What do you want to be when you grow up?

Sunset from the nearby beach
Sunset from the nearby beach

Ah the dream of a having a different lifestyle. I’m part way there since I purchased a second home on Orcas Island, though this creates some new challenges (like commuting and costs of second home ownership). It’s definitely quieter spending half weeks here and I suspect it will get even better when I trade the city house for a pied-à-terre.

November will mark my fifth anniversary with my lovely, brilliant husband. And for the first time in my life, it has been a joint endeavor putting clothes on back, food on table and a roof overhead. I have a great paying job—and have had for many years, but the older I get in high-tech the younger everyone else seems, the faster the pace moves, and the more I feel like I’m slipping behind. A book that has helped is French Women Don’t Get Facelifts by Mireille Guiliano. She found a second career in writing—something I love to do too—after being the CEO of Verve Clicquot USA.

Kayaking with husband in Lover's Cove, Orcas Island
Kayaking in Lover’s Cove, Orcas Island

These days I‘m often asked to speak to young researchers about careers and yet, deep inside, I feel a bit lost. So how can I, in good faith, tell them what they should be doing to be successful when I’m not sure about my own career? Of course we are at different career stages, so my advice works for them. It just doesn’t work for me. Not anymore.

There was one bit of advice that I got early in my career than might still be true though, ‘risk equals happiness.’ If you are willing to risk everything, you are much more likely to find a career that you are enthusiastic about.

Sign on once of my deer proof gardens
Sign on one of my deer proof gardens

So is it time to consider that now?

I look at people like Karen Templer and her small business Fringe Association she moved to Nashville, Tennessee and Ashley Yousling of Woolful who has recently moved to Idaho (a place I worked so hard to get out of) to start a sheep ranch. Both women in tech who followed their dreams. I’ll admit it, I’m green with envy. After all,  I’ve been in tech since before they were out of diapers. The point being that younger people can set an example for older ones. You find sages at all ages, no?

Russian blackberries growing everywhere
Russian blackberries growing everywhere–too many to pick!
Gala Apples from the Garden--Yum!
Fresh Gala Apples from the Garden–Yum!
Baby kiwi's (much bigger now)
Baby kiwi’s (much bigger now)

People, and knitters especially, on the island are lovely. “Borrow my loom, please!” and “Stop by for my knitting circle”. The problem is my split life. I simply cannot be an islander and be a constant traveler, researcher and strategist.

More and more I feel the pull of my creative side and I’ve even been talking to a couple of friends on island on how I might promote this site and potentially start selling things—here and at the local gift shops. Even my husband has gotten into it by telling me I should set up a shop called Fruit and Fiber where we could sell my chutneys and the many fruits of our garden alongside wool from the island wool makers and mitts and bags I make from it.

Green Gages Plums
Green Gages Plums
I've got these prune plums coming out my ears!
I’ve got these prune plums coming out my ears!

The trouble is I’d need the time to *make* these items. I also wonder how it will change my desire to knit when it won’t be for myself or gifts for my friends and family. What happens when it becomes my job. Will I still love it so much? I think so.

I’ve got designs and patterns that my friends say will sell and the San Juans, especially Orcas Island, are a vacation mecca where people come to buy little reminders of their trips (or they get cold and buy it out of necessity). They think that even if I didn’t go “online” I’d still have a market for my goods.

A seed Stitch Bag--partially my own design
A seed Stitch Bag–partially my own design

Well that’s my quandary for today. It makes me want to miss the late ferry back to the mainland Monday night. Perhaps not today, but someday. Hopefully soon.

Mitts with the Hat
Mitts with the Hat

2 thoughts on “What do you want to be when you grow up?

  1. I know that feeling all too well! At 29, I already felt old and obsolete at the digital marketing agency that I was working in. These kids 10 years younger than me were coming in and able to do what I did faster and often better (at least the technical stuff, design stuff, not so much). It made me realize that though I loved web design (I had been doing it since I was 9 years old), I didn’t love the direction it was heading (faster, cheaper).

    Luckily for me, I was in a financial situation to be able to quit my job and just freelance. I hope you are able / have been able to figure out how to do what you want!


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