Updated: Jul 8, 2022
You’re never too old to start something new, in fact, what I am finding in my “second half” of life is that mature soil produces the best fruit!
In 2015, my husband planted a 7-acre vineyard on our farm in central Texas. No, he is not a farmer by trade, but he had been nurturing a dream of growing grapes and making wine since we first visited Napa Valley in 2006. So, after finding and purchasing a “weekend retreat” within a two-hour drive from our home, he set out to fulfill that vision.
Now, six years later, our vineyard is thriving, and I’ve set out on my own journey to fulfill a dream, having learned some valuable lessons about preparation and perseverance through our foray into vineyard management that are so important, especially for those of us who are motivated either by choice or circumstance to start over later in life.
Pursue the Dream
After leaving a 20-year career in education, I knew it was time to pursue a dream of my own to do something different. It was very clear to me that education wasn’t a path I wished to pursue any further. I wanted to do something that would allow me to use the skills I had been honing for over two decades in a new and fresh way. You see, I’m a worker. My nature isn’t to sit back and take it easy, so I knew that my retirement from teaching wasn’t really a retirement, it was a course change. Just because many of my peers were riding off into the sunset of traditional retirement, didn’t mean that I had to hang up my “working” shoes.
No matter your age or circumstances, pursuing your dreams is essential to a healthy and happy life. There is no age limit on vision-casting. In fact, I think the best time to strike out on a new path is after you have had a few decades of experience walking down the road of life. My perspective on time management and my work habits are so much better at 53 than they were at 23.
Prepare the Soil
The first step in planting our vineyard was preparing the soil. The spot we chose had the right type of dirt to support vines, but it lacked some nutrients that would be needed to help the plants take root and get their best start. So, the first year was spent growing cover crops that would add essential minerals to the soil. Reflecting on this process was important for me because when I realized that fulfilling my dream would be helping my oldest daughter launch a digital media consulting business, I applied this principle.
A lot of what I am doing in my new role uses the skills that I had already acquired and perfected in my previous career. Creating processes and systems, writing, creating strategy, and communicating both interpersonally and through digital messaging are standard traits in the field of education. Marketing, social media management, metrics…these were areas that were new to me. I knew creating a foundation for myself in those fields would not only help me personally, but would benefit our fledgling business because I would be able to contribute more fully. So, at the age of 52, I went back to school, and in May of 2023, I will have earned an M.A in Strategic Communications. I’m also listening to podcasts, reading books, and soaking up knowledge that is adding the necessary nutrients my already good soil needs to help build stronger roots in this new career field.
Plant the Seed
Perhaps the most important part of any cultivation process is the planting of seeds. We all know that the seed contains all the necessary parts for life. It is the pod of potential that when placed in the right environment becomes the fullness of our dreams.
Gatewood Estate Vineyards started as a seed, planted through the conversations, encouragement and contribution of many who spurred my husband on to persevere and pursue his dream. My dream of starting a new career, started as a seed planted by those in my life who believed and encouraged me. I also continue to be inspired and spurred on by the stories of other people who have stepped out in courage to cultivate a dream later in life, like Michael-Alexis founder, Anne-Marie Kendra, restaurant critic, Nina Zagat, and designer, Vera Wang.
By setting the example to pursue a dream, no matter my age or circumstances, my greatest hope is that I too can plant a seed that over time will grow to inspire others.