One of the most appealing attributes of pinning up a new calendar is the perception of a brand new beginning.

Shedding the obstacles of the past and starting with a clean, fresh slate gives us hope. With that hope, we dream of better opportunities and situations. We get second chances.

Second chances are not easy, even with the discarding of an expired calendar. It takes courage and commitment to change direction. However, getting a second chance at the end of every year can increase one’s odds of being successful.

I’ve made a few changes in my life over the years. Hubby has been my amazingly successful second chance at marriage. Not that we live one of those perfect June and Ward Cleaver fantasy lives. We have our challenges.

We’ve weathered a lot and have a great relationship. We have great friends. We enjoy great food. Our kids are great. Our arguments are greatly heated, which is countered by our great friendship and humor. And while Hubby will greatly criticize my overuse of the word great, I’m confident we will endure, as great marriages tend to do.

More recently, I decided to embrace another second chance. With some planning and a few lifestyle changes, I resigned my full-time job and became a stay-at-home wife, mom and daughter. While it seems an odd time for me to set aside the 9 to 5 thing with two of my sons in college and one nearly halfway through high school, I already feel confident our decision for me to come home was a, for lack of a more apropos word, great one.

This year, I’m figuring out how to run the household on a much tighter budget. We’re eating healthier and I’m keeping up with everyone’s needs, from financial aid applications to dentist appointments.

A month into my new life, I’m not sure how we made it all this time with both Hubby and I gone all day. A lot more than I realized was slipping through the cracks while we were juggling two salaries.

Now that I’m home, I’m desperate to make it work for the long term. This is my second chance to strengthen my family. Through my new at-home lenses, the expensive TV subscriptions, eating out several times a week and buying fancy clothes at retail prices all seem a ridiculous waste of time, energy and money.

Meanwhile, baking bread, simmering stews, getting to the bottom of the laundry pile, dusting behind the piano, taking care of doctor and hair appointments and going to the grocery store during weekdays is a pleasant change. I feel more in control than ever, which is, I must say, great for a control freak like me.

While living on one salary instead of two has it’s financial challenges, having one of us home to take care of the family has reduced the stress under our roof exponentially. Plus, I can still write my columns, blogs and books. My passion for creatively writing is still appeased under this new arrangement.

Once I’ve established my new routine, I expect I’ll get lots more writing done. According to the advice of several wise women who transitioned from the work force to the homestead before me, it will take six months to a year to settle in and find my at-home mojo.

During my tenure in the early childhood field, I learned it typically takes about a year to learn a new job and do it well. Therefore, the advice I received was wise, as this is a new job for me. The job descriptions for at-home mom and working mom might have some similarities, but are still quite different.

Therefore, in 2013, I plan to conjure up the courage to stay committed to this new direction for my life. The moments of sheer terror, during which I might question my abilities to be the one at home, are not going to get the best of me, at least not in the long run.

The next 12 months are sure to be filled with scorched shirts and home hair-dying catastrophes. There will be times we will be tempted to give up and order pizza. I dread the disgusting discoveries lurking in the dark corners of our home and lives because of things inadvertently unattended over the years.

But I can already see the cloud of dread that someone still needs something but we ran out of time beginning to dissipate. The incessant listing and organizing of work and home to-dos at 3 a.m. is also fading away. Clearly, this life change was my second chance at balance and sanity.

Second chances only come along at least annually and as often as you need them. So embrace your second chance at a better job, healthier living or a completely new direction in life. All you need to do is make the decision and then add a liberal amount of courage and commitment. And if at first you don’t succeed, don’t give up because there’s always another second chance.


Micki Bare is a columnist for the Arkansas News Bureau and the Courier-Tribune in Asheboro, N.C., and author of "Thurston T. Turtle Moves to Hubbleville." She lives in Asheboro with her husband, three children and mother. Her e-mail address is