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Monday, June 18, 2012 - Page updated at 03:30 p.m.

Dear Carolyn
Carolyn Hax: Step away from the life-bomb fuse

By Carolyn Hax
Syndicated columnist

DEAR CAROLYN: When I'm unhappy, I tend to want to change everything — job, relationships, etc. — at once. It's hard for me to decipher where I'm unhappy and what the best ways are to change things, rather than blow up my whole life. Are there ways to start to unpack all of this?

— Time to Leave?

DEAR TIME: When you have the urge to blow up everything, the most prominent common denominator is you, right? So, the question waiting for an answer is, why don't you feel like you're living the right life for you?

Big stuff. That's why, absent an epiphany, the best place to start is with small steps toward getting healthy. Are you getting enough sleep, being conscientious about any health issues, eating well, making an effort not to be sedentary?

If you're maintaining your physical health, then move on to your emotional health: Are you putting effort into the people who are good for you and distancing yourself from takers, criticizers, enablers or those who otherwise bring out your worst? Are you saying "yes" when you should and "no" when you should? Are you showing up when you say you will?

If your physical and emotional habits are solid, then move on to temporary rut-busting: vacation. Or, a weekend road trip, or even a day trip, or just lunch with a friend you haven't seen lately. Give your eyes a new place to rest. Familiarity can limit your thinking.

If you have an antibiotic-resistant strain of the blahs, then it's time to weigh the big, external pieces of your life, like where you live; what you do for a living; whom you befriend, date and trust.

But even then, start small: Can any of these be tweaked, versus blown up? If tweaks don't work, are there any changes that can be easily made or reversed? Can you walk away from anything temporarily?

The blowup solution pretty much assures that you can avoid facing that thing, whatever it is, you so badly want to avoid — whereas a methodical approach will take you right to its door.

DEAR CAROLYN: My fiancé is European, I am from the United States, and after our fall wedding, we will be living in a different country all together.

Our wedding guests would like to know whether we are registered anywhere for gifts. Since where we live next depends on where both of us get our next jobs, we can specify only two continents with any certainty. That is why I would like people to make a donation to our relocation fund.

My fiancé says he feels uncomfortable asking for money. Is it ever OK to just ask for money?

— International Affairs

of the Heart

DEAR INTERNATIONAL: The first and best option is to remind yourself that getting started in your new home is entirely your financial responsibility, and that your guests' sole purpose is to provide emotional support.

But, since you need to provide some answer to gift inquiries, you have a practical option: "Thanks so much for asking — we didn't register, because we've got an international move coming soon."

You also can ask your close relatives and friends to convey that message.

Email Carolyn at and

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Copyright 2012 Washington Post Writers Group

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