Q: I recently invited a mother and her child over for a play date. The mother brought a sick child but strongly insisted that the sneezing, coughing and runny nose were from allergies. I preferred not to catch the germ of the month but felt obligated to entertain at that point. How should I react should this happen again?
A: Your obligation is to your child’s health. If you believe the other kid is ill, shut down the play date immediately. You could say something along the lines of “Just in case it’s not allergies, we’d better not chance everyone becoming sick. Let’s wait until the coast is clear and then reschedule.”
Q: How does one respond when someone is constantly damaging things out of clumsiness and/or rushing?
A: It depends entirely on whom it is and other contributing factors. For example, a teenage nephew might be clumsy because he’s in a hormonal maelstrom and highly distracted. An over-active, over-achiever type might be prone to breaking things because her engine is just set at top speed. There are lots of possibilities, but the bottom line is that you can’t change people. In light of that, here are some approaches for dealing with the situation.
- Simply accept it. Relax and let the glass shatter where it may. What’s more important: the possessions or your relationship with the person?
- Anticipate the kinds of items that are vulnerable to damage, and move them out of reach or provide a substitute. I have a friend who is a klutz, so I serve his drinks in plastic cups rather than the heirloom goblets. I even make extra clearance space around doors because he routinely careens into furniture near doorways.
- Humor us. Some are just naturally uncoordinated. I’ve always been known as being “hard” on things, especially knobs and handles (some readers might add “people” to that list). After ruining multiple TV knobs, my dad finally gave me a set of pliers. That’s what I used to change the channels throughout my teenage years.
Q: I have big dreams and can imagine achieving them, but I’m terrified I will fail like I have so very many times before. Is it really worth the hurt if I don’t succeed yet again?
A: You might as well ask if life is worth living. Of course it is!
Move away from this tangle of fear-thinking. You are in its stranglehold; it’s deceptive and obscuring your vision. I bet you’re also feeling the sting of neglecting your dreams.
This will worsen if you don’t act.
I’m reminded of a quote by Anais Nin, “The day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Your day has arrived, my friend. Go ahead and lean in the direction of the sun.
Fear played a starring role in my life for a long time. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way.
- Don’t dwell on failures of the past. They’re past!
- Trust that your dreams actually want to be realized, if they are aligned with your greatest and highest purpose. This means that all conditions are conspiring in your favor.
- Pursue those dreams, and give it your best effort. But then don’t be attached to the outcome (no “what if” thinking allowed).
- Give up the need to know what happens tomorrow. Immerse yourself in what you’re doing today to get closer to the goal.
- Don’t judge yourself by the previous failures. Perhaps they were preparing you for something bigger and better. Examine the thoughts and behaviors that contributed to the flops in your life. Then flip them upside down, on their side — consider every way but the old way that didn’t work. After all, your job now is to usher in the success that’s waiting in the wings.
Finally, I know you’re deeply troubled by your “losing” record. Rumi, the thirteenth-century Persian poet, says it best:
Your life has been a mad gamble.
Make it more so. You have lost now
a hundred times running.
Roll the dice a hundred and one.
Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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. Southern Living has named her “the funniest woman in Georgia.” See more at thecrackerqueen.com.