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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.

Jane Pauley: Hello everyone! Thanks for joining us. I hope you enjoyed our TODAY Show segment this morning featuring Catherine Zimmerman, an award-winning camera-woman who is becoming a burgeoning expert on designing sustainable landscapes and making meadows.

Zimmerman’s story is a testament to her remarkably independent spirit. She was a pioneer for women in the television industry, and she’s recently put herself through school and self-published a book – all while fulfilling her role as a single mother of three. Today we’re going to discuss the unique challenges that women face on the road to reinvention and the support we can offer one another along the way.

Catherine joins us in the chat this afternoon, along with Betsy Werley, executive director of the Transition Network. TTN is for women age 50+ who help each other navigate every step of the reinvention process with local chapters and resources throughout the country.

Hello, Catherine and Betsy! Welcome -- great to have you with us.

Besty Werley: Thanks, Jane.  It's great to be part of this national conversation about "what's next."

Catherine Zimmerman: Thanks, Jane! I loved the TODAY Show piece!

Comment from Barry: I'm not looking to retire for another 20 years or so, but as a videographer /photographer, I could seriously relate with your story that ran on the TODAY Show. What, if any, mentoring programs are there around that can help focus that "life calling?"

Pauley: Great question, Barry. There is a wealth of information in our Your Life Calling web chat archives. Last month Marc Freedman and Marci Alboher of Civic Ventures each had terrific ideas, and I think Betsy here with us today might have some useful insights as well.  Stay with us at the web chat proceeds and we will see what Betsy has to say. I appreciate the opportunity to alert all our web chat participants to those archives. A lot of great questions and answers, so check on that later and stay with us for the next hour.

Werley: Barry - it's an important question. I would check into local programs - at your Y, JCC, continuing education organizations at local colleges. There are so many of us baby boomers who are asking the same questions and all of those groups are offering workshops to help you figure out your next step.

In terms of online resources, the website has terrific resources too - stories and advice for people looking to make career changes.

Comment from Lauren: Wow! This story hit home. I am 46 and following much the same path in my life as Catherine. I would like to know more about the USDA classes she took. I am involved with Sustainable Agriculture & Permaculture but have not heard about USDA courses on this topic.

Zimmerman: The USDA has classes around the country. Their horticulture and landscape design program has classes during nights and weekends, that helps someone who's trying to work and go back to school. The classes are really affordable and taught by people in the field of horticulture. Check out for more info.

Comment from Barry: Thanks Jane, thanks Betsy. It's great to hear. Any/all resources are great to have.

Comment from Solange: How do you address age discrimination when applying for a position fit for your qualifications?

Werley: Think positive! You bring a wealth of talent, contacts and communication skills to any potential employer. Convey your excitement about the job and the company, give examples of learning new skills and working with diverse groups, and you'll put yourself in the best possible position to be hired.

I also recommend that people over 50 target small and mid-sized organizations. They need people who can come in and get the job done, as well as having flexible skills.

Comment from Fool on the Hill: We're always told to follow your dream, follow your Zen. What if we can't afford to? It’s easy for Oprah to say it, but not Jane Sixpack, like myself.

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