What if retirement doesn’t feel like freedom? What if it looks more like a great loss of something you love? We started this conversation with Cathy Zion, owner and publisher of this magazine, who just last year sold off a big part of her business. She’s had a lot of feelings, but overall, she is discovering that she is finding her path along with the others we feature on the following pages. “As you will see from several of those featured in this issue, growing older can mean growing greater,” she says.
When did your work life change start? In 2020, as I considered selling Today’s Woman magazine, the sister magazine of Today’s Transitions, I was filled with a myriad of emotions. Letting go of the magazine I had owned and nurtured for nearly 25 years was daunting. And having to tell my staff was devastating. But more than all that, it was forcing me to look at my own life transition, and it was terrifying.
How would this change your full-time work role? To be honest, I really hadn’t let myself think beyond selling Today’s Woman. It scared me too much. Like others, I felt my identity and my worth were tied to Today’s Woman. While I was glad to still be owner of Today’s Media which publishes Today’s Transitions, I couldn’t visualize what my role would be.
What did you do to cope with the feelings? An unplanned 10-month stint as co-interim CEO of Hosparus Health helped preoccupy my life, but as that gig came to an end in October, the reality set in. What was the next chapter of my life going to look like? I spent one week in panic mode, signing up for Ancestry.com, considering a part-time job, starting a paint-by-number craft.
What do you feel you get from your job/work that makes it important to you? I want/need to know that I’m making a difference in my community whatever that looks like.
Do you think what you felt was normal? I’m not alone as I’ve learned from several of my friends who are also considering semi-retirement or retirement. They are struggling with the same emotions and concerns. While it sounds heavenly to sit around with no schedule and no to-do list, it’s not the lifestyle for everyone.
What does the word retirement mean to you (before and after)? Retirement before meant kicking back, traveling, relaxing. Many of my friends kept telling me I was going to love being retired. Deep down I knew I wouldn’t…couldn’t…stop working. I think I must be channeling my late mother who still owned her own business when she passed away at 79.
Why do you think the idea of retirement (from one thing to another) was so terrifying to you? I’ve worked every day since I graduated from college. For the most part, I’ve enjoyed working. And I’ve loved owning my own business and feeling like our magazines are making a difference in people’s lives.
What have you discovered about yourself/your life as you change your weekly schedule? I’m realizing that this is a time of reflection and reinvention. I’m spending more time working with the nonprofits I love, reading more books, and taking longer walks with my dog while trying to limit my office time to three days a week. I’m reimagining my life and rejoicing in each new day.
What kinds of goals are you setting for yourself? As I turn 74 this year, I find myself setting fewer goals and just staying fluid. I want to be spontaneous to the opportunities that await me.
Favorite Nonprofits? I’ve been on the Hosparus Health Board for nearly 17 years, since my mother passed away in their care. It’s an amazing organization serving those at the latter stages of life. I’m also chair of the Friends of Metro Animal Services Board and vice chair of the regional Midwest Board of the American Lung Association.
By Cathy Zion
P.S. Read about David Johansen using his hands to build homes…and hope.
[…] P.S. Read about our publisher, Cathy Zion, on how she makes the great transition from full-time work. […]