Help pack a million meals for struggling seniors on 9-11. Volunteer today


most popular


Your Life Calling with Jane Pauley

A Natural Work in Progress Live Chat Transcript

If you missed the online chat with Jane and her guests, Catherine Zimmerman and Betsy Werley, you can catch the conversation here.

Comment from Lori Ann: I really appreciate and applaud the tone of this conversation; it's both realistic and hopeful. I lost my husband to cancer four years ago, just when I was planning my re-invention, so my focus naturally remained on my then 14 and 16 year-old sons. There were many days when I gave myself four stars for getting out of bed in the morning, putting two feet on the ground, and dressing myself. I highly recommend the four star approach for small steps under adverse circumstances! Now, I am looking forward to helping others who face a similar crisis, as it is often extremely useful to look to someone who is ahead of you in the process and who has survived.

Pauley: Thank you, Lori Ann. Five stars for you!

Comment from Lori: Catherine, why self-publish? Did you consider not turning this into a hardbound book and perhaps downloadable for a fee?

Zimmerman: Lori, I self-published because my book is about sustainability, and all the publishers I know print four-color books publish in China because it's cheap. And I found that to be very un-sustainable. I published in North America. I also wanted more control over the final product. The book will be available in an e-book form soon, including video inserts.

Comment from Midwestern Midlifer: I'm not only in the midst of a career transition, I'm also in a marriage that seems pretty much DOA. Part of my new career search involves trying to figure out if I can find a job that will allow me to actually live apart from my spouse, who retired last year and has no interest in earning a living again. I sense that a lot of women are in the same boat. Any advice on how to tackle this two-headed beast?

Werley: Ouch...but I read recently that divorce rates are rising among older people, with a high percent initiated by the wife. The Transition Network's book "Smart Women Don't Retire - They Break Free" had a chapter called "Why Is My Spouse Driving Me Crazy?" - so you're not alone!

This is a time of life when many women are still moving ahead, just getting into their stride career-wise, and their partner is ready to stop. (Pardon the generalization.)

In our over-50 years, we start to realize that life is finite, and we also don't care as much about what people think. That's liberating! Sounds like you're close to defining your priorities and taking the next step. A good book on the subject is Abigail Trafford's "My Time - Making the Most of the Rest of Your Life."

Comment from Heather: Catherine, are there any particular meadow makers who inspired you or who have influenced your beautiful work?

Zimmerman: Heather, three meadow makers were my inspiration and also helped with the content of the book: Mike Nadeau at Plantscapes Inc. in Connecticut; Larry Weaner of Larry Weaner Lanscape Design Associates in Pennsylvania; and Neil Diboll at Prairie Nursery in Wisconsin. They're all fabulous meadow and prairie designers.

Comment from Erin: Wonderful segment! My family is so proud of my mom for all of the effort and time that she put into this!

Zimmerman: To my daughter Erin and the rest of my kids: because you guys pitched in so much I was really able to do this, and I thank you for that! Love you!

Comment from Beckie: I have a great career coach…outplacement support…what’s the extra value of joining an organization like The Transition Network?

Werley: When you’re making a transition, a supportive community is a big help. They’re the people who are with you day in and day out, for the duration. They give you a fresh perspective, they expand your network, they’re cheerleaders and role models - - so they complement your coach or outplacement support.

At this stage of life, our old communities may disappear –work friends or people whom you knew through your kids. Other communities, including our families, may have a one-dimensional picture of who we are. So it’s really important to find new people going through similar transitions, who want to support each other. That’s what brings so many women to The Transition Network. They meet women from different backgrounds with a common interest in learning, supporting each other…and having some fun!

Comment from Gwynne: Jane, you talked about small steps towards a journey of reinvention, which certainly makes sense to me. Do you have examples?

Pauley: Gwynne, one example comes right to mind. A friend of mine, a full-time mom, eager to get something going when her kids were growing up, enrolled in a certificate program at a local college (not a degree program).

It happened to be in environmental science -- updating her long ago college undergraduate degree. This certificate would not have been a ticket to a job, but it gave her credibility and confidence to volunteer with a non-profit environmental organization.

While volunteering, her latent gifts for organizing and getting things done bubbled right to the surface; she was given more responsibility, gained more confidence, had a resume item with a 21st century postmark, and with that, went into the labor market and found herself a paying job. So, it began with a small step.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.


Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Member Benefits HomeServe

Members can protect their homes with comprehensive repair plans from HomeServe.

grocery coupon center member benefit aarp

Members can print savings coupons at the Grocery Coupon Center powered by

Membership Discount Benefit Pet Plan Dog

Members save 10% on Petplan pet insurance premiums when purchasing a policy online.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.