How to choose the right side gig

How “Tina’s Coffee Break” was born

I wrote my first published column on March 3, 2015, in The Hamilton News. My husband and I had just purchased our little community newspaper, and I was told that an integral part of it was having a personal column so people could get to know me.

Honestly, I’m a pretty private person, so coming up with content was a bit challenging, to say the least. One thing about me that everyone who knows me knows is my insanely chronic coffee intake, so that offered fodder for my thoughts at the start.

I dubbed my weekly column “Coffee Break.” It seemed a fitting description given that back at the beginning, 12-hour days were the norm. I didn’t know what a coffee break was anymore! I knew it was time to take a break when my son brought me up a pop tart and told me I really should eat something.

Bless his heart!

I’d blame my coffee addiction on those 12-hour days, but honestly, it really doesn’t matter if I’m busy or lounging. Anyone who knows me can tell you, I live on coffee. I take coffee with me to meetings, depositions, soccer practice, walking the dog – you name it, I’ve probably got a go-cup in my hand. I keep showing my husband all of the articles that say that coffee is good for you, but somehow, I doubt they mean by the gallon. Needless to say, he remains unconvinced.

I’ve even had a few people give my go-cup a sniff, convinced that no one drinks that much coffee that late in the day, so, therefore, it must have a little “extra” somethin’-somethin’ in it. Nope.

Anyhow, we started our journey as newspaper owners, and life changed drastically. Take an introvert personality with 20 plus years of keeping people’s secrets (court reporter life) and then toss them out into the public eye and ask them to report the community news. Splash of cold water there, let me tell you! Yes, I knew going in that things were going to change; I just wasn’t prepared for the drastic level of change.

One other big change I had to get used to was the software. I found myself being dragged, kicking and screaming, into the world of Microsoft Office. I’m a simple WordPerfect girl (we court reporters love our WordPerfect!), so this is a huge transition for me. There were a lot of 12-hour days in those first weeks simply because something that should take 20 minutes (it would in WordPerfect) took two hours to do in Office.

Nearly three years later, I’m slowly conceding that maybe, just maybe, Word has something going for it… not that I’ll ever use it in my court reporting work, but I have found myself hitting the Word icon more often than I ever dreamed I would when I first started.

Writing my column forced me to take my mind of off routine work and focus it outward on often random subjects. When I started down this path of over-sharing almost three years ago, I never imagined people would stop me on the street or in the grocery or at a restaurant and tell me how much they enjoyed last week’s column. It’s truly amazing to me when I hear these things, and quite humbling. Now if I skip a week for one reason or another (I mean, let’s face it, sometimes I just don’t have anything to say!), I’ll have people stop me and say they missed my column last week and how they’re looking forward to the next one.

Again, humbling.

We sold the newspaper back in November of 2017, and I was surprised to find I actually missed my little column. That began my journey as a blogger instead of a columnist. I will continue to share my stories with you in hopes that maybe reading these brief little bits will take your mind off whatever it is that may be on it at the moment. Presuming you’ve made it this far, maybe it has. If so, mission accomplished!

Until next time…


From columnist to blogger, Tina began writing in 2015. She blends the various bits of her life — professional, entrepreneurial, and personal — and shares her experiences with you. Tina's Coffee Break became the means for her to express herself on seemingly random subjects, but subjects that are on her mind and in her heart at the moment — things we can all relate to many times. Simply put, Tina writes about life’s moments. Tina has managed her court reporting business for over 20 years. She owned her community newspaper for several years where she first discovered her love for writing through her weekly newspaper column, "Tina's Coffee Break." She was a member of her community's town council for six years, the last three presiding over it as president. Drawing from all facets of her life experience, Tina now provides business strategy guidance to others working to build their own success story. A mother of two, wife for 32 years, and businesswoman of 25 years, a piece of Tina is in everything she writes.

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