A: I’d say it depends on how much this woman means to you. Is she “worth” accepting just as she is, dog and all? Or is she just another female “friend” who can be easily replaced? That is your call; only you know the depth and value of this relationship.
Another option is to reach a compromise. She could install an inexpensive baby gate, and place the pet behind the gate. That solution would solve your problem and enable her to keep her beloved canine within sight. But don’t forget that the furry one lives there, and you are only passing through.
Q: I’ve been married for six years and am experiencing for the very first time what it’s like to have a next-door neighbor. The family just moved into the house next to us, and the wife stays at home like me, but her husband is away in the military. I know she is lonely, and I am trying to be a good neighbor. But because I’ve never had a neighbor I’ve actually gotten to know, I’m having a very hard time setting boundaries. She’s asked for my cell number and has sent a friend request on Facebook. She calls, texts, sends Facebook messages, and knocks on the door as often as she likes. I’m really starting to feel smothered. Is there any way to politely establish some boundaries? I really don’t want her in my life to this degree as I’m still getting to know her. Any advice is much appreciated.
A: I know what you mean. The only thing I want to feel smothered is my hashbrowns at the Waffle House.
First, decide when and how you’d like to be available to her. Then build your boundaries to fit those parameters, and convey them to your neighbor. Here are my “rules,” which I admit are strict in this age of constant access and communication.
Don’t call the house after 9 p.m. unless someone has expired. Email is the best way to reach me. Take your chances with text messages, as I rarely turn on my cell phone let alone check the texts. My home is my sacred space, and I’m not there enough as it is, so “drop-in” visits are not allowed. Scheduled get-togethers at my house or somewhere else are fine.
I respond to Facebook messages when I feel like it. I will not answer the phone if you call while we’re eating; having an interesting discussion; or engaged in something important. In that case, kindly leave a message, and I’ll return the call.
My life is not ruled by the tyranny of the telephone. It’s amusing to me that folks will drop everything to pick up a ringing phone or respond to a mindless text message. Don’t be like those people, and you won’t have boundary invaders.
Q: I love the inspirational quotes you share in this column. Can you give us one in this edition?
A: Of course! Here’s a favorite quote from William Henry Channing’s “Symphony.” It offers such wise and solid advice.
“To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not, rich; to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart; to study hard; to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common — this is my symphony.”
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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.