I love sharing stories of people who have taken chances, changed their lives and begun an entirely new adventure. Do you remember my post about Jacquie Gauthier? Hmmm ~ that reminds me I should do an update soon.
Today it’s my pleasure to introduce you to Patricia Rickrode (aka author Jansen Schmidt) who, with her husband, left a California lifestyle to run a Bed & Breakfast in a stunning Victorian mansion, built in 1870, in historic Vicksburg, Mississippi.
PS ~ Please tell us a bit about your life before you decided to undertake this great adventure of owning and operating the beautiful Baer House Inn.
PR ~ Before innkeeping I was a paralegal for about 30 years in California. It was a very fast-paced, high-stress job, demanding job. It was one of the main reasons we decided to relocate; I had had enough of that business suit, make-up, and high heel wearing professional environment. The stress gets harder to deal with as one ages, at least in my humble opinion. I think there comes a point in everyone’s life where they just say, “enough is enough.”
PS ~ This must have been quite a leap of faith! Was there one aspect in particular that called out to you and said “go for it!”?
PR ~ It was a bit daunting when we decided to pack up and leave everything we knew behind, but it was exciting too. I think the day I realized that I needed to quit my job was the day I realized it was time to completely move on. I was more than ready to do something else and the idea of working in an environment where people were basically happy and calm all the time instead of stressed, confused and angry was very appealing.
PS ~ Was the Inn fully operational when you took it over or did you have a lot of changes to make?
“Arrive as strangers, depart as friends.” What a great line on your website!
PR ~ We bought the inn as a fully functioning, turn-key business. It had everything needed to run smoothly. As is pretty typical in most real estate transactions, there were a few things that needed to be done in order for the loan to go through, but the seller had to take care of all of that. We have since switched out quite a bit of furniture, especially in the common areas of the house. The previous owner had a lot of very modern, contemporary pieces of furniture like sofas, recliners, and such. It was very pretty, functional and comfortable but it wasn’t our vision for the house, so we replaced that stuff with antiques as we found them.
PS ~ On what date did you open for business and how nervous/excited were you? Were there times you questioned this change in your lives?
PR ~ We took over ownership around the 20thof July, 2015. (I never remember the exact date.) I wasn’t really nervous, but I was pretty excited. We had a whole house full of guests, some of whom had been staying several nights, so one day the previous owner made breakfast and the next day I did. Everyone was super excited when I was introduced as the new owner. Nobody staying here even knew there was a sale in progress. As far as having doubts, I’ve never felt like we made a mistake. There are a lot of really nice things about California, but there are some really ugly things too and I have never wanted to go back – other than to visit our extended family. I feel like Vicksburg has embraced us and almost all of the guests here really have a good time and I feel like I’m directly responsible for that. That’s a good feeling. I never felt like that when a lawsuit was over. I never got any of the praise or even acknowledgment for the part I played in helping get it resolved. Now I get daily praise and gratitude. It’s a really nice feeling. Complete opposite from my work environment in California.
PS ~ Do you have much support staff? Are you and your husband fully involved in running the Inn?
PR ~ For the first year that we owned the inn, my husband and I did everything. We cooked, cleaned, fixed things, worked in the yard, did all the administrative and marketing stuff. Then my husband was offered a very lucrative job and he decided to take it, so we hired a housekeeper to help with the cleaning. In 2017, when I got my cancer diagnosis, we hired another gal to help with afternoon check-in and finish up some of the “afternoon chores.” Since then, we’ve kept them both on the payroll but the afternoon gal only works on the days when we have lots of people checking in.
PS ~ It certainly is a beautiful home with a welcoming feel to it. I think you have created a special place for people to visit. Do you have a few “highs and lows” to share? Wishes for the future?
PR ~ Often times we question our sanity about buying an old house because when things need fixing, we usually have no idea how to do that. Or we get halfway into the project and realize we’re in over our heads. Neither my husband nor I are very handy when it comes to fixing stuff so those are the low times. The times we wished we had an additional skill set. The highs are definitely the 5-star reviews and hugs we get when people leave. There are a lot more highs than lows, it’s just that the lows are so very frustrating. And expensive. As far as wishes for the future – well, I guess I’d have to wish for an endless supply of money, so we can hire someone to fix all those little things that need fixing.
PS ~ Congratulations on publishing your soon-to-be-released second novel! I can’t imagine how you managed to find the time.
PR ~ Thank you. I’ve been honing my craft for about 10 years. I finished my first manuscript in 2009 simply to see if I could write one. (Hey, what can I say, I love a good challenge.) While I was deciding what to do with it, I started attending meetings at my local RWA group and taking lots of on-line classes. That’s when I realized I had no idea what I was doing even though I wrote an entire book. Since then, I’ve written 5 more manuscripts and outlined a publishing and marketing strategy, trying to implement everything I’ve been learning over the past 10 years. It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long, but sure enough, 10 years. I’m not the kind of person who writes every day. That just doesn’t work for me. I’m more of a binge writer. When I have several hours, or days, at a time, I’ll write 50,000 words or more all in one sitting. That seems crazy to a lot of people, but that’s what works for me. I don’t think there’s any right or wrong way to write as long as you get the manuscripts finished and edited. I just schedule my time to include writing, just like I schedule breakfast every morning at a certain time. When you’re the boss, you can set your own hours and that’s what I do on both the writing and the inn fronts. I’m also pretty disciplined and that helps.
PS ~ It was great having you visit today. I love your story and wish you and your husband the very best as you carry on making your dream come true.
PR ~ Thank you for having me visit today. I enjoy your blog and your pictures. I live vicariously through your travels. I feel like I’ve spent lots of time in France and Canada because of your blog. Thank you everyone for stopping by.
Here are the links to connect with Patricia on social media:
Baer House Inn website: http://www.baerhouseinn.ms
Author website: http://jansenschmidt.com
Short link to buy book: http://bit.ly/2BBu7bb