Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Man Embarrassed That Family Can't Swim

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am embarrassed that I never learned how to swim. I grew up in a neighborhood where nobody went to the pool and we didn’t have swimming lessons, so as an adult man, I cannot swim. Recently, some friends invited me and my family to go to a pool party. I want to go and intend to bring my family, but none of us can swim. I wonder if my family will feel uncomfortable. The kids can put on life vests and stay in the shallow end, but I would look like a fool with those floaties on. Should we go? Is it too late for me and my family to learn how to swim? -- I Can't Swim, Dallas

DEAR I CAN’T SWIM: Make sure that there is a lifeguard or adults who can swim at the party so that your children are safe. Privately let the host know that you and your children are not swimmers, and ask if there is someone who will be watching the kids.

Beyond that, yes, you can learn to swim as an adult. Go to your local YMCA to find out if they offer adult swim lessons. You can go once a week to learn the basics, which will be helpful for you. Same for your children.

Olympic gold medalist Cullen Jones has partnered with the USA Swimming Foundation to help families learn to swim, in a program called Make a Splash. Cullen almost drowned as a child, and he doesn’t want this to happen to others, especially folks in communities that typically do not learn to swim. For more information, visit

DEAR HARRIETTE: My house is a mess, and I know that I need help getting it organized. My husband helps a little to clean up, but I mean only a little. I am a bit of a hoarder, and he is a collector. Ever since my husband put his foot down that we can’t have a cleaning service, the house has gotten way messier. I am so embarrassed, and I know that I won’t be able to get it clean and tidy without help. I also don’t want to fight with my husband. How can I get him to seriously help me clean or allow a cleaning service back into the house? -- Messed Up, Kansas City, Missouri

DEAR MESSED UP: People who are not tidy often need help getting to a baseline of tidiness. Maybe what you can do is convince your husband to allow a cleaning service to come in and help you to clear out the clutter, make tough decisions about things to throw away and help you establish a level of order that you can maintain. This could be your key to getting a fresh start. You may also want to talk to him about having a once-a-month service to come in and help you keep your place in order. This is least invasive, which may help you to reclaim your home.

(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.)