S2-EP1: Katie Tremper’s Year of Wellness: taking care of yourself after a lifetime of working full-time

Oct 11, 2019


In the first episode of Season 2, Debbie talks with nonprofit executive Katie Tremper about embarking on a Year of Wellness to take care of herself after a lifetime of working full-time and, mostly, ignoring her health.



Debbie and Katie talk about the challenges of slowing down to take care of yourself. More recently, Katie, 56, has also been coping with a chronic illness, MS. Ironically, her diagnosis has helped her reconnect with herself.

PHOTO: Katie posing with Debbie’s husband Sam, in Baja, Mexico.

In this conversation Katie is remarkably open about why she is starting a Year of Wellness. After 33 years as a nonprofit executive in education, she is making a radical life change. But her story is about more than deciding to taking a grown-up gap year. Katie was diagnosed with MS – multiple sclerosis – several years ago. She talks about what it means to live with a chronic illness, all the ups and downs and frustrations.

Her goal for her Year of Wellness is to reduce and slow her symptoms. She and her husband have downsized from high pressure San Francisco to the smaller quieter city of Davis, CA and she plans to take better care of herself in a multitude of ways: from cooking and eating more healthy foods to exercising to finding moments of joy in her daily life. We talk about the complexity of slowing down after a lifetime of working so hard. We also talk about dying and whether the horizon has shifted for her.

After we spoke, Katie offered this revealing update via email about her Year of Wellness:

“We have completed our move to Davis, where we are now the proud owners of a lovely little house in a quiet neighborhood, surrounded by lots of trees and great neighbors. A big part of my vision for my “Year of Wellness” is finding a place of peace, and I think I have found it! Although I have not been working at a job for almost 3 months, I have been very busy with the move.


One big learning for me is to ASK for help when I need it. I didn’t do that going into the move, and we ended up bringing a lot of boxes that I wish I’d been able to go through, sort and purge beforehand.


My “bucket list,” or program that I have envisioned and developed has not changed. It includes: establishing healthy daily habits to improve my mind, body and spirit; managing our finances (to include learning to live on 1/2 the income we had last year); exploring and expressing my creative side, and having fun, laughing, and experiencing joy.


I’ve not been able to implement everything as quickly as I would have liked, but I remind myself that the changes we are going through (jobs, major move, chronic illness) are big, stressful, and exhausting at times.


I also haven’t begun a creative endeavor yet… I want to start writing regularly. I also haven’t done much cooking or developing a better diet and nutrition plan for myself. But I’m being compassionate with myself on not being as “successful” as quickly as I imagined, and I truly believe that I will get to all of my goals, in some form or another, by the end of this calendar year.


My career has been dedicated to helping other people realize their goals and dreams through education, but I have become burned out, exhausted, and spent after three decades. I’ve always had a hard time with self-care (God forbid I try to take care of myself first) and I realized that was part of my problem.


One thing that has surprised me is that I am not having the chronic pain I was having the past couple of years in San Francisco, when I was so stressed it was making me sick. MS causes inflammation throughout the body, and I regularly had headaches, backaches, and tendonitis.


I know have the time to be more present in the moment, and to really spend quality time with people and doing things I love.” – Katie Tremper

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Thanks to our media partners

Encore.org, our newest media partner, is an ideas and innovation hub tapping the talent of those 50+ as a force for good. Founder and CEO Marc Freedman is an award-winning social entrepreneur and author, most recently, of How to Live Forever: The Enduring Power of Connecting the Generations. Looking for a great gap-year transition program? Check out Encore Fellowships, which match skilled, seasoned professionals with social-sector organizations in high-impact, paid assignments.


Modern Elder Academy is a program dedicated to navigating mid-life transitions. MEA, based in Baja California, Mexico, provides the place and the tools to start reframing your lifetime of experience. Grow whole, not old. Founder Chip Conley is a New York Times bestselling author, award-winning hospitality entrepreneur and a rock star of the mid-life transition movement. His newest book is Wisdom @ Work: the Making of a Modern Elder.


Next For Me is an important new resource for the 50+ crowd focused on rewriting life. Taking a gap year or timeout may be the best way to figure out "what's next" when you're in this stage of life. Founder Jeff Tidwell explains, Next For Me "connects and inspires our generation to evolve our post-50 lives through new work, a new purpose, or a new social contribution."