I’ve started a new adventure. Actually, I started it sometime ago but I’ve recently taken a new and more public turn. Many of my friends know that I’m working on another degree, this time a Master of Arts in Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation from Abilene Christian University. The program is 2 years long and I’ve arrived at the final stage, known as Practicum. This is the self-directed portion of the degree and includes work on a project of my choosing (that would be the self-directed aspect). As part of Practicum, I decided to become a volunteer mediator. Forty years ago, this would have meant approaching the local courthouse or churches to see if they needed me. I’m doing this but, in 2013, it also means using social media to raise awareness of conflict resolution techniques, including both the informal and formal techniques available. Now for the part about optimism. Starting new things means taking risks and getting out of your comfort zone. It also means asking others for support. I’m good at the first (taking risks) but not so much the second. My mother says I was always independent and didn’t like asking for help, no idea why, just that it is well outside my comfort zone. So, optimism. It means that I believe I will prevail, that I can handle the risk. It means I start nearly every day thinking I can handle whatever life throws at me. I once had a boss tell me that, and I quote, “my problem” was that I thought “I could do anything”. I didn’t (and still don’t) think of that as much of a problem. He was right, I think I can do nearly anything, just that it will take a little practice. And I’m ready, ready to practice mediation.