Rita Dove's poetry career has spanned more than forty years. During that time she won a Pulitzer Prize and became the first African-American poet laureate of the United States. Now she's released a new edition of collected works. Rita Dove on a life lived in verse.
This year, every baby boomer will have reached the milestone of age 50. As average life expectancies increase, many boomers are entering midlife with a different perspective on the future than previous generations –- that there is much more to come. Emmy Award-winning broadcast journalist Jane Pauley is one such baby boomer. After she stopped anchoring Dateline NBC, she knew she would still be working for decades, but doing what? In a new book, Pauley talks about how she reinvented herself. She interviews other boomers who found happiness in their 50s and 60s by launching a new company or switching careers. Join Diane for a discussion with Pauley about reimagining the rest of your life.
- Jane Pauley author and former co-host of the Today Show and anchor of Dateline NBC.
Read An Excerpt
Excerpted from “Your Life Calling: Reimagining the Rest of Your Life” by Jane Pauley. Copyright © 2014 by Jane Pauley. Excerpted by permission of Simon & Schuster. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. After broadcaster Jane Pauley stopped anchoring "Dateline NBC," she found herself forced to redefine her career. In a new book, Pauley talks about how she reinvented herself, and she tells stories of other baby boomers in their 50s and 60s who've switched jobs or are starting a new venture midlife. Her book is titled, "Your Life Calling." Jane Pauley joins me from the NPR studio in New York. I welcome your questions, comments. Join us on 800-433-8850. Send us your email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
MS. DIANE REHMFollow us on Facebook or Twitter. Jane Pauley, it's good to have you with us.
MS. JANE PAULEYDiane, you just, you're just gorgeous, and your listeners don't have any idea. For the benefit of listeners, we're Skyping, so I've never seen Diane before, and you're just gorgeous.
REHMOh, Jane Pauley, I would say exactly the same of you. You look just the same way you did as a young woman on "The Today Show." So, it's good to see you. Lovely.
REHMYou know, I wondered as I was reading through this book how many of the people you wrote about were forced to find a second career, a second way of being. And how many simply chose to do that?
PAULEYWell, I don't have categories, but at least one was forced to when, lying on a gurney, a doctor told her family waiting outside that if she didn't quit her job, she was gonna die. She had a heart condition, and running -- she was the office manager for a large law firm. Loved it, loved her job, you know, worked 80 hours a week, loved being the go to person. Would go back to it in a heartbeat, but she couldn't. She had to quit a job she loved, and was forced to reinvent herself. I've met several people, as I think about it, by coincidence, I don't know, men who I would describe as being sub clinically depressed.
PAULEYAnd who just needed to not do what they were doing, and were looking for something different. And I liked that you specified some new venture in midlife. Because this is not a career transition book. And I'd also like to emphasize that while, yeah, my voice trails in and out of the book a lot, with my own experiences.
PAULEYBut there are three dozen, at least, other stories that I tell in hopes that one or more of the experiences of people who've been there and done that, will spark some inspiration in readers who, as you know, we baby boomers, in the millions, we've all done everything pretty much, in synch, or have been perceived to. So, it's not as if I have discovered something. All I've done is tapped into a yearning, which is, Diane, a word I hear all the time. A yearning for something indefinable. An it. I'm looking for something. I don't know what it is.
PAULEYI was one of those people. So, these stories all resonated for me, too.
REHMWell, let's start with you, and how your need, your desire, your move from one thing to another began.
PAULEYWell, I'm a little different than some. I'm very future oriented. My husband calls me a change agent. He, not so much. But, I have an exquisite sense of timing. I've always known when it was time to go. And once I felt that, I would start looking for the first off ramp, whether I knew where I was headed or not. The destination, for me, was not as important as it's time to go. And then I'd find myself, you know, having to reinvent, except that, for most of my 30 year career at NBC, if I was either -- I had a show called "Real Life with Jane Pauley," many, many years ago.
PAULEYIt was cancelled while I was interviewing Candace Bergen in California one day. So, one show ends, but then the phone would ring and there would be another. And it was "Dateline." I was at "Dateline" for 11 years. And then, I made the decision that, after 11 years, it was time to find out what was behind the camera. Which everybody thought was, you know, to voluntarily leave a prime time show. I got a call from Barbara Walters. TV Guide called me the poster child for second act, and unbeknownst to anybody, as "Dateline" was planning a big farewell for me, NBC comes to me quietly and offers me a daytime show.
PAULEYWhich was definitely not the less is more I was telling Barbara Walters about. But, and also, I was going to be opposite Oprah, which, you probably have heard of Oprah.
REHMI think I have.
PAULEYYeah, so, and I had never done -- I've always been kind of an ensemble broadcaster, never worked with a live audience, knew the odds were long, told my kids, you all know how this is gonna turn out. But, I'm gonna try, and I was on daytime television, the hardest year of my life. And my favorite. It was the best year of my career, but it was cancelled. So, I became one of those people, that, in the beginning, how many of your stories were people who had to? When my daytime show wasn't picked up, and I'll be honest, I was kind of waiting a little while for the phone to ring.
PAULEYYou know, Jane Pauley's available. Really? Let's get that Jane Pauley in here. And it didn't happen. One of the stories I tell was a guy named Chris Hanson, who, terrific story, and as he put it, he realized this time, nothing was gonna happen if I don't make it happen. That was a -- I was in my mid 50s, and started what was probably a three year plus experience, sort of in the wilderness, looking for that something. It had to meet the test of something that I wanted to do, something I was good at, something that mattered, felt fulfilling.
PAULEYAnd something that I would do with other people. And I didn't want a boss. And I didn't want a boss. I've heard that a lot. So, I took about three years. I called it my follow period, until I realized that incubate is a much better word. And with cutting this story a little bit short, fast forward. One day was in a hotel room with my daughter who turned on "The Today Show." She's the big fan. Willard Scott, Gene Shallot, my old compadres...
PAULEYFrom my "Today Show" years way back, happened to be on the show that day, and it hit me that my ideas about change, transition, reinvention, my generation at midlife, which is longer than it used to be, might be a TV segment. I really hadn't thought of that before. Within a few weeks, I made the contact, and I have done a monthly series with AARP. Entrepreneurial Jane was born in that moment, because I brought them together. It's been four years. We've done three dozen stories. And now, "Your Life Calling" is the book that tells many of those stories.
PAULEYAnd a bunch of others.
REHMYou know, I think people all over the country, if indeed not the world, were so disheartened when you left "The Today" program. Everyone speculated you were pushed out. What's your own take on what happened?
PAULEYIt was so complicated and we weren't allowed to talk. It was a kabuki exercise. This was back, for your younger listeners, you know, who don't remember, I was the center of the first media frenzy of my broadcast career. When one morning, hosting the program, as I had -- I'd been on for eight years, or five years, with -- now I'm doing the math wrong. Five years with Tom Brokaw and now another seven or eight with Bryant Gumbel when, one day, the beautiful and very talented and very smart Deborah Norville, who had been our news reader, was seated on the sofa with us for the opening good morning.
PAULEYI was kind of unprepared for that. And viewers noticed. Tom Shales, who at the time was writing for The Washington Post, probably the most influential TV critic at that time. He was kind of a bad boy with an attitude. And he looked at that picture and pronounced it an "All About Eve situation because Deborah was 10 years younger than I was. I was 38, 39, something like that, and I think that I was perceived as the first baby boomer who was being put out to pasture.
PAULEYAnd, so, how to explain that I recognized that it was time for NBC News to make a change on "The Today Show" after 13 years.
REHMYou think you recognized that at that moment?
PAULEYYeah. Yes, I absolutely did.
REHMYou absolutely did.
PAULEY13 years was a long time. I was a record holder, but I recognized that I wasn't fitting in NBC's strategic future, so I started looking for that on ramp -- off ramp I told you about earlier. So, I was the one that went to NBC and said, you found my successor. Why don’t I -- you know, throw me a party, you know, I'll pass the torch, and, you know, let's get on with our lives. Long story short, I realized after probably six weeks of back door conversations. Meanwhile, with the media's ear pressed against the door, that it wasn't about me. It was about my contract.
REHMJane Pauley. And we're talking about her life and her new book, "Your Life Calling." Reimagining the rest of your life. Short break here. We'll be right back.
REHMAnd if you've just joined us, Jane Pauley is my guest. She is on Skype with me from the NPR studio in New York. We're talking about her brand new book. It's titled "Your Life Calling: Reimagining the Rest of Your Life." And for baby boomers, the last of whom are now turning 50, this could be the opportunity for you to be thinking about what you'd like to do with the rest of your life. Of course I, as a host sitting in this chair for 34 years and...
REHM...absolutely happy where I am and expect to continue to be so, Jane, just wanted to let you know that. Here's a first email from Kathleen in Irving, Texas who says, "I'm 52, single, no children. I've grown weary of the workings of corporate America. Would love to make a career change, but I'm afraid to leave my job because of finances. How can I drop the fear and seek a career change to fulfill me emotionally, mentally, intellectually and still provide that financial security?" And we should say off the bat, this is not a how-to book, but you are telling stories of people who've re-imagined themselves, Jane.
PAULEYYes. Thank you. It is a show and tell more than a how to, which is kind of funny because the fact is, I’m an advice machine. If you sit next to me on a plane, I'm sorry. I will give you tons of advice. But is it Kathleen or Kathryn?
REHMIt is Kathleen.
PAULEYKathleen, the fact that her goals in life at 52 are emotional, mental and intellectual is one of the differences between my millenials who are just starting their careers and people in their 30's who are working their way up careers where values are a little bit different. And she has really put her finger on one of the differences between, you know, us and our younger selves. She wants, you know, more out of life.
PAULEYSo I would suggest that to quote one of your -- one of my stories who left a career as a project manager at a cabinet-making company in Oakland, Calif., don't quit your job. Look for something -- other things that interest you. And it could be -- he lists things like it could be music, it could be, you know, theater, it could be painting, it could be conversation, it could be a social life. Get more of those -- and just get more of that in your life. You'll find more balance in your life.
PAULEYIn the meantime, you know, I do a story about a woman named Betsy McCarthy whose passion was knitting. She was with a big health firm and was successful, an executive, but was weary of the meetings. It was soul draining. The knitting always beside her in her briefcase kept her sane. I recently have participated in a conference where -- of human resources professionals and had the idea that had her company offered her an opportunity -- they didn't know she was a knitter but let's say they did know. Betsy, what if -- what about every day two times a week or something in the lunchroom or conference room B, you gave knitting lessons to other people there.
REHMWhat a great idea.
PAULEYShe might have found a way to be reenergized in her work knowing that her work and her passion had the same address. So downsizing, which she did, went from a six-figure salary to four. But in the meantime, don't quit the job.
PAULEYPut your toe in some new water and test the field. And if there are ideas, let them incubate.
REHMAnd maybe volunteer at something you think you'd like to do in your off hours so you do get your toe in the water, and sort of figure out whether that really makes sense. One of your favorite reinvention stories is about Ken Wood, the well driller.
PAULEYOh thank you.
REHMTell us about him.
PAULEYWell, you know, not everyone comes to the idea of reinvention willingly. A lot of people are freaked out by change.
PAULEYAnd which is frankly why we rebranded the feature re-imagine, which is a much nicer word. Ken, who had had two major heart attacks in his 50's, was really looking forward to retiring from the well-drilling business that he had established in rural Maryland. He'd always wanted to go to college but when the time came there wasn't the money. So retirement sounded great to him, real great.
PAULEYOne day a group pulls up into his driveway answering an advertisement he'd put in the paper for selling one of these big machineries, this drilling equipment. It was a church group. They wanted to drill wells in Ghana and West Africa where people are dying by the thousands of putrid drinking water. And they were a little surprised at how big the thing was and how much it cost. He knocked the price off and long story -- I keep saying long story short, like I don't know how to tell a story short.
PAULEYSo they buy the equipment and then they say to Ken who was not a traveler -- his only foray out of the country was to the Bahamas once -- would you come to Africa and show us how to use it. And the story's more interesting, how he was inspired to say yes because he answer was maybe but he really was thinking no, did go with them. Dug his first well, having seen the putrid pond scum that these people used as drinking water, and knew after that first well he'd be going back.
PAULEYAnd when I last talked to him, he had drilled a thousand wells in Africa...
PAULEY...self funded. And he pays for it both with his, I don't know, Social Security check, I don't know. But he's got some race horses -- sulky race horses which I knew -- from Indiana I knew what that was. When they race at the track their winnings fund his many multiple-year trips to Africa.
PAULEYHe wasn't -- Diane, he was not looking for reinvention. It tapped him on the shoulder. And he's never -- I mean, the fulfillment, meaning, he -- with those heart attacks, they've given him a name in Africa that means chief living water.
PAULEYAnd they pray that he will live a long life. He looks like Clint Eastwood by the way. Robust-looking guy.
REHMOh, that didn't hurt either. And there's another boomer that you talk about who changes careers completely and that's Jenny Bowen and her husband.
REHMThey really did change.
PAULEYNow, you've picked -- I don't want to give your listeners the wrong impression because I don't do stories to astonish people. You know, I'm not interested in, well who knew a baby boom -- you know, you've picked two people who were doing kind of world-changing things. And most of my stories are more relatable. By Jenny -- Jenny and her husband are both filmmakers, she -- documentary film, commercial film. And one day in the '90s were reading the paper together on a Saturday. Their children -- they started young, their children were grown and gone.
PAULEYAnd it was when we, all around the country, first recognized the Chinese orphanage horror stories. And one of them said to the other, we've got to do something about this. And somebody said, well we could adopt one or bring one home, and they did. When they met her, their daughter in China after two long years, she couldn't talk because no one had ever talked to her. She couldn't walk though she was two years old. She had no personality. She was a blank. They brought her home.
PAULEYJenny was editing a film at the time, put this little girl on her lap and while editing a film. Her first language was, he didn't do it, which was a line from the film she was editing. She comes to life and Jenny sees this little girl romping and playing and has an idea, an epiphany at her kitchen window looking out at her backyard seeing this and said, I know how to fix it.
PAULEYShe has created a nonprofit called Half the Sky Foundation which, as we speak, is operating in every province of China. They have re-imagined the orphanage situation. They have allowed an American nonprofit, the Chinese. She is revered in China. She ran a leg with the Olympic torch before the Olympics in Beijing. But I asked her how the -- I couldn’t picture it. She seemed so like you and me and with no skills. And what did she know about child development that any mother doesn't know, diplomacy, organizing a nonprofit?
PAULEYI couldn't figure it out until she said, everything I needed to do this I had -- was in my career -- I'd learned in my career. Her experiences in research and logistics, in casting. She said, my job as a filmmaker was to imagine a world that didn't exist and make it happen, and that's what I did, Jane. And I got it. That applies to all of us though. We don't need to change the world and start a nonprofit and save babies. If we just are looking for more emotional, mental or intellectual fulfillment, look at your life experience, your skill set, the things your friends know that you are the best at that you may think is just something that comes natural. Put it together and imagine it in a new context.
REHMAll right. I'm going to open the phones. We've got lots of folks waiting. First to St. Louis, Mo. Good morning, Sandra, you're on the air.
SANDRAHi. Thanks for taking my call.
SANDRAMy second act is to become a mother again. And I'm -- my husband and I are in our early 50's but he was a widower and had never been able to have children because of the illness his wife had. And I have grown children but when we were dating, you know, part of the discussion was, you know, he wanted to have children. So we have an agency looking for a surrogate. We have embryos created. And as soon as they find the surrogate we're going to have babies.
REHMWell, that's surely a grand move, don't you think, Jane?
PAULEYYes, Sandra. I'm coming to St. Louis this weekend. I hope you can come and introduce yourself. Yowsa. I can't imagine doing it again, but Jenny and her husband were over 50 when they adopted their baby Mya. And then they followed Maya with Anya. So though they had two grown children, because this was in the '90s, Anya and Maya are now gorgeous American teenagers growing up in California. And she says motherhood is more -- is easier in your 50's. You don't have the same pressure and expectations, you know, for your children when you raise them in your 50's as you do...
REHMSo lots of fun waiting ahead.
PAULEYYeah, okay. And you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Jane, I want to ask you about bipolar disorder, something you found out about yourself back -- how far back?
PAULEYI was 50 years old. And, Diane, I -- a president of NBC News some years back, Larry Grossman, once said of that Jane Pauley has the best mental health in the business. And at the time, because I'm from Indianapolis, the Midwest, I would never have said it but I couldn't have agree more. I was famously normal. Some people use Midwestern and normal synonymously. But it was definitely my self image, so that when I was diagnosed on the first Monday of a sabbatical I took from Dateline to write a memoir, a doctor finally recognized symptoms that I think my husband Gary had noticed weeks, if not months, before.
REHMWhat kinds of symptoms?
PAULEYWell, I'd been treated for hives, which was an unrelated medical problem, the kind of hives that can kill you. My throat was swelling up. And I was given steroid standard treatment, probably saved my life, but it triggered what doctors explained to me was an unrecognized genetic vulnerability probably to a mood disorder. A medication like steroids ups the ups and downs if you've ever been on them. You ladder up and you ladder down. Ten months later I was hypo manic. Still working on "Dateline" and yet different at home, Cruela Deville. I was an angry woman at home, and shopping.
PAULEYThe doctor asked me a question, had I made any major purchases recently, that first day, day one of the diagnosis and I said sheepishly, I bought a house.
PAULEYBut just a little one. It was a cottage. Diane, I was made bipolar by a medical prescription. But the fact is I am and remain bipolar but I have not had a recurrence. I take as good care as I can, if I have any control over recurrence, and I don't know that I do, but taking meds every day, trying to be careful with managing stress. Sleep is so important.
PAULEYDon't get me going on that. I'm a sleep evangelist. And if there was some, you know, wood to knock on, but I think the advocacy that I have been able to do -- because I did write about it, I have talked about it -- there's research to show giving support is as therapeutic as getting it. So because I'm on radio with you talking about a mental health disorder is probably part of the recipe that has helped keep me well and enabled me to continue to lead a productive life. So being bipolar was not a blessing, but being able to have an advocacy role for mental health has definitely been a blessing.
REHMHow do you think being bipolar has affected the relationship between you and your husband, cartoonist Gary Trudeau?
PAULEYWe've been married for 30 almost five years this summer. And on my left hand is my wedding ring. It's a gold band. So for 25 years I had a simple gold band, which I loved. On my right hand, it's not a magnificent stone but it's the diamond he gave me for our re-nuptial. We renewed our vows on our 25th wedding anniversary.
REHMSo did we.
PAULEYAnd, oh, it was -- and it was his idea. And I think -- if I can speak for Gary, because I don't know that he's ever actually acknowledged this -- but I think going through that very difficult year of his life where he stuck with me and I did recover. And our marriage and our family happily is intact because sometimes marriages don't survive crises like these.
REHMThat's quite true.
PAULEYSo I think our renup was an acknowledgement that we're lifers. We're in it for better or worse.
REHMJane Pauley. Her new book is titled "Your Life Calling." And short break here. When we come back, more of your calls. Stay with us.
REHMAnd if you've just joined us, Jane Pauley is with me from the NPR studio in New York. We're talking about the lives of many people to whom she has talked who've been baby boomers, who've re-imagined their lives after the age of 50. Her new book about them and about herself is titled "Your Life Calling: Reimagining the Rest of Your Life." And here's another email from Kelly. She says, "Like you, I was an avid high school debater of roughly the same generation. Any thoughts on how debating shaped your career, and what's it like to debate, discuss and deliberate the day's current events and politics with your husband, Garry Trudeau?"
PAULEYWell, if it weren't for the National Forensic League at Warren Central High School on the east side of Indianapolis, I would not be here. I was rejected as a -- when I tried out for cheerleader in my sophomore year of high school, never made the big time. Would've traded those ribbons for a letter sweater, even probably now. But it turns out my high school had a state champion team and I discovered a talent I never knew I had, which is kind of true in life. We're talking to people who may have yet to discover talents they never knew they had. I was lucky that at the age of 15 I found out that I could talk persuasively on topics I knew very, very little, if nothing about.
PAULEYThat never stopped me. At book club I've noticed an amazing ability to have an opinion about a book that I arrived having not read. So, you know, I do suffer at home in our conversations from what my husband would gently describe as certitude. We don’t disagree on too many points. We are, you know, pretty likeminded I will say. And we laugh more than we debate. But I give kids advice all the time that there isn't a better way to invest your high school years than in speech and debate.
REHMI fully agree, yeah.
PAULEYIt just -- you know, and Harry Wilfong (sp?) is departed now, but he was our coach and I really owe my career and having met Garry and the children that we produced and being on "The Diane Rehm Show" today and having a book to talk about to Harry. So here's to you Harry Wilfong.
REHMAll right. Let's open the phones first to Jerry in O'Fallon, Mo. Hi there, you're on the air.
JERRYGood morning. Long time been a fan of Ms. Pauley, and of course "The Diane Rehm Show" as well.
JERRYYou're welcome. The person who taught me how to fly in his late 50s, this was about 30 years ago, was a retired airline pilot who was a friend of mine. And he worked as hard as any 22-year-old kid trying to work their way up and gather hours. And he said something that I've never forgotten. You know, in the middle of a long flight somewhere in a cramped little Cessna 150, I said, "How do you this?" He says, "You know, something takes on an entirely meaning when you don't have to do it for a living." And I very much identify with your -- the tone of your book. I've kind of come across things in my life that I've been able to change course based on things I really like to do.
JERRYBut a lot of people don't have that, I would almost consider it a luxury, because it's easy to find things that stimulate your creativity and your intellectual capacity, but the tough part especially, you know, in our society and the way that pension funding and things have gone is that a lot of people still have that economic reality that keeps them tethered to the things that perhaps they would be not -- that don't suit them the best and probably they're not as productive either in something like that. So I appreciate -- I have a lot of admiration for your point, and I think a lot of people would benefit from it.
JERRYI guess I'm trying to say I wish we had an overall societal situation where more people had what is currently kind of a luxury to be able to do that. But thank you very much.
PAULEYDo you know -- Jerry, thank you and good luck to you. And I wrote down your quote, "When you don't have to do it for a living." My book's full of people who have said things like that. I would point out though that if you by necessity have to keep a paycheck coming longer than you expected, or if you had a health diagnosis that you didn't expect that is a reality that you have to take going forward in your life, or if you have children still at home with responsibilities or children who grew up and had to come home, or maybe you're looking after parents who are living into their...
PAULEY...90s or triple digits and you're the one who's responsible. There are contingencies that limit your ability to listen to Jane Pauley talking to Diane Rehm about, you know, do whatever you want. That's -- you know, it doesn't matter what your constraints are or opportunities are. We're all going the same direction, the future. And we're all going to have the opportunity to carve out some kind of life given whatever constraints we have. I don't know if I've got another health issue ahead of me. I don't know if I'll live a long life. I don't know that after "Your Life Calling" on "TODAY" and AARP is done I'll have another good idea. I don't know if, you know, I've got financials calamity in my future.
PAULEYWhat I do know is that for all of us, we have to face this heads up, whether we do with delight or with paralysis that we're going to live longer and with more vitality than our parents and grandparents did, and answer the question, what are you going to do with those bonus years.
REHMAll right. Let's go to Cheryl in Gaithersburg, Md. You're on the air.
CHERYLI love you, Jane Pauley. I just think you're the world. I grew up listening and watching you when I lived in Mississippi. And I was saddened when you left the show, of course. But I think I've felt most similar to you when I learned that you were diagnosed with bipolar, because during that time I was diagnosed with bipolar at the same time. I'm a Generation X'r and I work in journalism. And the trajectory of my career just plummeted when I was diagnosed.
CHERYLSo what I want to know is, I don't know if this happened to you, but I'm trying to now find out where do I go from here. I have my own company, but the dream that I had of being great has been downsized to being hope to be significant at the least. So I wonder how do you revive that feeling of I can do something great with my life in dealing with bipolar every day.
PAULEYWell, you know, Michael J. Fox has Parkinson's and, as he put it, Parkinson's is the gift that keeps on taking. But that in having Parkinson's, you know, he discovered an opportunity to be a better person than he ever was before. And you maybe have an opportunity to be a better person than you had before in a smaller universe than Michael J. Fox and the Parkinson's Foundation, but you are an example to a lot of people who you may know who don't -- you don't know also have some kind of a health situation, maybe a mood disorder like we have, that you could be of tremendous help to.
PAULEYGreatness doesn't have to come, you know, with billboards and lights around them. I have never had more happiness and fulfillment in my career than I do now. And it's so much less. I appear on the "TODAY" show five minutes a month, not five days a week. And yet, you know, the happiness that I get in doing my work is mostly when I'm sitting across from people interviewing them, not being on the "TODAY" show interviewed by Matt Lauer. So redefine greatness, you know, I think. And here's another thing, you're still a Gen X'r. You're in the worst decade of life.
PAULEYThere is research to show that the 40s can't use the word "I want to" are not good. That the decade when people feel the most unsettled, wellbeing plummets. Researchers were surprised to find this among rich and poor, men and women around the world. But what surprised them even more, Cheryl, is that around the age of 50 life tends to -- the trajectory swing starts to swing back up and keeps on -- the trend keeps rising. So when you are a baby -- when you're over 50 as you will be inevitably, you may benefit from what I have discovered. The 50s were so much better than my 40s.
PAULEYThe 60s were so much better than my 50s.
PAULEYAnd Diane is -- thank you. Now, now everyone will get this, but in the aggregate, the science says that you have a lot to look forward to. You're going to feel better about your life.
REHMYou know, my mother-in-law who died at 92 years of age said to me and to her son that the 80s were the best years of her life. Isn't that something? So, I mean, I think life does go on in new and different ways if you can re-imagine your days differently, your outlook differently, perhaps even your limitations differently can all have a positive impact. Let's go to Gail who's in Cleveland, Ohio. Gail, you're on the air.
GAILI am -- hi. I am a 62-year-old baby boomer who was at the top of my game in New York and forced out of the pocket in '08 mess. So I'm in graduate school. And I want to know how do I deal with the enormous guilt that I feel when I get A's, and when I'm at the top of discussions, I feel like I'm taking the spot of some younger person. And certainly I have no intentions of going back into the 9:00 to 5:00. I'd like to do something creative. But I still feel like I'm taking a seat in the class and I shouldn't be there.
PAULEYOh, Gail, oh, Gail, that's -- thank you for asking that question. And for the people in my book who have gone back to school, I don't see myself in my classroom, but they always say, you know, I am -- yeah, they're 20, 30 years younger than I am, but I'm more likely to have done the homework.
PAULEYBut, Gail, you are -- look what you are modeling. You and all the people in the been there, done that stories in my book are creating a template for life that stretches -- midlife is going to stretch on for decades longer than our parents and grandparents thought it was and would. So you sitting there getting A's are probably inspiring the person next to you to work harder and get an A too.
PAULEYBut I don't think you need to worry about taking their jobs. Here's another thing, I saw -- this isn't in my book. I pulled it out of the newspaper. Research that people in their 50s are starting more businesses than any other generation. And our businesses create more jobs and are more successful. So, you know, we are creating a better economy because people like you are getting back into it and creating a -- you know, the economy has to grow for these young people to have jobs to grow into. So more power to you. And don't apologize, show off.
REHMGo for it. Absolutely. And you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." I wonder, Jane Pauley, if you're already thinking about what might be next for you.
PAULEYOh, of course. And I haven't a clue, because, you know, once again I litter my book with the expertise of people. I'm not one. But there is research that shows if you ask someone in one of those MRI brain scan things, think about yourself in the future. The brain scan lights up in exactly the same pattern as when you are asked to think of a stranger. So as I say in my book, this is for the stranger that is you in the future. I can't imagine who Jane Pauley 5 years, 10 years from now will be. But what I do have is the confidence that I know things about myself I didn't know before.
PAULEYAfter I'd started "Your Life Calling" on the "TODAY" show, my very smart sister, Ann, told me, you have a gift for helping people see themselves in powerful and positive new ways, which was a powerful and positive new way of seeing myself.
PAULEYBut I knew what she was talking about, and it was as if it illuminated a string of lights, all the stories that I had done for "NBC News," the ones that I thought I did best and liked doing most, what she said defined them. What was I doing in "Your Life Calling," but helping people see the future in some powerful and positive new way. What I don't need, Diane, is a great big whiz bang comeback career. It's going to be smaller. It's going to be a lot smaller. I'm not going to be invited on your show to talk about it. But as long as it...
REHMI'm not so sure of that.
PAULEYWell, I don't think -- but as long as I feel like I have an answer to the question, you know, what are you -- what are you doing. And my goal is to be -- and this will be a stretch for me, because I'm kind of prone to inertia, to simply be someone who keeps trying, to be someone who tries.
REHMWell, I was about to say even to some of the folks who called and wrote that success in whatever it is one does sometimes just comes down to putting one foot in front of the other, getting up every morning, doing something every morning, and continuing to dream every morning of what lies ahead.
PAULEYI am proudest of my daytime show in my career. Though I've noticed when I'm introduced in public venues and they do the bio thing, Jane Pauley was, you know, 25, you know, that sometimes they leave that out, and I'm wondering are they embarrassed because it was a failure. I am so -- I think it was the best parenting move I ever made, to try something that was beyond my certainty, that was a risk taking event, and that ended unsuccessfully, and that I rebounded from.
REHMJane Pauley and she writes about people who do exactly as she has just described in her new book "Your Life Calling: Reimagining the Rest of Your Life." Congratulations, Jane. What a pleasure to see you, to talk with you and to be with you.
PAULEYDiane, all mine. Thank you.
REHMAnd thanks for listening all. I'm Diane Rehm.
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