I have a
bit of an open-ended question. When I'm unhappy, I tend to want to
change everything — job, relationships, etc. — at once. It's hard for me
to decipher where I'm unhappy and what the best ways are to change
things, rather than blow up my whole life. Are there ways to start to
unpack all of this?
— Time to Leave?
Time to Leave:
When you have the urge to blow up everything, the most prominent common
denominator is you, right? So, the question waiting for an answer is,
why don't you feel like you're living the right life for you?
stuff. That's why, absent an epiphany, the best place to start is with
small steps toward getting healthy. Are you getting enough sleep, being
conscientious about any health issues, eating well, making an effort not
to be sedentary?
If you're maintaining your physical
health, then move on to your emotional health: Are you putting effort
into the people who are good for you, and distancing yourself from
takers, criticizers, enablers or those who otherwise bring out your
worst? Are you saying "yes" when you should, and "no" when you should?
Are you showing up when you say you will? Are you using time
productively? Are you playing to your own strengths?
your physical and emotional habits are solid, then move on to temporary
rut-busting: vacation. Or, a weekend road trip, or even a day trip, or
just lunch with a friend you haven't seen lately. Give your eyes a new
place to rest. Familiarity can limit your thinking.
If you have an antibiotic-resistant strain of the blahs, then
time to weigh the big, external pieces of your life, like where you
live, what you do for a living, whom you befriend, date and trust.
even then, start small: Can any of these be tweaked, versus blown up?
If tweaks don't work, are there any changes that can be easily made or
reversed? Can you walk away from anything temporarily, via sabbatical,
temporary reassignment, trial separation, "a break"?
you get this far without relief, you'll still have information toward
understanding why demolition is your first impulse when you're unhappy.
After all, the blow-up solution pretty much assures that you can avoid
facing that thing
, whatever it is, you so badly want to avoid
— whereas a methodical approach, honestly executed, will take you right
to its door.
My fiance is
European, I am from the United States, and after our fall wedding we
will be living in a different country altogether.
wedding guests would like to know if we are registered anywhere for
gifts. Since where we live next depends on where both of us get our next
jobs, we can only specify two continents with any certainty. That is
why I would like people to make a donation to our relocation fund. We
don't need crystal bowls and cake knives as much as money to get started
in our new home.
My fiance says he feels uncomfortable
asking for money, but I feel like that would be the best use of our
friends' and family's generosity. Is it ever OK to just ask for money?
If so, how can we do it without sounding tacky?
— International Affairs of the Heart
The Holy Grail, cold fusion, Bigfoot, Atlantis, the cure for the common
cold, a tasteful way to request cash gifts: What do these things have
If the mythic quest for the polite shakedown
ever has a happy conclusion, then I'll be sure to publish an update in
this space. In the meantime, those who have no use for what others
purchase for them, for whatever reason, will have to make use of the
options that good manners always permit.
The first and
best option is to remind yourself that getting started in your new home
is entirely your financial responsibility, and that your guests' sole
purpose is to provide emotional support. If they provide more, then
that's just a pleasant bonus. Mantra-fy as needed.
you need to provide some kind of answer to gift inquiries, you have an
additional, more practical option: "Thanks so much for asking — we
didn't register, because we've got an international move (or several)
coming soon." In this case, saying "4" may be rude, but saying "2 + 2"
is perfectly appropriate.
You can also ask your close
relatives and friends — i.e., those whom guests traditionally approach
for gift ideas — to convey that no-registry message. That is, if they
even need to. An international crowd is more likely than a strictly
American one to equate "wedding gift" with "cash."
finally if a bit obviously: All of our most treasured gifts aren't the
ones we want, but the ones we actually get. Please be open to what
others have in their hearts.
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