Lauretta Hannon: On allergies and a secret weapon
May 28, 2013 12:10 AM | 3414 views | 9 9 comments | 42 42 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Q: My sister is allergic to fragrances, and I love them. I have six dogs, so when I have an event I like to use scented candles or plug-ins to have a fresh-smelling house. My sister wants me to unplug or blow them out to accommodate her. Who is right?

A: It’s not a matter of someone being right. It’s your house, and you can fill the air with aromas if you like. But your sister has a bona fide allergy. What’s more important: Your sister’s presence or making a sweet-smelling impression on your guests? That’s your call.

Of course, you both can compromise, and there are lots of options with this approach. You can put the dogs outside, clean the house thoroughly and use generous amounts of a zero-odor spray that will eliminate any traces of stinky stuff. Or you can keep the candles blazing but designate an area for your sister that is fragrance-free.

I enjoy candles but am sensitive to the plug-ins, and certain scents will trigger a migraine. I also have two big dogs and three cats, so I understand your perspective as well.

Q: I don’t know where you get off with some of the advice you give. And I really don’t know who you think you are. That’s all I wanted to say, and I BET you won’t dare print this in your lame column.

A: Au contraire, I’m delighted to explain who I am and where I’m coming from with this column.

First and foremost, I love God and am a follower. I recognize that I’m a spiritual being inside a physical body. My goal, always, is to show love — to others and myself. I try to practice kindness and forgiveness, especially to those who don’t deserve it. I fail at this often.

I specialize in turning setbacks into comebacks; my secret weapon is gratitude. When I experience suffering or grief, I look for the lesson or gift hidden in the dark corners — and remain thankful. When I lose something, I focus on what remains. I believe that what I have is always greater than what I lack.

I suspect that most of us are not doing the best we can. Instead, we are choosing to be our lesser selves. Excuses, fears and attachments keep a boot on our throats. Even though they are deceivers, we return to them again and again like a child gorging on candy. An excuse looks a whole lot like a lie covered in chocolate to me.

I’m also convinced that the following are highly overrated: being busy, being normal and being without a sense of humor. I cackle from sun-up until bedtime, and I smile when I sleep. Joy is our natural state. As Tolstoy said, “When joy disappears, look for your mistake.”

Speaking of mistakes, I’ve collected plenty. They go alongside a slew of flops ranging in size from sand gnat to juggernaut. But I do work hard at growing. To paraphrase Augusten Burroughs, at my finest I am a bundle of flaws stitched together by good intentions. And my intention with this column is good.

It’s quite a privilege to speak to people every week. I treat it like I’m writing weekly missives to a beloved, sharing the most meaningful and helpful messages I have.

It’s an intimate forum — strangers opening up and sharing their issues and pain with me — yet it deals with universal problems. More than anything, writing this column is forcing me to be a better person. I keep noticing how I’m coming up short and not following my own advice. Drat.

I guess it’s another example of the teacher becoming the student. So, dear readers, thank you for what you’re teaching me, week in and week out. It will be a long time before I’m ready to graduate, so I hope you’ll stick with me. Together, we might learn something and have a few giggles along the way.

That is from whence I come, and everyone is welcome to meet me there.

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. Southern Living has named her “the funniest woman in Georgia.” See more at
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June 07, 2013
Above all, be a lady ;) Life is not always like a box of chocolates! We need more people to live in such a way, so we can all heal, and laugh together.
Jamie Wyatt
May 30, 2013
I think your advice is always spot on. To your detractors, I'll simply say what we say in the South to those whom we love, as well as to those we don't like very much: "Bless your heart!"
Texas Joyce
May 28, 2013
You show more grace than I ever would have. People who make random comments like that one never fail to amaze me. It is a pleasure to know the Lauretta who replied so graciously and honestly.
Cris Force
May 28, 2013
Gracious to the max. You truly DEMONSTRATE who you are with your gracious and honest response. It is clear that you humbly accept your own failings while constantly striving for better. And I am thankful you share your experience and growth in your column in an attempt to help others. Your statement of love for God makes it easy to see how you are blessed with wisdom and grace, as well as kindness and a desire to assist others through this life.
May 28, 2013
Women read drivel like this


No wonder why we are a patriarchy
Lauretta Hannon
May 28, 2013
Now THAT is funny.

(PS-I am a long-time feminist. Perhaps reading my memoir might illuminate your interpretation of my thought. And if not, that's fine as well.)
May 28, 2013
Jessica Nettles
May 28, 2013
What a great response! I'm not so sure I'd be so diplomatic and kind to such a public display of cranky.
May 28, 2013
Keep 'em coming Lauretta. Many of us appreciate your advise and your humor.
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