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 I’m a spiritual being inside a physical body. My goal, always, is to show — 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 the following are highly overrated: being busy, being normal and being without a sense of humor. I cackle from sunup 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.