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Smell the Coffee: Another fresh start

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- My friend Caitlin and I were on our way to a hair appointment when a car passed ours. It was all decked out with toilet-paper streamers, and across the rear window, someone had written: "Just Divorced."

"You should do that," Caitlin said.

"I'm not divorced yet," I said. "Besides, it's not something I feel much like celebrating."

Caitlin is an exuberant person. She's lively and bubbly and, yeah, there are times I want to smack those traits right out of her, but she gave me this upbeat little pep talk about how I should reclaim my life and my space, that even if divorce isn't something I think should be celebrated, I should make it a launching point for changing the parts of my life I don't like.

She reminded me that I can't start the next chapter of my life if I keep rereading the last one. Even though I know what she's saying is true, putting the advice into play hasn't been easy.

I keep telling myself I'm not giving up. I'm just starting over.

Again.

If a person could attain professional status by the number of times they go back to Start, I'd be leading a pro team of losers right now.

Over the past several months, I've been so overwhelmed by all the knots that needed untying that I've been emotionally and physically exhausted. It seems like every nook and cranny of life has been affected.

So, this new year that's starting carries more importance than many others have had for me. I'm taking this clean-slate business to heart and am determined to make better choices from here on out.

As for resolutions, I plan to continue with my "Do one thing every day that scares you." Except I'm altering it so it's just one thing every week. (The one-a-day business can make co-workers nervous.)

I will make an effort to remind myself that endings aren't necessarily bad. They can be a place from which to launch something new.

I will accept that my future is not permanently adhered to my past. I have to look at the mistakes I've made, evaluate why I made them, and use them as a guide for the choices I make in the future.

I will resolve to take baby steps, to set as many small goals as large, and to remember that even the tiniest step toward my goal still qualifies as progress.

I will resolve not to be overly hard on myself, to accept that there's no such thing as straight shots in my life. There will always be stairs and curves and slides that shoot me backward. But only for a little while.

This isn't just about fixing something that's broken. It's about starting over fresh, creating something better -- or at least something different -- from what I had before.

Starting over is scary, and while it might not be what I wanted, I was wrong when I told Caitlin that it isn't a cause for celebration. Maybe it is.

After all, even when I'm losing, I'm still in the game.

Reach Karin Fuller via email at karinfuller@gmail.com.


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