By Lanier Laney
Remarkably, both Peter and Jamie Wolf use the exact same words in describing their current life’s vocation. Words such as guiding, navigating and being a beacon. But both are referring to two different applications of those words. In Peter’s sense, he means for a real lighthouse — he’s dedicated to saving the Hunting Island Lighthouse. And in Jamie’s version, she means people, careers and starting a new business. She has just published a book to help people do just that called “Start Over! Start Now! Ten Keys to Success in Business and Life!”
The Hunting Island Lighthouse figured prominently in their lives even before Peter became lighthouse coordinator for Friends of Hunting Island in charge of renovating and repairing it. They were married there six years ago, on the beach in front, where it became a beacon for their lives.
Peter has had an illustrious military career with both USMC (he trained on Parris Island) along with 21 years in the US Coast Guard. In fact, it was as a chief engineer (and unofficial historian) of various Coast Guard units in the New England and New York Long Island area where he first oversaw the groundbreaking renovation of such noted lighthouses at Montauk Point, Fire Island, Boston Harbor Light, Cape Ann Light in Mass., and Horton’s Point on Long Island.
Peter said, “To me, lighthouses are mystical structures, like castles. When I go in a lighthouse, I feel the spirit of the people who have gone before, whose lives were enmeshed in saving mariners lost or in a storm. A lighthouse has always been a beacon of salvation. Lighthouses live, they have a spiritual essence steeped in history and therefore, as a former sailor and maritime military man, I have a natural affection for them. Plus, as an engineer, I love the technology of the light itself; they are often works of both art and engineering!”
He adds, “At Horton’s Point, I was particularly happy that we were able to take an old and neglected structure, completely renovate and re-establish it as an important functioning lateral light on the Long Island Sound.”
Many of his projects involved extensive research and detective work to ferret out repositories of long forgotten artifacts and paraphernalia; some buried in basements for decades throughout the New England area. Pete has always had a strong interest in maritime history, specifically as it applies to the Atlantic Coast. So relocation to the Beaufort area and work on the Hunting Island Lighthouse was a natural for him.
“I think it’s important to have a passion for something,” Peter said. “I see the importance of passing on the story of the incredible multi-faceted heritage of this region and I feel that the young people need to be involved so that they learn that it’s a living ongoing process to keep that heritage and tradition alive. Through knowing the past, we understand the present and hopefully can then more clearly see what we want for the future.”
Jamie is equally passionate about her commitment to helping guide people to find their way and start over in life (which is the title of her new book). Says Jamie, “My heart aches for everyone who faces frustration, disappointment, and fear; and I meet so many people who have been trapped by circumstances and can’t find their way out. I believe everyone is capable of growth, development and expansion of agency — that is, ‘the capacity of a person to act’. Further, learning is a lifelong process that brings joy and strengthens your awareness that you can, indeed, take action to change your current circumstances.”
A graduate from Arizona State University with a Masters in Business Administration, Jamie’s first start was to co-found a company that created hardware and software systems to help people with chronic diseases such as diabetes. After leaving that start-up, she became a certified Business Incubator Manager helping other companies get going. Jamie is a former fellow with the Center for Entrepreneurial Learning and Leadership at Georgia Southern University and held the position of director of entrepreneurial development with the Savannah Economic Development Authority, among other leadership roles.
Jamie brings all her great experience of guiding businesses to her new book, “Start Over! Start Now! Ten Keys to Success in Business and Life!,” plus 10 accompanying workbooks that help ease consumers through the process. She writes a local column about starting a business, plus she will be teaching three courses at OLLI in the spring: Taking the Fear (but not the work) Out of Writing Your Own Business Plan; Things to Consider Before Starting a Business, and; Start Over — Life’s Too Short to Wait.
Jamie says she was motivated to write her first book to address mistakes entrepreneurs — and people trying to start over — repeat consistently, mistakes she can help you avoid. In addition, she learned some pretty hard lessons with her first start-up, lessons she felt compelled to share.
“These days between corporate down-sizing, so many military transitioning to civilian life, and boomers needing to work longer, there is a lot of pressure to either find employment or start something new,” Jamie says. “There are also a lot of people looking for more meaning and wanting to make significant contributions through their work. I’ve spent a lot of time researching how best to get started with a life lived on your terms.”
She adds, “I really do feel there is no time to wait, no time to live a life that is less than exactly what you want it to be. And living your life the way you envision for yourself takes some work and the ability to make decisions and act on them. I really do feel we are all responsible for the situation around us. Which means you have the power to change it. I believe the way to fix it is to fix one life at a time, to be accountable by being the most we can be so we give back the most we can. I hope in some small way that my book helps people learn how to fix an aspect of their life that they desire to change.”
What do both Jamie and Peter like best about Beaufort? They answer in unison: “EVERYTHING!”
“We love the friendliness, and community spirit of volunteering. The Friends of Hunting Island volunteers are an active and caring group who always welcome new involvement, especially if you have interest in lighthouses! We love the physical beauty of the Lowcountry and we love that there are so many people with such fascinating stories — both those originally from Beaufort as well as those from around the world, all gathered here in one unique place.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
• To contribute to the restoration of the Hunting Island Lighthouse go to: http://www.friendsofhuntingisland.org/lighthouse.html nd to get involved go to: http://www.friendsofhuntingisland.org/join.html.
• To buy Jamie’s new book go to Barnes & Noble in Hilton Head, The Beaufort Bookstore, or http://thestartover.com/products.html; and to find additional resources and help with starting over you can view her recently launched website at http://www.thestartover.com.