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Starting Over; Tragedy and Life Changes

Updated on October 4, 2011

Lessons learned

I am no stranger to starting over. Every time I figure it out, life throws me a curve ball. From single to married. From career woman to stay-at-home mom. When I finally had life with a new baby figured out, I got diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (painful chronic autoimmune illness). I've made a comfortable living for most of my life, and now I worry about money like millions of others out there.

As I watched my little girl fumble with learning to do things for the first time, it felt odd being able to physically relate to her rather than being the one to teach her. Here I was, 35, asking others for help and struggling to learn how to do things by myself because my hands are weak and painful. For me, a formerly athletic individual, it was hard starting over, sometimes at the level of my 3 yr old daughter.

I've come to laugh at myself when my little girl and I are both fighting with the mechanics of a toddler's toy. We've literally gotten on the ground and rolled with laughter. Two years ago I would have felt like a failure for not being able to fix or help my daughter with one of her toys. Now she still takes my lead, but for something much more valuable- not taking life too seriously. Instead of beating myself up, I can laugh and redirect my energy to something else. I can still be someone my daughter looks up to despite my physical shortcomings. I can still, with all honesty, believe that things happen for a reason.

I suspect many others reading this have had to start over, at some point, whatever it may be. We remember 9/11 terrorist attacks like it was yesterday- many lost their lives and many started over. We all have our stories, our shortcomings. Japan was hit by a high magnitude earthquake, then a fierce tsunami, and finally a breakdown of nuclear reactors, leaking dangerous radiation levels into their environment. But life went on and new beginnings occurred even as more tragedies unfolded.

9/11 Terrorist Attacks
9/11 Terrorist Attacks


Tragedy occurs suddenly; like what we witnessed 10 years ago on 9/11. It can be death, war, natural disasters, unexpected major news or life changing events. Tragedy is also in the eyes of the beholder. A story you hear on the news is just a story, death is merely death, but the public and/or personal perception can turn it into a tragedy. This tragedy can effect people and polices connected to it for sometimes years to come. It is difficult to move on when it is a nationwide or worldwide disaster and is remembered for years to come- we want to pay respects, but not wallow in that particular time and event. I promise you, it's not often sunshine and lollipops are the result of tragedies, but good often shines brighter out of the dark.

The initial reactions to tragedy are grief, loss, depression, stress, blame, guilt, and comfort within faith. Most of this sounds incredibly sad if there weren't a positive side to tragedy. I never felt so united as a nation until after the 9/11 attacks. I really saw how the human spirit deals with devastation on a large scale, yet people all over the nation stuck together and provided support amidst their grieving.

Tragedy can bring great changes, awareness, and new beginnings. I love saying, "We would not know happiness, if we did not know sadness." We have to consider the other side of tragedy. The chance to start over, which implies renew, fresh, chance, and are all positive. It is only a tragedy if we do not grow and learn from it- if we do not make the most of it.

Life Changes

Life changes can be considered a divorce, retirement, house foreclosure, trauma, losing a job, cutting ties with family, disability, moving, aging, surviving cancer, illness (especially chronic/life-long), and anything that will change and effect your life for a lasting period of time. I don't know one person who is immune to any of these, at least aging for sure.

Some of these life changes are occurring more often as stress of life now seems to be related to the increase in illnesses, such as diabetes and autoimmune disorders. Also, with the current recession, financial troubles involving our houses, livelihood, and jobs are changing our lives, making a huge indent in the status quot of life as we know it. Life changes force us to change things within ourselves as well as our environment.

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature.
- Helen Keller

Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Discontent is the first necessity of progress.
- Thomas Edison

Starting over

What's so good about starting over? Starting over is not the tragedy or the life change itself, it is what you make of either of those things; a tragic event is often scary, but even purely positive events that evoke change are scary. Most people are scared of new beginnings as if those are the natural disasters themselves. They won't budge from the familiar to begin with something new or reflect within themselves to find another perspective. What's worse is when people live as if nothing in their life will change out of their control or doing. I don't remember who said this, but the one thing you can count on in life, is change.

How do people start over? Psychological resilience, or "bouncing back", is the positive ability for people to manage and cope with stress and adversity. Resilience is a process, which is the only way to overcome tragedy and life changes, just as grieving is a process. It is a culmination of hardiness, efficiency, mental toughness, and resourcefulness. It is also navigating a way to find peace in the present and hope in the future.

Other factors that contribute to being resilient through tragedy or significant life changes are: having close relationships that provide support and care, excellent communication skills, faith/spirituality, self-confidence, realistic objectives, restrain impulses and manage feelings. It helps to use challenges for growth to make future hardships more tolerable.

I remember when I was younger I thought one problem was the end of the world, and that problem would be failing a test at school or something that seems so minuscule when I look back now. I was stressed about one class at school and went to the school counselor. She told me about all-or-nothing thinking. It is a concept related to resiliency, but how we view a problem. Basically, the lesson is if it's not the end of the world, it's not the end of the world. Problems have solutions, tragedies have endings, and don't think of every problem as the end of the world.

Another positive aspect of going through a tragedy or certain life changes is that you have the ability to help others. By helping others, it can help you. Those that offer the greatest help are those that have gone through it themselves.

Japan 2011 Tsunami
Japan 2011 Tsunami

Starting over

The Japanese had a unique predicament of having to survive an ongoing tragedy (9.0 earthquake, tsunami, and radiation in the environment) while rebuilding a new life and finding hope. Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said that "the tsunami disaster is the toughest crisis in history since World War II. This tsunami disaster has paralyzed the various spheres of life in Japan." He also stated, he "strongly believes the Japanese people can unite to work together".

After terrorist attacks, Americans learned the benefit of uniting- just the act of going through this as a nation made many people feel a lot better. When we remember the attacks on 9/11, let's remember how we focused on our nation, our people.


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    • Tidbits25 profile image

      Micha ELa 

      5 months ago from Philippines

      Life is such a struggle. Good and honest post.

    • izettl profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Thanks for stopping by with your experiences Sanxuary. Very insightful!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I think tragedy is the journey you are on to self discovery. I know a lot of people fail in understanding the affliction. I was always puzzled by prayer at church over Earthly issues. We are all going to die and so I believe that spiritual maturity is the reason for being here. I could only assume that I was dead, but I saw the other side once. It was a fantastic place and I was angry as hell when I came back here. Still I never understood why I was here until then. If dying is a much better place then there is a reason to be here. What I learned the most is how important it was to truly change who you our. Its not belief that saves you, but practicing what you believe that saves you. A good example is a drug addict can not give up drugs if everyone they know and trust is also an addict. You can not change a destructive relationship if the person who destroys it is still controlling your life. You have to throw out the trash, never except certain things and build your own life. Even once I had done this, tragedy does not always go away. I refused to allow others to hurt someone and became the victim instead once. Wondering why me, I realized that I was the perfect person who would do something. In the end despite a good deal of personal grief I changed the minds of many people. Why did I do it, because it was the right thing to do. In the end no one, not even God will judge you, because we judge ourselves. There is always a reason and death does not exist, its the journey you our on and where you go next down that road. Never fear the material things of this World, they never add up to much. Even in my deepest poverty I learned of things far more important then money and all the people who live only for money.

    • izettl profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from The Great Northwest

      KT Banks~ I'm starting to get a little spoiled by your compliments, but thank you.

    • KT Banks profile image

      KT Banks 

      9 years ago from Texas

      I'm starting to feel as if I should just print out all of your Hubs and make a book out of them. Oh - wait a minute, maybe that's what YOU should do. and sell them on Amazon.

      I know for sure I would buy at least one of them, for myself and some extra to give to friends and family when they need them. Sometimes a worthy booklet will sell like crazy, and your words and wisdom are very worthy.

      Once again, I'm going to share this with my Mom. Thank you, for sharing it with us.

    • izettl profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Tammy~ thanks for stopping by. Make no mistake, I don't always have the much clarity in the beginning of something negative or tragic. Actually I was pretty down one day because of paing from my arthritis and I wrote a hub in which themanwithnopants (Jim) wrote in and said he'd pray for me and followed up with me through emails to tell me to work out and do some physical activity to help with my joints. His mom also had Rheumatoid Arthritis so he knew some stuff. So I realized there is an upside, it can be found even if it seems impossible. It's about changing perspectives. I know you know a lot about overcoming things- youv'e seen you fair share too. Amazingly it all works out, most of the time.

      Thanks for reading.

    • tammybarnette profile image

      Tammy Barnette 

      10 years ago

      izetti, Love your hubs and getting to know you better.I love that you learned to laugh about things that make some of us, not so patient, curse under our breath. The imagery of you and your daughter rolling and laughing in the floor is truly beautiful and inspiring. Thanks for sharing your story. BEAUTIFUL!

    • izettl profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Thank you so much F.K!

    • F. K. Isley profile image

      F. K. Isley 

      10 years ago from Missouri

      Hi Izettl,

      I am a very positive and headstrong person. I love your wonderful positive attitude and the spirit go move forward. I was in a life changing car wreak when I was twenty. You have given me the idea to write about the choses we make.

      I will be sending energy you way.

    • izettl profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Jackie~ thanks for the lovely comment.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      10 years ago from the beautiful south

      I feel akin, and to read you is to know you. I like that, glad I found you. Great hub.

    • izettl profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from The Great Northwest

      W.B Isley~ thanks again for some great words and a wonderful comment. Nobody said it was easy, not even having a constuctive or good attitude is even almost easy some days, but this is life. I am equally in awe of your comments- very thoughtful. You are an insightful and smart guy.

      media also wants us to comcentrate on more of all the wrong things- more status more power more money- if we don't have those things, some people get depressed. Along the same lines as what you are saying, media wants us to be less as people and more material. It's too bad and very misleading- we are all capable of more.

    • W. B. Isley profile image

      W. B. Isley 

      10 years ago from Monett, MO

      I was struck by the sentence, "I don't remember who said this, but the one thing you can count on in life, is change."

      Our choice is to take that change and multiply it and make it MORE than it was before. We are MORE than our bodies. We are MORE than our circumstances. We are MORE than humans. Our challenge on this planet isto become MORE, and not the less that the media says we should be and be content with.

      I love your spirit, Miss izettl. It is one of the brightest that I have seen in a awhile. Thank you for writing hubs like this.

    • izettl profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from The Great Northwest

      sabu singh~ love that movie. I hadn't seen it until recently and I was laughing and crying- it was great. Of course the music was terrific- I love Abba. THanks for stopping by.

      Shalini Kagal~ THanks for taking the time to comment and read. Inspiration is in all of us, sometimes hard to find though.

    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 

      10 years ago from India

      Your positive take on life is so inspiring! Thank you for your story and for sharing your strength with us!

    • sabu singh profile image

      sabu singh 

      10 years ago

      Talking about comedies, Izettl, you must see "Mama Mia" starring Meryl Streep in which she sings all the old Abba songs. That is one real feel-good movie.

    • izettl profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from The Great Northwest

      s.water~ your comment captured my intention with writing this, we've all been there and sometimes all it takes is a different perspective to get going again.

      elefanza~ Congrats to your friend, the ups and downs of motherhood is when life really gets interesting. Dealing with the world on more emotions and less sleep- tough stuff.

      I laughed about your end of the world comment because my daugher and I just watched the cartoon about chicken little and the sky falling. I've been that type before too. Especially, as you say, burning muffins and being a woman. Women still have to overcome so much. Laughter is certainly therapy. I have to see a comedy movie by myself periodically to get rejuvenated.THanks so much for stopping by- hope you are doing good.

    • Elefanza profile image


      10 years ago from Somewhere in My Brain

      Love this! Just the kind of writing I could see as a syndicated column!

      On a personal note, a friend of mine just had her baby today. She's a brand new mom! Of course, her own road and background hasn't been easy. Being able to talk to her up through the moment she had her baby and now, I couldn't help but think of you and your daughter.

      So I just wanted to say thanks again and that while your comment about seeing one problem being as the end of the world still describes me more than I'd like to admit (okay, I'll admit that I'm still slightly neurotic about things like burned chocolate mini muffins and an army of ants looming just outside or the frustrations that come with being woman), I can say that joy and pain sharpen each other...but I still like joy better. :) Laughter is its own brand of therapy. :)

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Thank you for such a good article. I was having a terrible day until I read this blog. Sometime we forget that we are a survivor because of the mundane task and stuck in a rut. I love the quote you've included about discontent being the necessity of progress. The article really put things into perspective.

    • izettl profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from The Great Northwest

      SJKSJK~ You say something very important "need to be strong to survive"- so true. Sometimes it can be viewed as an advantage.

    • SJKSJK profile image


      10 years ago from delray beach, florida

      It is amazing the curves that life can throw at you. But you have a good attitude and will persevere. I have had many tragedies and have learned that you need to be strong to survive.

    • izettl profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from The Great Northwest

      THanks for reading Jeanine.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Very nice read...

    • izettl profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from The Great Northwest

      independentwriter~ Wow, you do have some changes going on. One other thing I had to learn was not to be bitter about not being able to return to the way things used to be, or an easier time. You just have just adjustments to make and you'll get there.

      Jim~ thanks for reading. THis was a spur of the moment hub and came from the heart. I only use my story to let others know it's possible to make lemonade out of lemons. It's hard- yes I'd rather buy pre-made lemonade and skip the elbow grease, but the hard times have changed my life in some good ways I would have never experienced. I'll take the bad with the good, my friend.

      Tom H~ Well I know your story and I know that when I look back at what I used to have or be able to do, it's too negative to be there for long so I have to look at now mostly and think of what I can do now because it could be worse. There are two views here: it could be worse and it could be better. Sometimes viewing it as it could be worse, but God I hope not, is where my views reside.Whenever I view it as it could be better, it makes me feel like I'm lacking something, but I am fulfilled as much as I can be in my position. It's all good. I'm sure you have your good and bad days- we all do and those of us who have struggles that are daily reminders, have to work harder. When I didn't have arthritis, I was unfulfilled in something or wanted something other than what I had, now I know to be thankful for what's here right now. I'm here and you're here Tom.

      thougtforce~ thanks for your thoughtful comment and quoting something specifically that stuck out to you. You are so right about being bitter and whiny, etc. The only person I knew at the time who had what I have was a lady who was so bitter and mean because of this illness. I thought, Oh God will that be me? But I know it's my choice to not turn out like that lady.

      thanks dallas for reading and the nice comment.

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 

      10 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      Outstanding. Flag up and awesome.. Wel written.

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 

      10 years ago from Sweden

      Your writing shows that you have had your share of tragedies and changes and turned the changes into something good. We all have our problems, but some have to face more tragedies than others. I love your words;

      "Problems have solutions and tragedies have endings". That’s how it is and we simply must move on or else we maybe survive but we are not living! And that is the ultimate failure to be alive but not living. That's when people become bitter and whiny, and envious of others' happiness.

      Congratulations to 1000 followers, WOW! But we all know why we follow you:)

      It is because of hubs like this!


    • izettl profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Frog prince~ thanks for reading. I believe the more crap we've been through the more we can (hopefully) tolerate and that makes us strong and survivors even in our times of weakness.

      THank you Breakfastpop! always nice to see you.

      A.A Zavala~ thanks so much.

      jab23~ took me a while to get there, but I do. Other people overcome so much everyday and I think of what the Japanese are going through.

      sabu singh~ thanks for your wonderful words.Best compliment.

      sueroy333~ thanks for such a nice comment. It's amazing how resilient the human spirit is.

      THank you Susan- the contact button is working- followed your advice.

    • tom hellert profile image

      tom hellert 

      10 years ago from home


      i too am at this point as well- Where -I was is so far from where I am. It is very disheartening- I am- I have lost the two things I held the greatest pride in my eyesight and my memory I do think back on times I could do more- as a result of my poor eyesight my hand/foot eye coordination that was above average for my age is now severely damaged you can not catch what you can't with my sons are now different.I wish things were different. but there is no turning back now...that's correct "moving back instead of forward seems to be absurd".

      But I should not say anything and quit complaining to ya IZ

      great job- I admire your ability to adapt- still workin at it...


    • TheManWithNoPants profile image


      10 years ago from Tucson, Az.


      You are becoming very wise, and this time it's you who's not afraid of exposing your vuneralibilities and what you've you've learned and gained from them. You're awesome and so is this hub.


    • independentwriter profile image


      10 years ago from the Snowy Northeast

      Powerful hub! I am at the point in my life now. I am starting over career wise, after finding out that 3 of my children are disabled.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      10 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      This is a great inspirational story and hub that you have written. Life is hard and terrible at times but we just keep on plugging away for better days. Thanks so much for sharing this part of your life.

      I am happy to see that you were able to get the contact button back on your profile page.

      Up awesome and beautiful!

    • sueroy333 profile image

      Susan Mills 

      10 years ago from Indiana

      You are in inspiration to all those who have to deal with difficulties and aren't sure how they will cope.

      I love the way you have redirected your thoughts and found a way to dig out the positive in a very difficult situation.

      This was an excellent and inspirational hub.

      Our thoughts are with you and your family... as well as all the courageous people in Japan.

      PS. On a side note- congratulations on your one THOUSAND followers! Woo Hoo!!

    • sabu singh profile image

      sabu singh 

      10 years ago

      You write with a wisdom beyond your years Izettl. Thank you for sharing.

    • jayb23 profile image


      10 years ago from India

      izettl I hav to admit that you are a very positive outlook in life, truly inspirational..Keep up the good work.

    • A.A. Zavala profile image

      Augustine A Zavala 

      10 years ago from Texas

      Moving up, and moving on. I'm completely confident in your ability to overcome. Thank you for sharing.

    • breakfastpop profile image


      10 years ago

      I really admire your courage and your outlook. You will make good things happen I believe you have that kind of strength. Up and awesome.

    • The Frog Prince profile image

      The Frog Prince 

      10 years ago from Arlington, TX

      Perseverence is the key to life izetti. It appears that you have a firm grip on that concept. Life's events throw us curves all the time. The strong survive and the weak...

      Thanks for sharing.

      The Frog

    • izettl profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from The Great Northwest

      THank so much Will and it's always an honor to get your encouraging comments.

    • WillStarr profile image


      10 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      You have a wonderful, courageous outlook on life , Izettl and it's an honor to know you.

      Good luck with your RA.


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