If you find yourself drinking a cold Shiner Bock and listening to live music in a beer joint or casino in the southwest US, you could already be acquainted with the duo called Wait for What.
Wait for What is a couple who can teach us all about how to reinvent yourself at 50. They held down normal jobs and lived average lives until their kids were grown and their careers ended.
Then what started as a hobby morphed into a career as touring professional musicians.
How did Wait for What? do it?
And what five steps can they teach us to recreate our lives and pursue our passions in this next stage?
You’ve got time and freedom. Now what?
At one time, David and Elane Wiggins were like thousands of other empty nesters. They spent years raising kids and creating busy careers in sales, network administration and owning their own business.
When those parts of their lives ended in blazing hot Texas and Oklahoma, they built their dream house in much cooler Cloudcroft, New Mexico.
It was time to kick back. And do… what?
Remember times when you were in total bliss and time stood still. It is those kinds of experiences that gives us a glimpse at what we should do with our time.Leisure Freak
Discover what you want now by looking at your past
David and my younger brother-in-law have been friends since boyhood. I’d never met David until we camped together. But I had taken guitar lessons from his mother Sarah when I first moved to Houston.
David inherited much musical talent from both his father and from Sarah. He perfected that talent watching his step-father Carl and all his famous friends, like Guy Clark, who visited regularly to Sarah and Carl’s bay house.
But playing guitar was merely a hobby and a daily stress reliever while David worked real jobs to support his family.
David’s second wife Elane was a bold, funny and irreverent woman who had worked in a variety of jobs – as a network administrator for the University of Oklahoma, owner of an industrial scale company… and as a prison guard.
How had that background led to Wait for What’s creation?
Get reacquainted with your partner
After being married for several years and still in the middle of child raising, the couple was at a bluegrass picking. Someone handed Elane a mic and she belted out a couple of songs.
“I didn’t know you could sing,” David told her. “You never asked me,” said Elane. She’d sung in school and church while growing up.
Skip ahead to Elane and David’s new life at their dream house in New Mexico. David started playing around with a hobbyist rock band. But he wanted to hook up with some more serious musicians to stretch himself.
Elane said, “I can play drums with you.” “You never told me you could plan drums,” David said. “You never asked me,” was Elane’s answer.
In a month, drums were delivered and David and Elane started playing together.
They’d found a shared passion.
Related: How to rediscover yourself 50+
Taking their dream for a test drive
After a month of rehearsing, Elane told David to put together a set list. She’d booked their first professional gig at a small club in Taos. They were about to get paid to play music.
Related: Souvenirs you’ll keep forever
David was hesitant.
“Shouldn’t we wait?” he asked. “Wait for What?” Elane asked. And David had no good answer. But now they had their band’s name.
The kids were grown and on their own. Both he and Elane were healthy. They’d saved for retirement so they had a financial cushion.
Plus the freedom to play when and where they wanted to.
What’s the benefit of changing your life and making a Personal Revolution? Just doing it is its own reward. You’ll live a fuller life.
Change your mind/change your life
No matter how crazy it sounded to become full-time professional rock and rollers at their age and get paid to play music, there was absolutely no good reason not to.
In 2012, Wait for What? was born.
David rediscovered his guitar, mandolin, harmonica, vocals, and songwriting skills. Elane found a new identity as a singer and drummer.
One leap leads to another bolder reinvention
For two years, Wait for What? traveled intermittently around New Mexico and Texas. They’d play and camp in their little Casita travel trailer for a few days at a time.
Then they’d return to their dream home to resume their normal life.
And do all the repairs that a 3,000 square foot mountain home requires from you. Three years ago, they decided that needed to change.
So they sold the dream house and bought a touring bus.
What for What? now performs over 150 dates a year. And David and Elane still love performing. While camping with them, they broke out the guitar and sang for us every evening under a full Texas moon.
A brand new lifestyle
The couple decides what area of the country they’d like to visit and for how long. Then Elane gets busy calling clubs and venues nearby.
David checks on which RV parks have access to natural attractions like hiking trails or great museums and restaurants.
After doing this for a couple of years, they’ve put together a circuit of their favorite places to play and stay. But this year, they are weighing an offer to spend six months performing on an Australian cruise ship.
Recently they bought a piece of land and put up a big storage garage.
Their bus and tow vehicle is now the extent of the big possessions that tie them down. They’ve cleared out the rest of the stuff that weighs us down.
If they decide to take the Australian offer or if Elane is successful rustling up an extended gig on a European river cruise, they will park the bus and car and lock up the garage.
And off they’ll go!
Open to more opportunities
While traveling to gigs, Elane decided to freelance as a medical coder. Her computer skills remain strong and that brings in more income. David is learning how to use drones for video production.
They’ve set up mini-offices in their tour bus for both projects…along with room for Elane’s signature collection of platform high-heels.
Here’s their advice to reinvent yourself at 50 and find purpose and passion in your life:
5 steps to living your dream at 50+
1. Start small…. but start now!
David had musical talent. Elane had the brazen vision. At first, it was to help David find someone to play music with. She ordered her electronic drum set and they started within the month.
What can you do to explore a passion in your life in a small way? Write a blog, sing in a choir, act in a little theater group.
2. Give “What if” daydreams a chance
After a month of serious practicing, they were sounding pretty good. Elane’s thought, “What if we could get paid to play music?”
She called a few clubs to sound them out and got them a date. The first gig was fun and they felt good. So Elane booked some more dates.
Can you make a little money or see if there is a market for your passion? Take your artwork or crafts to trade shows, check into being an extra in a TV show or movie, intern as a guide or docent at an attraction.
3. Build up to what you want
Initially, those performances were just a hour or so away. Slowly they worked up to longer tours, living in their little Casita travel trailer for a couple of weeks at a time.
The trailer lets them know they could live with fewer possessions.
Those endless maintenance needs when they returned to their dream home each time told them they wanted to live with a lot less stress.
Selling the house and living on their tour bus was the last step.
How can you increase your exposure? Can you write for a weekly community newspaper, do some professional speaking at civic groups or provide some coaching at libraries or the YMCA.
4. Own your authentic self
Wait for What? is playing a festival later this year where they will easily be the oldest act.
David will be the one with waist-length hair and a cowboy hat – a big departure from his suit and tie days. Elane also has long hair, but she wears tie-dye and those platform heels.
While they will wow the crowd with David’s virtuoso renditions of Neil Young and Pure Prairie League songs, Elane is more in-your-face brazen. She stopped worrying about other’s expectations long ago.
How have your hidden your unique style or presentation? Now is not the time to try to fit in. What makes you memorable?
5. Do it as long as it’s fun
The last morning that we camped with David and Elane, I asked David where they were headed next.
He said they had a performance that coming Saturday in Big Springs, Texas. From there, they would make their way back to Ruidoso and the Inn of the Mountain Gods, one of their favorite venues.
“We’ll do this as long as we can or until we quit having fun,” he said.
Growing bolder by reinventing yourself means saying no to things that have quit being fun. And saying yes to other things you think you might enjoy.
That requires tuning into your discontent and longing.
Those feelings are directions on your life compass, helping you transform your life.
Ask yourself – “Wait for What?”
If others are telling you that following your dream is crazy, shut your ears. If you’re telling yourself that you’d better wait, the correct answer is, “Wait for What?”
Follow David and Elane’s bold lead:
- Start with a tiny small step now,
- Listen to your daydreaming “What if’s”
- Build up to what you want
- Own who you are.
- Quit if you’re not having fun anymore.
It get’s easier and easier as you get (rock and) rolling.
Make sure and embrace that 5th step: when it stops being fun, you can stop doing it. No recriminations, no embarrassment. The only opinion that matters here is your own.
What do you want to do when you “grow up?”
What have you been dreaming of doing and what the hell are you waiting for? I love hearing from you.