DEAR HARRIETTE: I have fairly poor eyesight and find myself saying "hello" to people I thought I knew from a distance, only to realize that they are perfect strangers. Should I explain why I greeted them or simply let it be? My daughters beg me to stop halting strangers to explain my eyesight, but I think I owe them an explanation for the confusion. -- Fuzzy Friends, Washington, D.C.
DEAR FUZZY FRIENDS: Step one should be to make an appointment to have your eyes examined. Find out why you have poor eyesight and if there is a way to correct it. Very often, corrective glasses will give you the ability to see clearly, or at least clear enough for basic visual cues. If you have a degenerative eye disease that has permanently damaged your eyesight and made it impossible for you to see well, talk to your doctor about how you can take other steps to help people communicate with you better.
Practically speaking, it is perfectly fine for you to be friendly as you encounter other people. That includes saying "hello." What you should stop doing is believing that you know everyone you see. You can greet people, but keep it general. In this way, you have no need for an apology. If it turns out you know the person, he or she will help you to make that connection.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My 30-year-old daughter trashes my profession, yet she asks me for financial support when her singing gigs don't provide her with enough money. I work in banking, and she has referred to this as "soulless work." I do feel bad that her dream is not working out for her, but at some point, she needs to stop feeling superior to me because her job requires artistic creativity. How can I get this message through to her? I fear it may be too late. -- Biting the Hand That Feeds You, Roxbury, Massachusetts
DEAR BITING THE HAND THAT FEEDS YOU: It sounds like you are the one who needs to start valuing your work more. Creative types do tend to dismiss business types and vice versa, but that doesn't make it right.
I recommend that you have a sit-down with your daughter and let her know how you feel about her constant negative comments about your work. Tell her why you have chosen your field and what it means to you and your family. Speak about her career choice as well. Tell her that you respect her desire to pursue her singing, but that at this stage in her life, you need her to figure out how to take care of herself without relying on the paycheck from your "soulless work."
Don't be mean, but please do be clear. Your daughter is at the age -- even if she weren't being rude to you -- when she should be able to fend for herself. It's time for her to be like other hopeful artists. She may need to have several jobs to make ends meet. By doing so, she will learn just how hard it can be to pursue your dreams and make a living. Reality has a way of humbling us all.
(Harriette Cole is a life stylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)