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
DEAR BETWIXT: Consider what just happened to you as both a blessing and a wake-up call. A panic attack could have been something much worse. You must be still long enough to figure out what you need to release from your life. You already know that something has to go. If your heart tells you that it should be your job, then make a plan. Perhaps you can take a leave of absence from both of your volunteer positions so that you can focus on finding a new paying job. Once you find something that better suits your needs and interests, you can resume the volunteering. Consider doing one volunteer job at a time.
You must put yourself first: Change your diet, increase your exercise, find calming things to do that support your overall health. You have to be your priority. Otherwise, it all goes away.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My son’s birthday is coming up, and we usually have a huge party for him. This year, finances are tighter than in the past, and we can’t afford the blowout event. We have been suggesting ideas that are more manageable for our budget, but our son, who will soon turn 15, is having none of it. He is acting like a 5-year-old and demanding something that we cannot do. To be fair to him, we have always been able to host fabulous parties in the past. It is our fault that he thinks anything is possible. How do we break it to him that this year there's a limit to his fun? -- Smaller Party, Philadelphia
DEAR SMALLER PARTY: It’s time to give your 15-year-old a reality check. Too bad you haven’t talked to him about budgets before, but now is the time. Explain that he cannot do the blowout party this year, period. Come up with specific ideas that fit your budget. You can let him choose. If he can’t seem to decide, step in. Pick a party that you can afford. Then be enthusiastic about it, and encourage your son to be excited, too. This will make his guests happy about whatever activity you choose.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)