A little while ago I published a post called Reached A Cross Roads In Your Life? I had a number of emails from readers sharing their stories with me, and many were truly amazing journeys in Life. So, I wanted to share George and Brenda’s story because I feel their story encapsulates peoples ability to change in times of need.
Who Are George And Brenda?
I’ve known George and Brenda for a quite a while now. They live in Canada and have experienced one of the most stressful life events one can go through in their 50s – they had to close their business. The pair had owned and operated a small town local weekly community newspaper in Princeton, British Columbia.
There were not many independent newspapers left in Western Canada when they took over ownership of the Similkameen News Leader in February 2004 and there was a lot of hard work involved but the paper did fairly well for a number of years.
After 3 Years Of Intense Struggle, They Were Forced To Close The Paper
A changing economic climate and movement in the newspaper industry coming from the internet and other digital news delivery methods hit the paper hard. While George was certain it was just a temporary setback, the paper did not recover and after three years of intense struggle, they chose to close their business.
July 26, 2016 Was The Last Issue Printed
Their last issue was published July 26, 2016. The final eight issues were designed to be Collector’s Issues with historic snapshots and memories from the early years of the News Leader telling and retelling the history of both the business and the community as a way to end their tenure on a positive note.
“I was tempted to just be quiet and then put a small good-bye in the final issue and be done with it,” George explains. “Then the marketing guy inside me saw an opportunity to turn the sad reality of our demise into a mini celebration of the contributions we and others had made when we were documenting the history of the region.” The final eight issues became collectables as he suspected and the editorial content served an additional purpose.
“It allowed Brenda and I, along with our faithful and loyal readers the chance to get comfortable with the idea that this was coming to an end. I think it may have helped me most, but I know it was something we had to do as anything less would have been cheating our supporters. Or at least that’s how I saw it and I wasn’t comfortable with ending it all that way.”
But what were they going to do once their primary source of income had gone?
Both George and Brenda had a couple of interesting hobbies that were generating a bit of extra income on the side. What they didn’t know at the time was that the solutions to their problem were already established and functioning.
Brenda had started a specialty home canning line of products in her kitchen quite by accident. During the spring of 2013 someone had raided her rhubarb patch.
The following spring she got to it first and with a huge crop of rhubarb stalks started creating various products to use up the fruit.
JamBusters Was Born
She was encouraged to try selling some of her Gingered-Citrus Rhubarb Jam at a local market. Response was incredible so she kept creating products until she picked a theme for the main line of items being sold under the JamBusters! brand name.You can view JamBusters Facebook page here
The theme was ‘heat’ and the source of heat used was hot peppers. Brenda accessed sources near their home in the Similkameen Valley and started selling out of some of her more unusual but tasty products. One such item was named Hellish Relish which used pears and habaneros in the recipe.
The Signature Relish: Hellish Relish!
By the fall of 2014 Brenda entered her signature product in the Hot Sauce Contest at Canada’s only Hot Pepper Festival in nearby Keremeos, BC known as Similkameen Sizzle.
Hellish Relish won two awards – the 2014 Best Specialty and the 2014 Best Overall. She started selling JamBusters! products in the storefront of their newspaper office and creating an ongoing string of new products using unique and unusual combinations of fruit and peppers.
What George Did Next….
In January of 2014 George started a small freelance writing business, Looseink Ninja out of their home. He had been writing all his life and saw this as a fun hobby that could possibly assist them when business was light at the newspaper.
He started picking up a number of small jobs online which led to repeat business, a handful of ongoing writing contracts and a growing business opportunity that was showing signs of major growth.
Writing Was looking Like A Nice Semi Retirement Sideline…
“After my first year of writing freelance I thought it could turn into a nice little semi-retirement job if I was still interested in it by the time I started seriously thinking about retiring,” George says.
Business for both Brenda and George started looking very promising but it had nothing to do with the newspaper at all. In May 2016 they decided to close the paper and look at the two sideline projects they had been working on for the past two years as potential new sources of income.
George Started Writing eBooks
“We were really just trying to make lemonade as things got difficult with the paper without realizing we already had the lemons sitting there waiting,” George explains. In the meantime he wrote and published four eBooks. He also had a half dozen regular freelance clients with another four regular customers giving him enough work that switching to full time writing looked a lot more plausible that it did originally.
He has written a 4 eBooks as mentioned above, however one of his more interesting projects which has taken off is his eBook on Bugs and why they make a great alternative to traditional sources of protein! As we know, many cultures eat bugs of all sorts from spiders to worms….
In particular he looks at crickets, mealworms and ants and goes into great details on the benefits, how to farm these bugs and recipes. You can read more at his site Eat Bugs, plus buy his eBook on Amazon.
Greek Cold Pasta Salad Anyone?
A little while ago a manufacturer of cricket flour from Thailand found Georges eBook on Amazon and reached out to him.
The manufacturer was keen to send over their cricket flour for George and Brenda to turn into a delicious pasta dish. Yes, I can hear some of you saying there is no way would I eat that! George says you would never know the pasta was made from ground up crickets.
Cricket Pasta Salad Taste Test Video:
Dry Roasted Cricket Recipe
This is for Dry Roasted Crickets, which is a common and simple recipe.
Bag the live crickets you intend to use in this recipe and place in a freezer. This is essential as you must use live frozen crickets in any recipe. Dead crickets change rapidly and are not palatable due to the postmortem transformation.
Just before cooking, remove the bag of frozen crickets and arrange them on a cookie sheet. In a pre-heated oven (200F) place the cookie sheet and allow the crickets to bake slowly. Monitor them frequently.
They will be ready when you can remove one from the cookie sheet and crush it between two fingers. Careful not to burn the crickets as you want them to be slowly roasted.
Once roasting has completed, remove from oven. Place the roasted crickets into a paper bag and add seasoning. Shake the bag to completely coat the roasted crickets. The shaking also removes antennae and other parts of the insect.
Crickets have a slightly nutty flavour so consider this when choosing a seasoning. The seasoned, roasted crickets can be eaten as they are, added to salads or ground up and mixed with white flour to create a protein substitute.
What Else has George Written?
I love the rather eccentric nature of Georges writings….he ranges far and wide in his book topics! Remember, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
DailyDevitionalEBook is a one-year collection of daily devotional readings using stories from my past and present to tie to a Bible verse and lesson from each.
While they may sound rather formal, daily scripture devotionals are enjoyed informally by Christians on a regular basis. Daily devotional books are simply publications either printed or available online or digitally that are meant for use for each calendar day.
The content of a daily devotional 365 program is essentially a spiritual reading with a message or series of messages to continue for a complete year.
Surviving Midlife Career Changes
Midlife Career Changes is a look at how anyone over 50 can find work, re-enter the workforce or change careers in a few easy steps. I use my story as the basis of the lessons shared in this guide.
Changes to the industry you work in are taking place thanks to new technology and your business has been suffering. You decide the best thing to do is shut the doors for good.
Now what are you going to do? You are in your mid-50’s and unemployed.
eBooks And JamBusters Have Became A Full Time Rewarding Life Path
The summer of 2016 was spent vending JamBusters! products out-of-town in nearby communities on weekends and meeting with tremendous success while freelance writing continued to build. Just to be sure things weren’t a fluke two years before, Brenda entered two different items in the Hot Sauce Contest at the Similkameen Sizzle pepper festival that September.
Her Grim Heater Salsa won Best Salsa and her Red Hot Pepper Jelly took Best Hot Jelly. Their vending booth on site was one of the busiest and they sold out of many products during the event.
Now the pair are working full time on their once hobbies and making a go of it.
“I’m just about as busy now as I was when I had the paper,” George says. “Only the stress is gone and we are having a lot of fun with what we are concentrating on these days.” He says he hasn’t really had a lot of time to think about whether or not he misses the newspaper. “We ended it on a high note and I am glad we did,” he adds, “I think that’s what has given me peace about ending that chapter and made the transition into this new chapter so much smoother and easier than I thought it would be.”
Here is George in one of his favorite sports: planking:)
You find George online his Facebook Page is https://www.facebook.com/looseink
How Eat Bugs And Hellish Rellish Turned Our Lives Around Conclusion
Yes, life throws us curve balls and it can be confronting can’t it. We all have the capacity to change and discover we are far more capable than we think we are… Brenda and George are wonderful examples of adapting to change and creating a new life for themselves is proving to be far more interesting. And George can keep up with his planking:) Please feel free to chat with them through their facebook pages, They are both so inspiring!