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Starting a new career at age 56 is crazy...but I did it!

What the heck was I thinking?  I must have lost my mind.  
Starting over at age 56 was not what I was expecting but it has been wonderful.  
Let me tell you about it. 
I have worried for months about how transparent I should be with this blog post.  In the end, I decided on complete honesty because I have nothing to hide and nothing to be embarrassed about.  
And, honesty is always best, right?
For the last several years, running an online business has been HARD.  Even saying it's been hard feels like a gigantic understatement.  During the pandemic, I needed to concentrate on making sure my kids were cared for and my husband was safe.  My husband is a plumber and didn't miss a day of work during lockdown. It was...a lot.  You went through it too so you know.  Making jewelry seemed almost offensive.  Millions of people were dying, the news was beyond grim and making pretty things was the last thing I wanted to do.  At the same time, it seemed like everyone in the world thought it was an awesome time to start a side hustle and start selling their stuff online.  Social media was inundated with makers trying to sell to you, many of whom understood platforms like TikTok and Instagram WAY better than us old gals.  Needless to say, I got lost in the shuffle.
My kids went back to school, everything was expensive as hell, people were still unsettled and afraid.  I tried and tried to gain back the momentum I had in 2019 but nothing I did worked.
It seemed like everything had changed and I got left behind.
At this same time it became blatantly obvious that my daughter wanted to go to a college I wasn't sure we could afford.  (The absolutely unrealistic cost of higher ed should be another blog post in the future) Jewelry wasn't selling so mama needed a job.  But, who will hire a 56 year old woman who had been an at home mom and jewelry designer for the last TWENTY years?  Nobody, that's who.  
Nobody....unti I got a text message from one of my best friends.
 That text changed my life.
A text message between two people showing a job opportunity and supportive message
So here I am, the new K-8 art teacher at a private school about five blocks from my house.  It's been a HUGE transition.  I still wake up most mornings and cannot believe I'm doing this.  I have never taught kids before, never taught art and let me tell you....middle school kids are terrifying.  And elementary kids are adorable but, whew, they are A LOT.
I must hear "Mrs. Hartley" about 400 times a day.
It has almost broken my brain. 
In the beginning I was completely overwhelmed.  I had friends and family who were so encouraging.  The principal and assistant principal at my school have been so supportive and let me figure things out my own way.  My teacher mentor has answered every ridiculous question I have had...including "when am I going to stop being so tired?" know the answer to that.  It was "never". 
But this year I have watched my 400 kids gain confidence, learn to trust their decisions and try new things even when they were afraid.  I am trying to teach them that their mistakes are opportunities and if they don't try, they can't get better.  It's been really rewarding and very sweet.  Kindergartener hugs are a big perk of the job. (I've also been sick with a cold since October, which is another thing the littles gave me.)
Looking over the shoulder of a child painting a self portrait
I suppose this all needs to come to a point.  If you had told me 10 years ago I'd be teaching elementary and middle school art...I'd have laughed and laughed and laughed.  In some ways, I still think it's ridiculous.  Me?  Teaching?  Kids?  It's crazy.  But I'm doing it.  And the kids are learning and I think they are starting to trust me.  What I'm trying to say is maybe don't put yourself in a box.  No matter how old you are.  Or how inexperienced you are.  Or how crazy it sounds.  Sometimes it's worth taking a gigantic leap.  Sometimes you'll fail and that's ok.  
Mistakes are opportunities after all.  
But sometimes you will win and win big.
A poster that says "welcome to seton" with cut out children's handprints 
I'm not done with jewelry.  I finally feel able to get back in the studio.  My body has adjusted to standing all day and the rigors of teaching.  My studio has been calling me as a place where my brain can empty and relax.  
Expect more posts on instagram and more new work.  
Progress will be slow at first but I finally feel like I'm back.  


  • Well done
    We love you & are proud of you
    Thank you & keep up the good work

  • Proud of you for reaching out and teaching children art. Public schools cut funding for the arts. The last five years as an educator in public schools has been tumultuous. I am in year 35 as an educator. I believe in the arts and continue to integrate at all times. Sending love, hugs, and energy your way! You are empowering our youth!

  • Oh my gosh. I’m going to have to digest this one. I’m in that same boat where my retired airline pilot husband is working part time just to keep hands busy and I’m doing the work of keeping a small house running with zero art income anymore. Guilty is the best word I’ve heard. Do I take a job and not be available to handle daily appointments and ‘stuff’ or do I keep plugging away at the non-selling art and bring home zero income. At this point it isn’t even income – it’s break even. I’m kind of comforted that it’s the same struggle :: lynn

  • Arts education is more important than ever in this confusing world… skills empower kids and grown ups way more than screens. Sometimes a door opens and it’s time to walk through.


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