Unwanted invites, jealous relatives and alchemy of loss
by Lauretta Hannon
January 01, 2013 12:00 AM | 2052 views | 3 3 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Q: We recently moved to a new town. An elderly neighbor of mine keeps coming over to invite us to her church for services and other functions, with warnings such as, “Our time here on earth is coming to an end.” I’ve thanked her for the invitations and have already told her we practice a different religion, but she keeps coming. Short of avoiding her completely, how do I stop her invitations without hurting her feelings?

A: Just be direct and clear. Take your words a little further and explain why you are not open to attending her church. Be kind in how you do this. Make the time to have a deeper discussion with her. This is the only way you’ll be understood.

Q: My husband and I have done well financially due to our hard work. Both sides of our family have members who are unemployed, uneducated, and jealous. I keep trying to hold our family together by inviting them to our gatherings but always get disappointed. My husband says I shouldn’t expect anything from them because they always disappoint, cancel, or don’t even reply. Our daughter is about to get married, and I really want the entire family to celebrate with us. I feel abandoned by my family because of our good fortune. Do I accept this as part of “be careful what you wish for?” It’s hard to accept that your own family is not genuinely happy for you.

A: This is something you must let go of. You can’t change people, and these family members — for whatever reasons — prefer not to participate in the gatherings. Yes, it hurts your feelings. Yes, your intentions are good. But you are herding cats, fighting something that can’t be controlled. So you have to adjust your reaction to it. Let them know they are welcome to attend the wedding, but don’t put forth any additional effort to get them there. And resolve ahead of time to be exquisitely happy regardless.

Also, don’t make the blanket assumption that everyone is jealous and not happy for you. I suspect there’s more to it than that, and much of it has to do with their lives, not yours. They might be so self-absorbed that they won’t move beyond their own day-to-day struggles. Your only job as a family member is so let them know your door is open. One day one of them might actually walk through it in the right spirit. Until then, focus on and enjoy your many other blessings.

Q: I just finished reading your memoir, The Cracker Queen. You had a pretty rough childhood. How can you be grateful when so much bad stuff has happened to you?

A: By choosing to look for the lesson or gift hidden within life’s disasters, that’s how. By turning the setback into a comeback. By believing that life is hard but good, but you must emphasize the good. By going through the fire and experiencing the pain honestly and thoroughly, but then deciding not to suffer any more. If anything, I’m especially grateful for the dark times because they have brought me to where I am now. As Tennyson says, “The shell must break before the bird can fly.”

I’ve found there is alchemy in sorrow and loss. I recognize them as powerful guides. Then I try to transmute them into something usable and good. When I do that my gain becomes greater than the loss in the end.

Now if I could only make this happen with money.

Send your questions to


Lauretta Hannon, a resident of Powder Springs, is the bestselling author of The Cracker Queen — A Memoir of a Jagged, Joyful Life and a keynote speaker. Visit her at

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Lauretta Hannon
January 01, 2013

I invite readers to try my New Year's practice.

I write down the thing I most need to surrender and be done with in 2013. After a bit of reflection and focus, I burn it and release it to the heavens.

Let me know how this works for you! I predict you'll feel good after doing this.
January 01, 2013
Having read Cracker Queen, mentioned in the last Q&A, I can say that Lauretta's take on her childhood is incredibly uplifting. Have given copies to friends who I know could benefit from learning to first laugh, then forgive, then laugh again. Read it and rejoice!
Lauretta Hannon
January 01, 2013
Thanks so much for your kind words. And thank you for sharing my ol' book with others. Here's to lots of belly laughs in 2013!
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