Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Reader Wonders if Gift Cards Are too Impersonal

DEAR HARRIETTE: Is a gift card an impersonal gift? Sometimes I find myself too busy or at a loss for ideas when it comes time to give presents. For example, I got my friend a gift card to a store I know she likes. I felt bad, but also knew it would be put to good use. Should I have gone to the store and picked something out that she may have returned instead? -- Gift Card, Raleigh, North Carolina

DEAR GIFT CARD: Some of the most popular gifts these days are gift cards. Yes, they are quick and easy for the givers, but also they're like giving somebody cash to buy what he or she likes. The fact that you thought about your friend and got her a card from one of her favorite stores shows that you were being thoughtful. You could have given a gift card from American Express, Visa or Mastercard that could be used anywhere. By the way, those are great gifts as well.

One way to further personalize a gift is to buy or make a card in which you include a special note acknowledging your friend.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am 60 years old and have been feeling that I am too old to go to professional workshops. I have only a few years left to go until I retire, and I hate how out of touch I feel when these young professionals are teaching me. Do you have any words of motivation so I can feel good about going to these again? -- Oldest One There, Atlanta

DEAR OLDEST ONE THERE: We reach different moments in our lives when everything comes into question. This occurs with greater frequency as we get older. It is your choice, however, as to how you will react to these moments. As it relates to work, one way you can stay young is to stay up to date on everything. You should take professional workshops so that you remain relevant at work. You should also welcome the young professionals who teach you what they know.

As difficult as it may seem at first, if you welcome the input of younger people and truly allow yourself to learn, you will be able to enjoy your remaining working years much better. Similarly, go online and look for tutorials that are available there. Thanks to the internet, there is so much educational material available that you should be able to help yourself to keep up with changes in your industry.

You may even want to bring ideas to your younger colleagues that you have read about in your research. Ask them if they know about particular things you discover. Your putting forth the effort will help to boost your self-esteem and show your company that you not only have experience in your favor, but you also have the willingness to continue to be a student of your industry and life.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)