DEAR HARRIETTE: I am what we call middle-aged. I just turned 50, and it is unnerving me. I thought my life would be different than it is. Don't get me wrong -- things are OK. I am a single mom of an irritable teenage daughter. I have a good job and a nice home, but I am kind of bored with my life. When I was younger, I thought I would be living very differently by now.
I hate that I sound like I’m having a midlife crisis. I’ve heard about that, of course. Now I’m thinking there must be some truth to it. I am stressed and sad most of the time. I snap at my daughter on a daily basis, and I don’t know how to get out of this spiral of emotions. -- SOS, Dallas
DEAR SOS: Questioning your life’s choices and value is common for men and women around your age. And, yes, it can be daunting to live through a period when things seem hopeless, stagnant or boring. Add to that a child who is discovering herself and pushing the boundaries, and you have a recipe for daily discomfort. One thing that could make you feel somewhat better is acknowledging that you are not alone. Many people suffer from similar feelings and attitudes at this stage in their lives. That said, if you cannot shake off the negativity, get some help. That can include professional support, like going to a therapist. You can also add an activity to your schedule that you consider fun. Pick a hobby, class or outing that you can do every week, either alone or with a friend, that will break your current patterns and get you to think differently about your life.
DEAR HARRIETTE: Mostly I communicate with people via email or text. I realized recently that I hardly ever talk to people on the phone.
Given that, I don’t understand why people who know me hardly ever spell my name right. I have a slightly different spelling than the average person, but some of the people who misspell my name have very unusual names that I get right. I find this annoying. It is my name, for crying out loud. I often send a little reminder note at the end of a communication pointing out the correct spelling of my name. Even then, people often don’t take the time to spell it right in the next communication. What can I do to get people to care? -- Spell My Name Right, Cleveland
DEAR SPELL MY NAME RIGHT: I suffer from the same problem. There are three ways to spell my name, mine being the longest and most old-fashioned, I think. I have done the same thing as you: In a pleasant FYI, I tell the person my correct spelling followed by a smiley face. It works less than half the time.
Here’s something you can test out. For someone who is not a business associate -- as you don’t want to beta test with your livelihood -- misspell that person’s name in your communication. Hopefully the person will notice and say something, to which you can say, “See how it feels?! Now, would you please try to spell my name right?” It’s worth a shot.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist 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.)