Episode #48: Second Lives

Hi everyone! This week’s episode is about later in life career changes. In our culture, it’s unfortunately pretty common for people to feel like if they haven’t started and achieved a dream by the time they are 30, 40, 50 or beyond, that it’s too late. This episode is ALL about how it’s not too late, and in fact, many of our favorite creative icons started their careers later than you might think. I’m already so excited to have my own middle-aged career pivot!

You can stream the episode here on the blog or on iTunesSpotifyGoogle PlayTuneInPocket Casts, and Stitcher. You can find the podcast posts archive here.

Show Notes:

-Shout out to our mom, Elizabeth Chapman, who pivoted from teaching to painting full time not too long ago. You can see her art here, and follow her on IG here.

-R.L. Stine. Emma is OBSESSED with R.L. Stine. We watched a bunch of his videos after we recorded this the other day. The interview Emma references is this one. We also love the trailer for his Masterclass. 🙂

-As usual, we mention Office Ladies Podcast, which is SO good. If you hang out with me, I am now an endless well of The Office trivia thanks to that podcast.

-Julia Child. Emma mentions her book Mastering The Art Of French Cooking as well as the book and movie Julie + Julia.

-Grandma Moses. Here’s a link to her autobiography, My Life’s History. She produced over 1,500 paintings over three decades, so something like one painting every week.

The reader question this episode is about buying a first home. We LOVE this topic, so as usual we talk about it for a long time! :))

Thank you so much for your support. We just passed our first one million unique listens!!! We appreciate you!

Episode 48 Transcript

Emma: You’re listening to the A Beautiful Mess podcast. Today, we wanted to talk about folks who started careers later in life. There are a lot of stories like this and we are just going to share a few. Also, we’re going to answer a reader question about shopping for your first home. But this is a topic that gets both me and Elsie really excited for the future. So we hope it gets you feeling that way, too.

Elsie: Yes, same. I guarantee, no matter what, that I will have a late in life, second career for sure. And I can’t wait to do it.

Emma: Oh, yeah. I mean, I really hope I do. I want to. And yeah, I think that was kind of part of, I forget exactly why we came up with the idea to talk about this particular subject, I think we just were talking about it one day.

Elsie: I think it’s something that we really aspire to, something that we want to make sure that we always keep on our horizon is that your career isn’t over when you turn 40, 50, 60 and beyond. And I think it’s just a thing that a lot of young people aren’t taught. So we’re teaching it to you now.

Emma: Yeah. And I don’t even know if young people listen to our podcast. I have no idea. But yeah, I remember feeling so much pressure in my like early to mid 20s. I felt like if I hadn’t figured it out by then, I was behind. And I don’t exactly know where that pressure came from. It might be something that other people feel too, or might be a little bit of something in our society. There are a lot of stories of like young people doing amazing things, which is awesome. And if that’s your story, that’s fantastic. But sometimes I think people turn 30, turn 40, turn 50, and they’re kind of like, needing a change, but they feel like maybe that’s silly or scary or it’s too late for them and it’s not. So.

Elsie: No, I totally agree. It’s something that I want to contribute to glamorizing, promoting just, you know, spreading the news that you can have a whole new career at any age. And, yeah, that’s what this episode is about. So I’m so inspired by this subject.

Emma: Yes.

Elsie: So we’re going to talk about several different careers that started later in life, like and later in life, they’re — really some of these people might have only been in their thirties, but some of them were much older…

Emma: Right.

Elsie: …like even into their 70s. So.

Emma: Yeah, we tried to…I mean, we’re really only talking about a handful of people and there are so many stories like this. So I highly encourage you to go check out more. Also, if you want to leave comments on this shownotes of this podcast, you can do that at Abeautifulmess.com/podcast and tell us about other, you know, stories of people starting later in life. But we’re going to talk about a writer, a few actors, a chef and a painter. And a lot of them are women, a few men. But there’s definitely lots more stories than this. So this is just a very small sampling.

Elsie: Yes. We’ll talk about our mom, too. Ok, so before we jump into the famous people, we wanted to give a shout out to our own mom, who really is…

Emma: She’s famous to us.

Elsie: She’s famous to us. She is an incredible painter. And she decided to go from being a teacher to a full-time painter. I think when she was in maybe her 40s or maybe early 50s, somewhere in that realm…

Emma: Somewhere in there.

Elsie: …and it’s so inspiring. And I always think of my life, you know, in 20 or 30 years. And I think I want to do something like what she’s doing. I think it’s really cool. She wakes up, she has a long several hours of painting. You know, she does a few things and then she goes back to painting. And her life is, it’s really a beautiful life. So we wanted to. Yeah. Mention her just because it’s so inspiring to watch someone who, you know and love completely change what they do for a living just because one day they wake up and decide that’s what they want to do.

Emma: Yeah. And she was always a painter. She studied art in college and got her art education degree in the end. And she raised three kids. And then she became an art teacher for many years. And then once all those kids were out of her hair, then she had more space and commit— she committed, finally had the time and the space to commit to being a painter full time. And so now that’s what she does. I’m going to try to say, like just little things that I find inspiring about each of the stories. So with our mom, like at each stage of her life, I think she found joy in the things she was doing. And I think she never decided. “Well, I just can’t be joyful this season. Oh, I’m home with little kids and I wish I was painting.” I don’t think she felt that way. But, you know, you could kind of be like, oh, I can’t do that thing I went to school for, you know? But I don’t think she did. I think she just found the joy in the season of her life and she never stopped. My mom is a real example of someone who finds joy in everyday life. And I think about that like almost every day, especially if I’m having a day where I’m feeling kind of down or I’m having a little bit of a bad attitude because something didn’t go my way or whatever. You know, I think about our mom. Because she’s a real source of inspiration for me on finding the joy, because I do think it’s kind of up to us to do that

Elsie: For sure.

Emma: Anyway…

Elsie: R.L. Stine!

Emma: Let’s do the first one. So I wanted to talk about R.L. Stine because I definitely wanted to have a writer in here. And there’s lots of examples of writers doing things later in life…

Elsie: He’s the best one, though.

Emma: But I just think he’s a fun one. And I grew up reading Goosebumps. I have a feeling a lot of you listening maybe too, you might be at the age…

Elsie: Of course they did.

Emma: …where you grew up reading Goosebumps and. Yeah, so I’m going to link in the show notes this YouTube video. I’ll tell you some about it now, but I do highly recommend you watch this. It’s an interview. And it’s just kind of a random interview. I think he was a speaker at some kind of event and then afterwards they interviewed him. But I love this interview with R.L. Stine. I watch it sometimes when I’m feeling down. I just really enjoy it. So I’m definitely about to butcher it. So please go watch the real thing. It’ll be in the show notes. In the interview they’re basically like, tell us how you became the writer that you are and if you’re not familiar, R.L. Stine writes the series Goosebumps. He writes kind of horror and scary books for young readers. So middle grade, that type of age range, sometimes even younger. Goosebumps is a little bit younger. So…

Elsie: The baddest ass third grade book you could ever read.

Emma: Yeah. If your kids like Halloween, get this shit for them Goosebumps for life. So one thing that’s interesting about him. So his name is Robert. That’s what the R in R.L. Stine stands for some people call him Bob. One of his nicknames is Jovial Bob, because for many years he wrote this kind of joke magazine for Scholastic, and that’s what he did for his career, like into, I think, his mid 40s or early 40s. And then him and his wife both worked at Scholastic. She’s also a writer. And then he kind of was at a stage where he was sort of retiring and he kind of was like, well, that was it. I did the thing I wanted to do. I wanted to write this kind of joke comic type literature for kids. And he did that and he was known for it and he enjoyed it. And then one day he was kind of retired and he was having lunch with an editor from Scholastic who he knew they were just friends. And this editor was like, I really need an author to write a horror book for young teens. And this author who was going to do it kind of flaked. “You know what, Bob? You can write, how about you do it?” And he was like, I don’t really write horror. I don’t know, and I’m kind of retired. And finally he was like, all right, I’ll do it. And she was like, OK. And I believe the editor was a woman I can’t quite remember, but I think it was a woman. She said, OK, the title is Blind Date, so just give that a write. And he just did. And that was his first children’s horror book was called Blind Date. And it’s part of the Fear Street series. And it wasn’t published until he was 43 years old. And it wasn’t until a few more years after that, I think he was forty-six, forty-seven somewhere in there when he started the Goosebumps series, which in the interview he kind of says he almost didn’t do because he thought that would mess up his Fear Street series. But again…

Elsie: No Bob, No.

Emma: (laughs)No, Bob. And he really, it’s so funny because in the interview he very much like kind of makes fun of himself, kind of talks about how his wife was the successful one and he was just kind of doing his thing. And he was like, “I almost didn’t do Goosebumps so I’m so great at business, huh?” Like, he’s just very, like, poking fun at himself because he’s a very funny man. And I just find the whole thing endlessly inspiring because some of the lessons from it that I took was like, I loved his willingness to just try something new, like he didn’t really even have an interest in writing horror for young readers. But an opportunity came his way and he was like, I like writing and I’m not really doing much right now. Why not? So the willingness to try something new. And also kind of the humility to try something new, because it can be very humbling to try new things…

Elsie: So true.

Emma: And you can feel like that’s not my thing and I don’t want to be known for this or that, or you kind of can have a bit of ego about yourself. And I think he just chose to make the most of an opportunity that came his way. And I just love that. I would be thrilled if sometime in my 40s I get an opportunity to do something random, and I take it. It just thrills me to think that that could be in my future. So anyway, it’s a really cool interview and I am endlessly inspired by Mr. R.L. Stine. So I hope he hears this and sends me a note. That would be the most amazing thing…no I’m just joking.(laughs) But yeah, I love it. I loved his books growing up and I just love that lesson from him. So anyway, that’s one, a writer. I think we have some actors next.

Elsie: I love it. Yeah. Ok, so my one…kind of goes along with the willingness to try something different or something random. I think that it’s really extremely important to maintain some openness in yourself to try new things. And because I don’t know, in our career, we’ve had — we’ve been advised many, many, many times to do less, and I think that sometimes that’s valuable advice that you need to hear, but sometimes you can, you can kind of like miss out on maybe the best thing that ever happened to you in your life if you stay too focused on your own bubble and you aren’t willing to ever go outside of it. So both are valuable, but I’m kind of going to lean on the try new things harder. So I want to talk about some of the actors from The Office and shout out to The Office Ladies podcast, because that is where I heard all of these little fun facts and tidbits. And I love that podcast. It’s so much fun if you enjoy the show and you enjoy learning about acting and TV production, because that’s mostly what they’re talking about. It’s super interesting. There’s three actors from the show that I specifically want to shout out to you because everyone knows that B.J. Novak and Mindy Kaling were writers, but then also actors on the show and also kind of in love. And, you know, they’re like, my Valentine’s Day card is like, B.J. and Mindy.

Emma: Definitely.

Elsie: They’re the cutest ever. But there are a lot of other people who were working on the show who were working behind the scenes on the show, who became actors. So one of them is Paul Lieberstein, who plays Toby, and he was also a writer.

Emma: Toby!

Elsie: Yes. And in the end of the series, he was also the showrunner. But he…so he like I don’t know if he ever acted before, but, yeah, acting for him wasn’t his, like, main thing. But he opened himself up to it and he became…Toby’s definitely in my top three characters I love.

Emma: Oh, he’s hilarious.

Elsie: His character…

Emma: That character is hilarious. His delivery of it is hilarious. Yeah. It’s such a funny counterpart to Michael and how much they hate each other.

Elsie: And I love how they had some people act who were kind of just a part of the show in other ways, and they said, “yes”, it’s just so cool. So also Phyllis Smith, who plays Phyllis, was running, like she was like a casting director. And she was, she did some of the auditions for the other actors when they were auditioning to be on the show. And then more towards when they were filming the pilot, they kind of just randomly asked her if she wanted to be an actor and she did it.

Emma: That would be so intimidating to be like, oh, this isn’t quite what I do, but now I’m going to act alongside other actors.

Elsie: It’s so cool.

Emma: I don’t know. It would be very intimidating, so pretty gutsy to get out there and be like, yeah, I’ll do it, I think.

Elsie: Yes.

Emma: Pretty cool.

Elsie: I love it so much because these people couldn’t have possibly known that this was going to be like their famous actor breakthrough, you know, but they just kind of went for it. And now, you know, there’s some of our most beloved television icons of all time. And then another fun little story that I just love. When I heard it, I just like couldn’t wait to go tell Jeremy is that Kate Flannery, who plays Meredith, didn’t quit her waitressing job until season two because they all believed the show is definitely going to get canceled and definitely only going to have one season. And, you know, people were like really mean about it when it first came out because of the British one and there was like a lot of like comparisons.

Emma: Sure, they were comparing it, because it was so…

Elsie: Yeah, I love that she was still waitressing tables until season two. It’s just so amazing. So, yeah, I feel like RL Stein, a combination of our RL Stine and Phyllis Smith is going to be like always in the back of my head when someone asked me to do something that I would never do. I just, you know, I’m just going to give it a hard maybe.

Emma: Mm hmm. Mm hmm. I love that. Yeah. I also just like the idea of, like, kind of keeping your “day job” while you’re working on your other thing. I mean, that’s the story of, like, pretty much any creative or small business owner that I know. They’re like, yeah, I was starting my thing, but I also, did whatever…

Elsie: It definitely brings it back to reality quite a bit, because I don’t think most people realize that when these people were filming, you know, even the whole first season, that they didn’t even think there was going to be a second season.

Emma: Yeah. They were like, I’m just going to keep my server job on weekends because I’m not sure. Yeah, yeah. That’s so interesting. Okay the next one I want to talk about is a chef, and she’s very famous, Miss Julia Child. So what do you think of when you think of Julia Child? This is not a quiz. I just…

Elsie: I think of like the Muppets. (laughs).

Emma: Yes, I do, too! Yeah. The Muppets. Or there’s this, like, skit on SNL where they’re kind of doing like a spoof or whatever of her show. So I kind of think of her show, which I believe was on PBS. I want to say. Yeah. So I think that’s a lot of what people know her for is her show or maybe, you know about her first cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. She had lots of other cookbooks after that. But yes, she’s a very famous chef. She brought French cooking to Americans, to American kitchens. And that’s kind of what she’s known for.

Elsie: Was it like not a thing before that?

Emma: No, it wasn’t really…

Elsie: Oh, I love that!

Emma: There also just weren’t as many cookbooks that weren’t catering to just convenience, or that’s what it seemed like. OK, so I’m basing — I should say this. I’m basing this information off of the book and movie Julie and Julia, which I think is fairly accurate. I’m not at all dissing the book or that movie, but also I didn’t read a biography or an autobiography, so I kind of want to put that out there because I don’t really know for certain. So. I’m not a journalist, this is based off that movie.

Elsie: It’s okay, Julia Child isn’t coming at us. She doesn’t need a disclaimer.

Emma: I know, she can stand on her own. By the way, though, if you haven’t seen the movie, Julie and Julia, it’s really cute. It’s a really cute book, too. I read the book many years ago, probably like, probably like 9 or 10 years ago was before Trey and I were ever even dating and we’ve been together…

Elsie: Nice!

Emma: So anyway…

Elsie: What’s the book about?

Emma: So it’s interesting because it’s a blogger, Julie, who does a year-long challenge where she cooks her way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child.

Elsie: Ooh, that sounds fun!

Emma: And yeah. And so that’s what the premise of her first blog was or in the beginning. And then she wrote a book about it and then it became a movie. And so it’s a pretty interesting story like that in and of itself. But she obviously becomes very she loves Julia Child. So that sort of part of it, too, is she is kind of trying to change her life. And I think you kind of see some parallels between her and Julia because they’re both women trying to find their way. So anyway, it’s a charming book, charming movie. I highly recommend. So Julia’s first cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, didn’t come out until she was 49 years old. So before that, she had lived abroad and her husband worked in the government. He worked at embassies and things like that. And she, in the movie, it shows that they never had children and that perhaps she wanted to. And it’s just something that never quite happened for them. And so she was finding things to do with her time trying to find something meaningful to do with her time, something that she loved and was passionate about.

Elsie: That’s so beautiful.

Emma: And in the movie, she tried like a couple like various things like hat making and like different classes like that when she was in France. And then she finally really fell in love with cooking because she was like, I really love eating.(laughs) So and then she gets really into cooking. And one of the schools that she attends, it’s mostly men. And so, you know, there’s a bit of an intimidation feeling for her there trying to fit in and trying to prove herself. And then as she’s working on…

Elsie: She’s better than all of you! Step aside.

Emma: Yeah, (laughs) she’s she’s a pretty good cook. I mean, I’m sure in the beginning you had to learn, but and then her book, I own Mastering the Art of the French Cooking and it’s a pretty big, it’s a very large book. So it doesn’t surprise me that she had trouble getting…she had two other authors, too, I should say. She had trouble getting it published originally. It is just a pretty intimidating cookbook. And so it took her quite a while to get that published as well. So I think she’s a really interesting case study for someone who to me, what I find super inspirational about her is, I mean, many things, really, but one is how she didn’t wait around for life to bring her something meaningful. She went and sought it out. She sought out meaning in her life. She sought out something that she was passionate about that she could grow with. And she didn’t get intimidated by the fact that some of the schools were mostly men or, you know, had instructors that perhaps didn’t really like her. She just pushed forward to find something that she was passionate about, something that was meaningful to her. So I love that. I think that’s so cool, like so brave and courageous and I love that. And then the other thing is, I think it took her quite a while to finally get a cookbook published. And then it wasn’t until some years after that that her TV show started. And I just think she stayed passionate about cooking for a very long time without seeing any monetary or fame, success around it. She was just like, this is my thing, French cooking. And I’m going to bring it to America because I’m an American.

Elsie: She was like, It’s not over.

Emma: Yeah, she was like, this is what I do. I don’t know where it’s going to go. I’m I don’t you know, back then, I don’t even know if chefs really were famous. Now it’s quite you know, there’s like Food Network and being a chef is definitely like a path. And, you know, you could work in a restaurant or you can be kind of a TV celebrity. Like this is a thing. Everyone knows that. But back then, there were not as many examples of that. So I don’t think she really could have known that that was where her life was going to go. But I think she was just like, I love cooking, I love eating, I love French food. I’m going to do this. And wherever it goes, that’s where I’m going. And I just think that’s an interesting way to go about it, because so often, at least when I was younger, I feel like you see the end. And then you kind of try to work your way there, but she didn’t really do that, she was like, I love this thing, I love doing this thing, and I’m just going to go with that wherever it goes. And those are just two kind of different ways to approach passion.

Elsie: It’s a much better approach.

Emma: I think so! There’s a lot of wisdom there. So she’s rad.

Elsie: It’s just so cool to realize that you have so many lives ahead of you when you’re in your 20s especially. I think that it is easy to think that your life is somehow going to end when you’re 30. And then for sure for sure end when you’re 40. But that’s just not true at all.

Emma: Oh, yeah, for sure. Yeah. And I also just love, like the idea of leaving a lot of space, like literally a lot of time in your life to cultivate knowledge, experience and even just like passion around a specific topic or variety of topics.

Elsie: I love it.

Emma: Yeah, that’s just fun because there’s just so much pressure sometimes to be an expert out of the gate at something. And it’s like, I mean, just love what you do and do it for years and years and that’s cool. I don’t know. It doesn’t have to be all this pressure to be perfect or to attain something so quickly.

Elsie: I do agree with that. We get a lot of emails and stuff from people who want to do something like we do for a living, either an app or be a blogger, an influencer. And it is really hard to respond to people who want to know how long it’s going to take to make money, because the answer is never what you want to hear. It’s always much longer. And you have, ah, you have to at least be willing to do it much longer than you would really want to, because it’s just not the kind of thing that happens overnight. So these stories, I don’t know. It’s just cool because a lot of people would have quit by then and none of these people quit or they were at least still open and willing to try it when the opportunity finally rolled around one random day.

Emma: Right. Right.

Elsie: Dreams come true. It can happen to you!

Emma: I want to sing that song. We have one last person. And I must admit, this one is the person that I was least familiar with. But when we were thinking about recording this podcast, we already had some stories that we wanted to talk about. And I decided to kind of put it out there just on Instagram and see what like who people would suggest, because I was hoping to get at least one or two more people in different fields. And so this was someone that people said over and over again. And whenever I had I was familiar with her work. It’s a painter and a woman, but I didn’t really know very much about her. And I must admit, I still haven’t had time to read her autobiography, but I read that it’s really great. So it’s now on my list of things.

Elsie: Mom sends me…well, sorry. Go ahead.

Emma: No, no, no, go ahead.

Elsie: OK, well, it’s Grandma Moses. Yeah. So I was just going to say our mom sends me Grandma Moses links and artwork and references all the time because I think that she thinks I should be a folk painter out of all the categories of painter because I always am like trying to find my painting thing. It’s just been like a thing I’ve been wandering around with for like ten years. But yeah, she always sends me Grandma Moses over and over. So maybe this is the sign. And so I’m pretty familiar with her and I love folk art.

Emma: How would you describe her work? I think listeners should look it up if they don’t know but…

Elsie: So folk art. I think that the way to describe it, the easiest way to describe it is it kind of looks like a kid could do it. But then you realize that it’s a lot more sophisticated and interesting and beautiful than you originally thought. Do you think that’s fair to say?

Emma: Yeah. I mean, I don’t think a kid could — I mean, I couldn’t pay for paintings if I was trying to copy it…(laughs)

Elsie: I mean it’s kind of a simplistic style.` Like a rustic, simplistic style.

Emma: It is more rustic and simplistic. It’s not trying to be a photo realistic.

Elsie: Yeah, it’s not trying to be realistic at all. And it’s it’s very beautiful. Very, very beautiful. Yeah. We’ll put some pictures in the show notes.

Emma: Yeah. For sure. And I think more often than not and I’m not familiar with all folk artists or anything by that, but they’re usually depicting their work or their music or whatever it is, is kind of about the place in the world that they grew up or the culture that they’re a part of. So a lot of times it’s an opportunity to see into a part of the world or a culture that you may not be familiar with if you’re not a part of the, you know, place where they’re from. So I really like that about the artist too because I think it’s a very like, seeing the world around you instead of wishing you were somewhere else, you know what I mean?

Elsie: That’s beautiful.

Emma: Anyway, so Grandma Moses, her full name is Anna Mary Robertson Moses, which I actually didn’t know. I was like, oh yeah, Grandma Moses. I’ve heard of her. And I was like, I didn’t know. So anyway, famous folk artist, she’s a painter, so her autobiography, which I have not read, but I hear is great, so I really want to I hope it has an audio version is called My Life’s History. And she was born in the eighteen hundreds. So this one is a much older one. Here’s an interesting thing about her life that I liked. So she was a housekeeper for many years and then she was a farmer. She also was a mother. She actually had 10 children. Only five of them survived. Again, she she was from the eighteen hundreds. So, you know, children didn’t survive as much as they do now in the modern age. And that was kind of devastating in a way. She was always interested in art. She always kind of had little hobbies like embroidery or not little hobbies. But I mean, when she wasn’t working or raising all of her children, here’s some things she did. She mostly was into embroidery, quilting, and then a little bit of painting. There’s like an early painting that she did like on a fireplace mantle. I feel like she could have been a blogger.

Emma: Yeah, I know.

Elsie: Because those all things we love doing.

Emma: Yeah. Yeah. And so as she got older, she got arthritis because as you probably guessed from this very short thing from her life, she was a really hard worker. So she did get arthritis. So she kind of switched from embroidery and quilting to painting and she focused on that. She started focusing on painting like in earnest, I guess you could say, when she was 78 years old. I read online that she produced over fifteen hundred paintings in something like three decades. So that’s something like a painting a week, like it’s like an average of 50 paintings a year, something around that. I’m really not a math expert, but she definitely was painting a lot. And, you know, I think anyone who produces any kind of creative work, you know, that it’s not like you keep every single painting.

Elsie: A painting every single week, like a completed one is a lot.

Emma: Yeah. I mean, I imagine there was some that she was like, oh, I’m going to start over, you know what I mean?

Elsie: If I made 52 paintings in a year that I loved, that I was proud of, that I put out to the world. That would be crazy. Yeah that would be. Yeah. Pretty awesome.

Emma: I am so inspired by how hard of a worker she was her entire life. Like she obviously had to work very hard being a housekeeper and a farmer as trade what she did growing up and then all the children she had, everyone who’s had children or been around children knows that’s a lot of work, very rewarding, but an awful lot of work. And then, 78, she’s like, I’m just going to paint a ton. And it’s like, well, that’s a lot of hard work, too. And of course, it’s joyful work. But still, sometimes I feel like it’s easy to be like, oh, when I get older, I’m going to kick back and just do nothing.

Elsie: This is an aspirational life story, it’s so incredible.

Emma: For sure. And her paintings are just beautiful. So. Oh, and a lot of them are of like rural countrysides, you know, things she probably would have been around, would have seen a lot of you know, while she was I’d like to think that while she was farming all those years or chasing kids around outside, she was kind of collecting all the scenes that she would later paint. You know, like it’s kind of one of those things you never really know, like what you’re doing right now, the season of life you’re in, how it’s going to inform the work that you might do later. So just like paying attention and being a curious person.

Elsie: That’s so true.

Emma: Having observations. Yeah. I just think you never know.

Elsie: Everything that I’ve ever done in my career has been something that I practiced before just for fun, even like my very first job when I was like 21 or 22, like it wasn’t even a job, it was like a side money because I was just trying to survive. But I used to make fonts and I would make like five or ten a month, like kind of way too many. But I feel like that skill came from like in high school, that I was just like drawing in my notebook all day and classes, you know. So yeah, if you’re doing something that you love and enjoy, it might just be preparing you for what’s next in your career. I feel like that’s just kind of how it works.

Emma: Yeah! And there’s just so many times I, I like, get really excited about something and I’m like, well, but is this a waste of time? Because this doesn’t make money. This is kind of a weird little hobby I want to do. Should I even spend my time doing this or spend any money doing this or, you know, and I then…I start to get in my head about it, like, this is kind of a stupid thing. Why am I even doing that? And it’s like, well, you don’t know what the next season of your life is going to have. You don’t know what you might be preparing for in the future because you’re probably not supposed to know yet. You’re supposed to enjoy the time that you’re in. So the universe doesn’t let us know the next thing anyway. But I just love the idea that she was probably collecting all these beautiful scenes all her life and then she ended up painting so many of them later.

Elsie: I love that.

Emma: She’s very cool.

Elsie: Ok, I want to say something so Emma always OK. So people always say. Life is short, which is true, but Emma always says “life is long”. She says that all the time, at least once a week to me, she’s like Elsie life is long. And it really is true. I mean, they’re both true. But when you look at these career stories, you realize that, like, there is often more time later to do the thing that you aren’t able to do right now or you can’t quite do right now. So don’t get discouraged if you feel like this hasn’t been your season. I mean, in 2020, it hasn’t been a lot of people seasons. Yeah. But I feel like it’s, I don’t know. It’s good to keep that hope for the future.

Emma: Yeah. And that’s what I, I’m glad you get that because it is a weird thing to say. I get it, but I mean it to be like a very hopeful thing like or also kind of like don’t give up on yourself or don’t write that person off. If they did something shitty because life is long and maybe they’re going to change, maybe you’re going to change, maybe, you know, things are going to work out later. And yeah, of course, also sometimes I mean, I think people say life is short as meaning for whenever you’re in that mode, like, I don’t want to do anything, I’m going to put that off till later. And you’re kind of being lazy or you’re making an excuse to not do this thing that you’re scared to do, but you maybe want to do that. I think the advice of life is short is really important to remember because you’re not promised tomorrow.

Elsie: Life is short.

Emma: But I think when it comes to like, oh, I’m frustrated that I can’t spend every day painting for five hours because I have a two year old that I’m supposed to watch right now, then I think you need to remember that life is long, you know.

Elsie: Right. Because I’m definitely in the trenches of being a parent right now. And there are so many things that I want to do. But I know that in even just five years, I’ll be able to do them. And right now I need to let go of them.

Emma: Yes. And your girls will not be small in five years, so you should soak it up now unless they’re throwing a tantrum. But no, I’m just kidding. But yeah, life is full of a lot of different seasons and we should try to embrace them. But that is really hard to do and advice that I can not always take myself because I think it takes true wisdom to be able to just roll with the punches like that.

Elsie: I agree. So if you’re feeling down, start planning your second life and then if you still have time, you can plan your third and your fourth and your fifth.

Emma: That’s right!

Elsie: Because you can do as many different pivots as you want to do.

Emma: Yep. And if you’re in your mid-twenties, mid-thirties, mid-forties and you’re like, oh no, it’s too late for me, you’re wrong. You still might have the greatest thing that’s going to happen in your life, the thing that you become known for. You have plenty of time to still do it. So start today. There’s no reason not to or next week. Life is long.

Elsie: Yeah.

Emma: You know?

Elsie: Don’t compare yourself to Harry Styles, OK?

Emma: No, don’t do not compare yourself to Harry Styles, whatever you do.

Elsie: All right. We’re going to do a reader question from Ashley_elsewhere via Instagram. Do you have any tips for first time homebuyers? I’m seeing so many homes, but they all need new flooring, paint and other small renovations. I’ve heard renovations can be hard to finance, and I’m overwhelmed by the work I would need to do right away. Also, any general tips to keep in mind when buying your first home? I love this question!

Emma: Cool!

Elsie: OK. So first of all, Ashley, if you’re considering all new flooring, a small renovation, then you’re my kind of people and we can talk (laughs) because that is it’s a major renovation. Actually, I would say so…

Emma: Can be. Depending on square footage. But yeah.

Elsie: …for flooring. This is my advice. This is my general advice. Feel free to disagree. You can yes, you can get a home equity loan, a small side personal loan. You can get sometimes a construction loan if you’re doing a lot. But I think that the best thing to do is save up and pay for your renovations in cash if you can. I just think it’s better because then I just think it’s the best thing. And if you don’t have that option, then move on to the other options. So with flooring, flooring, things like flooring and windows can be more affordable than you think. So I would get a couple of quotes, get a couple quotes with your first, second and third choice of flooring and just see before you decide that it’s something you definitely can’t afford because you might be able to. And that is a very worthwhile thing to spend money on that people will appreciate when you sell the house.

Emma: Yeah, flooring is a good investment for a house.

Elsie: Yeah. I do think generally as a first time home buyer, the best thing to do is to find a home that you can afford to do renovations with cash. So if that means that you only want to spend five or ten thousand dollars and that probably means you can only do floors or maybe you can do just floors and paint, or maybe you can just replace the countertops in your kitchen and a bathroom or something like that. I wouldn’t choose a house that you think needs all new everything if you don’t already have a renovation budget set back in your bank account, because that can just be emotionally draining to live somewhere that has, you know, gross flooring or something gross that, you know, where you have to get in that moldy shower every day. I wouldn’t do that unless you have to. So find something, where you can afford to do the renovations within a year or two with cash, is my advice. What do you want to say Em?

Emma: Yeah, I mean, I would pretty much say the same thing. It’s always tough because I don’t know what market, Ashley? Her name is Ashley, Right?

Elsie: Yes.

Emma: I don’t know what market Ashley is in and in. That can really make a big difference. But I’ll just quickly say what I did when I bought my first home. So when I bought my first home, I had — I knew what my budget was. I could spend ninety thousand dollars or less. That was my budget in Springfield, Missouri, which, you know, five or six years ago when I bought it, or no, it would have been eight or nine years ago, I’m old (laughs). Then, it was a good budget. Not every market would that work, but just telling you my thing. So I had ninety thousand dollars. I knew I needed three bedrooms, I needed two full bathrooms. One of the bathrooms had to have a bathtub shower combo because my niece was going to live with me and she was two at the time and she was not going to take a shower and I needed a fenced backyard. I couldn’t afford to put a fence in and I had a dog. And other than that, I just wanted to buy the best house I could. I had to have those were my have to have. And then other than that, I had some things I would like to have, would like to have vaulted ceilings. I would like to have all hardwood floors and tile, but, you know, and would like a neighborhood that feels safe to walk in, you know. But, you know, those are all more those were more on my list of like to haves. And then I knew my budget and I found a house based on that. Did it have all my like to haves know? Did it have on my must-haves? Yes. Did it fit my budget? Yes. And so I just think really narrowing that down because, you know, I think when you have that pinboard that’s like this is my dream home, you can get really stuck on. “Well, I’m pretty sure quartz countertops are a must have.” And it’s like, well, maybe, maybe for you, I don’t know. But for me, it wasn’t. In my first home, I had the linoleum countertops for like the first three or four years until I could afford to replace them. That just came with the house. And I just think it really depends on your budget. I don’t know, you know, the market you’re in. So it’s sort of tough to say. But I just really think through the things you must have, the things you would really like and be really mindful of what your budget is.

Elsie: Yeah, another thing I would say is find a house where you can do a lot of things yourself, if that’s something you enjoy doing.

Emma: Painting, everyone can paint.

Elsie: Yeah, on my first houses, yeah, I almost, I did almost just painting and maybe I think on our second house we replaced a kitchen counter. We didn’t really do that much. We like, painted the cabinets that were there and put a new counter on it and called it a new kitchen. You can do that. Like that’s I think that just finding something and being realistic about the level you’re at, like you do not want to rip out a kitchen if you have a five thousand dollar budget for renovating your kitchen just don’t rip it out.

Emma: And you have a very specific plan. Already you know how you’re going to be able to do that.

Elsie: Right.

Emma: Yeah, because that’s pretty, pretty tight. It’s going to be tight budget for a kitchen.

Elsie: Yeah.

Emma: In any market, but in some markets it would be possible. So yeah.

Elsie: So yeah, priorities are great to have and you can always have, you know that next thing that you would do with your house if you got an unexpected bonus or a bigger than expected tax return or you know, something like that.

Emma: Right.

Elsie: Dreams are good too.

Emma: Dreams are great. Yeah.

Elsie: Yeah. Hopefully that helps. Shopping for your first home is a lot of pressure, but I think it makes it easier, like Emma said, to just focus on getting the best house you can for your budget and not thinking too much about a dream house at this point because it might not be your ultimate dream house. And that’s OK.

Emma: Yeah, exactly.

Elsie: Yeah.

Emma: Good luck, Ashley.

Elsie: Yeah good luck! (claps). Thanks so much for listening this week. We love it when you guys share a podcast on Instagram. It’s our number one favorite way that you can support us. So thank you so much. If you do that and even if you don’t, thank you for listening and we love you.

Emma: We appreciate you a ton. Thank you.

Elsie: Very Hillary. (laughs)

Emma: You said I love you. I said we appreciate you a ton.

Elsie: Thank you.

Emma: Nailed it, Emma. (laughs)

 

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  • This is such a wonderful topic. Thanks for posting it. I started my new career at 43, so this resonates with me.

  • Hi there – big fan of your podcast, always something to look forward to on a Monday. Enjoyed your “second life” episode today but by the end was disappointed you only chose (most likely unknowingly) to include examples of white people. I’m a white millennial, and at the beginning of 2020 probably wouldn’t have even noticed – but as i’m actively trying hard to “do the work” to be a better ally – i wanted to bring this to your attention. I assume you chose these examples without realizing the white privileged they all had in common, and that’s a larger issue in itself – and something i have to work on myself, everyday. anyway – maybe you can create a second part, or edit to include a more diverse range of examples. excited to see and hear more from y’all filtered with a more diverse lens. thanks ✨

    • I think that’s a really great comment Dena and I appreciate you leaving it here. I completely agree with you. I would really love to learn more about Black and other POC we could include here. Do you have any stories you’d like to share in the comments?

      • sorry to jump on the thread, but two people who come to mind are:
        1. ava duvernay, who didn’t go to film school or start making movies until she was 32, but is doing incredible work now as a black, female director. in addition to her own works, she is doing so much to amplify female, non-white directors, providing them countless opportunities to direct tv episodes, etc.
        2. joanne chang, who pivoted a little younger, but more dramatically. she went from studying applied math + economics and a career in management consulting to enter the restaurant industry as a cook, and eventually opened up the delightful flour bakery in boston. i love her hazelnut cookie recipe, and have heard veryyyy good things about the sticky buns.

  • I haven’t even started the episode yet but I know I’m gonna cry. I turned 40 this year and am trying to build a freelance video editing business. Part of me is super mad that I didn’t know this was an option or passion for me in my late teens and early twenties. But I’m going to keep doing it no matter what.

    Thank you for making it a normal conversation with no shame or fear attached! 💛

  • Hi!
    I love that you mentioned Julia Childs. Did you know she was also a spy?
    Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls (book) is a podcast too now and they have a wonderful episode about Julia Childs.
    Loving your podcast.
    Courtney

      • Emma I recommend you read Julia Child’s memoir ” My Life in France”. I believe it was co-written with her nephew. It is a pretty interesting read if you enjoy food, writing and traveling.

  • I loved this episode! You need to listen to the History Chicks podcast on Julia Child! She actually worked for the CIA during the war and that’s how she met her husband.

  • Grandma Moses quote “Life is what we make of it. Always has been. Always will be.”

  • “I am now an endless well of The Office trivia thanks to that podcast.” me too! Except my audience is generally my husband… who listens to the podcast with me hahaha

  • Loved this episode and until you mentioned your mom’s story, I didn’t realize my own mom had a mid-life career change! She didn’t finish college when she was in her 20s before kids and marriage, but when she was in her early 40s she chose to go back to college and finished with a math education degree by the time she was 46. Mind you, she did all of that while raising 3 teenage girls by herself. Our dad wasn’t around and she doesn’t have a relationship with her family who were thousands of miles away anyway. She graduated when I was 16 and started her career as a high school math teacher. Before that, she focused on raising me and my 2 sisters while always having some sort of side hustle – we always helped her with her paper route growing up. Such an excellent topic to remind us all that it’s never too late and you’re never too old to start something new.

    BTW – my mom now has her master’s degree which she completed when my sisters and I were in our early 20s.

  • I loved this episode! I changed out of my first career (law) at 28 to go into landscaping; and it is because of stories like what you shared that gave me the guts to do it, and are a reminder that change will inevitably come again, and to stay open to it and where it takes you. Thanks for sharing such a fun stories.

  • This was such a fun episode – I love starting my Mondays with you ladies! 🙂
    ALSO, Elsie, I just watched your new home tour in IGTV and OMG IT’S AMAZING!!! If any house is worth moving twice during a pandemic for, I think it’s this one. I literally squealed at the wine cellar! And basically the whole rest of the house. WOW – what a find!

  • I love this so much!! I’m 36 years old and feel like I’m just now understanding the direction I want the remainder of my life to take. I’m also learning that I can still be thankful and love all the years prior. They are lessons learned, still full of great memories and much to be thankful for. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!!

  • Yes! I cannot WAIT to listen to this. I am totally in the starting-a-completely-new-career-at-40 boat. While I have found it super challenging to go from being employed for over 20 years in both the retail and HR industries (with a super structured schedule) to being a self-employed contractor where your success is almost literally in your own hands, it has also been very rewarding in so many ways and am so thankful I took the leap. I’m bringing YOLO back!

  • I have several of Grandma Moses’ fabrics that were printed back in the 30’s or 40’s. I bought them as drapery panels online.
    Each one is of a different season and I’ve made table runners out of them. Love them year ’round!!

  • Thank you so much for doing this episode! It was exactly what I needed to hear!

  • I am so enjoying your podcast. This specific episode is so wonderful and inspiring. I loved the folks you shared. I did want to share the following podcast: Great Women, the episode about Julia Child is great! https://www.parcast.com/business.
    Thanks for sharing with us.

  • Ladies if you are interested in folk art check out Maud Lewis.
    Love blog and podcast. You are my happy place

  • Listened to this episode today and had a giggle at the start when you wondered if you had any young listeners – I’m 22! So I found this episode such an inspiration. I stumbled upon the blog about nine years ago when I was an awkward teen and have loved it since!

  • Loved this episode and HIGHLY recommend reading/listening to “My Life in France”! It’s absolutely charming and such good inspiration for this moment where life feels like it’s holding it’s breath. Her joie de vivre and courage are infectious. 💛

  • Hi! This is Juliana from Argentina. I just wanted to let you know that I LOVE your podcast and if you don’t mind, I’ll tell you a little bit about my career change: I went from studying chemistry at university, to changing majors to study English translation. I’ve been a professional translator for 10+ years and then I became a mom and learnt about people called “Puericultora” (breasfeeding consultant basically). I needed the help of one of them and I received so much love from her that inspired by her, I began investigating and now that my daughter is 2, I started studying to become one! I will graduate by the end of next year (when I’ll be 38). It surely never is too late to change careers! Love your blog!

  • That’s such a great and spiring topic! Thank you, I didn’t know GrandMa moses (french reader here), I LOVE a work!!

  • In discussing the movie Julie & Julia you left out the best part—the fact that they’re played by Amy Adams & Meryl Streep!!

    I’m really enjoying this podcast. I look forward to it every week!

  • hi guys! i just wanted to say that i really appreciate this episode? i was really nice to hear overall. i’m 21 and i’m having a bit of ‘end of college’ crisis where i’m not sure if my entire career up until this point has been a joke lol. i was an english writing major and while i love writing i’m realizing i have a lot of feelings for illustration that i’ve been quenching because i didn’t view myself as artistic enough. this episode gave me hope that maybe i can still find a career in art if i want to. :’)

  • I loved this topic, it’s so inspiring! My uncle (now retired) started his career as a farmer in the midwest. Then he went on to practice corporate law (after studying at Harvard), then made the switch to serving as a Lutheran pastor. He says he loved each stage!

  • This was so encouraging ladies! I lost my job of 13 years back in June which has been a rough adjustment, but now I have time to work on my art full time which is what I have wanted for so long! I’m 42 and it feels like time for a shift. Here’s to new things!

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