Dear Laibl,

I am approaching 42 and am finding my life totally out of control. My life is empty of all the things I value most - family unity, true friendship, playing the music that I studied in my teens, and even recreational sport (I use to be a keen squash player.) My kids spend most of their time at friends' homes; my husband comes home late from the office and is just too tired to even talk to me. I am an office manager for a group of doctors and can't seem to get my own house in order. I don't know where to start. Is there any hope for me?

Susi L. (Cleveland)

Dear Susi,

A person can be a great office manager and a very poor life manager. What people don't realise is that managing personal and family time is as challenging a skill as learning to play music, or organise a team of attorneys!

We seem to take for granted that our personal lives will somehow muddle through once we are married. And then we wake up one day and discover that without the care, skills, and nurture, the flower has withered. The good news is that most situations are retrievable. But to turn a ship around is more difficult than to point it on the correct course in the first place. So be ready for a period of personal testing and a little pain - no pain, no gain, when the hurtful situation is advanced. A Kabbalistic teaching states that the harder the test facing us, the greater is our capacity to succeed. So know that you have been provided from Above, the potential to overcome your challenge.

Let me list for your several concrete steps for you to embark on to take charge of your life and to empower you:

  1. Sit down and list what you value most in life: family, husband, music, etc.
  2. Go on a 'date' with your husband and share your concerns with him, but do so ungrudgingly and sensitively.
  3. Plan to meet with your husband on Sunday night to map out your calendar for the coming week
  4. When you meet be sure to FIRSTLY enter a few of the items you listed as your core values.
  5. Bring you children together and tell them how much you love them and miss them, and that it would be great to have one night a week a family dinner. And cook up a storm!
  6. Be consistent and persistent with your goals. The results will show in three month - not three years, and not three days.
  7. Write to me in three months and I will take you a few steps further.

A truly gifted person may squander his or her gifts by being undisciplined. Don't fall into that trap. Discipline leads to freedom.