Champion of Choice
Sometimes an event that seems like the end of the world can hold a hidden blessing. Such was the case for Diane Anselmo when her husband walked away from their 25-year marriage. Forced to step outside of her comfort zone and find out who she really was, instead of wallowing in bitterness and sadness, Diane began to examine the paradigms that held the reins on her life. What she discovered in the process was the freedom and power to choose her own path.
Raised in an era when women's options were limited, she explained, "My mother would tell me, 'Girls aren't supposed to be good in math,' or 'Girls aren't supposed to read a map.' So, guess what? I'm not good in math and I can't read a map! When I went to college, women really didn't have a lot of choices. You were a secretary, a teacher or a nurse. So I got a teaching degree, but I never wanted to teach."
Married to a military man, Diane became accustomed to uprooting, taking various jobs along the way, but never really thinking about having a status. When her husband left the Air Force for a position with Westinghouse, as part of his employment package, Diane was offered a job. Starting as operations manager on the manufacturing floor, over the course of 20 years, she climbed the ladder of success.
Through work, Diane met her current husband, Phil, a former naval officer and widower. Although she continued with Westinghouse for five years after their marriage, her heart was leading in a new direction: She wanted to write a book about women's choices.
Inspired by a friend who was leaving corporate America, Diane made a bold and deliberate choice-but first she had to muster the courage. "You work so hard to get where you are, and you don't want to give it up, because your status is your business card," she said. She wrote her resignation letter and turned it in eight months later.
For the next three years, Diane worked steadily on the book, Women's Choices, Women's Lives. She interviewed over 100 women of all ages, ultimately narrowing the field to 30. "The book isn't about me; it's about them-about the choices they made based on many different circumstances," she said.
While Diane says there is no instruction manual for life, the book includes questions and work pages throughout that the reader can use to examine her own paradigms and identify decision-making roadblocks. "You're always going to come to a fork in the road. That's where people get paralyzed. Stuck in the hallway in between, you're afraid to open the new door, but you can't go back," said Diane.
"I was 45 years old before I knew I had a choice," she continued, offering this advice: "Don't make choices based on the paradigms you grew up with. There comes a point in life when you have to say, 'These aren't working for me anymore.' It's really okay to change them and make a different choice."