The Big Break Up That Changed My Life

The Big Break Up That Changed My Life

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It was one of the biggest break ups of my life.

If I’m honest with you, Dear Reader, I must tell you there are times when I’m still not over this great love.

There are days, well, no, okay, at least moments, where I look over my shoulder and wonder, “Maybe we could try one more time to make this work?”

This time, I have Robin Williams to thank for setting me straight.

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For love, the pull, the temptation are all tied to, not a person.

No something much greater than just one person.

For years I was in love with Checklist.

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We were together for years, Checklist and I.

Checklist offered up guidance and hope.

Once, and only once, I’d checked off certain life events and accomplishments would I be happy.

And so I chased.

Chased love.

Chased success.

Chased money.

Chased having a family.

Chased having the perfect house.

Maybe you’ve had a similar relationship, Dear Reader? Your own list you’ve chased with singular focus?

“Keep going!” My List encouraged me over the years. “You can do it! Only then will you reach happy!”

Turns out, Checklist is a cruel life partner.

The more I chased, the more he added on, like teaching a kid to swim, telling them they just have a few strokes to your safe and loving arms, but you keep stepping back, back, back.

And of course, while I chased, I looked and compared myself to others.

Others, who had checked and accomplished so much more.

“Gotta do all this to be happy!”

“Gotta catch up with the others!” I told myself.

Somewhere, in this chase, the cracks started to move through this great love affair.

“Maybe instead of chasing happy,” it occurred to me, “I could simply choose to be happy now with what I have.”

And so, we broke up Checklist and I.

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Funny thing happened with that radical move—some of those long elusive longings—love, family, children?

They got checked.

I’m not perfect. I have those days, ok, moments when I think, “Maybe I’ll be happier when I accomplish this or that.”

Who doesn’t do that?

Who doesn’t look at the next guy who has checked so much more?

Which brings me to Robin Williams.

His recent death brought powerful lessons.

After all, who better to envy than Robin Willams?

King of The Checklist!



Family-3 wives, 3 kids. That’s a lot of love.

Success-check check check check.

And yet, I read stories his real life, of his heart, of his struggles.

Robin Williams sounded absolutely miserable.

I will think of him every time I look over my shoulder, or at the next person, or at something or someone that I think I need to be happy.

Thank you, Robin Williams, for reminding me that chasing my checklist, envying what someone else has is an empty game.

I don’t know what anyone has.

And Checklist-though you taunt me, try to lure me back, the best thing I ever checked off—breaking up with you.

Find more uplifting stories on my website,

Please catch my newspaper column each week in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Dayton Daily News and other newspapers across Ohio.

2 thoughts on “The Big Break Up That Changed My Life

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