Coming out later in life is one hell of a second act! It’s National Coming Out Day, and Anne-Marie Zanzal, a married mother of four who came out as a lesbian at the age of 52 is my guest today. Anne-Marie was worked various office jobs while raising her kids, and in her 40s she decided to go back to school and she was ordained as a minister and devoted her life to the service of others. Today, Anne-Marie coaches other women who are on a similar path of coming out, and she supports them as they question their role in the LGBTQIA+ community. Let’s dive into my conversation with Anne-Marie Zanzal on this episode of the Second Act Success Podcast. to get some tips on how to make the transition of coming out just a little easier.
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Second Act Success Podcast
Season 1 -Episode #33 - Coming Out Later in Life As A Lesbian With Anne-Marie Zanzal
Guest: Anne-Marie Zanzal
Transcription (*created by Descript and may not be perfectly accurate)
Are you at a crossroads in your career or in life? Well, don't worry because life's next chapter is waiting. This is the Second Act Success Podcast. I am your host Shannon Russell.
I'm a television producer, turned boy mom, turned business owner, podcaster, and career coach. If you are looking to start a new career or begin a fresh chapter in life, then get ready to be inspired with stories of women who have done just [00:01:00] that. We will share advice and offer steps you can take to help figure out what your true calling in life really is.
It is time to shine. So let's turn the page and get started.
Welcome to Second Act Success.
[00:01:19] Shannon Russell: hi there today is Tuesday, October 11th and it's National Coming Out Day in honor of today, I have Anne-Marie Zanzal on the podcast to discuss how coming out later in life has affected her and her career. Ann Marie is a mom of four kids. She became an ordained minister in her forties. And at the age of 52, she came out as a lesbian and now coaches other women on how to make the process of coming out just a little bit easier. Here's my conversation with Anne-Marie Zanzal.
Anne Marie, Welcome to second Act.
[00:01:51] Anne-Marie Zanzal: Thank you, Shannon. I'm so excited to be here.
[00:01:54] Shannon Russell: Me too. And before we started recording, we were chatting about how you don't just have a second act, you have [00:02:00] many, many acts and I can't wait to dive into all of them. Why don't you start by telling me where your journey kind of began.
[00:02:06] Anne-Marie Zanzal: Well, I think my first act was being an incredible rebel . Yeah. I didn't go to college until I was like 22 years old. I had a very difficult childhood. I. There was a lot of cats in my home in which I grew up, and so like a lot of kids that grow up in chaotic homes, um, I just sort of was floundering. And so for about, three, four years, I sort of just, you know, had odd jobs, did a lot of drugs, and just sort of floated around for like four years. And then I went back to, college when I was 22 and I was really driven. I did three and a half years, of work in two and a half years. So that was probably my first act. And at that time I met my now, ex-husband. And, um, we ended up getting married and having four children. And so I [00:03:00] had four babies, um, from 27. 39 and um, really spent most of that time in my life raising children and went back and started working part-time for Girl Scouts. And within five years I was running the adult development training Department of Girl Scouts where I worked. And I really, really enjoyed that time of my life, but unexpectedly got pregnant when I was 38 years old and my ex-husband and I had and did not have the ability to think outside the box. So I ended up, you know, leaving that job and staying home with my son who's now 20. And I had a lot of fun with him because it was the first time I just had one kid, . So I had a lot of fun when he was little and then I felt the call to ministry
[00:03:50] Shannon Russell: You graduated from Yale Divinity School, is that right?
[00:03:54] Anne-Marie Zanzal: Right, and I think I really consider that maybe my third, second act. So I went back to Yale [00:04:00] Divinity School when I was 42 years old. I had four kids at the time I had grown up Catholic and there's really no places for Catholic women in the church unless you wanna be a nun. And I didn't wanna be a nun. I wanted to have kids and stuff like that. So I really never thought that ministry could be a possibility for me. And so when I was about 40 years old, which is pretty appropriate because it's midlife and that's when a lot of us start making. To our lives at that point. So I decided to go back to divinity school and my desire was to become a chaplain because I wanted to work with people in, the medical field, you know. And so I did work in hospitals and hospices for about 10 years.
I know you're having me on this show because, um, I came out later in life as a lesbian at 52 years old. So the way I generally tell this story is that, you know, I always sort of noticed my attraction for women But I grew up [00:05:00] in a very strict Catholic home. It was the mid 1980s and because AIDS was all around us. There was a lot of homophobia out there. So when I noticed my attraction to women, I didn't know like how to act. I didn't know, like how do you meet people? I didn't have any, gay friends at the time. I'm sure I had gay friends, but not in the sense that I could hang out with and go do things. And I remember at the time asking, like my straight friends if they wanted to go to the gay bar in the next town, and everybody was like, No. And so, you know, I just didn't really pursue. And then I had the babies and I got married and had the kids and like a lot of women in my thirties raising children, I didn't think about sex at all and very honestly didn't my sexuality at all. Literally did not think about it now and
[00:05:51] Shannon Russell: think about is the kids. I mean, that is such a big chunk of our adulthood, right? It's just
[00:05:57] Anne-Marie Zanzal: Children. Yeah. And it doesn't stop
[00:05:59] Shannon Russell: [00:06:00] No.
[00:06:01] Anne-Marie Zanzal: Yeah. Kids are now 20 to 31 and I still spend a lot of time thinking about kids.
[00:06:06] Shannon Russell: They're always our focus.
[00:06:09] Anne-Marie Zanzal: They're always our focus. There's just a lot of them. There's so many of them. When you
[00:06:13] Shannon Russell: you've got a four. Oh my gosh, I have two.
[00:06:17] Anne-Marie Zanzal: that's, that's a lot too. This was all happening, when I went back to Yale Divinity School and stuff like that, I read an article in Oprah Winfrey magazine, which talked about the fluidity of women's sexuality. And all of a sudden I had words. To put to my experience, and it literally was life changing for me when I read that article because I realized that although I had, um, started on the straight path, I wasn't gonna have to stay there forever.
So I said to my then 16 year old daughter You know, if dad and. Don't work out or something happens. I said, Don't be surprised if I end up with a woman. And it's so funny, she has [00:07:00] no memory of this conversation. So it wasn't really life changing to her, it was to me. I think she was the first person I actually verbally ever came out to. You know, in reflection, I didn't think about it that much at that time. So I went to Yale Divinity School and I was a really good ally. A lot of later in life, people who come out later in life, um, they often are amazing allies. They've been allies before they start realizing they might actually be gay or trans or something like that. And so I was such a great little ally. I was gonna go to the coming out day ceremony, and, uh, National Coming Out Day, October 11th. And all of a sudden, in the middle of. I started crying hysterically and that was really the point in my life where I realized I was gay. Yes, I definitely was gay, but I didn't like, I couldn't figure out like, how do. all the changes I need to in my life to be [00:08:00] able to live my life as authentically as possible. So, I spent the next six years trying to figure that out. I went to a lot of therapists, got a lot of bad therapy. Um, a lot of times when people, especially women who've been married a long time, and I'm gonna assume men, you know, if you bring it up to a therapist that you think you might be gay, sometimes they really dismiss it. One of my therapists said, Have you ever slept with a woman? And I said, No. Then she didn't talk about it again, and, and, and I didn't bring it up again. And the next one was in marriage therapy. It was actually with a lesbian therapist. I told her in marriage therapy that I thought I was gay, and she sort of dismissed it. You know, and, and said, Oh, it could be because of the relationship you had with your mother. And it's so funny because you can insert the eye roll here because lots of queer people are told, no matter, you know, if you're a gay man or a lesbian woman, it's always, is your mother's fault, right? Yes. So [00:09:00] then in 2000 and and 16 I was finally ordained. and I was taken to my sister back to the, airport the next day. And I said to her, You know, this ministry stuff I do is super, super hard and I need a soft place to land. And, you know, my ex and I weren't doing very well again. So I went back into therapy with the same therapist and, um, make a long story short, One of my hospice patients was one of those women that signed on to hospice and thought she was gonna die the next day. And, she lived for about eight months and during that time she said to me, I think I'd been waiting for something my entire life. And it was one of those times when someone says something to you that sort of hits you to the core. And um, unfortunately she had a really bad death in hospice. And I held her why she died. And I kept saying to you, You can go. You can go, you can go. So [00:10:00] when I went back into therapy, I had some PTSD from this, So I told Jane that we had this conversation about how she said she thought she was waiting for something and to be very clear, she wasn't gay or anything. There was other things. Jane said to me like the consummate therapist, that she was, What have you been waiting for Ann-Marie? And this time I said, well, I think I'm gay. And then I started crying and I said, uh, this is gonna open up a Pandora's box. And she said, No, it doesn't have to. And I'm so glad she lied that night.
[00:10:38] Shannon Russell: Cause it really did. But you didn't you didn't need to hear it then.
[00:10:42] Anne-Marie Zanzal: Well, it was, and actually I'm really glad she lied that I, I really needed to hear her say that it was gonna not be a Pandora's box, but it.
[00:10:50] Shannon Russell: Hmm. How did you feel just releasing that?
[00:10:54] Anne-Marie Zanzal: Well, you know, the thing is Shannon and I had done that a couple of times before, so, it felt, [00:11:00] it felt real that time. Like the other two times it was sort of tentatively, you know, talking about that and, you know, this is, Thing is that I was looking for professionals to tell me that I was gay, but really the only person that can tell you whether you're gay, straight, trans, you know, non-binary, whatever you identify is yourself.
[00:11:21] Shannon Russell: Mm-hmm.
[00:11:22] Anne-Marie Zanzal: And so I was looking for the experts, but really the expert in my sexuality as me and so I had to learn to listen to my own voice.
[00:11:31] Shannon Russell: And so that when you did that, then that Pandora's box, if you will, was with your ex-husband and your family, and probably all of your, you know, just your day to day that now needed to be changed.
[00:11:44] Anne-Marie Zanzal: Yes. Um, there's like sort of a trope in our, uh, later in life community, one of the reasons is, is because of the pandemic. A lot of people had a lot of times to think. And so I've seen a lot of people making a lot of second act choices after the [00:12:00] pandemic. But one of the tropes is, is that, you know, you tell your husband you're gay, and then what people do is that they try to save their marriage. . And so they have these conversations about polyamory. they have conversations about opening up their marriages and even threesomes. And, my ex-husband and I had all of those conversations and really for us, it was a quick dismissal of all of 'em because that's not what I wanted. I honestly wanted, and I think I knew at the time that my emotional, spiritual, and intellectual needs are met by a woman and they just can't be met by a man because that's not who I am.
[00:12:40] Shannon Russell: Mm-hmm. And it's interesting at the age that you were when this happened, you were a different person than when you were in your thirties, so you were able to really realize, What you needed fully. Whereas if this happened earlier in life, you might have just dismissed it, tried something else and, and in midlife, you're saying, Okay, yeah, I know [00:13:00] who I am at my
[00:13:01] Anne-Marie Zanzal: Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . Yeah. And it was really interesting is that I think one of the reasons, so even though it was, it was hard for me, I had done so much therapy and, and because I had become a chaplain, I did something called clinical pastoral education, which is an action reflection model. You take care of people. That's the action, and then you do the reflection, and you do it within a group. With the supervisor. And so I had done an internship and a residency, so I had done so much work on myself, I had to accept the fact that I was gay. But I didn't have other things to work on . I like so many people, a lot of times start this journey with their queerness, but then they have a lot of other things that they have to deal with before they can really, really, address their queerness or they address it first, it's just really hard for a lot of people. I had to sort of address. Figure out how, what does it mean [00:14:00] for me and what does it mean for my life?
[00:14:03] Shannon Russell: How is your family?
[00:14:04] Anne-Marie Zanzal: Uh, so that's such a challenging question to answer because my kids are four individuals. at the time they were 24 to 12, what I always tell my clients is that children react to news like this based on, um, who they are as human.
[00:14:25] Shannon Russell: Mm.
[00:14:26] Anne-Marie Zanzal: I always tell my clients, I find that little kids, especially if you're telling them that you're gay, that are like nine are under 10 or under, they could care less. they don't have the prejudices that other people have. So when I hear one of my clients has an eight year old or a seven year old, a lot of times I say, this doesn't even have to be like a really huge conversation. You know, you can just say, Mommy, are you gonna have a boyfriend again? And you say, No, I'm just gonna have a girlfriend next time. That's like literally what you have to do. It doesn't have to be a big conversation. So my kids were a little older [00:15:00] and the kids that are older anywhere are 12 to about 50.
[00:15:03] Shannon Russell: Yeah.
[00:15:05] Anne-Marie Zanzal: They struggled. Um, my oldest child and my youngest child did the best, my oldest child, because I think she really knew the struggles I had in their marriage, my marriage with her father and my youngest child because he had to go through it because he was still living at home. He had to do the two house thing, He really like accepted everything so much quicker. My two middles, they were away at college. They were living their life. Um, and they had a really hard time. Because there's two things going on. Yeah, your mom's gay, but also Oh, mom and dad are getting divorced.
[00:15:42] Shannon Russell: Exactly.
[00:15:44] Anne-Marie Zanzal: Yeah. So it's, it's a lot for kids and, we've had our ups and downs. Um, But everything's good now. and the kids are fine. my wife and I got married last year. They all came to the wedding. Um, but it's been [00:16:00] really hard. It's really hard. I don't wanna paint a picture that like, you know, everybody's around, you know, singing around, you know, holding hands and singing Kumbaya. Because a lot of times that doesn't happen. That happens once in a while, but, Divorces. And kids, especially if they're older, they just don't like the change
[00:16:19] Shannon Russell: Right. Any change?
[00:16:20] Anne-Marie Zanzal: and they change
[00:16:21] Shannon Russell: Nah.
[00:16:22] Anne-Marie Zanzal: Yeah, and, and unless your child's been raised in a homophobic home or a homophobic religion, most kids, the gay part is not. A big deal to them, especially with the Gen Zs, it's the divorce stuff. Kids don't want mom and dad to get divorced no matter how. You know, Even adult children don't want mom and dad to get divorced.
[00:16:45] Shannon Russell: A thousand percent. And I, I think you're right. It's like I have a seven year old and 10 year old and you know, one of my best friends is engaged to his, his boyfriend, and it's just totally normal for them. Which is wonderful. I think, you [00:17:00] know, that generation is just, it's totally the norm but you're right, any change is difficult. And it's just you dealing with a lot of the change within yourself too. So it's a lot that you are dealing with internally and then you're dealing as a mom, you know, going back to the mom takes over everything, factor,
[00:17:17] Anne-Marie Zanzal: Yeah. And it was also like, for example, doing things that I hadn't done before as a mother. My wife is from Nashville and about. Two and a half years after coming out, I moved down here and My youngest son stayed at home in his father's home. He didn't wanna move and I didn't wanna force him, so I ended up going back and forth so once a month I would go and spend a week back in Connecticut and it has been very interesting cuz he was raised so differently than his siblings because I was a very around mom when they were growing up and so they had a hard time imagining that there was another way that a child could be raised. And so, my youngest has [00:18:00] been raised with, you know, me living somewhere else. I missed him greatly. But he is absolutely fine. It was his normal, so he was just used to it. But I had to, it was part of, I just needed to do that. A lot of gay people move when they come out because it's just, , you wanna fresh start you. It's hard to be, Hey, you know, she used to be a straight married woman with four kids, and now she's living as an out lesbian. So I really wanted to have some queer community around me. And so my wife is from Nashville and, you know, she had a ton of community down here. And so I ended up moving down here and, and ended up having community.
[00:18:39] Shannon Russell: So how did you meet her?
[00:18:40] Anne-Marie Zanzal: I met her online. We were in a Facebook group. I googled latent life, lesbian
[00:18:46] Shannon Russell: Okay.
[00:18:47] Anne-Marie Zanzal: and I found a Facebook group for other women who were in the process of coming. My wife was asked by the founder of the group, Hey, does anybody wanna go do this group? And so my [00:19:00] wife said, Sure. At the time her and her past partner, they'd been together 15 years. They had just broken up like a year or so before, and she was like, Sure, I can help out. She goes, Maybe I'll meet somebody. I remember seeing some of her early posts. So that's how we met. And, um, It was really funny, because my therapist said to me Hey, you know, as you move forward in this journey, what kind of woman would you like to meet? And I said, Well, I would like to meet somebody with no kids, cuz I have four and that's too many. Um, and I also said, I'd like to meet somebody who's been out for a really long time. I said, because I know there's a culture that I don't know anything. And I'd love for someone to help me with that. And I always joke that my wife, her name is Tonda, gave me the crash course in being a lesbian because she helped me with all those things that I just didn't know. And then I, thirdly, I wanted somebody with a. A respect for faith and religion because I'm, I am a minister and she does. And the funny thing is [00:20:00] she really literally messaged me three days later and we were friends for about six months before we started flirting. And then once we started flirting, all bets were off. That was it.
[00:20:13] Shannon Russell: Oh,
[00:20:14] Anne-Marie Zanzal: here I sit in Nashville, Tennessee.
[00:20:17] Shannon Russell: Oh, Married again. And
[00:20:20] Anne-Marie Zanzal: Married again. Yeah. Very happy. Very happy. I could have lived with my wife for the rest of my life, but you know. The right to marry for gay people happened only in 2015. That was only seven years ago. My wife never had the opportunity to be married before, and so it was incredibly important to her. And so because I love her. I got married again. We had an amazing wedding. We had, uh, friends in from all over the country. And we did a lot of partying and we really wanted to have it at home because we thought, Oh, well we, we love to dance. Oh, well dance all night. Well, the night [00:21:00] before we did karaoke for like five hours at the. And by the night of the wedding, everybody was exhausted. The wedding ended like at 10 30 If we had been 30 years younger, we might have been able to like hang out a little bit longer, but we were just all too tired. So we had an an amazing wedding. We really did.
[00:21:20] Shannon Russell: Just to have everybody there to celebrate this new chapter, you know, literally how exciting. That's just wonderful.
[00:21:28] Anne-Marie Zanzal: It was really, we had a lot of fun and, um, never expected to be married again. Like when I talk about it, it just makes me feel happy inside.
[00:21:36] Shannon Russell: Hey, my friend, it's Shannon. I'm just popping in for a quick sec to let you know that the doors to my Second Act Accelerator are closing on Friday. The course officially begins on Monday, October 17th. You can check it out now at secondactsuccess.co/course. If you are thinking about making a change in life and starting a second act. Then you have got to join this program. It's an eight [00:22:00] week course designed to help you map out steps to get you from where you are now to where you want to be. You'll get one on one coaching with me, Plus weekly group coaching live weekly workshops, plus guest experts. To help you in areas like resume writing, crafting a perfect LinkedIn profile and even branding and web design. You will also have lifetime access to our second act community. where we'll share ideas, give feedback, and support each other on this journey. Go to secondactsuccess.co/course to learn more. You can also contact me directly to set up a call where I can walk you through what you'll learn in this program personally. It's all at secondactsuccess.co/course. And now back to the interview.
So you're married, you're living in Tennessee, you have this. New life. So tell me about your work now. So you are still doing work as a minister and you're also helping people, other women in later in life that are, are coming out as
[00:22:58] Anne-Marie Zanzal: Yeah, just like you, I [00:23:00] work with people, you know, finding maybe their second, third, or fourth act. My oncoming out was really, really challenging and really, really difficult. And yes, that Facebook group saved my life. But what I realized is that people need community and so I started doing mutual support groups very soon after I came out. Two years. And it was really because I saw the women in the lesbian group that I was in, really grieving, um, grieving so many losses, even if you want the divorce, you still grieve your marriage. You still grieve. What was you, grieve what you thought your life was going to be? A lot of times people grieve the relationships with their kids. A lot of people lose their faith community, which is often a big part of their life and stuff like that. So I just started doing mutual support groups. I had run mutual support groups for like 12 years, you know, and hospice, and I'm a bereavement c. And so I started to do that, and then it started to grow from there. People [00:24:00] asked me would I see them one on one? And I, I have a lot of counseling experience, so I started to do that. And um, I do a lot of work with people who are in the process of coming out later in life. Generally everybody has been, female, whether cis, cisgender, trans, or non-binary. But what I do is I help them work through their fear . I help them work through their own internalized homophobia. I help them work through their guilt and shame. And the guilt and shame is about being, the shame is about being gay, but also the guilt and shame is about like wanting to get divorced and, you know, you know, because they, they really, people really were. Worry about the effect divorce has on their kids and stuff like that. And I do a lot of grief work because there's a lot of grief in this journey. And I also help people celebrate joy because there's, there's like, it's one of this very unique journey, Shannon, in which you're holding a. All this change in [00:25:00] transition and sadness. And then on the other hand, all this joy because like being with my wife when we were first together was like, I felt like I was home and it was so confusing to me because I had a home, you know, but being with her made me feel like I was home. And what I realized is that, um, I, it felt like home for me because she was my people. And that's where I belonged within the queer community. And later in life, by the way, you know, everybody thinks, Oh, it's 40 50 now. It's really self-defined. My youngest person has been in their mid twenties. And my oldest people have been 75 plus. I've worked with several 70, 70 year olds who are coming out, realizing that they're gay at that time in their life. And actually one of 'em, she's like my star pupil. She's actually getting married again, so
[00:25:56] Shannon Russell: and she's in her seventies.
[00:25:57] Anne-Marie Zanzal: Yep. 72. It was [00:26:00] interesting because my 70 something year old women, they have no time to waste. They, they, they're like, I don't have time to waste. They go through the feelings very quickly because, if they wanna be in a relationship with somebody, they have to move. And they do. And they do.
[00:26:17] Shannon Russell: That just makes me wanna cry, just hearing that because you don't want to find yourself in that position feeling that way if you can help it. So the fact that these clients of yours are seeking your help to say, I want to feel happiness now while I can. Like, how significant is that, whether you're in your seventies, eighties, to be able to,
[00:26:39] Anne-Marie Zanzal: Or 30. Right. Well, it Well, and this is the. Is that for the women I work with, it's about their queerness, their gayness. But waiting for something that you want it's not just about being queer if there is something that you know that you have to do, and [00:27:00] you've been waiting for it for your whole life and you keep putting it off, um, like you've wanted to quit your job and work full time as writer, and you keep putting it off and you keep putting it off and you keep putting it off, you know? There's a reason why that's calling to you because you may authentically be a writer and you need to follow your heart because if you don't, as someone who's worked with people dying, you will have regret at end of your life. And I'm going to tell you, people have regret about the things they didn't do.
[00:27:38] Shannon Russell: mmm.
[00:27:39] Anne-Marie Zanzal: If they've done something that they're not happy with. They don't have regret about that. They often make meaning from it.
[00:27:46] Shannon Russell: Hmm.
[00:27:47] Anne-Marie Zanzal: But if you like say I've always wanted to learn to fly an airplane and then you didn't do that, you'll be telling your hospice to, you know, I really wish I learned to fly. It was something I always [00:28:00] wanted to do.
So if there is something that you wanna do, if there is something that is calling you, my sexuality was calling me, you need to do it. Don't wait any longer. You can always find a reason why not to do it. So try to find a reason why to do it.
[00:28:17] Shannon Russell: I agree
[00:28:18] Anne-Marie Zanzal: Mm-hmm. ? Mm-hmm.
[00:28:19] Shannon Russell: It doesn't have to be coming out. It can be just flying a plane like you said, no one's going to. Do that, but yourself, like we are the ones to make that step. No one else can make you come out. No one else can make you fly the plane. So it's just a matter of saying, I have this one life and I, I tell my clients and I talk about it a lot on the podcast, is like, we get one shot. So what are you waiting for? Try it. And like you said, you can always go back. You can always, you know, maybe you can't go back to your marriage if you try it and it doesn't
[00:28:50] Anne-Marie Zanzal: No. Well, you may not be able to go back to your marriage, but by and large we say something in my later in life community, straight girls don't lie awake at night wondering if they're gay. [00:29:00] So if you're somebody who is laying awake at night wondering if you're gay or trans or something, chances are you probably are and the thing is, you can like, but even with all of that, you can leave your marriage. You can go into a relationship with a woman and you can decide after that and, and say it doesn't work out. You can decide, say, Okay, well I think I'm gonna be with men again, or, I think I'm gonna be alone. It's okay. . You know, and I'm thinking about you, Shannon. We just met and where you were talking about how you had gone back to school and you were gonna be a teacher and. You might have had regret if you never had tried that at the end of your life, but you tried it and you're like, Okay, this isn't for me
[00:29:44] Shannon Russell: Right.
[00:29:45] Anne-Marie Zanzal: But I'm sure if we had time for our conversation, you could probably tell me, then this happened, then this happened, and then this happened. And now you have a successful podcast. You have your business, you have two businesses, so you know, . If you hadn't tried [00:30:00] that one thing and realized that it wasn't for you, you just may not have let ended up where you are now. You
[00:30:05] Shannon Russell: You're so right and, everything that we try in life is something added to our life resume, if you will. You know, something that it's just adding to the person that we are. And I love that you are helping other people find theirs when it's a, a rocky road and a very emotional time. We were talking about this earlier too, is that on this podcast we talk a lot about the threads between all of our different acts. And I was saying to you that I feel like your thread, in my opinion, is service. You have had a life of service, whether it was you raising four kids, you being a grief counselor, you working in hospice, you now helping, women coming out. All of these aspects to you are really, truly giving back to other people and serving. Would you agree that that is kind of a thread
[00:30:52] Anne-Marie Zanzal: Well, you know, like the joke I made when we were talking about it, or I'm, I'm horribly codependent. One or the other
[00:30:59] Shannon Russell: Or [00:31:00] that.
[00:31:00] Anne-Marie Zanzal: or that, um, well, you know, this is the thing is I was raised Catholic. I went to Catholic school, and really as a young child, I was schooled in service and there are some really negative things about. What happened because, for example, a lot of times women, women just put themselves second or third all the time, especially in their relationships with their families. They do for everybody else except for them. So I've done that and I've, but I don't do that anymore at all. I was really, really trained to work for the good of others. My first job outta college, I was administrative assistant to a president of a company. And I hated that job with like a passion. And I remember thinking I don't wanna work when it has no meaning. So, When I went back to work and I started working for Girl Scouts, I really loved that job. I couldn't work anymore. For a [00:32:00] company that made widgets like. I could never do the corporate culture, and now that I have been a coach for the last four years, I could never work nine to five.
[00:32:11] Shannon Russell: Yeah.
[00:32:12] Anne-Marie Zanzal: My schedule is truly my own and I do work, you know, long days, but I have like four hours off here, two hours off there, you know, my work life is very integrated with my personal life. And my wife works from home too, so she's a photographer. So we have a very, like, we go out to lunch together all the time and do things like that because we can
[00:32:34] Shannon Russell: You're making the hours that work for you and you're helping people at the same time. I had a guest on my podcast this week and she discovered that she was terminally unemployable. And we laughed and laughed and I'm like, I am too. And Ann Marie, you are too.
[00:32:52] Anne-Marie Zanzal: Yes, I'm unemployable now. There is no way I could ever go back to a nine to five job. Nope, [00:33:00] nope, nope, nope, nope.
[00:33:01] Shannon Russell: I loved my, my corporate working in television. It was my dream job. But now, after being my own boss, you can't compare to just have your own schedule. I get to chat with you and then go pick my kids up from school.
[00:33:13] Anne-Marie Zanzal: For me and my wife, we, we love to travel, so literally, it's that freedom of being able to work from anywhere I like. If you can arrange your life to do it like. Do it This's. Amazing. . It brings happiness,
[00:33:31] Shannon Russell: It really does. Speaking of your traveling, where's your next big trip?
[00:33:36] Anne-Marie Zanzal: My next big trip is I'm going to the Ghost Ranch in New Mexico because I will be having a retreat there in May of next year, and I really wanted. To check it out before I had the retreat there. I'm working with a company called Women Out West Tours and so I'm doing that the first thing and then I'm going to tour Utah the next ti week cuz I'm having a great retreat. I have [00:34:00] three spaces left on it called I'm here, I'm queer. What's next? And it's for queer women who are at a crossroads and they need some clarity about what they wanna do, whether it's personally or professionally. You can see it all about it on my website and stuff like that.
[00:34:16] Shannon Russell: That sounds great. Let's talk about your podcast as well.
[00:34:19] Anne-Marie Zanzal: Okay, so my podcast is Coming Out and Beyond it's LGBTQIA Stories. So if you're somebody who's always sort of like, questioned or maybe thought maybe I'm gay, or, maybe I'm not straight, that's where I start with my people. The first season is all later in life lesbians telling their story except for one trans woman and a friend of mine who's this very cool person who is like, came out in 1970 and, and she's almost, she's like 75 now. And so she told her story, which was very, very interesting and cool. The second and third seasons are more about like some of the things we deal with. So for example, In our [00:35:00] community, a lot of women realize that they're gay because they fall in love with somebody. It can be a stranger, it can be someone they work with, it can be their best friend, and that's called the catalyst. And a catalyst can be a person or a catalyst can be an event. And that's when you have something significant happen in your life and it makes you realize you need to make some change. So a divorce, death of parents, death of spouse, um, illness, what either yourself, um, death of kids, I mean, something really, really seismic earthquake in your life happens. And that's a catalyst and a lot of people come out through that. So the, the second and third seasons are much more practical I had guests down there that can give some really solid advice about things.
[00:35:46] Shannon Russell: That sounds like a great resource for anyone who's
[00:35:48] Anne-Marie Zanzal: it's actually a great resource for if, whether you're gay or not, like, especially the second or third seasons, if you're an older woman who's getting divorced.
[00:35:57] Shannon: Alright. It's time for our Five Fast [00:36:00] Qs of the Week. Here we go!
[00:36:02] Shannon Russell: Name one thing that these different chapters in your life have taught you.
[00:36:08] Anne-Marie Zanzal: to listen to my inner voice.
[00:36:11] Shannon Russell: What is your inner voice telling you today?
[00:36:17] Anne-Marie Zanzal: Well, I was meditating this morning and it was telling me that. I need to go big. So , I think my inner voice is telling me that I need to have my story out there because I would like to share it more. So I wanna go big in that way. Speaking, I would love to speak.
[00:36:38] Shannon Russell: Yes.
Would you recommend taking a leap into a big life change to your best friend no matter what that change is?
[00:36:46] Anne-Marie Zanzal: Yes, yes, I do. That's what I do every day of my life. Yes.
[00:36:51] Shannon Russell: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone who's about to start their second act or third or fourth
[00:36:57] Anne-Marie Zanzal: This is it. Don't listen to the [00:37:00] opinions of others. and that goes back to listening to your inner voice. Sometimes people in our life are well meaning. But their opinions about how we should live our life, what we should do for work, all those things like that. It's more about them than about you. So really learn how to not listen to opinions of others, but also to be able to discern those opinions whose opinion is valuable and whose opinion? Not so much
[00:37:36] Shannon Russell: excellent advice. So what does the next act look like for you? I feel like we kind of touched upon it with the retreats, but just overall, what would you like to see in your next act or chapter?
[00:37:48] Anne-Marie Zanzal: You know, I've been doing a lot of work lately with my inner child and you know, you said, About service and everything like that. I'd like to have fun, Shannon. I've done a lot. My life has [00:38:00] been filled with a lot of work, tremendous amount of work, and a tremendous amount of care taking. So I wanna have fun. And I would like to not care so much and I would love to share my story and. I can share my queer story, that's fine, but it's so much more than that. It's about not being afraid to make significant changes when you're past 50. So I would really like to be an advocate for people who are over 50. Think that. They can't like leave a marriage that has nothing for them because, you know, they've put in 25 years or something like that and really helping people who are past 50 to find their voices and to live their most authentic lives, whether they're gay or straight.
[00:38:48] Shannon Russell: and you're living that, so you are the example to help
[00:38:51] Anne-Marie Zanzal: I am. I didn't like, it wasn't like my intention, but that's what happened.
[00:38:57] Shannon Russell: You're the catalyst. Anne Marie.
[00:38:58] Anne-Marie Zanzal: I'm the [00:39:00] catalyst. Oh, . Oh, that made me laugh.
[00:39:05] Shannon Russell: So where can our audience connect with you? Tell me all of the places, your podcast, your retreats, your website.
[00:39:11] Anne-Marie Zanzal: I am on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and TikTok now. And I have a website, annemariezanzal.com, where you can find all my blog posts, all the podcast. All my press stuff, everything I've ever done is all on that website, and so it's just my name with no hyphen, annemariezanzal.com.
[00:39:33] Shannon Russell: Wonderful. Ann Marie, I have just loved our conversation and laughing with you and I just thank you for sharing your story and I think it's special cuz this episode is coming out on October 11th National Coming Out Day I know your story is going to help a lot of other people, a lot of other women out there. So thank you for being open enough to.
[00:39:54] Anne-Marie Zanzal: Oh, thank you Shannon so much and thank you so much for the invitation to talk with you about it [00:40:00] today.
[00:40:00] Shannon Russell: Anne-Marie has had quite the life. Hasn't she? Creating a beautiful family, working in service as a minister, Comforting people in hospice, and now she is helping women on their journey of coming out. If you want to connect more with Anne-Marie, all of the links to her social will be in the show notes and her website is annemariezanzal.com. That's annemariezanzal.com. Make it a fantastic day my friend and we'll chat more next time
Thank you for joining us. I hope you found some gems of inspiration and some takeaways to help you on your path to Second Act Success. To view show notes from this episode, visit secondactsuccess.co. Before you go, don't forget to subscribe to the podcast. So you don't miss a single episode. Reviews only take a few moments and they really do mean so much. Thank you again for listening. I am Shannon Russell, and this is Second Act Success.