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How I Went From Selling Real Estate To Keeping Bees (PHOTOS)

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Growing up, I always thought that I wanted to go into social work: I had volunteered at a women's shelter in high school and college, and I felt the call to help those in need. So, as soon as I graduated from college, I was off to work at the American Cancer Society. But after a while, it became clear that my duties were more managerial, and I didn't feel like I was giving back. I left ACS and decided to travel for bit to clear my head.

Upon my return, I went into the family business: Real estate. Both of my parents were realtors on Sanibel Island, where we grew up. I took a course, which I really enjoyed. A departure from my usually quiet persona, I found myself channeling my father in this class. I was outspoken, voicing my thoughts and opinions without hesitation. I passed the exam and received my license to sell real estate in the Washington D.C. area.

I worked in the local branch of Long & Foster in Georgetown, the neighborhood where we were living at the time. Though I had a few clients and enjoyed the interpersonal relationships, ultimately it wasn't the career for me. You have be very driven, reach out to people, be aggressive and close the deal -- all traits that don't come naturally to me. So, after a year and a few sales, I did some soul-searching in an effort to figure out what my next move would be.

If I was more like my father I would have excelled in real estate: He was just the self-starter that succeeded in that industry. But in reality, I am much more like my mother: introspective, happy with a quiet corner and a book, and very passionate about cooking. We grew up in a house where Mom was always making something, whether it was homemade bread or fresh pasta, she was a whir in the kitchen. Like her, I feel very comfortable in the kitchen, and that's where my self-confidence blooms. I started cooking for myself after college; starting off simple, and when my future husband moved in, I took it to the next level. My range broadened, and our meals became more intricate. Spaghetti bolognese, lamb chops and risotto were my specialties.

I had an epiphany one night laying in bed, when I realized that I should take my passion in the kitchen and turn it into a career. But I was nervous: I didn't want to work chefs' hours (typically 9AM until 10PM at night), nor did I have that notorious Gordon Ramsey-esque temperament that it takes to run a kitchen. So I found myself at an impasse.

The solution was baking. Bakers' hours, while still difficult (they are up at 4AM, but done by 4PM) were much more suited to my lifestyle. I entered the Art Institute of Washington where I completed a one year program in baking and pastry. During my time at school I started working in a new bakery across from the National Cathedral called Something Sweet. My duties included baking and decorating cupcakes, brownies, cakes, cookies and biscotti. I loved the atmosphere: We were four women who had a great chemistry in the kitchen. As much as l loved it, after two years there, I was ready to move on from cupcakes and try my hand in another field of baking.

I took a job at a restaurant, which I said I would never do, because of the stressful environment. At first it was exciting -- fast-paced and intense. But as time wore on, I realized my instincts were right, and this was not the job for me. My boss was demanding and erratic, and the tension between management and the staff was palpable.

I left for a small cupcakery, where the days were nowhere near as exciting, but the pace was comfortable, and I could go to work without fear of being yelled at. Soon thereafter, my husband and I welcomed a baby boy into this world, and I bid adieu to the bakery.

These days, my life is a far cry from my time as a realtor. Fast forward five months from the birth of my son, when tragedy struck. My father was killed in an accident on the farm where he and my mother lived, and my new calling became very clear, very quickly. We moved into my parents' home, and while my husband continued to go to work every day, I stepped in to help my mom take care of the farm. We had spent a great deal of time there before my father passed away, so, while it has been a change, we are more than happy with our decision.

My days start early: I am up at 7AM to feed my son, and then it's off to the barn with my mother, where we feed the horses and miniature donkey. Then we head to the garden, where we pull weeds and pick berries, which are often the beginnings of that evening's dessert. But my proudest moments are when I don my father's full-body beekeeper suit to care for the bees that he adored. We just harvested this season's honey, and I know my father was beaming down at me.

Gone are the days of stretching out on the couch after a full day's work. Instead, my husband comes home from work and hops on the tractor to mow the 17 acres, and I am usually out walking the dogs, collecting the chickens to put them to bed, or preparing dinner for our ever-growing family. While this isn't what I would have planned ten years ago, there is no doubt in my mind: I wouldn't have it any other way.

How I Went From Selling Real Estate To Beekeeping
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