Where Are They Now? Updates on Sharon, Patti, and Margaret

Today we catch up with three of the women we’ve featured in the past few years, who update us on their continuing ventures and adventures…



Sharon Danzger: Continuing to Reinvent

Since the August 2016 Next Act for Women interview chronicling my move from residential organizing to corporate training, I have re-focused even further.

As a productivity consultant, a big part of my job is reading and learning to better understand how people can get more done with less stress. Since 2007, I have been sharing this information through my bi-weekly blog posts. For years, each time I sent out a post, my Aunt Joyce would respond with “this is great – when are you writing a book?”

Last spring, I was reading yet another book on productivity when it hit me: I have loads of useful information that I want to share. I felt that I could write a book in a way that would be concise, easy to read, and would empower readers to make small changes so they could be more productive and feel less overwhelmed. I thought to myself, if I could come up with a list of 100 productivity tips, that would be a good start to a book. In no time, I had well over 100 strategies and I began writing. It was really fun and very rewarding. My book, Super-Productive: 120 Strategies to Do More and Stress Less, was released in March 2017.

Over the past few years, I noticed a theme in the articles and books I was reading on productivity. The trend was the direct connection between positivity and productivity. This sparked an interest (now passion), in the growing field of positive psychology. I am currently attending the University of Pennsylvania, working towards a Masters in Applied Positive Psychology program. For those interested in positive psychology, there is a great certification course offered by the University of Pennsylvania on Coursera. I recently completed it and found it very worthwhile.

Many people have asked me what I will do with the degree. In addition to enjoying the aspect that relates to personal growth and development, I will continue teaching positive psychology as a tool for improving productivity and performance. But I am also open to the many opportunities the program may present in terms of what I learn and the people I meet.

Stay tuned!

Connect with Sharon Danzger
Email: Sharon@ControlChaos.org
Website: Control Chaos
Book: Super-Productive: 120 Strategies to Do More and Stress Less


Patti Sherry-Crews: More Publishing Success

So, last you heard from me (back in my July 2015 interview on Next Act for Women) I’d embarked on a career as a writer at 50. Over this past summer, I learned that when your book hits #1 on Amazon they put an orange banner proclaiming “Bestseller” by your title. Yup, a contemporary western romance anthology I’m in, A Cowboy To Keep, hit #1 on Amazon for weeks and has stayed in the top 100 since its release in June. Around the same time, Desert Heat hit #3 on Amazon. It also won third prize in the category Short Contemporary, 2017 International Digital Awards (Oklahoma Romance Writers of America). I’ve gotten to a point with my writing that I don’t crave outside validation, but oh, this feels good!

I’m what is known as a hybrid author, meaning I write for a publisher along with self-publishing some of my work. For my publisher, Prairie Rose, I write historical western and medieval romances. I self-publish my own contemporary romances, and in addition, I’ve been asked to be part of three Indie boxed sets, all of which have been Amazon Bestsellers.

Visiting the Tetons with my new writer friend Andrea Downing

Since seeing friends at a party recently, I’ve been doing some reflecting. When I first appeared in this blog, I was in a circle of friends who’d taken our children through school together, and when the time came when the kids were old enough, we were all wondering, what’s next for us? Those friendships remain even though we went off on our own trajectories. Writing was a solitary pursuit to begin with. But as of this update, I’ve developed a new virtual community of women authors and have made some new friends for life. Already, we’ve seen each other through many important life events such as children’s weddings and graduations. I even published a book with my new writer friend, Andrea Downing, called From the Files of Nat Tremayne. Yes, I have one more update: My youngest graduated high school.

I also got my computer out of the kitchen and have my own office.

Connect with Patti Sherry-Crews
Email: pattisherrycrews16@gmail.com
Author Website
Amazon Page
Pronoun Author Page
Desert Heat
A Cowboy To Keep: A Contemporary Western Romance Collection


Margaret Rutherford: Launching a Podcast—and a Book

I’m so delighted to be back on Next Act For Women with a 2017 update! Since being interviewed last fall, I’ve chosen to go through a huge learning curve and I’ve launched my own podcast – SelfWork with Dr. Margaret Rutherford. !’ve learned how to record and edit, and am thrilled to say that SelfWork had over 10,000 downloads just in the month of July! My purpose is to reach as many people as I can, to educate them about mental illness or simply to guide someone through problems we all have as human beings. Each recording appears on my website weekly and is a welcome addition – hard work but welcome.

I’m also now in print, with the publishing of my new book Marriage Is Not For Chickens (and isn’t that the truth!). When my words originally appeared as a blog post on The Huffington Post and earned over 200,000 likes and 53,000 shares, I decided to make it into a gift book with evocative photos accompanying each of twenty-four simple, poignant, and pragmatic statements about what marriage is, and what it definitely is not. I’ve received feedback that brides and grooms-to-be love it, as do those celebrating an important anniversary. It’s a slim but powerful reminder of what marriage can bring those who work hard on their partnership.

I’m very excited to see what’s up for this year. We’re planning a relaunch of my website. On a personal note, my son is out of college and living and working in Los Angeles, a far cry from Arkansas. The distance brings another transition, but we’re all adjusting and making the best of “long distance love.”

Thanks so much for having me back! My only advice? Keep opening yourself to new opportunities, stay curious and relish the risk!


Connect with Dr. Margaret Rutherford
Email: askdrmargaret@drmargaretrutherford.com
Book: Marriage Is Not For Chickens



Let’s Hear from an Expert: Susan Collins, Executive Director of The Transition Network

Col508_Art CROPPEDThe Transition Network (TTN) is the premier national organization for women over 50 who are in transition. How do you empower women to embrace change in midlife?

Women come together and empower each other. They see how others have gone through their transition and built lives they find meaningful. So they have wonderful examples of what life can be like.

This stage of life is like no other. All at once we are faced with change in nearly every aspect of our life – career, relationships, physical changes, responsibilities like taking care of an aging parent. Wading through all of this alone would be impossible. That’s why the women who come together in TTN find such camaraderie – they are all dealing with change. That commonality forges a bond and serves to give women confidence to face and embrace that change.

2681_PHL TTN 2015-10-14 Mingle 3

Why is midlife, for so many of us, a great time to consider a change?

Sometimes we don’t have a choice but to change. Many of us are leaving our long-term careers (or being retired out). This is probably the biggest change since it affects everything: our financial situation, our self-esteem, our network of friends and co-workers. All of these things are affected when we leave that world. What we try to do in TTN is show women that there are many, many ways to use the skills and experience they have—and so many opportunities to re-establish their sense of value.

If we do have the choice, there’s no better time than now to try something new. We do have experience. We do have expertise. And what we often leave behind are the insecurities that come with worrying about what others think of us. It’s our time to spread our wings and see what we can do. And doing it with other TTN members enhances the success.


What obstacles do women face as they consider a transition in midlife?

The biggest obstacle is sometimes ourselves. It’s difficult to let go of what’s been familiar and comfortable. But letting go is what enables us to embrace something new and different, which can be just as, or even more, fulfilling.  We may also face age prejudice, which we have to work hard to overcome. Energy, drive, and a willingness to learn all help overcome the narrow-mindedness of other people.


Can you tell us more about the programs you offer to members and non-members of TTN?

Our goal is to CONNECT women with one another and help them DISCOVER what’s important to them as they determine what IMPACT they want to have on themselves and their communities. TTN offers “Signature Programs” like the Women in Transition Workshop and Transition Peer Groups. These provide opportunities for members to dig deep into what they value and broaden their perspective as they look ahead. Members start Special Interest Groups that are less formal and focus on a passion – book clubs, day trips, food groups, etc. These provide social settings where members can enjoy being together while sharing an experience. Many of our chapters also get involved in their community so members can join in and do something for others. This is always the best way to feel better about ourselves.

2548_PHL 2014-12-10 Woodworking 1

How have you, personally, benefited from TTN?

I found TTN in 2007 just after I had left my primary career. It wasn’t in my mind to retire but it was time for a change. I didn’t know I was in “transition” until I found TTN, then the light bulb went on and I understood more clearly what was happening. I joined a Transition Peer Group, met women I never would have met in the ordinary course of my life, and got involved. I joined the steering committee in the Philadelphia Chapter and loved using my marketing and organizational leadership skills to help the chapter grow. When the position became available, I was on the committee to find the new Executive Director. I then realized that I wanted the job and threw my hat in the ring. That was over two years ago and I still believe we are the best organization going for women over 50 who are ready to design a new life for themselves.


What resources can you recommend to women in midlife who are considering making a change? 

There are thousands out there, too many for me to even start to list. We have a Transition Resource Center on our website where we collect information on partner organizations, newsletters, and books—but you have to be a member to access that. Of course, there’s the TTN book: Smart Women Don’t Retire — They Break Free. That’s the book that laid out the vision of TTN and its mission to help women in transition. And the “bible” for encore careers is The Encore Career Handbook: How to Make a Living and a Difference in the Second Half of Life by Marci Alboher.


Contact Susan Collins at susan.collins@thetransitionnetwork.org

Our website is full of great information about the organization, our board, staff and most important, our members, who make everything in TTN possible.


Twitter:  @TTN_50Plus


ttn logo_colorAs Executive Director of The Transition Network (TTN), Susan has lived the transition that the organization was founded to support. After leaving her long-time career in homebuilding in 2007, she joined TTN, became a member of the steering committee of her local chapter, then decided she wanted to lead the organization and bring the message of “embracing change after 50” to as many other women as possible.

Becoming a Police Officer in Midlife: Stephanie’s Story

Screen shot 2016-01-20 at 4.39.41 PMAfter stints in the military and as an EMT, Stephanie finally made good on her desire to become a police officer. She attended the Academy at age 40 and now serves and protects the San Mateo County area in California.

Tell us a little about yourself…

I am a Hispanic female, the youngest of three daughters. I grew up in the bay area of California. My mother cleaned houses and worked as a nurse’s aide at the local convalescent home. My father was a welder and built Army tanks. I recall taking rides in those tanks during family day at his place of employment; I loved it.

Even at a young age, I gravitated towards a structured environment. While I never got into trouble, I was quite silly at times and had an active imagination. I would create my own games until my sisters came home from school. Even then, my sisters would be too preoccupied with boys, makeup, and marijuana to pay much attention to me.


With my sisters (I’m on the right)

One of my fondest memories as a child was pretending I was a detective. I’d place my hands together with both index fingers pointing out to simulate a gun and inch my way against the hallway wall, then come upon the suspect’s door (usually my sister’s bedroom door). I knew the suspect was not home, but I had reasonable suspicion to enter the room to search for evidence—with my pretend warrant! I’d enter the room and observe the usual items: a Jimi Hendrix poster on the wall, a Peter Frampton album on the record player, and a lava lamp.

One time, as I searched my sister’s room, I smelled a vaguely familiar odor coming from the suspect’s dresser. I lowered my pistol, opened the top drawer, and saw this purple glass mini-vase with a round bulbous bottom and a smelly, sticky residue inside. It had painted flowers on the outside, which was kind of cute, however the smell!

As a 10-year-old, I was a little puzzled and walked the flowered vase over to my Sergeant on duty (my mom), who was cooking dinner, and asked, “What is this? It smells!” My Sergeant looked very concerned and was NOT happy with my findings! Long story short, my sister got a talking to—oops! Needless to say, I left the investigations bureau after that incident!



My parents divorced when I entered high school. I was very athletic and excelled in sports. I was an exceptionally good tennis player, and was ranked #1 varsity singles and #4 in the league.

While I struggled in high school, I was very mature and quite articulate; I loved to write and loved history. I did not have any real guidance or direction and felt a bit alone when it came to finding a career path. After graduation, I dabbled in a few college courses but had no desire to really be there. My first job was at the local police department, where I issued out the shotguns and other equipment to the officers. That is where I got my first real taste of law enforcement. I was curious about the career but ignored my desires, I think because I lacked the self-confidence that I could actually do it. To this day, that bothers me—but everything happens for a reason. I did want to nurture the leader inside me; I liked to take charge and knew I’d be a good leader.

I was drawn to the military. That was the one thing I was sure of; it was such a good fit. I served six years in the Army Reserves and loved it. After serving my time in the military, I had more confidence to pursue a career in law enforcement; however, I wanted more life experience. So I became an EMT. While the pay was menial, the experiences would prove invaluable preparation for my future job on the streets.


army1 army2

How did you finally have the courage to pursue your dream?

The thought of being a police officer was always in the back of my mind. At times, I would even fight the feeling, talking myself into other career paths related to public safety, and at which I excelled, like being an EMT, a dispatcher, a records clerk at a police department, and a community service officer. I would talk myself out of chasing my dream by finding reasons to stay where I was.

I once asked a coworker for her thoughts on my dream of becoming a police officer; I will never forget her response. She was in her late 40s, somewhat of a bitter woman who called in sick all the time. She asked, “How old are you?” When I responded 36, she immediately said, “Oh no, girl, you gotta stay put. It’s too late to do that.”

Luckily I had a strong will and wasn’t easily persuaded by others’ views. I felt sorry for this woman because she probably felt she missed her opportunity in life to make changes herself, hence her bitterness and constant tardiness.

I knew I had what it took; I knew I fulfilled all the requirements and had a stellar background that would make for an exemplary police officer. But the honest truth was that it would be hard work to get there. It is physically and mentally challenging. Not only for you but also for your family. By this time, I was hitting 40 years old. I had a partner who was very supportive. We had a house and bills. To leave my current job to pursue a career as a police officer was taking a big risk. It is a very competitive field and there is no guarantee of a job after graduating the academy.

me n tuck

With Tucker


What is your next act?

After attending Police Academy at age 40, I am now a police officer in one of the most active and dangerous areas of the San Francisco Bay Area. There are five women in my department of 38 officers. One is in her 20s while the rest of us are in our 30s and 40s. I work 12-hour shifts and rotate four days on and four days off, then three days on and three days off. As a new officer, I adapted to my environment quite quickly—I think thanks to my age and life experience. I see many younger officers struggle with handling certain situations. Many citizens who are distraught or angry don’t like to accept advice from someone who is 20 years younger than them.

Every city is different but in ours we patrol officers ride solo, so I do not have a partner in my car and will call for backup as needed. A few months ago, I was part of the Gang Task Force that is deployed in the summertime to suppress gang activity, through the cooperation of officers from different agencies within the same county.

I am not a detective but was sent to two weeks of Investigations school to sharpen my skills and prepare me for when an opening occurs. I love the investigation aspect of my job, being part of a case from beginning to end. I also love connecting with the community, the victims as well as the suspects. I must admit I’m a pretty good at building a rapport with the suspects. I have gotten many to tell the truth after 10 minutes of talking with them about just life in general. Sometimes they just want to be heard and I genuinely listen.

I don’t let what I see every day on the streets affect me in a negative way. I cannot let emotion get in the way when I see a battered wife or shooting victim. I am there to protect and serve and my emotions could compromise that safety, for all of us: me, my partner, the citizens, and the victims.

Days off are precious to us and your first day off is usually a day trying to decompress from your crazy work week or domestic violence, shots fired, fights or vehicle pursuits. I find that many are intrigued by my career and ask me many questions, especially due to the current rise in police misconduct. And while my family is very supportive, I don’t mention the violent calls I go to; some things are better left unspoken.


How hard was it to go through Police Academy?

The Academy (I was a the South Bay Regional Training Consortium) was strenuous—mentally and physically draining. If it was hard for a 20 year old, it was that much more difficult for a 40 year old. But one advantage I had at 40 was mental strength; I was confident, I knew what I wanted, and I knew I could do anything I wanted. I was done with excuses and I wasn’t about to make them simply because the work to obtain my goals was hard.

The Academy meant six months of grueling physical and mental tests. Some of these were like the military—structured tests where you were pushed to your limits and had to follow the chain of command. We learn the California laws, amendment rights, the appropriate use of force, tactical driving, shooting accuracy, and more. There are about 50 learning domains (all different subjects of the law) we are tested on.

In the Academy, if you fail one portion of a test, you lose everything and have to start all over again from day one. I spent hours trying to get over the 6-foot wall (which is pretty tough for most women). I spent hours in the rain getting over that wall in record time, coming home with bruised and sometimes bloody forearms from holding on to that fence.

And the support I felt from family and friends, I was very much alone during the process. You have to motivate yourself to work out, eat right, study, run faster than the other guy, study, be proficient in all that you do, know the penal code practically verbatim. There’s only so much your family and friends can support you with.

As I stood in formation, I looked around at all the young, mostly white, males, eager, not knowing what to expect. My military experience definitely helped me mentally prepare for anything. The mind games our Training Officers tried to play on me didn’t work much because I secretly relished in the yelling and pushing they exposed us to. It sounds warped, I know, but I had the belief that “pain is temporary…success is forever!” Although it was still physically hard for me, my military experience served me well. I also loved the camaraderie, the brotherhood and sisterhood of it all.


At the end of one day, as I was walking to my vehicle, I saw one of my academy mates looking beaten down; he’d gotten yelled at for having poorly shined boots. I grabbed a pair of panty hose and my shoeshine kit. There were only about three of us with military experience in the academy; this guy was clearly not one of them. I approached him and said, “pantyhose.” He said, “huh”? I explained, “Pantyhose will give those boots an extra shine.” We sat at the edge of his bumper and I showed him how to spit shine his boots the old fashioned way. At the end, I gave him a rolled up ball of pantyhose and told him to buff his shoes out prior to inspection. He and I are still friends to this day.

I saw many “individuals” in the Academy. They are the ones who know certain things but are hesitant to share in order to make themselves look better. I wasn’t about to be one of those people. Lack of team work will get you killed out in the streets.

There were times in the Academy where you would be up for ten hours and would have to choose between a shower and a nap; there just wasn’t time to do both. They do this to you for a reason—to get you mentally prepared to deal with the streets, the demands of your job, and the times where you will be lucky to even shove a protein bar down your throat.

The thought of giving up was a fleeting thought, but I kept pushing on, because there were other applicants who DID give up and I wasn’t about to be one of them. My Academy class consisted of 63 students and 43 made it to graduation. Many recruits either failed a portion of the testing or dropped out due to the stress of the Academy.  There were five to seven of us over the age of 40, including a few guys from the tech industry and one former professional baseball player. We had six females in our class and all graduated but one.


How hard was it to get a job after graduating from the Academy?

It is an arduous process; the competition was fierce. You are applying for a job with about 1,000 others behind you. If you don’t stand out to the department you’re applying for, your application gets tossed aside; they have so many other candidates.

There will always be someone with more experience than you, so it is in your best interest to have a clean record, a spotless background, great references, and a strong work ethic. You would be surprised as to how many applicants do not pass background checks simply because they choose NOT to disclose something small from their past. Once it’s found out, it shows dishonesty and a police department cannot take chances with that. They need someone who will represent their department well and not be a liability. For that reason, sometimes a clean record trumps experience.

Of course you need to not only look good on paper, but also be confident in person and be able to articulate why you’re the right applicant for the job. You need to sell yourself within the first 5 to 10 minutes of the interview. And you’d be lucky to get hired within two years of graduating the Academy.


What are the realities and challenges of your day-to day-job?

The academy is strenuous, however only prepares you for the basic knowledge of becoming an officer. Once you get hired, the specific department will instruct you and train you how they want things done.

When there are shots fired, police officers run toward them while everyone else gets to run away from them. We have to make split second decisions on the streets, whether to shoot or not, whether to arrest or not. We have to use our judgment and discretion.

Meanwhile, the defense attorneys can spend a year, if not longer, dissecting and scrutinizing everything you’ve done. And, unfortunately, due to the current negative press around the actions of a few bad officers, we police officers are often presumed guilty. I absolutely love when someone turns on their cell phone and records me while I do my job because I ACTUALLY DO MY JOB AND DO IT LAWFULLY.

Yes, there ARE some bad officers out there whom I cannot speak for nor condone their actions. However, I’m a little tired of the qualifier that only “certain lives matter”. Some communities try to use that as leverage on the street and its making it even more dangerous for the officers who DO TAKE PRIDE IN THEIR WORK AND DO THE RIGHT THING.

EVERYONE’S life matters, including officers’ lives. If someone who likes to judge what we do from the comfort of their couch, they should come ride with me for a few hours. I guarantee they will have an entirely different view after those few hours. I treat people with respect regardless of what crimes I have just arrested them for, yet people use the negative issues that occur in other states as leverage at times. And it can be frustrating.

Even after having a man at gunpoint, and arresting him for kidnapping and beating up his girlfriend, I still treated him with respect regardless. He spoke to me freely about the incident as if we were talking over coffee. (You catch more bees with honey, I always say.)


In this career, you have to wear many masks. You have to be the assertive officer who can also diffuse situations in a more holistic way when needed. Then, after working 12 hours (if you’re lucky), you go home and try to shut off your day.

You will learn that your body and mind can take more than you realize. If you push yourself, you can accomplish anything. Remember, the pain is temporary. The reason why people seem to want to stay stagnant where they are in life is because change sometimes is painful. If it were easy, EVERYONE would be doing it. What kept me going was my drive, my persistence and promise to my partner that we will come out of this on top.

If you have a family and kids, don’t expect to spend the holidays or birthday parties with them. But you will adjust. You will build solid friendships with your coworkers because you spend the majority of your time with them. Don’t let those things deter you from the career. You learn to adjust and ride the wave. There are plenty of positive aspects to the job. There are people who appreciate you, and it is an honor to serve and protect people in their time of need.

This career is infamous for ending relationships; it’s such a stressful job. It’s important to recognize issues early and to seek help as they come up. If your partner is supportive and patient enough to get through the tough times, you CAN have a healthy relationship. That said, my partner at the time, Vicki, and I have split, but we remain great friends and will meet up for lunch periodically to check in. It’s nice when you can have a healthy friendship with an ex. Yes, my job played a small roll in our divorce, but I just think our communication could have used some fine-tuning from the start and our career just led us in two different directions.


What advice do you have for women looking to make a career change in midlife?

I speak to many women who think that changing careers, even at age 30, is too late. I find that interesting. Money has consumed us in our decisions. I completely understand; I was there. I had bills, I had obligations, but if you want something, you make it happen.

Rally your troops, those family members and friends who are supportive. I love the saying, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right!” If you think you’re not going to make it, well then you probably won’t. If you think you will persevere regardless of what comes your way, you will make it.


What about advice to those interested in becoming police officers?

If you are interested in this career but have doubts due to your age, I would tell you that it’s absolutely attainable. I was hired at age 41. Many departments value life and job experience, which will come in handy when you are dealing with a variety of different people day to day and building rapport. There have been so many times when I have sat with a suspect and we’ve talked about things that we both can relate to, and start to speak freely to me.

If you really want this career, think long and hard, and remember that it WILL affect your family and significant other. Make them aware of the stress you will experience in the Academy and in your new career. No academy can really prepare you for what its like on the streets, so it will be a challenge for your loved ones to show patience like they have never done before.

I suggest reading I Love a Cop: What Police Families Need to Know by Ellen Kirschman. It’s a good book for families to read too, to prepare them for what is ahead in their loved one’s career as a police officer.

If you live in California, you can go on www.post.ca.gov, which will give plenty of information on how to go about becoming a police officer, the training that’s involved, and the availability of positions. The cost of attending the Academy varies from state to state. There are also part-time academies that take a little longer to graduate from. To enter the Academy, I was required to pass a written exam, a physical exam, and a background check. The physical test included running a mile in under 11 minutes, jumping a 6-foot wall, sprinting, dragging a 180-lb. dummy, and completing an obstacle course. The specifics will vary from state to state and county to county.

Just remember the pain, both physical and mental, is temporary… Success is forever.


With Mia

What’s next for you?

I am now single, doing well in my career, preparing for advancing in the ranks, and participating in other specialty positions throughout the next year.

While I will stay in law enforcement, I will most likely also get involved in dog rescue of some sort. My passion and love for dogs is so strong. I feel we are their only voice and I would love to educate people on the proper care and treatment of animals.

This life has definitely been a ride. I think if anything, starting my career late in life has taught me that there really is no such thing as a missed opportunity, unless you allow it to be.


Contact Officer Stephanie Aguilar at Pitts72@aol.com