Support TTN


Our members are the heart and soul of The Transition Network.  Our chapters are born, nurtured and grown through the vision and energy of these exceptional women. And they come to TTN with wonderful life stories of successful careers, diverse families, and plentiful life experiences to share.  

Browse through our Member Profiles to learn more about what brought our members to this point in their lives, what they are hoping to accomplish next and how they view their impact on the world.

Karen West

It all began with a book, followed by two more inspiring books that brought us to where the TTN Book Discussion Group is today. While working as a career counselor, another a coworker loaned me a book called “Smart Women Don’t Retire—They Break Free.” After interviewing hundreds of TTN women, Gail Rensch wrote about their concerns and experiences about retirement. The timing was perfect. I was just about to retire and had no idea what I would do after I made that life-changing transition. I was thrilled that instead of just retiring, I could “break free.” But break free from what?

Right after I retired in June of 2012, I was playing golf (Isn’t that what you do when you retire?), and one of the women in my foursome said she was going to a conference with Richard Rohr. I had never heard of Richard Rohr, but when I looked up his long list of books, I was immediately drawn to the one called “Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life.” My life was forever changed when I read the very first page. Rohr wrote:  “A journey into the second half of our lives awaits us all. Not everybody goes there, even though all of us get older, and some of us get older than others. A ‘further journey’ is a well-kept secret, for some reason. Many people do not even know there is one. There are too few who are aware of it, tell us about it, or know that it is different from the journey of the first half of life.”(vii)

So, not only could I “break free,” I could redefine this time of life as my “second half.” Instead of just getting older, I could create a whole new way of living my life. And because whenever I learn something that I think is important, I want to share it, I began teaching a class called “Spirituality in the Second Half of Life.”

I am a huge believer in synchronicity, but even I was amazed at what the universe was bringing into my life just when I needed it. But there was more…

As 2013 was ending, I received an email from Kim Fisher, who wanted to start a local chapter of The Transition Network. I couldn’t have been more excited. 2014 passed with meetings in libraries, happy hours, and fun programs at the Carondelet. Then as 2014 was ending, I decided to start a Special Interest Group; I decided to combine my love of reading with my passionate embrace of the second half of life. I started the TTN Book Discussion Group with the intention of reading books about aging and transition. On February 3, 2015, seven women met to discuss our first book “Inventing the Rest of Our Lives: Women in Second Adulthood” by Suzanne Brawn Levine.

I was really happy with the way my retirement was going, but synchronicity wasn’t finished with me. In March of 2015, right after I began the TTN group based on reading about the “second half,” I received an email from the publisher Beyond Words, asking me if I would like to listen to a series of talks online called “Transforming Your Journey of Aging” by Ron Pevny. Of course, I signed up immediately. And in the very first program, I learned about “conscious aging.” It was then that I discovered that not only could I “break free” and create a new life in my “second half,” but there were writers who were writing about how to best to live in this new stage of life. I thought I was on my own teaching my “Spirituality in the Second Half of Live” class, but actually there was a whole “conscious aging” movement going on. I started reading voraciously, beginning with the book that had really launched the movement: “From Age-ing to Sage-ing: A Profound New Vision of Growing Older.”
In this book, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi  “proposes a new model of late-development called sage-ing, a process that enables older people to become spiritually radiant, physically vital, and socially responsible ‘elders of the tribe.’” (5) Once again I was hooked.  I started creating a new class called “Conscious Aging: A New Paradigm for Aging,” and I got the training that enabled me to become a Certified Sage-ing Leader ( Because of all this reading, training and teaching, I not only have more books to recommend to my TTN Book Discussion Group, but I am developing a whole new way of integrating these books into our lives.

In February, the TTN Book Discussion Group will have been meeting for three years. There are women who have been attending since the beginning, and there are women who have joined more recently. We’re always happy when someone new joins us. We’ve even talked about reading some of the best books a second time. I think that would be fantastic, because I have found the books to be even more meaningful when I’ve read them more than once. In our three years, we have read 24 books by a diverse group of authors. We have also read books that aren’t about aging such as “The How of Happiness,” “Wherever You Go , There You Are,” which is a book about mindfulness, and the novel “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.” The past month we enjoyed one of our best discussions ever on “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.”

I didn’t want to conclude this article without adding the perspective of at least one of the members of the group, so I reached out to Lisa N, who was one of the first members. Lisa said that when she attended the first TTN meeting at the Ramsey Library, she was also entering a period of trying to reimagine and make decisions about her future. And because she was inspired by my passion for books and learning, she decided to join the Book Discussion Special Interest Group, which has further sparked her desire to explore these meaningful subjects. She shared: “This monthly gathering and the great discussions with some incredibly bright women has enriched my life and opened the door to new friendships.”

I really believe that being a part of a small, ongoing group is a special experience, and I’m so happy that our TTN chapter is growing and giving so many more women this opportunity. If you haven’t yet joined a TTN SIG, I would like to encourage you to give one a try. And if there isn’t one that meets your interests, I would encourage you to start one. I’m so glad I did.

Karen West, an avid lifetime learner, has always found a way to share whatever she is currently learning. As a high school English teacher, she was instrumental in making the Twin Cities curriculum more multi-cultural. When she changed careers and learned to do an effective job search, she became a career counselor. But the most exciting learning and sharing she has ever done began when she retired and discovered “conscious aging” and “sage-ing.”