What is a Pen and Paper Mama?

One of the most frequent questions I am asked, when people see the name of my business, is “What is a Pen and Paper Mama?” With the new year 2021 just around the bend, and having turned 65 in 2020 which has stirred up thoughts like “retirement” or “new adventures,” I woke in the middle of the night asking myself this very question.

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Usually, when others ask me this question, I quickly respond, “Oh, well I chose this business name because it more or less covers my various business pursuits, including tutoring, editing, writing, coaching writing and editing, and giving workshops.” Sometimes folks will ask me more about these activities—I’ve actually gained new clients this way—and most people smile and say something like, “That makes sense! Good name!”

But I started out using “Pen and Paper Mama” as a moniker before I was doing any of those activities as business focuses. I had previous home-based businesses, including “Norma’s One-Stop Shop” (secretarial services, bookkeeping for small businesses, homeschool coaching and tutoring, Watkins and Avon and other home-based retail, income tax preparation and so on) and “Childhood Celebrations” (children’s birthday and other parties—such fun!). I have also done a broad variety of other work along the way: teaching school (a lot of writing involved in that, as a teacher-librarian, English teacher, Social Studies teacher, Core French teacher, Home Economics teacher, and more; I love developing curriculum and sharing it far and wide), homeschooling, working for CBC Radio and writing for magazines and newspapers, plus engaging in adventures including operating an orchard and doing market gardening, working in restaurants (even ran my own for a short period), doing childcare… Oh yes! Childcare. Of course! That whole “Mama” part of the “Pen and Paper Mama” moniker. While I was busily engaged in all those other activities, I managed to give birth to 5 children in an 8-year period. And now I’m also a naanii (grandma) to 13 grandkidlings. How about that!

I first started referring to myself as a “Pen and Paper Mama” when I decided to try out website design, and later, blogging (back in the day when it was still necessary to learn HTML and other coding). I wanted a site name that would cover all the bits and pieces I intended to include in my site. At the time, I was advised by several folks that the “Pen and Paper” part would be far too narrow a title and would restrict me in the future, and including “Mama” in the title would sound unprofessional. But the title really felt like “me”, so there! And here I am over two dozen years later, with multiple blogs and sites under the umbrella of “Pen and Paper Mama” and a successful home-based business, too. I’ve always thought of myself as a “Jill of all trades” and, rather than restricting my options, the name has allowed me to do pretty much whatever I want. After all, even activities like operating an orchard and developing a market garden involve lots of “pen and paper” work like filling in business forms and doing bookkeeping, while restaurant work involves creating menus, developing marketing, and so on. And of course, teaching, tutoring, editing, writing, leading workshops definitely include the whole pen-and-paper aspects. So here I am—truly a Pen and Paper Mama.

So now I’ve reached 65. I have no interest in “retiring.” How boring would that be? But yes, I am looking forward to new directions and fresh adventures. This fall, I scaled back my tutoring week to 3 days instead of 5 (though it turns out I am still doing almost as many hours—huh, wonder how that happened :-)), so I have “4 day weekends” available to try out new experiences, exploits, escapades, events, episodes, entertainment, excitement… and antics, quests, feats, fun, fun, fun!). Of course, at the moment we are somewhat restricted from “out and about” adventures… so I’m focusing on getting my blogging going again (and thus, here I am).

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Here’s hoping you’ll join me!

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