DEAR HARRIETTE: My ex-wife recently contacted me to tell me she has fallen on hard times. She had remarried some years back, and her husband turned out to be a jerk. He was abusive, and she finally got the courage to leave. She has been picking up the pieces of her life for a few years, including moving into her own apartment, getting a job and trying to get her act together. I felt sorry for her when she called. We have been apart for many years, but there is no animosity between us. I think she would like for us to be friends. I’m not sure what to do. I don’t want to get caught up in her issues, but I do care about her. What should I do? -- Ex Mess, Des Moines, Iowa
DEAR EX MESS: Many people who were once married remain friends and connect here and there over the years. There’s nothing wrong with that. It sounds like your ex-wife could use a friend and confidant, someone she can trust to share what’s going on with her and to be a cheerleader of sorts. If you have the emotional space to fill those shoes, go for it. You don’t have to become everything for her. You should create boundaries for yourself so that you don’t get totally sucked into her world. But talking to her on the phone occasionally, meeting for tea or coffee and just being a presence in her life could make a huge impact on her situation right now.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I used to be aghast when I looked at my aunts on my father’s side -- all big women weighing over 200 pounds. They were typical Southern women who cooked with lard and bacon fat. They served traditional soul food that was very tasty and laden with calories. My mother never cooked like that. She cooked clean food with little fat. I will admit that it wasn’t as tasty, but she was determined to give us a healthy diet.
Fast forward to today: Though I do not cook like my aunts, I feel like I have become them. I have a similar build, and now in my mid-50s, I am carrying around similar weight. When the scale tipped over 200, I thought I would die. I have become the very thing I abhorred as a child. Is there a way to reverse time and, perhaps, genetics? -- Like My Aunties, Sarasota, Florida
DEAR LIKE MY AUNTIES: No, you cannot reverse time or change your genetic makeup. Sorry. What you can do is change your diet and move your body. Think about how your mother fed you as a child. Go back to a lean protein, low fat, low carb, high vegetable diet. Cut out extra sugar and fat. And start to exercise. You can walk and start to strengthen your body. The recommendation is for everyone to walk at least 10,000 steps a day, or about 5 miles. Start off slow and build up to that. Get a physical to determine the overall state of your health before you do anything. You can reclaim good health!
(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.)