butterflyHi Maria,

I’m hoping you can shine a light on something I’ve been struggling with recently. Like all humans, I’m going through this journey of self-discovery and uncovering my inner being. Along my journey, I’ve enrolled in several schools of thought. Taking a peak at each one, I’ve learned so much and applied what I’ve learned to produce some awesome results.  I recently completed a course that was VERY intense, profound, and produced what seem to be miraculous results—unlike anything I’ve ever experienced with myself and other participants. So far, I’ve completed 2/3 of the courses that are available, and just completed a 10-week series. I’m very proud of myself. It feels great knowing that I accomplished this, because this kind of work is no walk in the park. Now, I want to go out in MY world and utilize the things I’ve learned and continue to produce the amazing results.

My discord comes from this particular organization constantly pushing me to invite other friends to participate, and to keep pushing myself to give more and more time and attend more classes. When I gave my reasons for not attending the next course, they discounted my position and wouldn’t accept my answer. Being the analytical type of person I am, I began to pick apart my reasons. I realized I want to allow myself to be out in MY real world. I feel like I got my wings and now I want to fly! Except, I feel I’m being told something else. A lot of what I learned was to be authentic, and continuing to participate just to appease my educators/leaders seems kinda inauthentic to me. Despite this, there are still a few weekly calls, and on the calls I’m polite and open. The calls are mostly about trying to get me to go back, and then I begin again to question my own reasons. My inner being says, “No, you are good for now. Go play and create for a while,” but then I doubt myself again. What do you suggest?


Boy in the Cocoon

Dear Boy in the Cocoon,

It’s amazing the level of unhappiness at which some people are willing to live their lives. Not you! You’ve done a lot of inner work to improve yours. Congratulations!

Self-improvement programs can bring quick, immense, life-changing insights. Integrating what you’ve learned into your life may be a bumpy process. You are wise to live a little before taking more classes.

The sales push from this company is troubling in several ways. First, it seems they don’t practice what they preach. The classes taught you to be more authentic in your communications, but when you employed that method with them, they didn’t take you at your word and criticized your reasoning. In addition, the push to bring others into the program is a big red flag. It could be a multi-level marketing operation, and as consumers, we must be very discerning about getting involved with this business model. Check out these articles from the FTC and Business Insider magazine.

And, what is the purpose of these weekly calls? Is it to help you stay on track with your goals, or to sell you on the next course and push you to bring in new members? If those purposes are mixed, that will play with your head, big time.

There’s a saying to the effect: “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” Attributed to Buddha, the origin is more complicated. There’s wisdom here no matter who said it. For me, it applies to your situation this way: These classes came into your life at just the right time. Perhaps you have learned all you need/can from this particular teacher. After some time away, you may return, or a new teacher will appear. You’ll never know which way is best if you feel pressured into the next step.

FB_IMG_1441171120247My suggestion: Listen to your inner being! It usually gives the best advice, and in your own words: “No, you are good for now. Go play and create for a while!” If these folks are harassing you, block your number and cut off communication for the time being, or permanently. Each time you get drawn into a conversation, you’re telling them, in effect, that you haven’t landed on your final answer and still can be persuaded. Your inquisitive nature leads you to remain open, but based on what you’ve written, you’ve seen enough of this program for now. Don’t let them hold you bound—break through that chrysalis and fly, baby!

Dear Maria,

Beautiful-lawnI have read every letter and response, so I know you have written about problems with our neighbors. Here is my problem. I moved into my home in 2011 and have had a crappy lawn since the beginning. The builder planted sod when it was 108 degrees outside, and my lawn never had a chance. The last two years, though, I have been determined to have a beautiful lawn and I finally have succeeded. It is a beautiful thick lawn. I got an estimate for a sprinkler system back in 2012, and splurged for one early this summer. So, I have a lot invested financially in this yard of mine. This is my issue: My neighbor decided to put RoundUp along the perimeter of his lawn in the backyard along the fence line in a lazy attempt to avoid trimming. GRRRR! On the one side that faces my property, the RoundUp seeped onto my lawn about a foot out all along the fence, so I have a long dead strip all along my fence. I have not confronted him yet for fear I will say something I will regret. What I want to say to him you can’t even print! In reading about RoundUp, I’ve learned it could take years for that stretch of lawn to recover. I know there are so much bigger issues in the world than my lawn, but what can I say to him to get my anger out respectfully and come to an understanding to never do this again?


Not Greener on My Side of the Fence

Dear Not Greener on My Side of the Fence,

GRRRR, indeed! You have every right to talk with your neighbor, and you’re wise to wait until you’ve cooled down a bit! To help answer your question, I turned to my husband, Steve, my resident landscape artist. He served on our neighborhood association board form many years, so has lots of experience dealing with touchy neighbor issues. Here’s his response:

I can see why she would be upset.  When you take such deep care of something you love, and then experience someone take such a careless action, it feels like an attack.

The likelihood is that her neighbor just doesn’t know any better.  We were raised to believe that these chemical herbicides are safe “if used properly.”  What we weren’t taught is that this is poison, and while it may have a direct impact on the plants it was sprayed on, it also has an indirect impact on all of the plants and animals downstream.  And everything flows downstream to some extent, sooner or later.  The challenge we face is that there is such a glut of herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and fertilizers on our lawns and gardens that we are living in a chemical pond.

Unfortunately there are not many laws protecting people from the legal use of chemicals, so diplomacy is going to be her best defense.  Here’s some additional advice to let her know that she are not alone.

Her neighbor just needs to be educated and inspired.  We used to use chemicals on our lawn until a neighbor of ours gently encouraged us to consider the implications of their use.  Even when we found a fertilizer that was made from dehydrated animal waste, she invited us to consider what was in their feed.  As a result of this reflection, we have chosen to use more natural methods to replenish the nutrients and control the weeds in our lawn and gardens.  Unfortunately, we can’t make those same choices for our neighbors, but we can invite them to reflect on their actions.  It might be helpful for the reader to find an article that shows the side effects of RoundUp and offer it to her neighbor.  If he doesn’t have a grass trimmer, she could also show him how easy it is to use one to manage growth near the fence, and offer to let him borrow hers.

When you approach your neighbor, you might try a phone call first (rather than showing up unannounced at his door), and invite him to meet you at the property line. Show him the damage that’s been done, and share what you know about RoundUp. Hopefully, if you reach out in a spirit of friendliness, confidence in your right to this request, and knowledge of the subject, he’ll listen to you and honor your request. During your conversation, be conscious of your breathing, and take deep ones as needed. Good luck! Let us know how it goes.

Dear Readers,

In a quandary? Life got you down? Need some perspective? If you’d like to submit a question, click here. I look forward to hearing from you, or “for a friend.” Please add your thoughts, and suggestions in the comments section, below. 

Disclaimer: The advice offered in this column is intended for informational purposes only. The opinions or views expressed in this column are not intended to treat or diagnose; nor are they meant to replace the treatment and care that you may be receiving from a licensed professional, physician or mental health professional. If you have specific concerns or a situation in which you require professional, psychological or medical help, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified specialist.  This column, its author, and the publisher are not responsible for the outcome or results of following any advice in any given situation. You, and only you, are completely responsible for your actions. We reserve the right to edit letters for length and clarity, and all comments are moderated.