DEAR HARRIETTE: One of my teachers from high school is retiring. I recently received a message from a classmate of mine asking if I would like to record a 1-to-2-minute video that would be part of a farewell montage, created by her past and present students. When I received the message, I was shocked that she had messaged me directly. I loved the teacher, but I did not think we were that close. I am struggling with whether I should make the video. Would it be meaningful if I created the video, even though I don't have any personal memories to share? -- Saying Goodbye, Shreveport, Louisiana
DEAR SAYING GOODBYE: You should make a little video. Your smiling face thanking your former teacher for being a great educator for you and so many students over the years will make her happy. If you can remember one moment that stands out, either something she taught you that made you a better student or a funny experience that you shared, include that. If not, just a joyful farewell is enough.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am 20 years old, and I have always had long hair. People always comment on how healthy and beautiful my hair is, which I appreciate. Recently, I have been thinking about cutting my hair and donating it to Locks of Love. Locks of Love takes donated hair and creates wigs for children with hair loss. It is a great cause, but it requires a little sacrifice. There are so many great things about donating hair, but I am nervous about having my hair that short. I feel guilty about thinking about my looks more than children who have lost their hair. Do you think there is a right or wrong decision when it comes to donating my hair? -- Should I Donate?, Milwaukee
DEAR SHOULD I DONATE?: I know many young women who have donated their hair to this great cause. Not one of them has told me she regrets it. The good news is that because you have healthy hair that grows long, you have every reason to believe that your hair will grow back. Look at magazines or at images online of shorter hairstyles to decide how you want your hair to be cut. You may discover a whole new look that you want to explore for yourself while your hair is shorter.
One young woman I know decided to cut her long hair just before she graduated from college. She did this because she wanted to have a more professional look for job interviews. Think about how your good action will help children with hair loss -- and also how you can personally benefit from the experience. By creating a win-win scenario, you will likely be less nervous about the cut itself.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I started a new job after graduating from college. I work alongside four other women. Everyone on my team knows that I just graduated from college and this is a new position for me. For the first few weeks, my boss had a habit of taking time to tell the clients and other colleagues that I am young, and she refers to me as "the baby." It bothers me, so I tried to ignore her and represent myself as the young adult I am. But occasionally she will still call me a baby and pat me on the back.
I want to be taken seriously in my career and start it off without everyone judging me on my age rather than on my skill set. Would you suggest sitting down with my boss and telling her how I feel about being called "the baby"? -- Not a Baby, San Mateo, California
DEAR NOT A BABY: The next time that you and your boss have a one-on-one conversation, tell her how much you like your job and what you are learning. Point out positives about your experience, including how you are transitioning from school to the workplace. Thank her for her support. Then tell her you would like to make a request of her -- this should get her full attention. Tell her that it makes you uncomfortable when she calls you the baby. Make it clear that you are a professional and you want to be taken seriously in this job. Ask her to stop referring to you in that manner as it doesn't help you to stand fully in your role in the company. Chances are she has been thinking that her nickname for you is a term of endearment. Your clarification may help her to see that you don't share her view.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My son just started dating. I am happy for him, but the problem is that he brings all the girls that he is dating around family and for family events. I don't mind him inviting his friends, but the status of these relationships is confusing. He doesn't introduce each young lady as his "girlfriend," but the way they interact makes family assume they are together.
I want my son to stay open and have him tell me about his dating life, but bringing around his casual dates is beginning to get complicated. How do I tell him to bring only the girls he's serious about around instead of bringing a different one to every family event? -- Revolving Door Dates, Minneapolis
DEAR REVOLVING DOOR DATES: This is a tricky situation. On one hand, it is great that your son feels comfortable enough to bring any of his dates around the family. He is not interested in hiding his dating activity, which is commendable. On the other hand, the confusion that multiple girlfriends on his arm can bring is real. Keeping track of who's who can create moments when young ladies are called the wrong name or family members can get attached to one, only to find that she's long gone.
Talk to your son about his intentions. Find out what he wants for his life in the near future and down the line. Tell him that you appreciate that he feels at ease bringing his dates around, but also point out that it is confusing for the family. I wouldn't tell him to stop bringing his dates to the house, but you might suggest that he bring only serious girlfriends to big family gatherings like holidays or family reunions.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My fiance and I just got engaged, and we are excited about our wedding. Unfortunately, I misplaced my engagement ring. I looked for it for weeks, but I finally told my fiance that I lost it. He understood and we replaced the ring, but I still have the guilt of losing the first one. I find myself reassuring him that I won't lose the ring again, but I want to stop doing that. My fiance hasn't shown any resentment, but I think I am punishing myself because of my mistake. I'm afraid it will come up in a future disagreement and he'll hold it against me. Is there a way to prevent him from using the lost engagement ring against me? Should I just get over this? -- Lost Engagement Ring, Jacksonville, Florida
DEAR LOST ENGAGEMENT RING: It is understandable that you would feel guilty for having lost the initial ring, but what you are doing now is detrimental to the health of your relationship. If you keep dwelling on the lost ring rather than forgiving yourself and moving forward, it will remain a thorn in your side. Your fiance has let it go. Stop talking about it. Stop thinking about it. Focus on the present and the future life that you are building together.
You cannot prevent your fiance from bringing up the ring in some future hypothetical argument, but you actually increase the chances of that happening if the loss remains top of mind for you. Move on.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been single for two years now. I am dating, but nothing is serious yet. I am content and happy focusing on myself, but recently an ex has come back into the picture. This relationship did not end on good terms. Toward the end of our relationship, I found out that he wasn't faithful.
I had thought we would take bigger steps in our relationship, like moving in together or even marriage. I was deeply in love with him until I found out the truth. After I learned about his unfaithfulness, we broke up, and I haven't spoken to him in two years. He has contacted me on Facebook, looking to mend things. I am not sure if it is the best idea for me. I want to stay happy with who I am now, and I don't want to go back and relive those memories by talking to him. Should I reconnect with him, and if so, how do I stay strong? -- Happier Without Him, Dundalk, Maryland
DEAR HAPPIER WITHOUT HIM: Trust your instincts on this one. You made the right decision to end the relationship when he proved untrustworthy. You have gotten yourself to a happy place in your life. There is no reason for you to communicate with him anymore. Do not meet or talk with him. Instead, send him a nice note saying you hope his life is good and that he is happy. Tell him you are doing well and that you do not want to reconnect with him. Even if he persists in trying to get you to communicate with him, just say no.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I live near a farm and find the state that those animals are in despicable. This is a petting zoo that gives tours to families, and the animals are kept in cramped cages and can barely move. I think this is animal abuse and believe this farm should be shut down. Should I call the police to report this neighborhood farm? I don't think children should be taught about nature like this. -- Animal Abuse, Norfolk, Virginia
DEAR ANIMAL ABUSE: By all means, you should report this petting zoo to the local authorities. You can let the police know. In addition, reach out to your local animal control agency, the local SPCA and the Humane Society. Gather as much information as you can so that you can provide a clear picture of what the neglect is. If possible, take pictures of the animals in their cages. Secure names of the management and any staff you see on site. The more proof you can gather of the abuse, the better equipped the law enforcement will be. When you file your complaint, be sure to get contact information for whoever helps you so that you can follow up.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My manager at work has just requested to add me on social media accounts. My accounts are private, and I use these for communication with friends. My manager has asked me why I haven't accepted her, and I lied and said I hadn't seen the requests. Should I bite the bullet and allow her to follow me? I don't enjoy curbing myself on social media. -- New Eyes, Syracuse, New York
DEAR NEW EYES: Check your employee manual to see if there are written guidelines for opening up your social media to your boss. Some businesses require staff to allow them to see their various social media outlets.
If there is nothing requiring you to share with your manager, you may want to kindly say that you don't like to mix business with your personal life, so you would rather not connect with her on social media.
Just know that whatever you put out there, whether the account is private or not, is public information. You should not write, photograph or post anything that would be in conflict with the values of your business. Believe it or not, such an act could easily cost you your job. For example, teachers have been fired for sharing vacation photos where they held alcoholic beverages in their hands. Magazine editors have been fired for posting racially charged content that disparaged their audience. Job applicants have been passed over because of rants on social media. In today's world, nothing is truly private. This doesn't mean that you have to be friends with your boss online. It does mean that you should expect that she will see what you post, even if you do not show it to her.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I heard somebody who I thought was my friend use a slur about immigrants specific to my country of origin. He didn't know I was listening, but I am shocked to learn he speaks this way about any immigrants, and specifically those from my home country, behind my back.
I haven't spoken to my friend since. When he calls me, I let it go to voicemail. I have claimed that I'm too busy to hang out with him, but I'm afraid this excuse won't work much longer. Do I owe this person an explanation as to why I refuse to speak to him anymore? In my mind this isn't a loss of a good friend, but I know he will be confused when he realizes I have iced him out. -- Cut Off, Savannah, Georgia
DEAR CUT OFF: The only way for us to turn the tide of xenophobia is to confront it. Walking away from your friend without letting him know why creates confusion without resolution. It is critical for you to contact your friend, sit with him face-to-face and let him know what you heard and how you feel about it. Tell him how hurt you are that he would speak in such a derogatory way about any immigrant group and that it was especially hurtful knowing that he was talking about your heritage.
Ask him to explain himself. Why would he speak like that? Does he realize how inappropriate his comments were? Ask him how he would feel if he heard you talking negatively about him or his people.
Yes, this conversation will be hard, but you need to remember that you have integrity on your side. Stand up for yourself, for your immigrant community, for humanity. Let your friend know that his words cut you to the core. You know now that he is not your friend. Make it clear to him why.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a mother of two children and nearing 50. I feel good about myself at this stage in my life. While practicing yoga, I usually wear spandex shorts. I now am becoming self-conscious about my workout apparel, considering I don't look like the 20-year-olds also wearing spandex. When is too old to wear spandex? I am not out of shape, just am more mature than most studio attendees. -- Yoga Pants, Cambridge, Mississippi
DEAR YOGA PANTS: Your age is less the issue here than your fitness. Many women in your age group today are fit and look fine in form-fitted clothing. When you look in the mirror, front and back, and see a healthy, fit body that is dressed for the occasion, you can breathe easy. You do not need to look like your younger classmates. And you should not feel like you are in competition with them.
Because you are feeling self-conscious, you may want to make a couple of adjustments. One way to keep the sleek look that spandex gives you is to wear tight bottoms with a looser top or a top that covers your hips. Being a bit more modest is a way for you to feel more age-appropriate while you continue your very important workouts.
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