How to Start Over: 3 Inspiring Real-Life Stories

Here are three inspiring stories by Goodlife ZEN readers. Each one of them had to start over and struggle through a new beginning.  If you are contemplating a change to your life, read these stories.

They will show you that it’s never too late to follow your passion and win out.

Tess Marshall’s story

My father had an 8th grade education and my mother attended school through 6th grade. My life changed when our parish priest convinced me to enroll at the local university and attend college part time.

I was born on an 88 acre produce and trucking farm. When we turned five years old we were required to plant, weed, and pick produce along side our migrant workers. My sisters and I worked out in the fields in the sun, in the cold, in the rain and in the midst of lightening and thunder. On alternate days of the week we sold our produce at the Farmer’s Market. On the farm our studies were not a priority, work was. There was never time allowed for studying until the work was finished. The problem was it was never finished. Consequently, we were too tired to study, so when it came to grades my siblings and I slid by.

I never thought I was smart enough to attend college. My only goal was to leave the farm after meeting my boyfriend when I was 15. I was pregnant and married at 17. Without a plan for my life I was mom to four daughters at age 22.

I had dug myself a deep hole. My husband had two jobs to support us. I began a flower business from home. We attended church because it allowed us to sit still for an hour while the girls attended Sunday school.

Father Don, young and hip, helped coach the women’s softball team I joined. After the games the team would go out for drinks and listen to Father Don discuss his “hip philosophy.”

It was Father Don who convinced me to go to college. I was afraid I wasn’t smart enough, but he wouldn’t take no for an answer. He helped me choose two classes, “How to Study” and “Speed Reading.”  He showed me around campus pointing out the buildings where my classes were held. I aced my classes.

Because being a good parent was my priority, I never carried more than two or three classes at a time. After nine years I graduated. Hemingway wrote, “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places.” I felt strong, and able to conquer the world on graduation day! The girls were in high school when I went on to graduate school where I earned my Master’s in Psychology. Two years later I opened a private practice. ~ Tess Marshall The Bold Life


Raquel Galford’s story

I had a defining moment in which my life shifted dramatically. I worked in an office where I had the same co workers for 15 years. We had been through marriages, deaths, births, graduations together. We were like a small family. I loved the comfort that this familiarity offered me.

However, I made a decision which would change this forever. They purchased a winning lottery ticket worth 170 millions dollars, I did not choose to play with them due to my home circumstances. My husband, who is now my ex husband, wouldn’t work and so I was trying to make it on 1 income and my child wanted to play soccer. It took all I had to scrape up the amount I needed to get by.

Needless to say, money changes people. Everyone who won left the office. I was devastated. I couldn’t function. My marriage was falling apart. My ex was so angry at me for not playing, he was a gambling addict. I had no idea he had been taking my credit card and getting cash advances for over a year. I felt as if my entire life had fallen apart. I wallowed in self pity for a long while.

Then one day, I had enough so I pulled myself up off the ground, filed for divorce and got a second job so I could buy groceries for us to eat. The road I chose has not been easy. Being a single mom, working 2 jobs, and taking care of bills and the house is very hard at times. There are days I feel overwhelmed but then I look at my son and I remember why I do it.

Since my divorce, I have written a children’s book which has been published, I have discovered a talent for making jewelry and I have worked with an organization that provides free care for Palestinian children who live in refugee camps in Gaza.

I am amazed that out of so much sadness and pain that I emerged a better person than I was before. I now appreciate the fact that people do enter and leave our lives. We are not promised that they get to stay forever. They are on loan to us. I am still learning to really like change. It’s a journey that I must take. ~ Raquel Galford.


Kyrsten Bean’s story

Three years ago I was laid off from my first publishing job at age 26. My husband and I had to move out of our apartment, to the next city over to stay in the house my grandparents built in the 50’s. I was on a number of medications for back pain and depression. Daily life had become so complicated as a result that I needed uppers to combat the downers, sleeping aids, and an anti-depressant.

I was miserable.

I spent a year slowly tapering the meds (with no help from my doctor, who had consigned me to a life of pills) and finally checked into a detox facility to get off the last of them. The next year was very hard, as my body adjusted to being on nothing for the first time in years. I struggled with strange symptoms and syndromes. But nothing was as horrible as being on them was.

I learned to breathe. And accept.

I couldn’t find work for quite some time. I started volunteering at an organic for-profit kitchen. I gained confidence and met people who didn’t judge me for what I’d been through. I also started working with local newspapers on their directories of businesses. I spent my days taking photographs and interviewing business owners in my community. I got the opportunity to work in my own city on the directory.

The editor liked my work so much he gave me a stab at writing freelance articles. A writer my whole life, this was my first published work. I was tickled pink. Now, I work for the paper part-time and am focusing hard on a goal of full-time freelance writing.

If you would have told me a couple of years ago when I was deep in it that I would be learning kettlebell sport, writing for a paper, developing my freelance writing chops, writing music again, submitting poetry and completely involved in my local community, I wouldn’t have believed you. I had none of these things in the dark times.

There was no overnight transformation for me. It was a slow shift. I learned how to breathe instead of popping a pill and my life grew from there. I also read your site and others like it. It reminded me to let go. I know there are lots of people who are stuck where I was. Laid off, maybe on medications, not doing what they came here to do with their lives.

I love to help people, and I aim to do so with my writing. Currently I am pain and depression free, sober, and doing what I’ve always wanted to do due to a slow, gradual paradigm shift back to my true nature. I’ve made friends and opened my mind to life again. Thank you for your blog, and the writing you contribute to the world. ~ Kyrsten Bean

These three women are truly remarkable. They started over and won through.

The book is nearly finished

My new book “Start Over: Create the Life YOU want” is nearly complete. I’m just creating some videos and podcasts to go with it. I’m already looking toward writing a second book with more real-life stories of people who have triumphed against all odds. . The three stories above will be featured in my next book.

If you have a story about starting over, please tell us about it in the comments. It could either be about yourself, or about a story you read about in the news, or about a friend’s journey. Or just share your response to these three wonderful stories of starting over.

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  1. Aaron says:

    I am grateful for the opportunity to read this article, and leave my story. My name is Aaron, and I have subscribed to this blog for awhile and attended a Zen retreat or two. Two years ago, my wife and I decided to seperate. I htought I had left, only to find out later she had been having an affair for years and in less than 48 hours was openly dating and eventually married that man…who was one of my best friends. I fell in love with a co-worker who seperated from her husband at the same time, and started seeing her. Then, after a two year off and on relationship, she decided to go back to her husband. She is miserable and so unhappy, but I cannot make her decisions for her, and we still love each other very much. I was left with over 300 thousand dollars (US) in debt from my marriage and worked two jobs to try and maintain everything while I was hoping to sell my house. I could not maintain the work pace or the debt, and had to file bankruptcy. I lost everything except my car and a couple of guitars. Since that time, I am still single, but hopeful that my true love realizes we are meant to be together, but again, not my choice (I am learning to let her go – it is difficult), I am now playing guitar for a band and discovering my lost passion for music, and have received a promotion at work, now that I only have to work one job. I have a small apartment with some used furniture, but I am beginning to shape some kind of life. I just turned 36, and really feel like I am fresh out of college, almost like my terrible marriage and financial situation, followed by a very painful relationship failure has made the last 12 years not really ever happen. While my ex wife is trying to cause problems for me at work with the bankruptcy, I know that I am the better person to ignore her, and move on. It is not a success story yet, but I am starting to make one. One day at a time. Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I hope everyone has the life they want, and the happiness we all deserve.

    • Mary Jaksch says:

      Thanks for sharing your story, Aaron. You’ve come through a difficult time. I love how you say: “It is not a success story yet, but I am starting to make one.” Yes – we have to create our own success story!

  2. Mary,
    I was so surprised to see my photo and story pop up here! Raquel and Kyrsten’s stories are remarkable as well. It’s something how when I got my head above water and moved on eventually I could see the hardships my siblings and I endured were truly gifts and today I’m grateful for my work ethic, my love of nature, social skills (from the Farmer’s Market) and so much more. All is well. Thanks for posting my story. I appreciate you! xoxo

  3. Jenny says:

    Thank you to all who have shared their life stories. They are all so inspirational and reminds me on how we all have the ability to change our lives. My story is so trivial compared to these, but due to the economic downturn we are going through changes. I am so grateful for my loving family, friends and support outlets, such as Goodlife Zen.

  4. Thank you Tess, Raquel, Kyrsten and Aaron – you too, Mary, for showcasing them. (Lovely photo, Tess – just how I’ve always visualised you!) I became a certified life coach and later, what I call a coachwriter, as a result of my battle with incipient depression, brought about, I discovered later, by a chronic medical condition and the perimenopause. Your site will time out if I get into writing about it here, but if links are allowed, I describe it here in a piece that came straight from the soul, after I failed my coaching practical exam first time round but rediscovered my writing voice.

  5. Lindsay says:

    What beautiful women & stories they share! So inspiring. 🙂

  6. Thank you all so much for sharing these stories of tremendous strengths and triumph over adversity. Although each story is different the essence remains the same and to me they prove that it is only when we stop being angry and resisting the dark days and begin to see them as the lessons that they are meant to be, that we feel the flame of hope. Once we realise this, we will get a huge burst of energy to help us leap over those hurdles and move on towards who we were always meant to be. If Tess hadn’t been reared with such a strict work ethic she might never have got her masters in psychology or become a runner or reached her many other achievements. If Raquel had been in the pool for the winning lottery ticket she might have stayed with her husband, never written her book nor helped Palestinian children. And if Kyrsten hadn’t lost her job and had to deal with debilitating pain, depression and drug dependence she might never have found her way back to happiness and her true nature. In my last blog post ‘Do You Still Dare to Dream’ (the link is below) I told my story of coming out of denial about my ‘functional blindness’ and making the decision to beat this illness (they say there’s no cure) through TM (Transcendental Meditation), Yoga, and a healthy diet to include 100% positivity and determination. Already there has been a marked improvement since I made this decision. I have also decided that no matter what life dishes up for me I will achieve each and every one of my dreams, or be happy to die in the effort. ;D Thank you so much Mary for giving us these wonderful role models to inspire us all on our journey.

    • Mary Jaksch says:

      Hi Rosemary, thanks for your lovely comment. I love what you say: “Although each story is different the essence remains the same and to me they prove that it is only when we stop being angry and resisting the dark days and begin to see them as the lessons that they are meant to be, that we feel the flame of hope.”

      Could you please give us the link to your last post?

  7. This all very powerful Mary and I am so glad to be able to share these stories. I’m thankful to you for opening up the opportunity and I’m thankful to the three brave women who have stepped forward and shared such moving examples of courage and perseverance. Central to each one it seems to me is trust. These three have revealed a remarkable trust and it is very inspiring.
    Christopher Foster´s last blog post ..In troubled times remember balance

  8. Kyrsten Bean says:

    Thank you for using my story, Mary. I also like what Rosemary says here, “Although each story is different the essence remains the same and to me they prove that it is only when we stop being angry and resisting the dark days and begin to see them as the lessons that they are meant to be, that we feel the flame of hope.” I find that when things are tough, accepting that it’s tough is helpful, instead of fighting it and tell myself how things ought to be instead. I’ve learned that I can get through situations that are very painful physically without pills and other hard emotional situations as well, just by learning to breathe and accept.

    I really hope that my story can help someone else. It seems so simple now, the whole journey, but I can’t even describe how hard it was and how many people helped and continue to help me along the way (especially my husband, who worked hard seven days a week to support us when I was out of work).

    Also, an update. I am no longer part-time freelancing as I was at the time I submitted my story, I am back to doing freelance writing full time thanks to a leap of faith! I wanted to share that for anyone who is working some icky part-time job and is afraid to take the leap. Jumping into the pool worked for me and I ultimately have found the words of Kelly James-Enger, a successful freelance writer, to be true, “you can’t serve two masters.”

    • Mary Jaksch says:

      Hey, that’s great news, Krysten. Can you please email me the ‘story sequel’? And maybe you could write here in the comment section and let us know how you managed to becoming a full-time freelancer. I’m impressed!

  9. Kyrsten Bean says:

    I also want to add that I feel honored to have my story up there alongside Tess and Raquel’s stories!
    Kyrsten Bean´s last blog post ..Take the Plunge It Works!

  10. I love these stories! And I love that you’re doing a book on this subject, Mary!! I love all “up from splat” stories. 😉

    I have started over so many times in my life that it became the catalyst for my site. But I think the most inspiring story of starting over I know is my husband, Tim’s story. In 2006, he suffered a head injury that wiped out his lifetime memories. Although he retained basic skills and vocabulary and such, his life memories were erased–including any memory of us meeting, falling in love, marrying, etc. All the people and experiences and knowledge that made him who he was were totally gone.

    It took several months for him to recover from the sense of disconnection from the world–a sort of blurry fog that made everything seem like it was moving in slow motion for him. But by the end of 2006, he began to think more clearly and retain information he was taking in. So essentially, his life began just over 4 years ago. We tease him and say he’s a 50 year old 4 year old. The way he has taken this clean slate and chosen how he’s going to view the world and his life and what he’s going to love and give his attention to has been truly awe-inspiring to me and others who know him.

    He agreed to talk to me about his experience of having a childlike perspective of discovery in a video interview, which is on my site on the #Coregreen page. When you listen to him, you get a true sense of what it’s like to live in the now and create yourself one day at a time.
    Ande Waggener´s last blog post ..Are you Misusing Your “I Am”

  11. When one of my business relationships failed and I resigned as director of the company, my life plunged into despair and misery.

    In retrospect, I can now see that I was in fact going through a period of mourning. There had been a death of a relationship and of a dream that had driven me for seven years. We had invested our blood, sweat and tears into an operation that had turned sour. It had cost us everything.

    Where once we had been at the helm of the ship that was carrying us to our dreams, we had suddenly ended up in the hull scrubbing floors. We had found ourselves in a ship that had lost its direction and because we no longer held a position on the bridge we were forced to man the lifeboats and disembark for good.

    Once in the lifeboat, with our dreams shattered, our hopes discarded and with no defined future ahead, my perspective on life became distorted.

    Where there once had been light there was now a black tunnel.

    It’s name?


    After the business relationship failed, my days were filled with depression. The only respite came when I slept. From someone who had been extremely active, I became sluggish and started to put on unwanted weight. Anger would flare at the slightest provocation, and my family began to travel along a rocky road of destruction.

    What do you do when the business, which was your identity, dies?

    Not even my wife could reach the depths of despair I found myself engulfed in. I became violent.

    I’ll never forget the time when my wife and the three children huddled together on our bed, terrified I was going to rise up and strike them. At that very moment I stopped and took a long, hard look at myself saying, ‘If you keep heading down this path you’re currently heading in, you’re going to lose your family.’

    It was time to stop. It was time to cease mourning. I needed to move on, bury the past, forgive past wrongs, accept responsibility for my future, my family and for my life. I needed to pick up the pieces and start rebuilding my dream.

    And that is what I have done….moved on with my family and those I love dearly intact.
    Peter G. James Sinclair´s last blog post ..7 Reasons Why I Love Being Unemployable

    • Mary Jaksch says:

      Hi Peter, I love your story. But, please, tell us about chapter 2! That is, I would love to know how you managed to turn your life around, and what your life is like now.

      • Chapter 2?

        Thank you for asking Mary.

        Here is how I turned my life around…

        I have just celebrated my 28th wedding anniversary.

        I have developed and sold two businesses – the latest being a successful web design company that I developed with the assistance of my two eldest children for 7 years. One of the motivating reasons to sell the business was to allow my children to be released to pursue their individual passions, and so they have, over the past 6 months, launched their own global online businesses.

        I have self published three best-selling personal development books that have been sold throughout Australia and the UK. I have also published three other authors.

        I have just purchased my first hair salon as my youngest daughter graduated as a professional hairdresser at the end of last year. My wife loves the idea of having her own personal salon.

        I am writing my Motivational Memo blog with a renewed passion, and as of January this year I am now being taught by a professional blogger how I can begin to monetize my website while helping people from all over the world. People from 117 nations are currently reading it, and just in the past month my readership has increased by over 30% – so the initial signals are looking great.

        I am currently helping other business owners to grow their business by conducting weekly business coaching sessions.

        I have been invited to travel for two weeks to speak professionally to the leaders of communities and their organizations throughout my state of Qld. This was planned long before the recent floods and cyclones, so the timing is perfect to encourage and inspire people.

        All in all I love to inspire, motivation and equip people to become all that they have been created to become – so I am living the dream at present and having lots of fun.

        Depression’s focus years ago was on me, myself and I. My focus since those dark days has turned to helping others – and what a joy it is.
        Peter G. James Sinclair´s last blog post ..7 Reasons Why I Love Being Unemployable

  12. Mariam says:

    Wow, amazing inspirational women. Just the material n real life start over stories that I need to be Reading right now. I’m a mother of a 20 old baby girl and run my own business (which lately I’m not spending much time on and leaving it all to my husband) due to lack of motivation. My days r spent lazying about not because I want to but because everytime I seem to want to get up I’m knocked rightback down with bad news. I can’t get over having to be rushed off to be operated on after just having my baby… The shock, fear, being alone still grips me. Still makes me cry. I know I should be grateful and happy, I have a beautiful daughter who is progressing well and most of the time a supportive husband (although we hav been through violent times). We started the business just after 7 weeks of having our daughter and it’s been a struggle since. At the same time I had my in laws over to live with me for 3 months and even though they were lovely, them being there meant more visitors and responsiblities. Inside me I hate my husband for starting the business. The real reason I started it was because I didn’t trust him (I found out he was stilling talking to his ex, at the beginning of our relationship) so iv not been able to trust fully eversince, although it has improved quite a bit. On the first official day of trading I ended up getting by husband arressted because of violence and torture. He’s not like this no more. It’s been 9 months with no violence and I am now a happier person but left feeling hopeless. My marriage (even though is mostly loving and healthy) is balanced on not being able to trust and business is failing because I seem to be stuck in a rut. I can’t seem to get up n get on. I have the picture perfect life for outsiders looking in but in reality I’m not where I want to be. The Recent good bit of news I have had recently is when my husband valued it and the valutation was a good price. I’m ready to make changes and these stories will help me. Any tips and suggestions are welcome. My day 1 is today; any tips on how to get through the 1st and hardest phase and stay motivated and focus will help.

  13. Mariam says:

    O I also wanted you to know iv been through depression. I hated the way I looked after putting on so much weight in pregnancy. I went from a size 8 to 18 but am now a size 12. I keep on trying to make changes but fail. Being in bed everyday, watching tv seems easier but I know it’s destroying, me, my family, my business – my whole life. HELP I rly need toget out of this. My husband doesn’t understand me most of the time and doesn’t realise he’s constantly putting me down. I don’t talk to anyone about my situation because iv always been the one everyone comes to.

    • Mary Jaksch says:

      Oh, Mariam – I really feel for you. The way forward is by improving your life in very small steps. My suggestion is to give yourself 30 minutes a day when you absolutely don’t have to cope. During these 30 minutes you can crawl under the duvet, hide in the wardrobe – or what ever feels best. Don’t answer the phone. BUT – set your alarm. When the alarm goes, your ‘no cope’ time is over. Get up, shower, get dressed, and face the day. I hope you are taking medication!

      May you be well
      – Mary

  14. gijesh says:

    really inspiring …. thank you guys for sharing such inspiring life stories… becz it give so much courage in to my life to succeed in my life.. it flash more light .. Thank you
    And my prayer to those who strive to win.. love u all
    gijesh´s last blog post ..Silence

  15. Kyrsten Bean says:

    To clarify, I had been freelancing all of last year for just one company as a client, but some of the work dried up, so at the time of my first email I had taken a part-time job at a grocery store out of fear. I hated working there so much, and I was exhausted trying to pair that with the part-time freelancing I was doing for the newspaper. I got really sick in January with an endless viral infection that got in my lungs.
    I was a royal horror to those around me, just because I was worn out, stressed and felt a little hopeless for the time being.
    During that time I sent out dozens of clips and resumes to companies as well as gigs I saw for writing work. The client from last year gave me a bunch of work out of the blue and I got very good reception from those businesses I sent my clips and resume to.
    Basically, I just decided to stop being fearful and making myself work for less than what I am worth. Since I was sick for so long, I had nothing to lose. My hard work paid off in a couple of weeks.
    I took a couple of assignments and now am working on some tech writing, copy writing and consulting for a website, and photography and copy writing for the newspaper directory again, as well as the column I do and weekly articles for the paper. I’m also taking a magazine writing class so I can attempt to break out of the newspaper market. I’m optimistic about this year, because it will be my second year freelancing, and I now know how to drum up assignments by finding businesses to query.
    Everything has been somewhat serendipitous once I did the hard work to find resources. I also have a lot of faith in my abilities due to a strong background in marketing and sales that helps with selling myself. Not that everything is peaches and roses. I do get stressed and I already took on too much work, so I’m learning to manage my time and not be scared of turning things down.
    Also, while I was sick I emailed out a lot of my poetry. I’ve had six acceptances in poetry magazines and around four or five rejections. Not bad odds! I’m not a literary genius, but I’m definitely finding a counter-culture niche for my work, which is helping with stress management.

  16. i was out of town and offline for a few days, so i am a bit late to the conversation, but i wanted to say thank you for sharing these inspirational stories! i don’t feel like i have had to overcome seemingly unbeatable odds myself, but these stories make me realize there is NO EXCUSE not to go for something big, follow my dreams and make a huge difference!
    marianney | A Life Set Free´s last blog post ..1 Powerful Video About Minimalism

  17. Hi Mary,
    I just have to say thanks again for sharing these stories. I love the advice you gave to Mariam I think I’ll take it myself occasionally!

    When the four girls were 4 years and under and I was 22 years old there were days I’d cry myself to sleep thinking I can’t do this anymore. I thought of suicide but knew better. Hubs used to say…just one foot in front of the other you can do it. I think he told me that a least a hundred times for the first 4 years. Then I was over the hump of being exhausted. Not that it wasn’t still difficult. But it was doable.

    Looking back what he was telling me was to live in the present moment. I listened to him and took it one step at a time. If I would’ve allowed myself to live in the future, I would’ve bolted. No doubt!
    Tess The Bold Life´s last blog post ..Kick Your Obstacles to the Curb- Live Your Dream

  18. Jen says:

    Hi Mary 🙂

    What a wonderful post! So inspiring 🙂 Like most people, I have a story of how I overcame a huge challenge & built myself back up from ruin. Actually, Tess from The Bold Life interviewed me just last week about my story, but here’s the short version:

    Just over six months ago, my fiance & I moved to the other side of the world (from Melbourne, Australia to far north China), in order to live there for an entire year & teach English. Soon after, I was fired, physically ill, desperately homesick, & felt like a failure.

    After time spent feeling miserable & hating being in China, I realised that how the rest of the year turned out is entirely up to me. I chose to make it the best year of my life, & since then I have been living up to that promise to myself, & far exceeding my own expectations of what I can achieve & how AWESOME life can be 🙂

    I did whatever I could think of in order to live the happy, fulfilling life that I had dreamed of, including starting a blog, which I love SO much, & now I wake up with a smile on my face every morning! It’s amazing how having a passion for something can turn you into a morning person! 🙂
    Jen´s last blog post ..A Gift Of Positivity!

  19. TL3 says:

    Wow. These stories are really inspirational. I so wish I could have a great story. My husband and I are going through a terrible time right now. He’s a contractor in Afghanistan and I’m a stay-at-home-mom of 3 boys (8,5, and 7m). My husband experienced something very traumatic after being attacked overseas and came home a few weeks ago with severe ptsd. To add insult to injury his ex-employer hadn’t paid him since Novemeber 2010 (company is now defunct and he’s being investigated by the FBI…so no $ coming from him). We are living off the last bit of our savings and getting to the last dime very quickly. He went back recently to do a short job and get some money. We are both Army Veterans. He was a decorated police officer who resigned because his superiors retaliated when he filed a formal complaint against them for ‘derilication (sp) of duty’ (basically, everyone who was supposed to be on shift was drunk @ the Dept Christmas party and my husband had to respond to an armed robbery by himself!!) He no longer was to be a cop. I don’t have any family around and we just can’t see past this dark cloud that has settled over us. We are literally @ the end of our ropes…I would love to find something I’m good at and make that into a career, but i’m not good at anything. I have no hobbies or passion for anything. One thing I am thankful for is that I’m a disabled veteran and we can at least have my disablity $, but that’s not nearly enough. How do you pick yourself up when you feel like you’re buried!???

    • Hi TL3

      I was really moved by your story – and I trust Mary won’t mind me passing on to you some words of encouragement.

      I have written two responses to this wonderful post about how I overcame depression. Now that was feeling buried. I overcame it through prayer (I cried out ‘help!’ on a number of occasions in my darkest hour – and help always came in one form or other).

      I then asked myself – what gives me the greatest joy? It was my young children at the time. I ended up writing a bunch of letters to my children that ended up in a book. I wasn’t a great writer at the time – but by writing to them it really helped me to deal with my issues at the time….and through the whole process I discovered my passion. It took a whole lot of years to discover, but it was worth the wait.

      I’ll be praying for you, your husband and your three children….that great success be yours both now and into the future. If it happened for me – it can happen for you.
      Peter G. James Sinclair´s last blog post ..3 Great Reasons To Stop Playing The Blame Game

  20. S.GIRI KUMAR says:

    that was a wonderful write up highlighting that strong willed persons can definitely make
    a change in their lives. Good Luck

    giri kumar

  21. Marc Stidham says:

    Thanks to everyone for sharing their stories. Its good to hear that good things can come from bad. I am going through my 3rd divorce. The woman I fell so in love with was my world. My best friend, my wife and my inspiration. She had told me about her rough childhood when we met and was honest (or so I thought) about everything she had accomplished to overcome those adversities. She was going through a divorce at the time and I was told about the horrible person her husband was, he used to beat her, etc. Within the first 2 years of being married, we had two beautiful children, our son 3 and our daughter 2 now. I have full custody of my 11 year old son from my second marriage. My second wife decided to marry someone she met who lived 3 hours away and decided to leave my son with me and see him one weekend a month, which has been the case for 5 years now. Over the past year and a half, I’ve endured a Xanax/Paxil addiction with my wife, her heavy drinking while taking this medication, black-outs, violent outbursts to me, cheating on me behind my back, her attempted suicide in which I found her in a pool of blood in our bathroom one night, baker acts, rehab for drug and alcohol addiction and so on.

    I truly tried to help my wife get the best help that money could by only to find out later that she never told them anything about her past. Once she secured a good paying job, the long work nights began, manipulation, lies, deceit and cheating began. I cared for our children more and more until finally I could not tolerate this person ruining my life.

    I found an email to a guy at her work she had been seeing and decided to end it for good. When I confronted her, she said she never sent any email, what am I talking about? Now four months later, she is living with the guy, he’s 24, she’s 38. Everything in our marriage was told to me to be one thing and she always did another. Over the past 4 months, the courts have taken overnight visits away from her with our children, she’s been wearing a SCRAM bracelet for 4 months, had to do a mandatory 90-in-90 AA and although she was given 3 days a week to see the kids during the day, she’s reduced it to less and less and hardly calls them either. Because of this whole situation with my current wife, my ex-wife saw it as an opportunity to step in and take her son back, whom she left with me 5 years ago to get married.

    The two exes were Facebooking each other and telling each other their own versions of what had happened and completely destroyed my reputation with friends and family. A guardian was appointed to see if her accusations of abuse were legit and they were not, so that case is finally coming to an end, although the other is still on-going.

    All I hear about from my 3 year old is the things that he does with the current wifes new boyfriend which I am happy about because I feel like at least someone is paying attention to him for the 6 hours a week he spends at her house. It’s going on 5 months of being separated and I’m having difficulty paying bills to care for 3 children, paying legal fees, etc. I only get $175 a month from my ex for child support and haven’t gotten a dime from my current wife although she holds a $100K job. Although she filed a guideline support agreement agreeing to what my attorney said she should pay, she refuses saying “I’m not paying anything until a judge orders me too”. She hasn’t purchased anything for the kids since she left, she returns their dirty laundry to me when they come home because she doesn’t have a washer/dryer, and the list goes on and on.

    In the end, therapy has taught me that you have no control over other peoples actions and/or emotions. I have never been bitter, never been nasty and yet I’m the most hated person in their world.


    My older son made the honor roll at school and has perfect attendance 3 years in a row and my younger children are healthy and happy and know that no matter what happens, “daddy” is always there for them and never lets them down. My advice to everyone is to take care of yourself and your children and it all comes back to you when you tuck them into bed at night and know you’re providing them a safe and happy environment despite others feelings to the contrary.

    I have a very good paying job, but find myself with only $50 a week left in my account, but my children are healthy and happy and the last words from them at night are “I love you daddy”, which makes each day worth the trouble that I endure.

    Thanks again for everyones stories….

    • Aaron says:

      I am not fortunate enough to have children, but I hope to one day (or at least, step children). Your story is very inspirational, and I hope you continue to do the right thing and never give up.

  22. Marc,
    Keep on keepin on! When thinks look all gloom and doom I remember, “we really don’t know what anything is for.” We can never see the larger picture. Never. It’s so wise of you to count your blessings in times of distress. That alone will change your energy at any given moment. I was telling hubs last night we are in the top 10% of the wealthiest people in the world. Most Americans are even though things look so bad right now. I can see why minimalism is such a hit these days. Until we sift through all exterior “stuff” we don’t get to the interior. And there lies our opportunity to love on a deeper level, with a deeper commitment every moment of the day. Let all stories go and focus on love. Never think of yourself as a failure. Divorce doesn’t equal failure. It’s another opportunity to learn and grow bigger and better in love. Take care.
    Tess The Bold Life´s last blog post ..A Burst of Strategies to Increase and Savor Love

  23. Deanna says:

    Unbelievable timing! Thank you for sharing your stories on this website! I have been rolling around in the muck far too long and realised just last night, what Oprah called an, “Aha moment” that I am not all washed up, that I don’t need to listen to the negative tapes that play over and over in my head. I am far too aware of my self talk and my self does not talk nicely to me! I thought long and hard about what I could say about myself that I like. I found that I could actually say many things that I think are good about me. What I know are the good things about me. What I have to give and offer. I thought my career as a special needs teacher was over because my body no longer can keep up the hypervigilance required to keep everyone safe. My body, mind, soul, entire being was so exhausted that I was wishing illness / an emergency appendectomy on myself. Then the Aha! Take this time I have been so clearly wasting while on stress/anxiety leave and think about what I can do, not what I no longer can do. Then I typed in a potential name for my consultancy agency and found your website by chance! There is hope! Everything will be okay. I can use this experience, all twenty-five years of teaching children with special needs… I’m not all washed up, it’s not all over…. I have been grieving what I thought was a lose of a career but now I can see the new path, the dam has leaked and a new river is forging! Thank you thank you thank you.

  24. Christopher says:

    All of you who went through so much are amazing. Never forget that. Love, Christopher

  25. Kalypso says:

    I just spent the last half hour or so reading these posts when I had other things I probably should have been doing; however, taking care of myself is far more important (I have to remind myself that the laundry can wait a little while). Though it seems ironic, reading how other people have overcome seemingly unsurmountable odds has given me the comfort and hope I need to take a deep breath and look for the light at the end of the tunnel. Your amazing posts have humbled me (and I believe we all need a dose of humility now and then); I am once again reminded that my problems are far more universal than I have a tendency to think.

    Fortunately for me, I now have a husband who is kind, supportive, and loving, and I hope he would say the same of me; both of us have been (and are going) through situations similar to many of you–especially problems having to do with ex-spouses (too numerous to mention here). In my opinion, issues involving loved ones are the most difficult to overcome and create the most lasting impressions on us; however, time lessens the intensity of the pain, and–as some of you have said already–I believe the best plan is to focus not on what we (feel) we are incapable of, but on what we CAN do to help ourselves and others. Like many of you, I feel compelled to write, and am actually taking an online writing course that I hope will someday lead to a lucrative freelance writing career; it has already taught me much I didn’t know about writing (even after all those university-level composition classes) and has given me a creative outlet that is a real blessing during these difficult times.

    I wish you all the best…Peace, Love, and Happiness. Namaste.

  26. Robbie says:

    It is so true that how you think and react to your situation is so important. I still struggle with this… But usually when things are at their most challenging I can get excited about the prospects and know that with hard work and determination things are going to get better.

    Thanks for these uplifting stories!
    Robbie´s last blog post ..Austin Web Designs

  27. […] In fact, it was one of the worst. A very bare bones synopsis of what mired me at 27 is posted on Goodlife Zen. I never linked it before, because I didn’t want to make my picture or that battle public on […]

  28. Phillip says:

    I really am lost!!! I do not know where to turn at this point! I need someone to help me help myself…PLEASE!!!! I do not see ANY HOPE!!! I can’t give up because of my son… I don’t have family to talk, to and I have alienated everyone else I know. I don’t have it in me to fight back anymore. I don’t like the way I am feeling and thinking. Nothing seems to be clear anymore. Is there any way to find the help I am seeking? To know me would help you understand the desperation of my situation. I am not a person that looks for help…I have always been the one to give it.

  29. Melissa says:

    Ugh, what an inspiring page, and to think I can recover too. I have 2 children (3 and 1) both at home all day with the youngest ones father who won’t work. I work 5 days a week and make pennied to support the 4 of us. I was just diagnosed with severe thyroid problems possible surgery. I am a nervous wreck. Decided to talk to him about my problems and he decides he wants to leave. I know having a man around isn’t a priority but when he is the stay at home dad it is. We dont speak anymore aren’t intimate at all. I don’t sleep and mask my problems with a fake smile. his family pays all his bills and their name is on our car, we live in his grandmothers apartment. everything i have had is gone. I have my babies and nothing. I can’t work i’d i have no one to watch my kids and all i wanna do is support them the best i can. I know i can start over, but how to actually do it, that i don’t know. I need the credit i deserve for sticking it out this long. and I get none. I feel lost.

  30. tudou99 says:

    Hello there! Nice post! Please when we could see a follow up!

  31. Faruk123 says:

    I would love to find something I’m good at and make that into a career, but i’m not good at anything. I have no hobbies or passion for anything.Great post thanks for sharing…
    Faruk123´s last blog post site

  32. bdlivenews says:

    Hi Mary, It is your excellent post and I really like it. I enjoyed reading your articles. This is truly a great read for me. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. Keep up the good work!
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  33. klynaire says:

    you have a great story. thanks for sharing…..
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  34. Patty Duke says:

    I really loved this post. You write about this topic very well. I really like your blog and I
    will definitely bookmark it! Keep up the super posts!
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  35. Mirar Maa says:

    What a brilliant post. You should do a series! :)I did a sort of blogging for dummies over
    on one of the craft forums and I thought it was too simple for them, but the amount of
    emails I got asking questions just like what you addressed was unbelievable. As young
    people today we have grown up with computers, but it’s easy to forget that even people
    just a few years older have not! Really good post! 🙂
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  36. Vijay says:

    like this article a lot, specially the hardship people had to go through and finnally manage everything on their own. It seems like my troubles are nothing in front of yours.

  37. Pia says:

    Superb post, as if I was reading a novel, great story than even other people were inspired to share their stories also..
    Pia´s last blog post ..Face Lift Alternative

  38. Arlene says:

    I love this kind of stories as it gives me strength when I’m down… really really like it!

    Arlene of Mummy Blog School

  39. Justine says:

    When I read such stories I confirm that Am not alone. They are inspiring stories. I have gone through it too. Am encouraged and am working on a short story of my life experience at campus entittled ” Tough decisions for tough times at campus” . I thank all the writers for the tough decisions they made when life seemed to have ended.


  40. Debra says:

    My story is hard so maybe with all the positive energy floating around someone can send me some. Born 1958 into a world of pain mental physical sexual abuse and as soon as a man (10 years older) paid attn to me (I was 14) i latched on got pregnant took me to another state 1000 miles away and left me. I had to go back to the home filled with abuse and brought a child into a world of drama and pain after she was born I was asked to leave again so I tried to raise this child with no education making about 65 cents an hour I went to a family member who I thought was always so happy and so were her grown children and asked her if she could give my child what she gave her children (happiness) she took her and i always remain in contact while I struggled to get my life in some order. How could someone in my state of mind determine what happiness is ??? I made the worst mistake ever this woman ended up being the most horrible women ever she planted negative seeds in my daughters mind about me and until this day 38 years later haunt me. I married the second time to a man that wanted me as his slave it was what I could do for him only and even told me at one point that the only reason he married me was because of the shape of my mouth (good for oral sex) yuck!!! and that he should of married someone who couldn’t speak english and he would teach her only to say YES. He filed for divorce and I left thanking God that he set me free. Third marriage wonderful man hard working. We built a farm together both out of a divorce didn’t have anything but we worked side by side and manage to purchase a 45 acre farm. He was a truck driver and I was a CNA, he was in an accident caused by a drunk driver ended up being a quadriplegic and the three years after his accident I was his caregiver, physical therapist, book keeper fought long and hard to get him everything help from VOC until finally he got payment and as soon as the money came his family did too and then I was not useful and he filed for divorce so that his children would inherit his estate. The entire time of his rehabilatation I rarely saw family, of course complete rehab would never happen but at the first three years he couldn’t lift his arms after working on him everyday sometimes all day he managed to get mobility in his arms and little in his hands enough to feed himself and push his joy stick on his wheel chair. I still talk with him maybe twice a week only because a drunk turned his life upside down and no matter how our life turned out he did not deserve what he got, he always looked out for his family. I admired and loved this man to no end, but now i am starting all over again and i really don’t have the get up and go anymore or the want. I have a job but its enough to get by and for three years i sleep and work until i have dug a hole big enough to crawl in and can’t see how to get out. I keep myself at a distance from everyone and the real shocker is that i am back where i was born and i look around and all family are alcholics, my mother commited sucide years ago and here i sit. I don’t drink or do drugs and I ask my self why did I come back here??? and how do I get out of here…….

  41. […] can read the original article here, where you will also find 2 other beautiful life stories about starting over from Tess Marshall and […]

  42. Andrea says:

    It is so important to me right now to see these stories. To know that maybe I can begin again as well. I am lucky in that my only obstacle is and always has been, myself. For whatever reason I continue to stand in my own way. I continue to belittle myself and deny myself happiness. So many people who love me try to encourage me and build me up. A moment here and there I am built up only to fall again and so quickly.

  43. Faune says:

    I’m posting this to see if anyone has any advice for me. I’m 54, just lost my job and my apartment. I have had to stay with my parents the last 2 months and it’s not working; it didn’t work when I was growing up and it’s not working any better now. I have no money, no car, no job, no savings. I have a wonderful 26 year old son who tries to do things for me, but I’m not his responsibility and I also wonder what he thinks of his mother that had to move back in with her parents. He’s trying to find himself at the moment too. I was going to go to a shelter or a halfway house but I live in Denver and they were all full, so it was this or the street. The problem is I’m not wanted here and I know it and I really need to leave.
    Does anyone have an idea how or where I can go with nothing. I feel trapped and lost and I’m a strong person. I was a single mother for years and have had to remake myself many times but never without anything, so if anyone has any ideas please tell me before I break.

  44. Rennie says:

    My heart goes out to you Faune, and to you Debra, and also to you Melissa.

    I have landed in “no-where-ville” because I decided the big city (SanJose CA) was too corrupt and full of mean, stressed out people, and I had been victimized too many times, and I decided I would just go to a small town somewhere, take my life savings and start a new life out there, where people weren’t horrible to each other. A small town where people were kind to one another.

    Unfortunately in that small town I was drugged (which one does not know, at the time) and began to have fantasies that HE was Jesus, SHE was Mother Mary, HIM was an Indian Shaman…and all this seemed normal as I wrote them checks until my money was gone, and watched them steal my every possession with a drug-hazed chuckle. I was also hospitalized in a loonie bin, er, behavioural health clinic. Only after three months of this drug-induced euphoria did I finally get a clue: why is my money gone? why do I feel “happy” yet want to die? why am I sleeping on the streets, or lodging with a friend in his feces-infested slum? I have to get out of here. Just to see if I can…

    Leaving the area (driving away was ungodly difficult) got me back to a non-drugged and sensible mental state: Turns out I was drugged with DMT, 20x more powerful than LSD! But now…although sober…I have no money/life savings, I have no employable skills, and I have absolutely no trust in human beings. I sleep in my car, or occasionally at the apartments of ex boyfriends, and I don’t want to live anymore. I’m just too lazy/depressed to end it all.

    What do I do now? I had given up hope in SanJose and moved to a small town to save myself, but everything got much much worse. I can’t stand to live in a big city, I am terrified to live in a small town…life is so horrible! Will someone please help me? Will someone please want me? All I ever wanted or tried to do, was be helpful and kind, and living like this with no one who cares is so horrible… Rennie

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  46. sarah says:

    I’ve really liked it.And to my surprise we share same life experiences. Which means that we may be in the same boat of tough moments but those who reaches there landing sites of happiness motivates us that we can make it

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