STARTING OVER

Diane was thirty-one when Larry told her he was leaving. They had two children, a house, a German shepherd and eleven years of marriage in the till. Larry, a second- level manager at IBM, provided a comfortable financial foundation. Diane, who never worked a day in her life, suddenly felt as if she had been thrown to the wolves.
<?xml:namespace prefix = o /> Cynthia, a thirty-seven year old account executive at a local investment firm, divorced her husband several months ago. She could no longer tolerate with a man who felt threatened by her skills and earning potential. Now frustrated, lonely and depressed, she competes in the stock market by day; and, disdainfully, the "meat market" by night.
 Mary Jean's husband, Rob, was killed three days after her thirtieth birthday. Stunned, depressed, bewildered, she had to call upon all her resources as a successful actress to design a new script for her life.
 Matthew had been living with Sheila since their second year of graduate school. Both agreeing that marriage was superfluous to their life styles, they completed educations in their respective fields and began conducting their lives together in the business jungle of Manhattan for fifteen years; until Sheila met Frank and decided it was time to move on. Now at thirty five, Matt feels "out of touch", aging and very lonely...
 Some people say that life begins again at thirty. Not surprisingly, these people are usually thirty. What they are actually doing is "reframing" a situation which seems unpleasant to have a meaning which is more useful to them. Reframing is a remarkable strategy for sorting information differently in order to achieve a desired outcome. Remember how Tom Sawyer was able to have his friends white- wash the fence? Remember the last time someone sold you something you really didn't want and even convinced you it was a bargain? Can you think of a time you were able to use your fullest capabilities as a creative individual to convert a liability into an asset; or a weakness into a strength? Reframing involves using your resources-- your sense of humor, assertive skills, confidence from past learning, creativity-- to restructure experiences so they have different meanings.
 A newly divorced woman who interacts cautiously with men, having been told that the "single scene" is a "jungle full of wild animals", may find herself lost, up-a-tree, eager to blaze a trail homeward. She might do better to reframe this situation: Meeting new people may afford her the opportunity to test her persuasive abilities; to turn those tigers into pussycats! How many of you worry that at thirty-five (or so!) you are "wasting" your lives because you are not involved in a relationship, the way you were at twenty-six? Do you become frantic or depressed while scurrying to find a mate before the aging process renders you undesirable? Perhaps if you stop worrying or acting depressed, and try on a new perception, something nice will happen!
 Surprise yourself. Being over thirty, you have undoubtedly acquired a wealth of experiences from which you can evaluate desirable and undesirable consequences. You have the opportunity--that perhaps a "twenties" individual does not-- to make choices concerning relationships that will enhance you as a person. After all, from your failings in earlier years, you learned exactly what does not work and, (if you read an earlier article on "recycling useless outcomes") therefore would be less likely to engage in those unfortunate behaviors again. A mature, experienced individual, you can select relationships wisely, yet tenderly. Appearing venerable, though a little vulnerable, as well as passionate to those with whom you associate.