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COMMITMENTS : It's Not the Hand You're Dealt, but How You Play It


The ability to go on after a major life change is as necessary as breathing in promising a healthy, happy future. Death, divorce, a major career change or setback can kill your spirit, if you let it. The way to survive and triumph is to simply go on.

Many examples come to mind.

A woman was widowed in midlife. Although her children were grown, the sudden death of her husband could have shattered her existence. They had been devoted to one another, and she had spent a good deal of her time making his life comfortable. But she endured, got through the mourning, assessed her life--from where she lived to how she would cope financially--and then she went on.

It's a little more than a year now since her husband died, but she has rediscovered her life. She has sold a too-large house in an isolated neighborhood; she is dating a man who is devoted to her; she is viewing her glass as half full, not half empty.

She does not complain. She accepts the pain she has endured, but she opens herself to the pleasures life still holds. And she is not afraid to go after happiness.


Another woman endured a marriage she had entered into very young. She raised three children and tried to grow within a relationship in which her husband could not accept that she had grown from a girl into a woman who wanted a life beyond the four walls of their home.

When he couldn't accept her need to do and be something more, she divorced him, leaving behind considerable wealth and security to build a career, while still caring for her daughters. She worked steadily at building financial security and professional prominence. She spent a decade or so figuring out what she wanted in relationships by having several unsuccessful ones.

Then, one day, she looked around and decided that the job that she had, although highly visible and well-paid, wasn't the job of her dreams. Although she lived in a beautiful area, it was not a place suited to her love of outdoor activities. She decided to take a leap into the unknown by starting her own business, consulting for companies in areas that she truly enjoyed, ones she said helped encourage and empower people.

In her early 50s, she took advantage of the fact that, for the first time in 30 years, she had only herself to consider. She wanted to follow her dreams, and she didn't want to wake up at 75 regretting the chances she had been too afraid to take.

It's too early to say how this will turn out, but as she began to pursue her new life, I watched her become younger looking, even radiant. Real happiness is hard to hide.


Yet another woman reached the final straw in what had been an emotionally abusive and exhausting marriage. She knew she had to do something, even though she still had children who were relatively young.

She gathered her courage, confronted her spouse and worked her way through the many obstacles he and the legal system put in her path until she had freed herself and her children from the neurotic web he had woven around them. While going through the process, she managed to maintain her high-powered job and somehow also managed to give her children a sense of normalcy and security amid what was often lunacy.

She never lost sight of her goal, and she never thought it was impossible to achieve. If she was afraid, she never let it stop her. If she was discouraged, she never let it slow her down.

Going through life in a way that enhances one's own existence is a talent. Some people have the knack for it that others never seem to discover. God deals everyone some lemons, but it's those who can truly make lemonade from them who are really winners.

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