Comment from Delia: I love the metaphor of being a "late bloomer." I also love the concept of meadows. Can you comment on how landscaping really evolved as your mission and purpose before you decided to go back to school?
Zimmerman: Delia, it really started when I realized I was assaulting the earth with pesticides and planting a bunch of monocultured lawns. When I realized that my landscape practices were detrimental, I went back to school to see what I could do about it.
Comment from Kathy: Regret is a regrettable four-letter word. How can I flush out the regrets in life? Sadly, I have a few.
Pauley: Kathy, big question! I guess make amends when and if you can and then commit to your future. You may want to go to our Your Life Calling website and look for an interview with author Lee Kravitz who wrote Unfinished Business.
Comment from Lauren: Thanks Catherine & Jane! Also, for Catherine, having gone through the effort of self-publishing (I can't imagine...), do you have some recommendations about that.
Zimmerman: Lauren, do your research. Plan for it to take longer than you think. Try to get some financial backing beforehand because some of the costs of printing and distributing can be crushing. I went to Greenleaf Book Group in Austin, TX and they distribute the book, and they also ended up giving me a lot of good advice.
Pauley: Lauren, take a look at the articles accompanying Catherine's story on our website where you will find a summary of tips and suggestions for self-publishing a book. Here is the link: http://www.aarp.org/personal-growth/transitions/info-09-2010/10_tips_for_self_publishing.html.
Comment from Delia: “Unfinished” is a wonderful word to contemplate. Like the used furniture I bought and painted with landscape flowers. I love the “finished” part of used. I am turning 66 Sept 30th and truly my late blooming is happening now.
Comment from Anise: I like the variety of questions and comments on the subject of transitioning into what's next. I'm getting good feedback from all of it. Thanks Jane, Catherine and Betsy! Very valuable exchange.
Comment from Carol: Looking for something that I enjoy. I work part time and volunteer at a site working with the disabled. I have a M.S. degree in counseling I am currently looking for something more, but haven't been able to find employment. I returned to school when I was 40ish and obtained my BS and my MS degree. I have finances, but afraid if I live a long life of 80 or more I will run out! I love working with the disabled.
Werley: One of the biggest issues for many of us is figuring out what we really want to do. A great book on the subject is Jeri Sedlar and Rick Miners' "Don't Retire - Rewire." Whether you're retiring or looking for your next job, it has terrific worksheets that help you identify your "drivers" and figure out how to turn them into a job. Kerry Hannon's "What's Next" also offers stories and resources for career changes after 50.
I strongly recommend that you complement your reading by finding a networking/discussion group, or join a professional association working with the disabled. Those groups will help you explore ideas, and connect you with people who are doing jobs you might be interested in.
The good news about working with the disabled is that it's part of the growing health care field - there will be plenty of jobs in that field.
Comment from JoAnn: Speaking to Jane's comment "see what happens"...that's the key. That's what I talked to my students about when approaching their artwork. It takes courage to operate that way, but I believe the pay-off is big.
Comment from Carole: It seems to me that if you look back at those years before 50 (I'm almost 70 and still changing), we were transitioning throughout the whole time, or evolving might be a better word. I don't believe it is any different after age 50, we are still growing and evolving, but perhaps in a different direction. Thanks for the opportunity to participate in a round of excellent questions and answers. Very inspiring.
Comment from Christina: I reinvented myself because I, like Catherine, feel very strongly about the need to educate the public about the loss of biodiversity and what it means to the planet. I have a for-profit called Native Return, LLC that deals with these issues and I have even started a non-profit East33.org to try to save and enhance habitat for wildlife. I am not setting the world on fire from an income point of view but it is certainly satisfying knowing I am helping our native wildlife which have lost so much of their territory to development. This is a great industry to get into.
Zimmerman: Christina, I don't believe there's any going back to the old landscape techniques, because people are starting to get it. It's a movement, and we just need to get the word out. Thanks to AARP and the TODAY Show, more people know today than they knew yesterday!