DEAR HARRIETTE: I recently found out that a friend of mine has been displaced by Hurricane Sandy. She lost everything, including a beautiful beachfront home and two cars.
I finally got a chance to speak to her. She told me that she is looking for an apartment above sea level and that she is ready to start her life over. How can I help lift her spirits while she is in her time of transition? -- Concerned Friend, Far Rockaway, N.Y.
DEAR CONCERNED FRIEND: Your friend must be counting her blessings because she is alive, even though her belongings are gone. That is the right attitude, though it can be incredibly difficult for someone who has been overcome by such tragedy to stand in that space.
What you can do is stay in close touch with her. If she asks for help in visiting apartments or anything else, do your best to be available to support her. She may want to talk about what happened or what the future holds. Chances are, she could use a good friend who is a great listener. Do not bring up her loss. If she wants to talk about it, she will.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I'm a single male who has been seeing a young lady for quite some time. We like each other, but I have some reservations about our relationship.
There is a rule that says you should not commit to a relationship during major holidays such as Christmas, Valentine's Day and Thanksgiving. I know this may sound bizarre, but I don't want to get into a serious relationship during the holiday season. I want to keep our relationship "title free," if you know what I mean. What do you think? -- Slightly Committed, Memphis, Tenn.
DEAR SLIGHTLY COMMITTED: You are letting superstition get the best of you. You don't have to get down on one knee on any particular holiday if you don't want to. But also don't make the mistake of believing some "rule," whose origin you don't even know, for fear that the relationship will be jinxed.