DEAR ABBY: My girlfriend, who is wonderful, is always trying to help me out, so she suggested I meet ''Phyllis,'' her psychic. For $35, Phyllis told me about my present, my past and my future.
She told me that ''Johnny,'' the man I've been involved with for the last five years, is my soulmate -- and if I want him to propose, I will need to get spiritual cleansing. That means she and a few other people will meditate for six weeks on my behalf to disperse the dark cloud that is interrupting my life and relationship and causing me to fail in life. She says that's the reason life has been so difficult financially and personally, and things won't improve without a spiritual cleansing. The cost is $500.
I have been divorced for 16 years and I'm raising three kids on my own with no child support. I've been trying with no luck to convince Johnny to marry me, and I've been out of work for two months because of knee surgery. I'm beginning to think I'm never going to get what I want out of life. That's why I went to see Phyllis for answers.
Is this as silly as I suspect it is, Abby? Or do I need some professional counseling? Please help me decide. -- GETTING NOWHERE IN OXNARD, CALIF.
DEAR GETTING NOWHERE: I'm pleased to help -- and in doing so I can save you $499.67. I don't need a crystal ball to see that unless Phyllis is offering a double-your-money-back guarantee along with her spiritual cleansing, she's trying to take you to the cleaners. You don't need spiritual cleansing or professional counseling. You appear to be completely in touch with reality.
After five years, Johnny should know whether or not he wants to settle down with you. If he refuses to make a commitment, face it -- you and he have very different goals. If it's marriage you want, he may not be your soulmate after all. That's not a black cloud over your head; that's life.
Consider this: Life is a series of new beginnings, and new beginnings are positive. If you lack the faith to believe it, talk to some members of the clergy. Faith is their business.
DEAR ABBY: Each year, I am grateful for the many blessings in my life, especially during the year-end holidays. However, I have one problem that plagues me every Christmas. Two female relatives criticize my food preparation, my decorating choices, my clothing, my appearance, my child-rearing practices and my choice of gifts.
Because tradition dictates that family be included in our Christmas celebrations, I feel I must include them each year. However, I would like to stop them from being critical. They are both from an older generation, and I don't want to appear disrespectful. How can I tell them next year without offending them? -- FRUSTRATED IN SOUTH CAROLINA
DEAR FRUSTRATED: You can't -- because hypercritical people are also usually hypersensitive when criticism is reflected back at them. I offer this bit of advice instead: Just because a jackass brays doesn't mean you have to listen. Tune them out.
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