DEAR HARRIETTE: I just spent time with some women who are friends with someone I grew up with. I used to be close to this friend’s mother, and I would talk to her from time to time over the years, but we lost touch with each other. I learned from these women that my friend’s mom is in poor health and her daughter is taking care of her. I want to reach out to say hello, but I also feel terrible that I haven’t reached out in several years. Do you think they will appreciate my call, or will they be resentful that it seems like I forgot about them? -- Want to Reach Out
DEAR WANT TO REACH OUT: My vote is for reaching out right away. In this moment, you are thinking about this family and knowing that they are suffering. Your pleasant call will likely bring them joy. Instead of bemoaning how long it has been since you spoke, focus on the here and now. Tell them that you have been thinking about them and that you are so happy to be in touch.
If you can speak directly to the mom and she has her faculties, tell her about your life and your family. She will likely enjoy hearing about anything joyful that you can share. Ask her how she is doing. Listen to her tell you whatever is on her mind. Sometimes older people will dwell on their ailments. Other times, they will reminisce about family. It could even happen that she could chastise you for not calling sooner. Whatever she says, offer her love, and commit to being in touch more often. If you can, it would be great for you to follow up with both of them in the coming months. Who knows how long the mom will be here? It is wonderful for you to stay connected now.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I just noticed on social media that one of my high school friends who is now grown and married with children sent his two kids overseas for summer programs. The pictures look amazing. I’m happy for him, but if I am honest, I am also a bit jealous. I could hardly pay for my kids to go to the local day camp. I can’t figure out how he was able to do these trips abroad. I know I shouldn’t feel this way, but I want these kinds of experiences for my children, too. Do you think that people who are not rich can sometimes get their kids into these kinds of programs? -- Battling Envy
DEAR BATTLING ENVY: Thank you for your honesty. It can be hard to see your acquaintances flourishing when you are feeling depleted. Rather than falling into a space of self-pity because you don’t have whatever they are showing on social media, do some research. Many programs for young people offer scholarships for a small percentage of participants.
Look up the programs that you find interesting, and inquire about whether they offer financial aid or academic scholarships. You will likely be surprised to learn how many programs are inclusive in that way.
If you are in touch with your high school friend, you might also reach out to him to say how you were inspired by his kids’ photos. Ask him if either of those programs offers financial aid. If you are direct and honest about your financial situation, you create space for people to support you in reaching your dreams for your family. Honesty is far more powerful and productive than envy.
(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.)