DEAR ABBY: My mom wants me to exercise more. Currently, I just walk a lot (in my house and around the block). I know exercise is a good idea, but I'm really self-conscious about it. I never feel like I'm doing it right (because I know you can easily pull a muscle), and I feel like everyone else in the gym is judging me.
Now that I'm 17, Mom expects me to be more mature about this. I don't even feel comfortable swimming in public places anymore. I feel stressed about it, but Mom just thinks I'm being picky.
Being in a gym makes me feel unhappy and judged. I wish there was a better way to exercise, but I don't know what. How can I get my mom to understand how hard this is for me? -- WONDERING IN WICHITA
DEAR WONDERING: Going to a gym can be fun if you do it with a buddy. Most of the people there are more concerned with what they are doing than what anyone else is. That said, going to the gym isn't for everyone. There are many forms of exercise.
Tell your mother you would prefer to exercise on your own rather than go to a gym. Then put on your walking shoes, leave the house and walk for 20 to 30 minutes a day. It's good for you. Listen to music when you're doing it and it will make the time go quickly. And on days when you don't want to go outside, put on some music and dance. It's good for the circulation, and it's also good for the soul.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been married for 44 years. We eloped in high school and still feel like newlyweds. We built a successful business, ran it for 40 years and recently had an opportunity to sell it.
The problem is my mother. We bought a second home in California, but kept our first home. Every time I call to ask how she and Dad are doing, she responds with, "You don't care how we are. If you did, you would be here."
I love our new life. Our kids are grown, and we are enjoying ourselves to the fullest. We are both in excellent health, and still young at heart. How can we tell her that we have a life we love without her being so resentful? -- LOVING LIFE IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR LOVING: You can't, because your mother feels you should be at her beck and call. She has had you close since you were a child, and now she may be feeling deserted.
At this point, I don't advise telling your mother that you "have a life you love" without her. Instead, I suggest that you phrase your greeting to her more carefully.
Rather than ask how she and your dad are doing, say that you are "calling to check in." Say that you were thinking about her. And if she starts in with "you don't care," tell her that you do care or you wouldn't be on the phone with her, but if she keeps giving you a guilt trip, she'll be hearing from you less.
DEAR ABBY: If you go to a party and bring something (chips, soda, etc.), what is the rule of etiquette about taking it home when you leave? -- PRACTICAL IN IDAHO
DEAR PRACTICAL: When someone brings food to a party, it could be considered a host/hostess gift. Before taking any of it home, first ask your host or hostess if it would be all right. While some people wouldn't mind, others may, so you shouldn't assume that because you brought something that the leftovers are yours.