A: Have a calm, congenial talk and address the noise problems head on. Perhaps each of you could agree to a compromise. He could turn down the music at 9 p.m., for example, and you could install a fence that would put more distance between the chickens and his house. That’s one of a half-dozen possibilities. The key is to begin a discussion.
Q: I have a friend who dry heaves quite genuinely for any number of reasons. It can be a bad smell or a bad moment on TV, and her instant response is a several-minute gagging spree complete with tears, trash can and difficulty breathing. She doesn’t feel she can change diapers, watch “Fear Factor,” watch action or horror sequences, be near salmon cooking (for example), pooper-scoop for a pet, deal with smelly trash, or any other host of common activities. You can imagine that car and airplane trips with this friend are often eventful. I’m wondering what polite, caring thing I can do to make us all a little more happy and comfortable. I’m sure she feels worse about it than her friends and loved ones do. Any suggestions?
A: First of all, your friend is a nutjob. And an attention-seeking control freak. Trust me, she doesn’t actually feel badly about this. Quite the contrary: she enjoys having the focus on herself and manipulating situations. She is sick and needs her friends to stop allowing this behavior.
Here are suggestions: don’t share car or airplane rides with this friend; leave the next time she exhibits this behavior; encourage her to get help; let her know that you love her but cannot remain around her when the behavior begins. Treat her as you would a child who is harming herself. That’s exactly what is happening.
Q: How do you tell your new neighbor that she’d have more friends if she would not let her 9 millimeter show so much when she walks her dog?
A: I wouldn’t. Instead I’d bring her a “Welcome to the ’Hood” bottle of wine and thank her for making the block safer. Knowing that you live in downtown Savannah (and having lived there myself), I’m convinced that armed residents are a very good thing.
Q: What do we do about our hectic, harried lives?
A: Step 1: Disconnect from technology. Turn off your phone and computer at a certain hour each night; don’t answer the phone, email, or use Facebook during meals or family time; don’t use the phone while conducting business in public places; and so forth. Being over-connected and excessively available prevents us from being truly present. In turn, this makes us agitated and diminishes the quality of our thinking. Keep in mind that you’ll have to train your loved ones on the new rules. Their lives will become more enjoyable and productive as well when they quit texting you every 20 minutes.
Step 2: Identify time every day just to be still and by yourself. Even if it’s only 15 minutes, you’ll find that you’re feeling more grounded and peaceful. I cannot overstate the importance of quiet time. Give yourself this gift; otherwise the noise of the world will drown out the voice of God. This is the heart of many of our problems.
Step 3: Get rid of some stuff. They’re called “possessions” because they possess us.
Step 4: Look at ways to simplify your schedule. Are your children overbooked? Are you spinning your wheels trying to meet various obligations? If so, reclaim space for solitude, play and rest.
Remember that our journey here is an inward one. Feed the inner self, and your outer self will follow.
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.
Visit her at thecrackerqueen.com.