How to Start Over: 3 Inspiring Real-Life Stories - Goodlife Zen

How to Start Over: 3 Inspiring Real-Life Stories


By Mary Jaksch

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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About the author

Mary Jaksch

Mary is passionate about helping people create a happy, purposeful, and fulfilling life. She is the founder of GoodlifeZEN and also the brains behind, one of the biggest blogs for writers on the Net. Mary is also a Zen Master, a mother, and a 5th Degree Black Belt.


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