DEAR HARRIETTE: I have listened to friends tell me how they have given up different things for religious reasons -- especially for Lent -- for 40 days. Though I am not Christian, I like the notion of devoting a specific period of time to a discipline that takes something away. I think it could be helpful for me. I struggle with all kinds of things, from weight gain to clutter. I bet if I committed to giving up sweets or throwing things away every day for 40 days, I would see some positive results. Do you think it’s OK to adopt this practice even though I’m not following my friends’ religious tradition? -- Sacrifice
DEAR SACRIFICE: In a word, YES! By all means, adopt a practice from the Christian tradition to help guide your steps. The practice of surrendering your will for the betterment of your body, mind and spirit is powerful. To sacrifice things you care about, especially those that don’t serve you, for an extended period of time can lead to you making smarter choices for your life. It’s all about discipline, focus, commitment and the belief that you deserve to live a better life. Often, in order to get to that better life, you have to give up behaviors, things and sometimes people that no longer benefit you. Embrace this tradition, and see how it transforms your life.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have never really been afraid in my neighborhood before, but several homes within a few blocks of me have been burglarized in the past few months, and no one has been caught yet. Now we are all nervous. I’ve been locking my house every night -- something no one ever used to do. But I’m thinking I should go one step further and install a security system. I am a single mother with a young child. I feel like I need to do something to feel safer, and I cannot move at this time. Do you think I’m being extreme? I can’t really afford to do this, but I think I should find a way. -- Time for Security
DEAR TIME FOR SECURITY: As times change and conditions in your neighborhood shift, you should evaluate how best to protect yourself and your child. Of course it is disconcerting to know that homes in your neighborhood have been burglarized without resolution. It is smart to consider ways to safeguard your home. A security system is wise, and there are many affordable ones on the market.
You might also want to talk to your neighbors about starting a neighborhood watch. There is tremendous value in having one another’s backs. If you and those who live near you can come up with a plan to patrol your community, that can mean a lot for the safety of the whole. You may also consider hiring a security service as a group. Finally, you should meet with your local police department to learn how they can support you more directly during this trying time.
(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.)