{My Story} Resolutions of a newly-minted (FOF) bartender

[Editor’s note: The essay below, by FOF Cheryl Rich Heisler, is part of a series of personal blogs from our readers. Have your own story to tell? Email your “What I Know Now” idea to geri@faboverfifty.com.]


By profession, I am the president and founder of a career consulting business for attorneys frustrated by their traditional career options. By formal education, I am one of those self-same attorneys.  But, by avocation, I am what I perhaps should have always been—a mixologist.


As a career consultant, I get a great deal of satisfaction helping people uncover their passions. But this past year, I decided I hadn’t realized one of my own lifelong passions–becoming an expert at making cocktails. I have poignant memories of heart-to-heart talks with my Dad over the tops of chilled martini glasses, and I get a wicked kick out of mixing and matching libations of all flavors and colors to create something new, different and kind-of clever.

However, giving up my day job to pursue this passion wasn’t a sacrifice I was willing to make. As an FOF, I realized you can have your cocktail and drink it too. While I continued my career consulting business–meeting clients in the mornings and in the afternoons–I studied for my mixology license. I love the reaction I get when I tell people I passed a second “Bar” exam. It was one of my major highlights of 2011.

But now it is 2012: how will each of us expand our horizons over the year ahead?

The lawyer in me suggests prudence:  plan better, save more.

The career coach in me says add more play, uncover a new passion, take those horseback riding lessons I’ve been thinking about.

And the bartender in me? She says lighten up, life is short.  Have a drink.  Toast to health and happiness and all the unpredictable, wonderful surprises that a New Year can bring.

Start the New Year off right with this refreshingly sweet n’ spicy cocktail shot:

{My Story} Only when this FOF retired, did she find her dream job.

[Editor’s note: The essay below, by FOF Linda Lindsay, is part of a series of personal blogs from our readers. Have your own story to tell? Email your idea to geri@faboverfifty.com.]

I’ve been called the ‘accidental vintner.’

Never in a million years did I think I’d end up in the wine industry, a predominantly male business. Instead, I spent most of my life as a realtor, selling houses in and around Southwest Portland.

On the weekends in the 80s, my husband and a group of our friends would visit another friend’s gorgeous property in McMinnville, Oregon, about 35 miles southwest of Portland. It was beautiful, pristine and private–one of those special places you visit to escape the hustle and bustle of your daily life.

The Oregon wine industry was in it’s infancy, and we thought, ‘hey, maybe we could grow grapes here.’ So, each weekend we started planting vines and before we knew it, we had created a vineyard.

In the early 90s, my husband and I began our search for a retirement home with more property. We looked high and low, and even as a realtor, I couldn’t find anything just right. Then, in 1996 our friend told us he was looking to sell his McMinnville property, thinking we might buy it. We did. We built our home there and along the way, bought another vineyard. We named them Stone Wolf Vineyards, a compromise between our two favorite name ideas, Stone Bridge and Little Wolf.

Since we purchased the property, I’ve spent my days running the vineyard and producing, marketing and selling wine. Living among the vines is romantic, but it’s a lot of hard work too. Your partner is Mother Nature who can be unpredictable. Plus, the competition is fierce. But, we’ve been lucky–we sell every drop we make. Despite the recession, we’ve grown our business to include three labels–Rascal, Stone Wolf, and Lindsay Cellar and are the first winemaker in the U.S. to offer wine in a fully-recyclable keg. Our wine has won many prestigious awards.

The wine industry is still male dominated, but there’s increasingly more and more women at the helm. I’m not treated any different because I’m a woman. I’m one of them. A few years ago, I released a ‘matriarch series,’ of wine, a tribute to mothers and grandmothers. That label rocked.

I still have my real estate license and do a couple deals a year–mostly dealing with vineyard acquisitions. I can’t give it up.

It’s funny, years ago I was a realtor searching high and low for a great retirement home. Now, I own the best real estate on the planet, and maybe I’m not “retired” in the traditional sense, but I love what I do. I’m getting ready to go into my 16th vintage and this year, we’ll produce about 35,000 cases of wine. I’m Queen of the Vineyard.

{Survey} What are FOFs up to 9 to 5?

Boardroom or boredom? Job-hopper or loyal as a dog? Retiring or reinventing? Answer this anonymous career survey, then find out about the work lives of other FOFs.

Which best describes your current employment status?

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If you are working, how much do you typically make in year?

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Do you financially support your husband or partner?

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If you’re working, what best describes your employer?

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Which best describes your job transitioning behavior?

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At what age were you most satisfied with your career?

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What best describes your attitude towards retirement?

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Which (if any) posed the biggest challenge to your career ambitions?

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If you had kids, how did motherhood affect your career?

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If you have grown children, do you have to work to support them?

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Were you forced to go back to work by any of the following reasons?

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How has the current economic downturn affected your career?

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Do you have any regrets about the career path you’ve chosen?

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If you could go back, would you spend more or less time worrying about your career?

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{Giveaway} Knitting Project Kit: Reversible Cable Cowl

FOF Linda Morse is giving away a knitting kit from her store String NY. It includes a pattern and all the luscious, 100% Italian cashmere yarn you need to make this chic, reversible cable cowl. Don’t know how to knit? Linda will have one of her master-knitters hand stitch the cowl for you instead. A $128 value!

String NY is the “best knitting store in the world,” according to FabOverFifty.com founder, Geri. Located in New York City and online, String has a mind-blowing selection of luxe cashmere yarn and exclusive “String Originals,” patterns created by in-house designer Lidia Karabinech (who formerly headed up the black label designs of Donna Karan and Ellen Tracy).

To enter, check out the color options, then comment below and answer: Which color would you knit or wear? (See all our past winners, here.)

Contest closes October 21, 2010.

Thank you for entering. This contest is now closed.

{Giveaway} Win Nostalgic Necklaces!

In June, FOF Debra Bachelder won an FOF business makeover with leading career coach, Jeff Williams. She’s successfully launched her jewelry company DFB City Street Gems which she continues to grow with Jeff’s help.

Now, she’s offering two lucky FOFs a chance to win nostalgic necklaces from her collection, which is inspired by found objects from her childhood.

To enter, comment below and tell us: Which necklace do you like and why? Then, read on to learn about Debra’s business makeover.

Thank you for entering. This contest is now closed.

For over thirty years, 53-year-old Debra Bachelder has been involved in various art ventures; she worked as a Wall Street graphic designer, ran a Southwest/Asian-inspired jewelry line called Fiesta and leads art programs for different at-risk populations.

“I always came back to making stuff,” says Debra. “I’m originally from New York and moved to a small town in Ohio. After 14 years, I was still homesick. I needed a way to cope.”

She began making pieces using items one might find on the streets of New York: bottle caps, coins, watch parts and charms.

“I started wiring it all together and wearing it. Next thing I knew, I was taking orders.”

“Debra came to me probably a month and a half into starting her business,” said Jeff. “She already had a name for the company, a legal agreement, suppliers, and a preliminary business plan. She’s very savvy but she needed help with the tactical stuff. As a lot of entrepreneurs do, she felt very overwhelmed.

What they worked on:

For more information about DFB City Street Gems, e-mail Debra at: workitout@redbird.net (and put “FOF” in the subject line).

Enter to win one of Debra’s Street Gems™ necklaces by commenting below and telling us: Which of the two necklaces would you choose, and why?

{Poll} Which FOF celeb had the best career comeback?

FOF Betty White
is best known as Rose from the Golden Girls, an 80s sitcom. She soared to fame again this past March, when 500,000 die-hard fans on Facebook nominated her to host Saturday Night Live. At age 88, she became the oldest host to appear on the show. “I’m having the time of my life. I’ve never been this busy… At 88 years old you don’t expect that to happen!” she said in an interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer.

We thought 52-year-old FOF Ellen DeGeneres was down for the count when her prime-time sitcom “Ellen” was unceremoniously canceled in 1998 after she came out as a lesbian and show ratings tanked.  Yet, in 2003 she made a career comeback with her daytime talk show “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” that featured its 1000th episode in 2009 and has made “Ellen” a household name.

FOF Jennifer Grey
is best known as Frances “Baby” Houseman from the 1987 movie Dirty Dancing. Health complications due to a 1987 car accident and thyroid cancer sidelined her for nearly two decades. Now she’s back, as a contestant on this season of Dancing With the Stars and will guest-star on an Oct. 18th episode of the Fox drama House. “This is like eating a delicious steak after 23 years of fasting,” she recently said in a People magazine interview.

Which FOF celeb do you think had the best career comeback? Answer our poll then comment below.

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

Images via Inside Pulse, TV by the Numbers, and Celebrity Wonder

{Food} 3 FOF Fantasy Food Careers

Every food-lover has had her career fantasy: caterer, vintner, cookie-maker extraordinaire. Meet 3 FOFs who took the plunge and made their culinary passions their . . . work. Is the reality of owning a fantasy food business really a dream come true? 3 FOFs dish it out.

FOF Kathleen White, Age 56
Owner of Speechless Cakes, a goat cheesecake bakery

Goat cheesecake!? How did you get into that?
Well…. I love goat cheese, I thought, what to do with goat’s milk? Why not cheesecake? I changed the recipe a lot, gave slices to my friends. Everyone loved it. Who knew?

What did you do before you started Speechless Cakes?
I was a professional dancer for 25 years in Los Angeles and New York. I did Broadway, print and commercial television work. In 1990, my life changed forever. I was exposed to Viral Meningo-Encephalitis; a debilitating illness. I slipped into an eleven-day coma. The result of the illness: I have trouble speaking. As part of my rehabilitation, my doctor recommended I go back to grad school. I moved to Healdsburg in Sonoma Valley, near to San Jose State, where I pursued a Masters in theatre arts. The town is known for its food, wine, friends and scenery. The folks in town let me in, and I made many friends. It was the perfect place to start Speechless Cakes.

Wow…amazing story. What have been the biggest obstacles?
I was not a business person… I was a professional dancer. I went to the Economic Development Coordinator in the City of Healdsburg. He helped me with the jargon that I didn’t know. He helped me analyze my plan’s S.W.O.T. (Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats). I learned if you want to apply for loans or a grant, you must have a business plan.

Any advice for women starting their own fantasy food careers?
If you love food….do it! Start small. Work the farmer’s market or restaurants in town. I have 7″ cakes, 4″ cakes and goat bites. That’s all. And don’t forget the business plan.

FOF Carole Peck, Age 57
Owner of Carole Peck’s Provence Culinary Tours and Good News Cafe in Woodbury, CT

How did you get into culinary tours?
My husband is French so we took annual treks to France. Fourteen years ago, we had a choice… put a pool into our house in Connecticut or buy a home in France. So we bought a house in Provence and I fell in love with France. I wanted to show people what I saw and teach them to cook, so I started giving tours. We give 4 tours to about ten or eleven people each year. We show them the Marché, restaurants, and we lead honey, cheese, olive and cooking classes.

What prepared you for this “dream job”?
When I was 15, I was a cook at Howard Johnson. Then I went to the Culinary Institute of America. I was one of the first women to train there. When I got out of culinary school everyone wanted me to work the pantry. They didn’t believe I could work the hot side of the kitchen. I was strong willed and carried on. I’ve owned Good News restaurant for 17 years. I’m used to being a leader. Being a chef prepares you to handle people and tell them what to do.

Your job sounds like a dream… Is it as amazing? Or just a lot of hard work?
I definitely enjoy what I do or I wouldn’t have done it for so long. I meet interesting people from all over; some have become good friends. But you can’t go in thinking just because you like to entertain you’re going to love this. There’s more to it: organization, cleaning, prepping. You are responsible for 8-10 people for a whole week. People say, “This is so much work for you!” For me, it doesn’t feel like work. If you’ve owned a restaurant, it’s like a vacation.

FOF Barbara Beery, Age 55
Owner of Batter Up Kids! and children’s cookbook author

How did you start teaching kids cooking classes?
I was teaching preschool and money was tight. I was racking my brain for other sources of income. A friend said to me, “You always teach cooking to your own kids and to mine. You should make a business of it.” I started teaching 1-2 classes per week. It snowballed. I went through several years teaching preschool five days per week, cooking classes in the afternoon and birthday parties on the weekends. My life was rich, let me put it that way.

Now you are considered an expert in kids cooking and consulting for Uncle Ben’s Rice, Kellogg’s and Sun-Maid Raisins. What was the turning point?
I started writing kids cook books. My third book, The Pink Princess Cookbook put me on the map. It has sold 600,000 copies and has increased my visibility and credbility.

What advice would you give to other women interested in starting a dream culinary business like yours?
Dream big but start small. Little mistakes are easier to fix than large ones. I have done both. Most of my friends say, “Why in the world, at this point in your life, would you do this?” And I say, “Why would I retire?” This is a great time for me. But everyone is different. When you love something, it doesn’t always seem like work.