Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Reader Debates Visiting Friend on Her Birthday

DEAR HARRIETTE: I work in Connecticut, and my best friend goes to school in Delaware. Her birthday is this weekend, and I am having trouble deciding if I should visit her for the weekend.

On one hand, it would be a nice thing to do for her, and I know she would appreciate me celebrating with her. On the other hand, it is a long weekend of travel for me. I would have to leave after work on Friday and return on Sunday. My friend did not visit me on my birthday, so will she be offended if I do not make the trip? What do you think I should do? -- BFF's Birthday Dilemma, Bridgeport, Connecticut

DEAR BFF’S BIRTHDAY DILEMMA: You are talking about your best friend. Chances are, she is sensitive to the fact that you live far away from her, that you want to spend time with her and that it will take extra effort to make it happen. Is it a requirement that you make the trip? Of course not. If you have the energy and desire to do it, talk to her about it. Tell her that you are thinking of traveling her way, and ask what her plans are. Be honest about your reservations -- though not about her missing out on your birthday -- and check in to see what she would like. Make the decision together.

Adult Reader Still Scared of Dentist

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am 22 years old and still terrified of the dentist. I went to a pediatric dentist until last year. Since then, I have not sought out a new dentist, meaning I have not been to the dentist in 18 months. There is nothing wrong with my teeth, but I know it is important to go at least once a year to make sure everything is OK.

Ever since I was a youngster, I have been scared of the dentist and hate the feeling of someone probing my mouth with sharp metal objects. Do you think this is a common phobia for someone my age? Do you have any advice on how I can overcome this fear? -- Scared of the Dentist, Jackson, Mississippi

DEAR SCARED OF THE DENTIST: I was much like you after having had a series of bad experiences with the dentist when I was a child. I ended up needing costly and painful procedures because I ignored my mouth for too long. DON’T BE LIKE ME!

Ask your friends and your pediatric dentist for referrals. Find someone who is conscientious and who has a good bedside manner. Once you find a dentist who makes you feel comfortable, you will be able to overcome your fear. It took a lot of conversations to build trust with my dentist, and it worked. We have been together for more than 20 years. You can do it!

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