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 what I have is always greater than what I lack.
I suspect 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 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 www.thecrackerqueen.com.