we could travel. Now I do it to not only support myself financially, but also to show you there are so many options available when you’re ready to say goodbye to the 9 to 5.

Or maybe you’re not ready to give up the 9 to 5 just yet. And that’s okay. Being over 50 gives us an advantage over the 20-somethings in the world. We have life experience. And that alone can give us a list of side hustles we can do that the younger generations can’t.

30 years ago I couldn’t give anyone parenting advice. Although, I may have attempted to a time or two. But now that I have kids on my own, I feel my input is valuable. I don’t proclaim to be the perfect parent, because really, there’s no such thing. But at least I can understand what other parents endure. And in a few months, I’ll be able to share some of that advice with my daughter when her first baby arrives. I think that’s pretty exciting.

I also couldn’t tell anyone how to change oil in a vehicle, how to change a tire, or how to build a raised garden bed. But now that I’ve lived a few more decades, I have that knowledge as well.

You see, life experience goes a long way. The 20-somethings are generally booksmart but us 50-somethings are life smart, as well as book smart. And what I’m trying to say is this, if you’re ready to slow down in life, or want to change, then do what makes you happy. Life’s too short to not be happy.

Whatever side hustle you choose doesn’t have to become permanent. You do it for as long as you wish, and you have full control over when you stop. Maybe you only want a few hundred extra dollars a month. With there being so many options available both online and off, there’s no reason you can’t do what you want. I think our generation has an advantage because we’ve lived in a world without computers, in a world without the internet. And we know what life is like without them. And if you’re anything like me, you also know how easy it is to utilize their power.

Some side hustles are a one time deal, while others are an ongoing moneymaker. You may not find that perfect fit for you right away, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Always remember that we grow as we get older. So what you wanted to do 10 years ago may no longer be something that excites you now. In my case, 10 years ago, I wanted to be a bookkeeper. After doing it as a side hustle for a couple years, I realized it really wasn’t my calling after all. And now I just do my own books.

I’ve done a lot of things over the years for mail order fabric squares to different party plans. But to date, my very favorite is creating printables I sell in my Etsy shop. Plus, I love sharing my knowledge with others when it comes to side hustles and self publishing.

I believe others can learn from my oopses. And believe me when I say I’ve made a few. I don’t claim to be perfect or to know it all. What I do know was I love what I do. And it has taken me a lifetime to get here. There is no timeline on when you should do something when you shouldn’t do something. If you want to go back to school when you’re in your 50s go back to school when you’re in your 50s. There’s nothing saying you can’t. And if someone says you shouldn’t, their opinion really doesn’t really matter.

Conclusion

Now that you know more of my story, I will continue the episodes as I started; giving you ideas and resources so you can find what works for you. And speaking of resources, don’t forget to check out the tools and resources page on my website takeonlifeafter50.com. It doesn’t matter what stage of your working years you’re at because a side hustle can be started at any time. The advantage for those of us over 50 is we have a little more time to pursue our own interests.

Kids are grown and have lives of their own which means we are able to set up a studio or not or an office in a spare bedroom. The night owls can once again work when they’re most productive. And I am that night owl. Our projects can be left out without fear of someone else moving without someone else moving it. Unless of course there are cats in the house. And yes, that’s experience talking. I love my cats but I sure don’t love it when they decide to rearrange things for me. I forgot what it was like to have indoor cats because hubby was allergic to them. After the first disaster or two I learned to put away whatever I didn’t want scattered from one end of the house to the other.

In next week’s episode I’ll talk about starting a printable side hustle and why Etsy is a good starting point. See you then.

Thanks for listening to this episode, and I hope you’ve been able to take away a little something from if you want to learn more about me visit my website to takeonlifeafter50.com and get your copy of 3 Side Hustles to Fill Your Piggy Bank.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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Grief is Different for Everyone

So much for being more present.

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and I can see how that can be true.

I think part of being human is we tend to overthink things. I know that’s the way it is for me. I’ll plan out something in my head then talk myself out of doing it. I think there are many writers out there who do the very same thing.

On May 5 I went out to the cemetery and sat with Ross. It was the one year anniversary of his passing so I took a couple cans of Guinness; one for him and one for me. His can is still there, albeit a little warm. He did prefer it on tap but a can was the best I could do. Besides, a glass just would not last long.

I have been struggling with coming to terms with how much my life has changed. I’m sure anyone who has lost someone dear to them can relate. I also know everyone deals with grief differently.

Life goes on, no matter what shit-show we have going on in our lives. We’re still expected to show up, be present, and act like our world has not fallen apart. Just today (July 15) I talked to a man in our community who offered his condolences; over 14 months after Ross passed. He said he hadn’t seen me so hadn’t said anything before. I get it; no one has seen many people in the past year plus. (Post published just after midnight July 16.)

We chatted for a little while, and as I drove to the funeral home I cried. Today was the day I sat down with the staff at the funeral home and picked out a monument for his grave. I had considered one type, but after the meeting I opted for something different. I think the decision I made today is the right one. And to be honest, I don’t really care what anyone else thinks. My kids will have some input before the order is finalized, but that’s it.

We never know what’s going to trigger an overwhelming sense of loss; no matter how much time has passed. Losing the person you were supposed to spend the rest of your life with definitely knocks you for a loop.

I have spent some time working on a grief journal, and have made a couple versions. One is a digital one (for use with an iPad/tablet) and the other is a printable one. There’s a lot of the same content in each so buyers can choose whichever format works best for them. The printable one can be found here and the digital version can be found here. Both are in my Etsy Shop, along with a number of other printables, patterns, and planners.

A few pages from the printable grief journal.

Having an outlet to share my experience with others has been good for me, even if it is in the form of a printable. My goal is to help others work through their grief, plus earn a few dollars here and there. A girl’s gotta eat, so I can’t give my journals away.

What I can do, however, is connect with others through my posts. I know no two experiences are exactly the same, but by being able to share our stories and talk about our dearly departed, we will be able to move forward.

I share some of my story in my journals, and some has been shared in previous posts. I find the more I am able to talk about him the more I can move forward. And by moving forward I don’t mean forgetting him; I mean being able to live my life without him. I said it before and I’ll say it again: we were supposed to grow old together. I was NOT supposed to become a widow 8 days before my 52nd birthday!

When I started this blog and website all was right in my world. I learned very quickly I am not immune to everything going south, as is no one else. So bear with me as I work through my shit-show; and feel free to share yours if you wish. We all have something going on, and we do what we can to make the rest of the world think we’re coping just fine.

Mindset Makes a Difference

I’m back!

The past few months have been months of figuring out who I am, and what I want out of life. Mostly, they have been months of learning.

Seven months have passed since I lost Ross and so much has changed in that time. 2020 has been a crazy year as it is, but becoming a widow without any warning has been the worst.

The first few months I tried to keep busy as much as possible. I built a two-level deck, resigned from my job at the library, worked on my yard, and tried to just get through each day without him.

As time passed I told myself I could either wallow in my sorrow or continue to live life to the fullest. I have control over what I do, and having a positive mindset no matter how shitty the situation is so much better for my wellbeing.

I miss him every day and catch myself thinking about what I want to tell him when he gets home. Just last night I wanted to tell him what a friend had said, and then cried when I remembered he wasn’t going to be home to tell. It’s those moments that are the hardest.

In August I became an Independent Pampered Chef Consultant, plus a Young Living Distributor. Both allow me the freedom to improve my health and wellbeing, plus the lives of others. And best of all, I can work from home.

It took me a few months to get back into the kitchen, and I credit being a Pampered Chef Consultant for helping me get there faster. I like to cook and bake, but when Ross passed away it was all I could do to just get through the day much less cook meals I wasn’t going to eat.

When I did cook, it wasn’t much. I basically lived on cereal, granola bars, and convenience foods from the freezer section of the grocery store. Now I am cooking, and the convenience foods have been replaced with portions I have frozen. There are days when I don’t feel like cooking but I still have a home-cooked meal.

Ross wouldn’t have wanted me to be sad all the time; he always wanted me to be happy. Once I started to see through the tears I realized I still have to live. The choice of how I do so is mine and mine alone. Being sad all the time doesn’t help anyone mentally or physically, and definitely not emotionally. I am slowly moving forward; an important step in the healing and grieving process.

No one knows how another person feels; only how they feel themselves. It took me months to realize life does go on no matter what. The sun still rises and sets, without discrimination.

On top of losing him COVID-19 has wreaked havoc in my world simply because of all the restrictions. We couldn’t have a proper funeral so immediate family was present while everyone else was given the option to watch the live feed on Facebook. When restrictions were lifted slightly we couldn’t rent a venue for a memorial get-together, so we had family and friends get together in my yard after the inurnment at the cemetery.

And as of today, lockdown is happening once again so Christmas will be a very quiet one. Yes I’m bitter, but at the same time I have to be grateful for what I do have. I have kids that call or text me every day, friends who check in from time to time, and in-laws who are close in case I need anything.

There are good days and bad days, and having someone to talk to is important. When you suffer a loss you never know just where the most support is going to come from. You may think it should be your family or close friends, but sometimes it comes from someone who is a little further out of the circle. I learned that first-hand, and am forever grateful.

This is the first thing of any length I have written since May 5, aside from pages and pages in my journal (which has also been neglected lately). Life dealt me cards I didn’t like, but it’s up to me to make them work. I have chosen to play them through rather than fold so whatever comes will have to be taken in stride.

Now before I bore you completely I will close, but not before I say this: If you find yourself in a situation you have no control over, do what you can to make the best of it. Life isn’t always fair. That’s just a given. Do what you have to so you come out on top. It may take weeks, months, or years…but don’t give up on yourself.