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home : columns January 16, 2018

Recipient wants to show appreciation for gift cards
DEAR HARRIETTE: I received gift cards from my family for Christmas. That was perfect, because now that I am a young adult, my taste is different from that of my mother or other family members. For years, I would either just stuff the clothing in my bottom drawer or ask if I could take it back. I know that probably hurt people’s feelings sometimes, but I can’t help it if we don’t like the same things. 
Tuesday, January 16, 2018


Freelance writer needs to turn off the tv
DEAR HARRIETTE: I subscribe to a few different streaming services, including Roku, Netflix and Apple TV. It's great because I don't have regular cable anymore, which saves me money. But I can't stop watching TV. I am a freelance writer, and I work from home. Business has been kind of slow the past few months, which is why I ended up even having time to watch TV in the first place. But I have started binge watching different shows, and I find myself watching TV more than doing my work. I know this sounds ridiculous, but I can't seem to turn it off. How can I get this under control? -- TV Addict, Jersey City, New Jersey
Monday, January 15, 2018

Social worker wears fur coat to stay warm

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a social worker, and I work in a poor neighborhood in my city. I don't have any problem with that. I love my work and get along well with my co-workers as well as the folks in the housing projects where I work. Some of these people have been my clients for several years. We know each other pretty well, and they trust me.  


Saturday, January 13, 2018

Teenage daughter needs to wear a coat

DEAR HARRIETTE: My daughter is a true teenager. Even when it is freezing outside, she doesn't want to wear a coat. All of the kids these days wear big sweatshirts instead of true outerwear. I see them and know this is their style, but I also know that when it is below freezing outside, they need to be properly dressed. I don't like forcing my daughter to do things at this age, but I don't want her to get sick. How can I get her to understand? -- Putting My Foot Down, Cambridge, Massachusetts 


Friday, January 12, 2018

Reader wants to report neighbors

DEAR HARRIETTE: I live next door to a family from Guatemala. They are nice enough people, but to tell you the truth, they have too many people coming and going from their house. I bet anything that some of the visitors are undocumented. I can't imagine that they all have their green cards. There are just too many of them. They are tidy and friendly and all, but still.


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Sister-in-law wants to teach kids to shoot
DEAR HARRIETTE: My sister-in-law has decided that she is going to give her children and mine shooting lessons. She thinks that it is wise for everyone to know how to use a gun. She went so far as to say that she thinks every single person should own a gun. 
Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Casanova nephew gives girlfriends same gift
DEAR HARRIETTE: My nephew, who is about to graduate from college, has always been somewhat of a lady's man. He has good manners, but he has had a lot of girlfriends over the years. His last girlfriend got his name put on a necklace that she used to wear all the time. I noticed that he has a new girlfriend now, and I saw her wearing what appeared to be the same necklace.
Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Newlyweds disturb each other's sleep

DEAR HARRIETTE: I recently got married. My husband and I did not live together before marriage, so we are learning each other's idiosyncrasies now. One thing that is a problem is that I am a night owl, and he is a morning person. We hardly ever get in bed at the same time. I feel like one of us is constantly disturbing the other's sleep. I don't know a solution, though, because we have such different sleep patterns. What do you recommend? -- Nighty Night, Denver 


Monday, January 8, 2018

Reader wants to write a book
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have always wanted to write a book. When I tell people my personal story, they tell me I should. I don't know if I'm the most unique person in the world, but I did come from difficult beginnings, and I have made a successful life. I tell good stories, too. The thing is that I speak well, but I have never been a writer. How can I expect to write and publish a book if that's not my thing? -- Wannabe Author, Dallas
Saturday, January 6, 2018

Mentor wonders how to address child abuse
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been mentoring young people for many years now. I work with some of them at my church. Others I have brought in to work for internships at my company. I love helping young people to get set in their lives. Mostly, this works well. 
Friday, January 5, 2018

Budget won't allow visit to friend's shop
DEAR HARRIETTE: A good friend owns a gift shop in a nearby town. I usually buy gifts from her for my family for Christmas, but I didn't buy any gifts this year. I feel bad that I didn't support her, but I couldn't afford it. I decided to stick within my budget for a change. I have been avoiding her because I feel bad that I wasn't able to patronize her store. What can I say to her so that she will know that my not coming in to make any purchases was not personal? -- No Holiday Shopping, Tampa, Florida
Thursday, January 4, 2018

Pregnant daughter causes family questions
DEAR HARRIETTE: My daughter just told me that she is pregnant. She is a sophomore in college, and she has been on a fast track in her career. She does not want to have an abortion, but she has no money, and the father is not interested in being involved. 
Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Employer wants to make sure interns learn
DEAR HARRIETTE: I own a small business, and I have been fortunate to receive help from different universities whose students work for me for a few hours a week in exchange for school credit toward their degrees. The program is wonderful; I am appreciative because I'm still trying to get on my feet, and I'm not making much money. 
Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Reader should share experience at company with friend

DEAR HARRIETTE: A professional friend called me to ask my advice about working for a company I worked for a few years ago. I had a horrible experience working with management, even though I liked the job I did. It's weird -- on one hand, it could be awful, but it was good, too. My friend was asked to assume a leadership role. It could be a good opportunity for him. I don't want to dash his hopes.  


Saturday, December 30, 2017

Reader questions bringing up faith at work

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a woman of faith. Now that I am in my 40s, I can see even better how important my faith has been in my life. I know, of course, that I have worked hard and that has helped me to have the wonderful job that I have. I am a good wife and mother. So far, even though I have had some challenges, my life is great. I don't take this for granted; I believe that this is happening because I have faith in God. I am active in my church and do my best to live a well-balanced life. When people ask me why I am so positive, I like to tell them why. But I worry that I shouldn't talk about faith at work. I never try to get people to follow my path, but I do want to be able to tell my truth. What do you recommend? -- In the Spirit, Atlanta 


Friday, December 29, 2017

Husband's investment ideas seem risky
DEAR HARRIETTE: My husband is completely immersed in what I call conspiracy theories. He has always been like this, only now he's focused on some financial investments that seem awfully risky. I don't know anything about investing -- and neither does he. We both realize we need to make more money, but now he wants to take money out of his retirement to invest in this thing. The investor sounds extreme, if not on the fringe. I don't want to emasculate my husband, but I also do not want him to blow the only retirement we have on what seems like a whim. What can I do? -- Risky Business, Rockville, Maryland
Thursday, December 28, 2017

Reader wants to reach out to friend from college
DEAR HARRIETTE: I heard from a college friend the other day. He was letting me know that another friend's father had passed. We graduated from college more than 30 years ago, but we have stayed connected over time.
Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Is it time for Lego-loving son to grow up?
DEAR HARRIETTE: My son has been playing with Legos since he was about 5. He's a teenager now, but this is still his gift of choice. He told me and my mother that what he wants more than anything for his birthday are the latest Lego kits that are out. Part of me wants to expand his vision. He is about to be of the age to be interested in girls and in being more social. I fear that there won't be too many girls who will want to build Legos with him. Should I start weaning him off Legos and give him a gift that will point him to more social activities, like dance lessons or something? I don't know what to do. -- Growing Up, Bronx, New York
Tuesday, December 26, 2017

School needs help with diversity
DEAR HARRIETTE: My daughter goes to a majority-white school. We are African-American, but we love that she goes to this school because the education is excellent. Our one real concern is that there are never many black students. For the five years that she has been at this school, there may have been at most four black students during any school year. I wish the school had more diversity, and I am willing to help it find people, but it doesn't seem interested. I am committed to my kid, so I want the school to take this seriously. What can I do? -- Black Lives Matter, Bronx, New York
Saturday, December 23, 2017

Reader needs to slow down to stay healthy
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been working so much that I am utterly exhausted. I have a great job, and I serve in a leadership role in two volunteer organizations. I love what I do, but I think I am spreading myself too thin. A couple of weeks ago, I had a panic attack. I ended up in the hospital because my blood pressure was going through the roof. I didn't tell anyone because I didn't know what to do. But I'm worried. Right now, things are OK, but the doctors told me that I have to slow down, or else I could end up in the hospital again. I think that means I should let go of something, but I don't know what to do. I don't want to stop my volunteer work, but I need a job to afford the volunteer time. -- Betwixt, Detroit
Friday, December 22, 2017

Being alone at Christmas doesn't mean being lonely
DEAR HARRIETTE: I recently moved across the country for a job. I'm excited about this opportunity, and things are working out pretty well so far. My issue is that I cannot travel home for Christmas. It's too expensive, plus I am new to the job and get only two days off. It makes no sense to travel 3,000 miles for two days. 
Thursday, December 21, 2017

Reader must fight for health after prediabetes diagnosis
Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Reader and friends in different stages of life
DEAR HARRIETTE: All my friends are having babies these days. A few years ago, most of them were getting married. I feel like I am in a time warp. I am stuck somewhere different from my closest friends, and I am lonely. Don't get me wrong -- I am happy for them, but it seems like we are growing further apart. 
Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Reader wants to throw anniversary party
DEAR HARRIETTE: My husband and I will be celebrating a big anniversary this year. I want to do something fun, and he couldn't care less. Usually, I go along with whatever he wants, but I don't want to do that this year. On the few occasions when I did throw a party or do something a little extra for our anniversary, he liked it.
Monday, December 18, 2017

Reader wants to throw anniversary party

DEAR HARRIETTE: My husband and I will be celebrating a big anniversary this year. I want to do something fun, and he couldn't care less. Usually, I go along with whatever he wants, but I don't want to do that this year. On the few occasions when I did throw a party or do something a little extra for our anniversary, he liked it. I guess he just doesn't want to participate in the work of it. As much as I wish he would help, I want to host a party anyway. How can I go about it so that I don't wear myself out? -- Time to Celebrate, Denver 


Friday, December 15, 2017

Reader's DUI complicates job

DEAR HARRIETTE: I travel a lot for work. My co-worker who travels with me is has always driven for all the years I have worked at my company. On the last trip, he asked me if I would drive this time. I was shocked. I begged off, saying that I had forgotten my driver's license. The truth is that I got a DUI a while back and do not have a valid driver's license right now. I don't want to tell anybody about this as it could cost me my job, or at least make me look bad. My boss has never asked me to drive. How can I get out of this without causing a stir? -- No Driving Privileges, Atlanta 


Friday, December 15, 2017

Reader wants to introduce new boyfriend to family
Thursday, December 14, 2017

Reader wants to warn friend away from company
DEAR HARRIETTE: I worked for a couple of years for a company that had a fantastic mission but horrible management. I couldn't stay there because it was ridiculous how badly the management treated the staff. 
Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Sister misunderstands question of size
DEAR HARRIETTE: My sister is full-figured, and she has great style. I decided to get her an item of clothing for Christmas, but I wasn't sure of the size, so I sent her a text asking her what size she wears. Why did I do that?! She wrote back to me that it was none of my business and asking why was I wanted to know. She accused me of making fun of her size, and she cursed me out. All I wanted to do was get her something nice for Christmas. Now I don't want to get her anything. She was so rude. Should I let her know why I was asking? -- Not Her Size, Baltimore
Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Reader struggles with telling co-worker about husband
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a gay man. I went clubbing with some of my good friends, and at one of the bars, I saw one of my co-workers' husbands. I went over and said hello to him so I could see for sure what was up. He was definitely hanging out with dudes. I know his wife, and she is sweet. She is also a devout Christian. I can't imagine that she knows that her husband is stepping out on her at all, let alone with guys. Should I tell her?
Saturday, December 9, 2017

Son's lack of reading should inspire family
DEAR HARRIETTE: My son's seventh-grade teacher contacted me to say she was worried that my son is not reading enough. She thinks this is why he doesn't do so well in humanities and is a slow reader. He is required to read a certain number of pages every day, which he does begrudgingly. His teacher has asked me to get him to read more.
Friday, December 8, 2017

Reader upset when discussion turns political
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have married into a kooky family. For the most part, we all get along well. We do not share the same political views, though. In the past few years, things have gotten contentious from time to time, with some family members falling hard on the right and others falling equally hard on the left. There seems to be no middle ground. 
Thursday, December 7, 2017

Reader worried about son spending time with cousins
DEAR HARRIETTE: My immediate family and I spent Thanksgiving with our extended family, as we always do. This year, my teenage son was spending time with his older cousins, and they hung out at stores participating in Black Friday sales until very late at night. I was nervous about this, as one of the older cousins has found himself in trouble over the years. 
Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Reader experiences physical change after celibacy
DEAR HARRIETTE: Years ago, my husband and I got into a series of nasty arguments, and while we stayed together, we retreated to different parts of the house and stopped being intimate. 
Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Husband with swollen ankles refuses to see doctor
DEAR HARRIETTE: My husband's ankles swell sometimes -- really, kind of a lot. Whenever I bring this up to him, he shrugs it off. 
Monday, December 4, 2017

Dear Harriette

DEAR HARRIETTE: The girl I've been calling my best friend for years has just done the worst possible thing. She made up a story about me that was horrible and then told it to everybody in our grade. We are in middle school. I am so upset. 


Saturday, December 2, 2017

Keeping the magic of Christmas alive

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have three children. Two are under 5 years old. My oldest is 10. My concern is that we are getting close to Christmas, and it's getting harder and harder to manage the children's expectations of Christmas, especially when it comes to communicating with and about Santa. My eldest is ready to be a spoiler. 


Friday, December 1, 2017

Friend irritated by constant sales pitch
DEAR HARRIETTE: I know a woman who is active in a multilevel marketing company. She hounds me to become part of her network, and I find it annoying. I like the woman enough, but I think I have to cut her out of my life because she doesn't know how to just be a friend. She's all about sales.
Thursday, November 30, 2017

Neighbor has yet to announce pregnancy
DEAR HARRIETTE: My next-door neighbor is pregnant. I know because another neighbor in my building told me, but my neighbor hasn't said anything directly. I know when I was pregnant I didn't tell anyone for months because I had previously had a miscarriage. I'm wondering if I should say anything to congratulate her, or wait until she lets me know. We are friendly but not close. I don't want to seem insensitive since having a baby is such a precious thing. Will I seem rude if I don't mention it? -- Being Neighborly, Bronx, New York
Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Brother does not take his medication
DEAR HARRIETTE: My brother told me he was diagnosed with diabetes. When he went for a medical checkup, the doctor tested him and his A1C number was extremely high. He was prescribed a particular medication that should regulate his blood sugar. When he told me all this at the time, he seemed worried but relieved in the sense that his doctor had given him medication that should help get his body under control. 
Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Volunteer misses important calls
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been so busy juggling family responsibilities and the grind of work that I have missed two important calls related to the charity work that I am doing. I feel horrible that I now look like a flake. I'm really not. What's happened is I have overbooked my schedule and chaos seems to have ensued. I wrote to the woman I stood up twice now for phone meetings and expressed my apology for not following up. I assured her that I do want to have the meeting and asked to reschedule one more time. Is there anything else I should do? -- Stretched Too Thin, Milwaukee
Monday, November 27, 2017

Smart Money
DEAR BRUCE: My 26-year-old daughter is buying her first car. We could loan her the money with a lower interest rate than the credit union for a three- or five-year loan, but would it be better to build her credit this way with a higher interest? Or split the funds halfway? She is highly responsible (getting her doctorate at Georgia State), but doesn't have a credit history. -- C.M.
Saturday, November 25, 2017

Apology key to reconnecting with friends
Saturday, November 25, 2017

Hoarder's cousin wants to visit
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have lived in my house for more than 20 years, and a whole lot more comes in than goes out. I try to sort through stuff and get organized, but it hasn't worked out so well. My cousin called recently to ask if she could stay with me for the weekend. I want to see her, but I cannot invite her to stay with me. My place is a mess. There is nowhere for her to stay. Plus, it would be too much for me to even talk about. I'm sure it will hurt her feelings that I am telling her she can't stay with me. I don't want to explain it to her, but there's no way she can cross this threshold. How should I handle this? -- Hoarder Patrol, Queens, New York
Friday, November 24, 2017

Watching TV shows becomes priority
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been binge-watching TV series for a few seasons now. I feel so embarrassed, but it really is addictive. Because of the way programming is offered now, binge-watching has become a trend. I hate to say it, but I sometimes choose to watch these shows rather than going to work on time or doing my chores. My family thinks I've gone loco. Even so, it's hard to turn it off. What advice do you have for me? -- On a Loop, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Family's history of diabetes leads to concern
DEAR HARRIETTE: Diabetes runs in my family. Nearly every adult who has reached 45 years old has gotten it, and many of my father's relatives died of complications from it. I am so worried that it will happen to me. For years, I worked out a lot and kept myself fit.
Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Host does not want to invite cousins to Thanksgiving
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am hosting Thanksgiving dinner at my home for the first time. It was always celebrated at my mom's house, but she passed away last year, and it naturally fell to me. I am happy to host this event, but I do have one problem. I have two cousins who have always been difficult. They come around during the holidays, constantly freeloading without bringing anything to add to the meal -- while everybody else brings something. Not only do they want whatever we are serving, but they also criticize everything. They are rude and disrespectful.
Monday, November 20, 2017

Mutual reach for centerpiece becomes awkward
DEAR HARRIETTE: I went to a black-tie dinner the other night that had beautiful centerpieces. The hostess announced from the stage that guests were invited to take the centerpieces home.
Saturday, November 18, 2017

Loss of job takes toll on former fashion exec
DEAR HARRIETTE: I feel very sad and hopeless. I have felt like this for quite some time. I try counting my blessings, something my mother taught me when I was a child. It isn't working. I have been unemployed for three years.
Friday, November 17, 2017

Teenager caught between groups of friends
DEAR HARRIETTE: My daughter is in an uncomfortable situation. She was separated from her core friend group this year at school and has been trying to figure out how to maintain those friendships and bond with the kids in her new classroom.
Thursday, November 16, 2017

Business dinner leads to influential contacts
DEAR HARRIETTE: I went to a business dinner the other evening and met a number of very influential people. Two of them gave me their cards and asked me to keep in touch with them. I was honored to receive their cards, but I have no idea what we would talk about if we were to follow up with each other. One woman is a legend in her field. The man is on the rise at his company. Me, I'm just trying to reinvent myself after having worked for 20 years in one field, only to see it virtually shut down recently. I don't see why they would want to talk to me. I'm thinking they gave me their cards just to be nice. What should I do? -- Timid, Falls Church, Virginia
Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Woman's negativity bothers co-worker
DEAR HARRIETTE: Happenstance or convenience or whatever has caused me to spend a lot of time with a co-worker who gets on my nerves. She constantly talks about people from the moment she gets to work until she leaves in the evening. She and I are the only single people at our job, so we gravitated to each other due to our situation. We started going to happy hour sometimes, and even working out on occasion. Now I realize I can't take her endless negativity. How can I peel myself away from her without causing a rift at work? I don't want to end up being one of the people she starts talking about. -- Running for Cover, Monticello, New York
Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Children need to learn from mistakes
DEAR HARRIETTE: I put my foot in my mouth this weekend. My kids got into a war of words with some of their friends that I felt, as a parent, needed to be addressed with the other parent. I talked to the other mom, and ultimately this conversation made the whole situation much worse. The kids had moved on from what seemed like a very negative situation and felt that it was resolved, only to have me stir the pot again. I have apologized to my kids, but is there anything else I should do or say? -- Foot in Mouth, Cincinnati
Monday, November 13, 2017

Friends' split upsets person left in the middle
 DEAR HARRIETTE: One of my best friends just confided in me that she and her husband are getting divorced. I am shocked. They seemed to be a solid couple. They have been married for years, and their youngest child has just left for college. I've heard about the empty nest syndrome, where couples sometimes break up when the kids are gone. I didn't think this would happen to them. I'm not quite sure what to do. We are friends with both the husband and the wife. How do I support my friend and deal with the grief I am feeling over what's to come? -- In the Middle, Fairfax, Virginia
Saturday, November 11, 2017

Cousin unsure how to speak up about adoption issue
DEAR HARRIETTE: My cousin adopted her grandson when he was an infant. She did that because her son and the baby's mother were unfit to care for the boy, and she thought he was in harm's way. The court agreed with her, and she has had him in her custody for more than a dozen years. Every now and then the boy's mother will try to get in touch with her son. At first my cousin encouraged visits and for them to stay in touch, but every time they would get together, he would come back with behavioral problems. My cousin told me the mom tried to reach her son to say happy birthday, but my cousin did not deliver the message. I felt bad about that. I wonder how this young man is going to feel later in life given that he has no relationship with his mother. Will he resent his grandmother? Is she doing the right thing? Since she told me about it, should I express my concern? -- Protecting the Boy, Philadelphia
Friday, November 10, 2017

Freelancer needs time off to reevaluate
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been working on about four freelance projects at the same time ever since I lost my job late last year. I am doing my best, but I am exhausted. Recently I have been messing up, and I'm sure it's because I am tired. I'm afraid to let go of any of these jobs, though, because I am worried about being able to pay my bills. How can I manage my time better so I don't lose everything in the process? -- Stretched Too Thin, Brooklyn, New York
Thursday, November 9, 2017

Bristly beard causes irritation
DEAR HARRIETTE: My husband usually is clean-cut, and I like that. Recently he has let his beard grow in for a week or more at a time. He works in a job where having a beard is fine, but for me it's an issue. He likes to cuddle up close to me at night, and his beard is rough and scratchy. I often wake up with irritated skin. I love my husband and want to cuddle with him. How can I get him to understand that for me it would be great if he would shave before coming to bed? -- Please Shave, Wilmington, Delaware
Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Husband upset over posts to social media
DEAR HARRIETTE: I participated in a wonderful family celebration, and we took a ton of photos. I took some on my phone, and as per usual, I posted some of them. My husband hit the roof. He was so angry that I had "violated" our family's privacy. I never thought I was doing that. I am proud of my family and happy to share. I use social media all the time. I don't think other family members had the same opinion, but my husband is livid. How do I handle this in the future? -- To Post or Not to Post, Chicago
Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Sexual advances remembered years later
DEAR HARRIETTE: Now that so many stories are coming out about sexual misconduct at work, I have remembered several incidents that I faced in my job when I was a young woman. I shrugged them off as part of life because my other female colleagues had mentioned that our boss was a serious flirt. As I recall it, though, I ended up leaving this particular job because my boss wouldn't stop trying to get me to go to bed with him. He was married, and I was barely 20 years old. I have gone on to build a fine career for myself. I'm wondering, though, if I should add my voice to this discussion. My former boss is still running his company (even though he doesn't own it) and still could be harassing women. I'm still working and don't want to cause a problem for myself. What should I do? -- Speaking Up, Denver
Monday, November 6, 2017

Friend wants to help with eating disorder
DEAR HARRIETTE: One of my best friends is battling an eating disorder. I have thought this for years, but I never knew quite what to say. She recently told me she went away to a rehab place to try to learn how to eat properly. She went and did everything she was told, but she hasn't gained weight. I am so worried about her. She is kind of tall and probably weighs less than 100 pounds. How can I be a friend to her during this period when she is trying to face her demons? -- Supporting a Friend, Las Vegas 
Saturday, November 4, 2017

Mother still working at 80
DEAR HARRIETTE: My mother is 80 years old and still working. She has a part-time job as a nurse's aide, a job she has had for most of her adult life. I hate that she has to work as a senior citizen, but I don't make enough money to help her. I was laid off from my job two years ago and barely scrape together enough money to keep my apartment. I do go and cook food for her every week and do my best to spend time with her. What else can I do? -- For My Mother, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 
Friday, November 3, 2017

Alum nervous about group events
DEAR HARRIETTE: My college is having its annual homecoming celebration soon. I have attended every year since I graduated. I'm worried this year, though. A neighboring school just had a bomb scare that shut the school down for more than an hour. Thank God it wasn't terrorism, but it got me thinking. I'm worried it won't be safe this year going into a big crowd, even though I know it's typically a friendly group of people who know each other. How can I decide if I should go? -- Into Danger, Washington
Thursday, November 2, 2017

Friends interview for same job
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am up for a job at a large company in my town, and I learned one of my good friends is interviewing for the job as well. She is so excited, and she confided in me she is trying out for this job. I didn't have the presence of mind to tell her I am interviewing for the same job. I'm sure we will see each other during the interview process. How can I let her know beforehand that I am also in the running without seeming like I am betraying her? We have both been unemployed for a while, so we both need a job badly. I can't step aside on this one. -- On the Line, Severn, Maryland
Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Neighbor can do without tricks and treats
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am the neighbor who never participates in Halloween activities. I don't have children, so I have never been pressured to do it. Also, I just don't dig it. The dark imagery of corpses and goblins and all that death stuff doesn't appeal to me. I don't begrudge the people who are into it, though. What bothers me is that my neighbors get upset every year when I don't put out candy or welcome the kids who come knocking. I don't want to get into a political debate with anyone about my beliefs, but I would appreciate it if they backed off. What can I do or say to get them to have their fun without trying to get me to be a part of it? -- Off the Ghostly Grid, Denver
Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Forgiveness can be a huge hurdle
DEAR HARRIETTE: My father has been dead for many years. I feel ashamed that it is only now that I have been able to fully forgive him for how mean I thought he was when I was growing up. He criticized me for every little thing. It was horrible, even though it did propel me to succeed. Just the other day I was talking to my sister about my dad, and it turns out he had been bragging about me for years to everybody who would listen. He never told me he was proud of my accomplishments, which have been many, but apparently he was quick to tell others. I appreciate this fact, long after he's gone. How can I deal with the guilt I feel for not being able to forgive him while he was alive? -- Forgiving Daddy, Washington
Monday, October 30, 2017

Sexual harassment issues worry parent
DEAR HARRIETTE: All this talk about sexual harassment at work is upsetting me, but more my daughter, who is about to graduate from college and wants to work in the entertainment industry. She and I have been discussing how she can protect herself from sexual predators on the job and whether she should even keep her dream of working in film given the horror stories that have been exposed about Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby before him, and so many others. How do I protect my daughter and encourage her to pursue her passion? Listening to the women who are speaking up today doesn't really make me more comfortable. They were quiet for decades so that they could grow their careers. Is that what my daughter's fate will be -- give in or go home? -- Protecting My Daughter, Cincinnati
Saturday, October 28, 2017

Family can't travel for the holidays
DEAR HARRIETTE: The holidays are coming up, and I am in a bind. Usually, my family travels for Thanksgiving and Christmas to visit relatives. My husband recently lost his job, and I am a stay-at-home mom. We can't afford the flights or even the road trip we normally take. We have to be frugal until we figure out how we will earn a living to take care of our family. We don't really want to tell our extended family what's going on. My husband is a proud man, and he doesn't want to admit that he got laid off. I want to honor his wishes, but I don't know what to tell the family. They will start worrying and wondering if we don't tell them something. -- Dreading the Holidays, Pittsburgh
Friday, October 27, 2017

Neighbor needs support after loss
DEAR HARRIETTE: I'm not sure how to handle a delicate situation. My neighbor's husband passed away recently, and she is having a hard time. We were never close, but I am concerned for her. I want to be able to support her, but my husband doesn't like her. He has a good friend who has filled his head with terrible stories about her, so he doesn't want me to associate with her. I kept my distance for years because of my husband's perspective, but now she needs support. How do I break the invisible line and lend a hand without offending my husband? -- In Mourning, New Orleans
Thursday, October 26, 2017

Neighborhood group gets gossipy
DEAR HARRIETTE: I moved to a new neighborhood a few months ago, and I am getting to know some of the people who live nearby. I learned that there is a women's group that gets together once a month for drinks or dinner. In theory, it's really nice. The thing is, I don't like a couple of the women. They are very catty and sit in the corner and talk about people -- or worse, they talk about people out in the open -- when the people in question are not there. How can I befriend some of the other women without condoning that behavior? I don't want to be a bystander and allow that kind of talk to go on in my presence. -- Fitting In, Scarsdale, New York
Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Co-worker should keep opinions to herself
DEAR HARRIETTE: I was talking to a work friend the other day, and the subject turned to a fellow co-worker who is gay. My work friend started in saying she knows we are supposed to be PC and all, but she is a Christian and believes homosexuality is a sin. She knows she should be more open to this guy, but she says it is against her religion to believe that the way he lives is acceptable. This conversation was awkward, to say the least. I understand her feelings, even though I don't agree. But we are not supposed to discriminate against anyone on the job. Her comments went on and on about this guy and his presumed behavior. I didn't like it, but I wasn't sure what to do or say. Can you help? -- Sexuality and Religion, Memphis, Tennessee
Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Couple reaches impasse regarding housekeeper
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am about to get married, and my fiance and I have come to an impasse over something that I don't think is such a big deal. I grew up in a household where everybody had chores, but we also had a housekeeper who came once a week to do heavy cleaning. It was so helpful having Mrs. Lancaster with us. She became part of the family. I want the same thing for my new home. Of course, both of us should do chores, but I believe having extra help will ensure we keep everything organized and clean. My husband thinks this is excessive and a waste of money. He grew up in a household where no extra help was ever there. They couldn't afford it. We can. Plus, I work 80 hours a week usually. I need the help. How can I get my fiance to see that? -- Clean Up, Rochester, New York
Monday, October 23, 2017

Nice guy does not enjoy spontaneity on dates
DEAR HARRIETTE: I've been dating a man who is the quintessential nice guy. He calls me a lot. He asks me out on dates every weekend. He has great manners. 
Saturday, October 21, 2017

Aging group of friends falls out of contact
DEAR HARRIETTE: My mother has a small group of friends she has been close to since she was a child. She is now in her late 80s.  
Friday, October 20, 2017

Checking the legitimacy of charities
DEAR HARRIETTE: I was asked to give gently used clothing to a clothing drive for victims of the hurricanes that have occurred in recent weeks. I am so happy to help, and I gathered everything my family and I could give away. 
Thursday, October 19, 2017










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