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69-Year-Old Paralegal Turned Proofreader: My Past Life and My NOW


Updated: February 18, 2016

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  1. This was a wonderful post, Bonnie. I also signed up for PA in October 2015 and, like you, am still plodding through the practice transcripts. I thought I might be one of the oldest students, but now I know I am not. I am 60 and you are almost 70. My hat is off to you. I am totally inspired. I wish you well in your proofreading pursuits.

  2. So inspirational! Thank you for sharing. Incidentally, I agree that there is a vital segment of society that would not only welcome the opportunity to take this course, but that can teach the rest of us a thing or two as well. 70 is the new 40! Continued success to you, Bonnie.!

    1. I agree! I LOVE learning from older generations. And — it’s funny how many of our older students tell me that even if they decide not to do proofreading later on for some reason, they still learned a ton about social media, marketing, and technology through PA that they never would’ve learned otherwise! We really do try to make it beneficial in as many ways as possible.

  3. Thank you, Bonnie. I have been struggling with deciding to take the PA course and now, since reading your story, I’ve decided to go for it! I’m 56 and have been a legal assistant for 36+ years and love proofreading. I’m hoping to be able to retire in about 10 years and thought this will be be a great way to earn extra income before and after retirement. Again, thank you!

    1. Glad to hear you’re reconsidering taking the course, Marcia. You will have the bonus of using your newfound skills in your current life. It would also be a nice asset for you at review time.

    2. Marcia,

      I am like you. Although I haven’t been a paralegal as long as you, we are alike in the thoughts of the before and after retirement thing. I am still in the 7 day intro course, but like you I enjoy proofreading.

  4. Thank you so much, Bonnie! I also signed on with PA in October 2015 like you and Sonia and am also still plodding along. It’s so nice to know there are others like me! I was an intellectual property paralegal for 12 years and am now working as a grant systems specialist. I plan to retire in another 5 years, at 68, and also decided PA was the perfect outlet to keep my mind active and provide additional income both now and after retirement. You so eloquently voiced so many of the same issues and feelings I have (especially being an introvert who would rather do it myself.) Thank you for such a wonderful post that I know will inspire many!

    1. So glad to know others are plodding along with me. Isn’t it great to find such a perfect niche to transition into post retirement? And you won’t have to keep track of any billable hours!

  5. Loved reading your story, Bonnie. I will be turning 68 in June and just left a 16-year-long “circus” of a job at the end of last year. Thankfully, I found Caitlin and am now working my way through the PTs. Although I too am an introvert, I’ve found the Facebook group to be such a friendly, positive group — and age never plays into it! I cheer you on, Bonnie!

  6. Love this post! I’ve been considering this course for several months now, and I think I’m ready to jump in! I’m turning 50 this year and have been an empty-nester for two years. I’m over the “what do I do with myself now?” phase. Unfortunately, my family and I have a CRAZY summer ahead of us, but as soon as things calm down in the fall, I’m in!

  7. I needed this post! I’m a baby boomer, an introvert, and a former court reporter who went on to another high-pressure career (in higher education) from which I retired in order to leave the long commute and longer hours to find work flexibility and autonomy (as well as time with my husband and family). At a certain age, priorities can change.

    So I enjoyed—and in some ways identified with—Bonnie’s story, which is delightfully creative and well written. Caitlin already knows that although I understand and use select social media, I’ve never wanted to be on Facebook; so reading that fellow-introvert Bonnie finds the FB PA group helpful makes me a little more open to the possibility. A little. I’m still struggling . . .

  8. Way to go Bonnie! You’ve inspired me to keep plodding through the PT’s. I, too, wish for a “New Life” and you’ve given me hope.
    Thank you and I hope to “see” you in the Facebook group and connecting with you!

  9. Good for you, Bonnie! It was great to see this post. I’m not ready for retirement yet. I’ve worked for the same social service agency for 27.5 years, and have never done anything else for work for over 30 years. Even at my “advanced” age (57), making any kind of major change has been scary. But like you, I found out about Caitlin’s course, decided to check it out, and here I am about to plod through the P.T’s. along with everyone else. Kudos to you for being brave enough to share your story. Thank you.

  10. Bonnie, thank you so much for writing about not “seeing” you much on Facebook. I very much feel the same way…and I am an extrovert.
    Interesting, we too are moving to central Oregon in a month. So, even if I don’t see you in the virtual world, chances are I may one day meet up with you in the real world.
    Thank you for the inspiration!

    1. How interesting that you’re moving to Central Oregon. I don’t know what area you’re moving from, but I’m expecting that you’ll love living here. I have absolutely no regrets. Just had a kayak class today. I’m anxious to get on the many lakes in the Cascade range that are nearby. Perhaps our paths will cross at some point.

  11. Awesome read! Thank you for sharing your story, Bonnie.
    I appreciate the inspiration to keep moving forward.
    “One word at a time ~ ”
    Best of luck to you in your new life adventure!

  12. This was very inspiring indeed. It says, you’re never to old to change your lifestyle and live your dreams. Great story.Thanks for sharing.

  13. This is a fantastic story! It gives me encouragement to enroll. I have ordered the books & can’t wait to receive them & get started!

    Thank you Bonnie & Caitlin

  14. What a joy to find I am not alone in believing you really can follow your dreams, even at 74 years of age!!! (My husband tells me, age is “Mind over matter”; if you don’t mind – it doesn’t matter!) So I didn’t, and enrolled in Caitlin’s Proofreading Anywhere Course in 2015. Books have been an important part of my life from the moment I learned to read. And have always noticed the misspelled words and missing punctuation in all kinds of books, so proofreading was where I had been headed all my life! (With a side trip of 40-plus years working in Real Estate and Personal Property taxes for the county I reside in.)

    Retiring in 2012 I took my elderly mother to live with us. Her constant care and the care of 2 grandsons for the summer does not leave many hours in the day, however, I love every challenging minute of the PTs. If I never turn this into a business, I will still feel I have been blessed with a world of information, insight, and knowledge I would have missed otherwise.

    My thanks to Bonnie, and thank you Caitlin, for what you give is much more than just information and teaching. May your blessings be many!

    1. Wow!! 😀 Marian, you’re an inspiration yourself 🙂 Thanks for checking in with us. I’m so glad to hear you are enjoying the challenge of the PTs. There are so many benefits to staying challenged and continuing to learn day after day, and you’ve really got that dialed in. Bravo!! 😀

    2. Let me chime in on the bravos, Marian. Love to hear about “people of age” taking on unexpected challenges.

  15. Wow! Thank you for sharing your story. You inspired me to see that we must have faith in ourselves to step out of a traditional job and go for our dreams.

  16. Thank you for this article, and thank you, Bonnie, for sharing your story. It is very inspirational and encouraging to me, as I, like you, am in retirement, or perhaps semi-retirement years. At 62, I am contemplating leaving a 45-year office career to pursue a new career working from home as a professional proofreader. This is my first step, but I do hope to leave the corporate world within 6 months. This seems a logical and enticing field to enter in order to supplement a meager social security check. (Like you, commuting is no longer an option in my new vision.) I look forward to joining you and others on this journey.

  17. I’m trying to get further into the PTs, but it’s been tough. I signed up in January, and then was injured at work and was on disability for over three months. Sounds like a perfect time to finish up the course, but I was in a lot of pain and couldn’t concentrate. Now I feel guilty that I didn’t work on it at all! I’m back at work now, but having trouble concentrating by the time I get home. And, like many of you, I don’t do the social media thing. I have a Facebook page but I hate to even check it. I’ve never tweeted, don’t have the faintest idea how to do it! I sometimes feel that even if I finish the course I’ll not be able to actually earn any money at it unless I get more motivated to jump into the web with both feet. I know that waiting for success to come to me is not going to work – I have to get out there and grab it. These success stories are helping me to realize that I’m in control of what happens with this course and I need to get off my derriere and get to it!

    1. You got this, Donna! You might look for an accountability partner/study buddy in the forums or the Facebook group. Good luck!

  18. Oh my gosh, Bonnie, I so needed to hear your message tonight. I am in the Jumpstart part of this program and am having a blast! I am 66 and have had a wonderful career in the legal department of a major retailer, but as the days go by I find myself, like you, not wanting to keep someone else’s schedule! Along with my excitement about the program, though, I find myself having doubts about leaving a “sure thing” and moving on to an unknown. As a single mom for many years, I have navigated the waters of “not enough” when my kids were in school. Not enough time, not enough money, not enough energy, not enough faith in myself. Things have been settled and stable now for a number of years, but part of me is afraid to rock the boat. Okay, more than a part! But when I opened up this site tonight there was your post about your journey, and I realized that there is a reason you wrote it, as well as a reason I read it. So I am solidly committed now and feeling great about the decision! Thank you for sharing your heart.

  19. “I am now plodding through the practice transcripts (PTs) and feeling the frustration of not experiencing the perfection I would like to achieve.”

    Seeing those words encouraged me. I am a bit of a perfectionist and I’ve been called an overachiever. When I don’t find success, despite my best efforts, I can become quite discouraged. Reading your statement has encouraged me as I prepare to move forward.

    Best of luck to you in your New Life!

  20. I really, really needed to read this today!

    Had the jitters, the ‘old dog new tricks’ thing, and Caitlin directed me to this post. Thank you for sharing Bonnie.

    Best of luck to you and to everyone! I feel like I am now a part of a very special group of people, even as a newbie.

    Hakuna Matata! : )

  21. One of the unexpected gifts of this program has been this awesome community on Facebook. People are so generous with their time and knowledge, but it goes way beyond that. It is “THE” place to go if you are feeling overwhelmed, scared, confused, or if you want to share joy or happiness. I know a lot of folks are not comfortable with social media, but this group is more like having coffee with friends. ☕️?

  22. Thanks Bonnie for sharing your story! I’m just getting started in jumpstart and hoping that I can do as well as others have. I have no legal background as some here do but I feel certain that Caitlin has gone above and beyond in this course to help each of us master proofreading.

  23. WOW! —Was I happy to read the comments based on Bonnie’s story! It is so nice to know that some of us are on the same page with the same thoughts, frustrations, and anticipation of—Can I do this??—at my age?? However, I have always maintained an “open-mind” attitude that—in spite of my 73 years—I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. So I have stomped any demon obstacles, and I am forging ahead with Proofread Anywhere. I am currently in Jumpstart—and having great confidence with the subject matter—however, I was just slapped in the face with—you don’t know as much as you think you know. It will take some time for me to complete this course, since I have a full-time job in another city and commute two hours a day—but I now have an uplifting and reachable goal. Hats off to Caitlin for allowing people like me to accomplish something via a real connection that works! ….and nice to know that I am not the only one in the classroom with too many birthday candles!

    1. Go for it, Shagrada! You really need to get rid of that commute. At this age, commute time is precious time ill-spent. Wishing you great success with the course.

      1. You are so right! I was feeling trapped in that commute and job, but I now have renewed hope and a positive outlook for the future.
        Thank you, Bonnie!

  24. My hat’s off to ya, Bonnie!

    I’m at the opposite end of my journey (mama to two littles under age four, retirement seeming to be an eternity of 8-5’s away), but I love how I can see similarities among all who make up this community. I’m still in the contemplation phase of all of this, but find myself singing more of this same song (“I realized I was no longer interested in someone else’s time schedule.”) everyday.

    Cheers!

  25. Dear Bonnie,
    I am a mini-me version of you…or so I like to think! I am ten-years younger (59) and am faced with losing my job as a para-educator of 16 years because of the politics of Washington, D. C. I am also in the throes of a separation from my husband of almost 28 years (although we’ve known each other for 40 years in 2017). So life is throwing new challenges at me, some not of my choosing but hey! I’ll step up to the plate and swing away. Your story has inspired me like no-one else’s has…I too will probably slog through the course just like you. Caitlin is a wonderful person for putting this out there for us swimming in the deep end of life. I may go a different direction from court reporting proofreader…I may do something with numbers such as bookkeeping. But whatever direction I choose to go, your story will help keep me going…my new mantra when times get tougher will be WWBD-what would Bonnie do! Thank you so much!

    1. I apologize for just noticing your comments, Karen. When challenges greater than what we think we can deal with enter our lives, it is certainly great to know that we have options available to us. We just have to sort through them and then load ourselves up with the necessary courage to make a choice and take on the task of achieving our newfound aspirations. Gaining a sense of self-accomplishment helps make up for the parts of the journey that aren’t easy. I wish you the best in whatever decisions you make for yourself. By the way, I did finally finish the course and am now in the process of marketing myself, which is another “oh joy” moment for an introvert.

  26. Thanks for re-posting this article, Caitlyn. It is as relevant today as it was a year ago. I can so relate to Bonnie’s story as I have recently made the big jump off the security mountain of a brick and mortar job to retirement as well, although it took me longer. I have worked for over 55 years in virtually any office work you can imagine . . . as a Contracts Administrator, Office Administrator, Accountant, HR Manager and much more. For several years, I have copyedited and proofread for friends and family, but in the last couple of years my organization moved its headquarters, and my daily commute became at least one hour away through heavy Dallas traffic. Additionally, I have become a caregiver to my disabled sister who now lives with me. So, about a month ago–putting my faith in God– I knew it was time to make the big leap to official retirement. Since then, I have spent 6-10 hours most every day honing my skills as a copyeditor and proofreader; however, there is still the need to present pesky things such as reviews and certificates when advertising for clients. So, I was very interested in your new general proofreading course, Caitlyn, and have already reserved my spot. I am looking forward to a new beginning!

  27. This is just what I needed to read! I’m also an introvert slogging my way through the PTs. I’m easily distracted, so I’ve had to put myself back on track more than once. I do back-of-book indexing; when I have an index to work on that becomes a full-time occupation. I’m still not sure if proofreading and indexing can go together, but I hope to find out! Right now I’m busy with a grammar course (more publishing oriented, though)–hope it will help me in the long run. Well, back to work!

  28. Bonnie, thank you so much for sharing this beautiful story, and thank you to Caitlin for pointing it out to me! After 30 years as a paralegal, I am ready to move on to another phase in my life – more than ready in fact. As Bonnie so eloquently described, preparing for retirement from the only career one has ever known is not without some emotional upheaval. I have just started the 7-day trial and, after reading all of these wonderful comments, I am mentally preparing myself for some hard work in this course! I’m excited and eager to dive in and learn! My best to you, Bonnie, and thank you again for sharing!

  29. I love Bonnie’s enthusiasm! She is also a gifted writer. I woul like to have heard that she finished the course and is actually making money proofreading. I really want to invest in this course, but I have to know there is real money to be made out there.

  30. Hello Bonnie, Caitlin, and all in this amazing group/program!

    Seems like there is a theme here of “age,” growth and learning. I’ll add my story.

    This past September marked my 77 years on this planet Earth.

    Like others, I was a litigation paralegal in the Washington, DC office of a huge Atlanta firm (wondering whether it was the same firm as Bonnie’s!)

    Daily commutes into the city of anywhere from 60-90 minutes, work all day, go to Georgetown’s Paralegal program at night, drive home to my husband and two children. Those were the days!

    As a paralegal, I worked on the Agent Orange litigation, attended hearings on the Hill, flew around the country for document productions, which subsequently created their own logistical nightmare!

    I went on to work for a court reporting firm in their marketing department. Digital transcripts were just coming into the marketplace as an option to paper copies of depositions, court hearings, etc. It was my job to connect with law firms in DC and offer to demo the benefit of requesting a digital copy on a disc, in addition to the paper copy. TOAD = “transcript on a disc,” became my icon for the process and I was able to incorporate an image of a toad on my biz card! I love to have fun!

    I subsequently left the firm, had an upsetting health crisis and took a year off work. I returned to school and became a massage therapist. That is a different story!

    Now, I’m looking to reactivate my interest in legal proceedings, working with firms and attorneys. My daughter is a lawyer in the small town we live in. Wonder whether taking her to work with me when she was much younger had anything to do with her going to law school?!

    I’m quite eager to delve into the training (almost finished with the first module) and learn all I can to inspire me as I follow this “new” legal path.

    Thank you Caitlin for all the work and knowledge you share in this training.

    All the best to all of us,
    Martha

    1. Hi, Martha!

      I am very impressed with all the different aspects of a legal career you’ve been able to experience. Best of luck as you continue on to this next part of your journey! 🙂 We’re excited to have you as part of the PA community!

  31. Hi Bonnie,
    You are truly an inspiration! I would like to add that you definitely have a back-up career in writing! Your story-telling and way with words is exceptional! I got lost in your words and had to reread your post to remember it was about your proofreading journey!
    I too am a “mature” woman taking the proofreading course. I am 61-years-wise and excited to have revived my entrepreneurial spirit.

  32. So, I’m not anything spectacular, nor do I have an amazing story to tell, but here’s mine nevertheless.

    Mother of an adult daughter—-just turned 28 last week, still living at home. Not a problem. I love my daughter like nothing else in life (second only to my LORD and Savior Jesus Christ). In my culture (originally from Belize), families stick together and can do so for as long as it takes—for whatever. She’s welcome here for as long as she needs (and I need her too).

    Long story short, we both just moved up to Atlanta from Florida this past summer. My idea, and one with which she just sort of went along (no pun intended). I wanted a change of scenery and school system—-hoping that the latter would be different and somewhat better than the one to which I had devoted my life for the past 23 years. Sad to say, disillusionment has set in. My daughter hates it here. I love the area in which we live (North Georgia), but did not find that pot of gold (or at least golden sunlight) at the end of the rainbow for which I had hoped.

    But being known for the bulldog tenacity and problem-solving trait that define my nature, I am in the process of establishing a plan B—hence my interest in becoming a success at PA. I trust and pray that it is a step in the right direction and that all my efforts will be blessed and rewarded with true success and self-sustainability.

  33. Hi Bonnie
    Well I wrote a long what I thought was a beautiful post but when I went to send it this froze and all was lost. When I can write it again I will. I am 71 yrs old and your story so impressed me. I wish my post did not get lost because it was my story. 🙁

  34. Bonnie is a hoot!

    She’s candid, truthful and in my eyes, a wonderfully, refreshing success story!!! What an inspiration for anyone at any age.

    Thank you Bonnie for sharing your heartfelt experiences and many happy successes as you continue to learn and challenge yourself.

    Caitlin, thank you for your awesome forum and the wisdom that you share to anyone pondering a change in profession.

  35. These are amazing reflections, but has anyone actually been able to make income from this program? I don’t see any comments on that.

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