The End of an Era

When I look back on my life, I see blocks of years.

There was the silly, somewhat gawky girl in school who was everybody’s buddy. School was fun and not taken nearly as seriously as it should have been.

Later came a block of years where working for a large music distributor brought about a more confident young woman who met musicians and was on the receiving end of some very cool swag and a ton of fun.

That lifestyle was set aside, and an athlete appeared in the new block of years. Racquetball, Imagesoftball, and bowling filled the spaces between work and sleep.

Climbing the corporate ladder eventually replaced sports, and the fast-paced world of decision-making, advertising, brainstorming, and training filled nearly every waking minute of every day.

Marriage and a little boy who needed his mommy brought it all to a screeching halt, and a new block emerged.

Deciding to homeschool our son was a big decision, and I went from the boardroom to the schoolroom. A five-year-old became the person I conversed with most. I traded suits and heels for jeans and tennis shoes. I became a kid again.

A few years later, we bought a computer. We were on the internet. We found eBay! Our home business was born.

We started traveling all over NE Ohio to library book sales where we purchased used children’s books for resale on our own website and on eBay. eBay was in its infancy, and you could see all of the books for sale, in all genres, on just a page or two. Today, there are over one million books for sale on eBay.

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Our living room when it was full of industrial shelves and books.

For sixteen years, we’ve shopped, we’ve sold, we’ve packed, and we’ve hauled heavy boxes of books to the post office. It has been worth it, but it’s been harder work than you might think. I’ve often thought I needed to quit because the heavy lifting is taking such a toll on my back and arms.

Two weeks ago, I was working on an update to our site by adding another 400 books to the pages. I was looking forward to the income an update would generate, but I was not looking forward to pulling orders and packing boxes.

Before I was finished with the typing, an email arrived from a family who was placing an order for 135 books already listed on the site. Rich came home from work the next day while I was pulling the order. When I told him about it, he asked, “Why don’t you make her an offer to buy all of your inventory, and then you can finally be done with book selling?”

Really? Was he serious?

We estimated the number of boxes and the weight to ship everything at once, and then he checked shipping quotes. I sent an email back to her with an offer she couldn’t refuse, and she didn’t!

So now we are in the process of packing for the last time. We’ll take all of the boxes to Rich’s work where they will be put on a pallet, wrapped, and shipped across the country.

I am so excited to rid my house of boxes, styrofoam peanuts, packing material, tape, and paperwork! My bookshelves will once again hold my hardcover books. The kitchen table won’t be stacked sky high with books. We will no longer be walking around stacks of books on the floor. Our house will be a home again.

Now that our son is moved out and on his own, and now that my used book business will soon be shipped out of my life, and with only one Susan Hunter book left to write … I can’t help but wonder what the next block of years will bring.

Maybe I should buy a Harley.

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103 thoughts on “The End of an Era

  1. Congratulations on entering another phase, or “block” as you said. I see good things ahead for you as you seek and find new adventures. Enjoy every minute and look back on those other blocks with pride and a sense of accomplishment. 🙂

    • Thank you, Julie. I will.

      I think this will definitely remove some “nagging-in-the-back-of-my-mind” stress. Seeing these books all over the house always makes me feel guilty when I’m not working on them. I’d much rather be writing books than selling them anyway.

      Phases are for moons. 😉

  2. A pink Harley looks good. 😉 I hope the next block of your life still deals with writing. I would hate for you to give it up. But what ever you decide may love and light follow you always my friend! ((hugs))

    • I do think the next part of my life will involve writing, Jackie. At least for a while. I owe it to myself to try a few more things before I make a firm decision on writing or moving on to something else. Thank you for the well-wishes. Hugs to you, too!

  3. A new chapter in one’s life is always an adventure. While reading this post I thought about an idea for your next series of novels: a used book dealer who is also an amateur, but good, detective who starts off each case based on items (written notes on pages, pieces of paper, other items) she finds “Between the Covers.” 🙂

    • Oh, Steven! That is a very clever idea. The stories would have to include some of the adventures at the book sales, too. Some of those people were cutthroat, and there was more than one fight at a book sale. A dead body under a book table would not surprise anyone. 😉

      The funny thing is that In all our years of buying books, I never found anything inside a book other than a bookmark or a pressed flower. Probably because they were kid’s books.

      • You have memories of the book sales, and even a pressed flower – a very rare flower, I’m sure– would be something to build upon. Shame you did not deal in rare sheet music, ‘Between the Sheets’ would garnish a ton of hits on WordPress.

    • I love being out on the motorcycle. I never thought I would enjoy it as much as I do, and I can’t believe I waited so many years to go with Rich. A blistering hot day, good music on my mp3 player, and a ride on back roads through Amish country. It’s amazing! My own Harley was a tad tongue-in-cheek, because I’m really too afraid to ride on my own. 🙂

  4. The pink Harley is so you. I could picture you whipping down the street with a matching pink helmet.
    Even if Susan retires, don’t let Maddie the writer retire! I think it’s your calling. I’m sure many of your friends, fans, and readers here would agree. 😉

    • I have a pink jacket that would be awesome, too! 🙂

      I’ll definitely keep writing for a while. It will turn into something that I simply can’t stop doing because I will have come to love it, or I will see a need to move on to something else. But I’ll definitely keep writing and see where it goes.

      Thank you, DD. xoxoxoxoxo

  5. Your book selling business sounds like madness, but your life sounds like a lot of fun. Congrats on getting them out of your house, and as a buyer of used books (albeit not children’s) I am grateful for the people who sell them, even if they occasionally reek of cheap patchouli (aka: dirty hippie) instead of sun-baked paperback.

    • I have definitely had an interesting life. I’ve pitched many a book for odor problems that couldn’t be aired out. One of the best things about owning a Nook was being able to download so many public domain books. I used to practically cheer when I would find the books at sales (they were worth $$), and now they are free! Amazing!

  6. Onward and upward to your new adventure! I’ve always wanted to join a motorcycle gang, as long as I got a pink leather jacket and matching pink bike (probably a Vespa at my age…) Best of luck to you in this new phase of your life.

  7. How exciting to have the opportunity to start the next adventure. Hope you enjoy considering the options and trying something wonderfully new. The Harley sounds like fun. You could start a club, Maddie’s Cochere. I can hear the Haleys’ rumble right now!

    • Until I posted this today, I hadn’t really had too many emotions other than relief. There are still so many boxes to pack. But tonight, I feel happy and excited about the future. It will be fun to clean the house when the books are gone, and then walk around knowing that there is nothing that *has* to be done. I think it will make writing so much easier, too. … Whether it’s a Harley or a camera, I’ll have something new to add to the list. Thank you for stopping by, Judy. 🙂

  8. Congrats on getting rid of what had probably become a big headache!! Hope the next block of years is anything but!!

    • Hi Barb! I’m happy to see you. Are you getting along and feeling well now that you’ve had your surgery?

      You know, that job was a blast for a lot of years, but you hit it right on the head – it has become a huge headache! I think these next years are going to be great. Like retirement – but writing while retiring. 😉

    • Thank you; I appreciate your comment. Blocks really were my perception. Others have mentioned phases, stages, or chapters, but they seemed too short. I couldn’t break it down into my 20’s or 30’s, etc., and I realized these years were large blocks of time. I’m excited for the next block as it includes writing. Thanks for stopping by!

  9. Wow! I am excited for you to enter a new “block”. I have mental dividers up, too, when I think of the start and finish of different phases. I took a first step into what I hope will be the reprise of a love of mine: I was fitted and advised for a new pair of running shoes! My husband and my parents took the kids for frozen yogurt and I was able to talk with the helpful lady in the running store. It feels good, taking those steps into a new phase.

    I’m also intrigued by your decision to homeschool and if you have the time I’d love to hear more about that!

    Enjoy your free living room!! –Alison

    • Hi Alison! I envy (in a good way) that you are entering a new phase that involves running. Because of my back, I can no longer run or play sports. It will surely feel good for you to hit the open road again. I hope you enjoy it immensely!

      Our son was ADHD, and it was recommended to us by the school system that we take him to his pediatrician for medication before enrolling in school. We refused, and I simply decided to figure it out on my own. We gave him the option of going to school his freshman year, but he wanted to continue homeschooling, so we eventually graduated him.

      If there is anything in particular you would like to know, please feel free to email me. My email address is on my About page. Thanks for stopping by!

      • Thanks for sharing about homeschooling. I have a handful of friends who do this, and the idea buzzes in my mind every now and then. I just get curious about what motivates people to choose this method. We are happy with L’s school for now, and will look for another one like it when we move this summer (an hour or so north of where we are now), but I keep homeschooling in the mix…

        As for the running, my knees might have a bit of complaining to do. I over-trained for a marathon fifteen years ago and my leg joints and ligaments have not been the same since. I tried out the new shoes during an at-home workout last night, though, and they felt great.

  10. Thought I’d let you know, I finally got my Kobo E-reader replaced and am enjoying Big Apple Hunter…on chapter 7 so far! I also bought Sunshine Hunter on my e-reader which I look forward to reading. I’m trying to branch out more and read all kinds of genres not just the sci-fi and fantasy. Enjoy the Harley if you happen to buy it! Cheers!

    • James, you are a peach! Thank you for reading. Big Apple Hunter is the second in the series, but as the books are only chronological with respect to Susan’s boyfriend/relationship, each book stands alone just fine.

      I’m branching out with my reading, too. I’ve picked up some books by fellow bloggers that are out of my comfort zone, but so far I’ve been enjoying everything I’m reading.

      I don’t know if I’ll get that Harley, but hubby has been working hard on our Honda, and we will be out and about soon! When do you run that amazing marathon/strength challenge? I don’t remember what it was called.

  11. I love the pink Harley, Maddie! 😀

    It’s amazing how we go through things and then move onto the next and I love how you put the timeline here. You have certainly done a lot with your life and you should be very proud of it!. Maybe you should start painting (that’s my secret desire to become a famous artist one day!) 😉

    • Painting has crossed my mind at times. I was an art major in high school, but whatever I was able to do then seems to have left me. I can barely draw stick figures now. I definitely want to pursue some photography. I like to view the world through a camera lens. It will be fun to see what happens. 🙂

        • I don’t know what caused me to read this old blog post of mine. Maybe I was feeling nostalgic for the fun we used to have when I was more active here. Anyway … you have certainly learned to hold a camera straight!! You are a true photographer now, sharing beautiful work. 🙂

  12. Congrats on reaching the next “block” in your life! Whether its reading, writing, walking the dog, etc…, enjoy it to the fullest! Great post!

    • Thank you, Jules! I’ve been packing more boxes this morning, and I can’t wait to say good-bye to all of them. It’s finally near 70 degrees today, and I’m so looking forward to the nice weather. It’s going to be a fun year. 🙂

    • Thank you, Brooke. I never really thought about it, but it did take some courage to let the business go. I could always ramp it up when we needed extra money for car repairs, or toilet repairs, etc., but now that financial safety net will no longer be there. Oh well. I’m ok with eating more rice if necessary! I’ll just add peas and parmesan cheese. 😉

  13. It’s interesting to see how you transitioned from one block to the other, even though they were all so different from one another! Congrats on shipping away your book business, though I certainly wouldn’t have minded having all those books in my living room. 😉

    • I had hundreds of books in a walk-in closet for a while. I used to sit on the floor in there and go through books and decide which ones I wanted to pull out for our school reading, but I would lose track of time and just stay in there and read. Our son answered the phone one day, and I heard him say, “Mom’s in the closet reading.” It has been pretty wonderful to have so many books around for so many years.

      • That sounds pretty awesome. =D I’m actually envious that you had so many books.
        Also, for some unfathomable reason, WordPress removed you from the list of blogs I follow. I only noticed this now when your blog was suggested under the “You may like” widget. =S

  14. It is wonderful to see the ‘clear-cut chapters of our lives, Maddie. Yours sure has been a definite progression from one to the next… Here’s hoping the next one will be just as rewarding as those past. What more can we ask for in life than to be entertained as we turn the pages to find…. what!?! Isn’t this the richness of life? Not totally appreciating what adventure is to come next….!

    • Our son bought bookmarks for me once which read, “You make life an adventure.” I’ve always looked at my life that way. It truly has been an adventure, and the people who have been in my life have been hauled along for it as well. I don’t recall any of them complaining. 🙂 I’m looking forward to whatever I get into next. Thanks for stopping by, Carolyn. 🙂

    • Thank you, Rita Kay! I’ve been sorting books by size for several days now. They are easier to pack when they are loaded into boxes by size. It’s a tad back-breaking, but we’re getting there.

      I sort of took a jab at Rich with that Harley. Our motorcycle is a Honda Goldwing, and he has always said if we buy a new bike, it would be another Honda. I don’t care what I’m on as long as it’s comfortable, and I can feel the sun on my face and the wind in my hair! 🙂

  15. Dear Maddie, selling your business, your son moving out, it’s the dreded ENS (Empty Nest Syndrome). Don’t be afeared of it, dearie, good times a coming. Only stay away from the Harley.

    • LOL! I will stay away from the Harley, because we actually have a Honda – and I’m not the driver. 🙂 I’ve often thought about ENS, but it doesn’t bother me at all. Our son was here for dinner last night after work, and he’s worried about a permanent layoff. I told him I didn’t want him to move back home. He said he didn’t want to move back home, but … It was actually a funny moment. I am looking forward to the good times ahead. Thank you, Mary.

  16. It seems like as one door closes another always opens. Finding your way is never hard when you follow your heart and use your head. (Be sure and put a helmet on it whlie you are on the Harley)

    • I’m a believer in doors and windows, too. I’ve seen it all my life. I’ve tried to tell our son that things get better, times change,
      people come and go – in and out of our lives. He’s a tad young to really get it, but I think he’s finally seeing.

      I will have to buy a helmet. 😉

    • Thank you. I peeked in at your blog yesterday, and read about your tons. Very funny. I still have more catching up to do, and will be by later today. … I’ll put in a word with hubby for the Rebel! 🙂

  17. I always think of those blocks as previous lives. I wonder when the next one will roll along, and what that will be.

    Please tell me you’ll have riding boots with Susan’s pink laces to match teh bike.

    • Yes, they are like previous lives! It’s hard for me to believe that I was the person who did all those things before I married Rich. It’s as though they happened to someone else.

      If I ever get my hands on a pink Harley, you bet I’ll be wearing pink boots! 🙂

  18. Wow! Maddie, you fill me with hope and inspiration! I gave up teaching last year after having only spent 5 years in the job. A number of people haven’t held back in telling me they think that I’m an idiot for giving up my career. It was a job that brought me very little happiness and far too much stress and it really killed my creativity. Other than being more skint (penniless) than I ever have been, I really have no regrets. I love reading that you’ve done all these different things. That keeps life interesting, right? I need imagination to see the possibilities in front of me because right now I’m not really sure what to do. But it’s good to know that life is an adventure!

    Congratulations on making this leap – I can’t wait to see what the next chapter holds for you! 🙂

    • Kate, no kidding on the skint. When I quit my job to stay home with our son, Rich lost his job shortly after, and we were so broke, we sold just about everything we owned. But he got another job, things worked out, and although we are still pretty broke, these have been wonderful years that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

      I’m glad to hear you quit doing something that brought you so little happiness and so much stress – and that you have no regrets. People used to go nuts when I would quit one job without having another, but I always knew there would be something better. Yes, it keeps life interesting, and you will know it when you see it, Kate (your next adventure).

      Think about this. I was a bit older than most when I had our son, and he is 26. I just started writing last year. Sometimes you read about people who started painting or writing late in life. Well, I’m not terribly late, but later than most! If you would have told me just a few years ago that I would be writing today, I would have told you that you were off your rocker! It will be fun to see what you and I both get into in the next few years. 🙂

  19. Wow! What a saga! You’re an even more fascinating person than we thought– and that’s saying something! I have a feeling the next block may involve bacon, and that it will add some real sizzle to your life! Thanks for being such an inspiration, Maddie!! : )

    • Hello, Mark Armstrong! Yes, a saga, and some days I feel like I’m a hundred years old. I forgot to mention my days on the prairie when I carried water from the creek up to the sod house.

      Bacon. There may or may not be bacon, but I’m sure there will be sizzle. 🙂

  20. I feel your adventure is just about to begin and I hope that you will keep us all up dated. Three cheers for WordPress and all the interesting people we meet through that mysterious cyberspace.

    • I thought I might have pangs of regret or some sadness, but I’m really surprised at how happy I am to see this happen. I made her an incredible deal on my inventory, and I think she is still a little overwhelmed at the opportunity dropped into her lap. It’s fun, and it makes me feel good to make her so happy, too. 🙂

  21. I have a feeling books and writing will stay part of your life… why not write travel books… with a difference, find a niche… put your own slant on it… maybe use your experience of home schooling, add the potential of the educational element for parents to show their kids when they’re visiting a place… whatever, just enjoy it! 😉

    • Hi, AJ! I’m looking back through my blog and checking for comments I missed while I’ve been away from the internet lately. You have some good ideas here. I’ve often thought that after fourteen years of teaching the boy (pre-school, kindergarten, and the remaining twelve years), there is a lot I can draw upon to write about. Whether incorporating it into fiction or writing helpful non-fiction for others. I’ll have to think about it. Thank you for your thoughts!

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