Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

DEAR HARRIETTE: My mother and brother both live in my house with me. I told my mom last year when they moved in that I was going to run the air conditioning all summer, and I did not want the windows or doors open -- period. My mom likes to have her window wide open all year. We ended up arguing about the windows being open while the air conditioning is running pretty much all summer long. I told her this year that I'm going to run the air, windows shut, no discussion about it. She already has been arguing that it shouldn't affect the temperature in the house and has opened her windows anyway. I have a ranch-style house, so it's not like she is in an upstairs bedroom where it is particularly hotter than the rest of the house. I keep the air at 70 degrees.

I don't want to fight with her, but I feel disrespected by her blatant disregard for my simple request. And as far as my brother is concerned, I asked him not to stink up his room with smoking, and his room now reeks of stale cigarette smoke. He has a nice deck attached to his room, so this is really irritating. Am I wrong for feeling this way? How can I ask them both to move out without causing World War III? -- Follow My Rules

DEAR FOLLOW MY RULES: For your brother, you should put your foot down -- hard. No smoking in your house, period. Tell him that if he continues to smoke, he will have to move. I don’t think you should even allow him to smoke on the deck because the smoke will still waft back into the house. Secondhand smoke is deadly.

It’s trickier with your mother. Some people aren’t comfortable without fresh air. Instead of trying to force her to close her window, request that she keep her door closed at all times. In this way, the air conditioner won't be working so hard to cool off her room.

I say the deal breaker is the cigarettes, not the open window.

DEAR HARRIETTE: Your advice to the woman who was concerned about drinking too much during the quarantine was spot on! I'd like to add that it is not necessary to admit you are an alcoholic in order to attend an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting (online or in person): “The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking." Additionally, there are open AA meetings, which are available to anyone, regardless of their drinking situation, and closed AA meetings, which are for those who want to stop drinking.

Many folks need what these meetings have to offer but may not be ready to consider themselves alcoholics or addicts. I know when I first walked through the doors of AA 15 years ago, I couldn't yet say those words -- "I'm an alcoholic." Ironically, when I finally said out loud what others had known for years, it was quite liberating. -- Recovering Alcoholic

DEAR RECOVERING ALCOHOLIC: Thank you for your welcoming clarification. For anyone who feels drawn to get support with their drinking, AA is immediately available to help you -- even online. Go to aa.org.

(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.)