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Patricia:
Should I purchase a home if I am over 45 years old? I have never owned a home and I'm thinking of purchasing a home as a first-time homebuyer. I think I might have waited too long. Please advise.
Stacy Johnson:

The short answer to your question, Patricia, is no: You're not too old to buy a home. I'm 58, and bought one for investment a couple of years ago. I'm also thinking about buying another one to live in, although I'm not sure I'll do that anytime soon.

 

Homes are expensive and can be complicated to finance and difficult to keep up. But at the end of the day, they're just another purchase, like a car, washing machine or anything else. Which raises the question: Why are you concerned you're too old to own one?

 

For the rest of my answer, click here.

Clem:
My wife and I are newlyweds (married a month!) and we've recently had a rude awakening about the differences in our money habits. I can sense trouble ahead if we don't get this figured out now. How can we get on the same page regarding our finances without all the tense emotions?
Ariane de Bonvoisin:

Money is one of the big issues couples fight about, so, yes, it's great to get this sorted out now. In divorce proceedings, a person can claim "financial infidelity," which encompasses a partner spending too much money during the marriage or even not being truthful about savings, spending, debt, expenses, etc.

 

First tip: Be totally transparent. You both now need to share information about everything financial, including your credit card debt, student debt, and, really, any debt. You need to tell each other how much you have in savings, how much you usually spend per month, your travel budget, life insurance, health costs, how much you usually. Also talk about any financial goals or dreams you have. This is the time to talk about how much you spend on yourself (clothes, music, fun stuff, gym, etc.) and gifts for other people. Discuss any upcoming expenses you know of that are above "normal" and share information about bank accounts, financial advisors, accountants, stock brokers and any funds you own. You get the picture. No holding back.

 

This should not be about comparing who has more, or who spends how much. Remember that you love your spouse, and money is going to be part of your marriage. So you might as well get used to talking about it.

 

Also, in a neutral way, bring up all the concerns you have about the other person, whether it's about one of you not making enough money or not having a job, or wanting one parent to stay at home when kids come into the picture, or even suspecting that your partner has a shopping addiction.

 

Next, you are going to need to make some healthy, adult decisions about:

 

- Joint accounts. Do you want one or more for shared household expenses? Who contribute and how much?

- Personal accounts. Do you want to keep these for your own indulgences?

- Savings. How much do you want to save? For the short term? For the long term?

 

These aren't fun conversations, but they are so necessary for avoiding future fights and resentment. When things are in the open, everyone knows where they stand. As unsexy as it sounds, especially as newlyweds, having a "system" in place with a monthly check-in is usually the best way forward. Pick a time and place and schedule it, just like you would any other important meeting.

John:
What is the difference between using a mortgage broker and a bank to secure financing? What are the advantages and disadvantages of both?
Stacy Johnson:

Now let's get to John's answer, starting with what the term "broker" means and what they do.

 

What brokers do

Whether you're talking real estate broker, stockbroker, insurance broker, mortgage broker or pawnbroker, they all have one thing in common: They're middlemen who get paid to facilitate a transaction.

 

Logic would suggest that leaving out the middleman and dealing directly would allow for a less expensive transaction. But if brokers didn't routinely save more than enough to offset their expense, they wouldn't exist.

 

For the rest of my answer, click here.

Lynn:
When is the appropriate time to talk about "stranger danger" with my kids? I don't feel ready to open up that can of worms, but I want to make sure my kids are aware of their surroundings and know what to do if they feel threatened. Any tips would be appreciated!
Ariane de Bonvoisin:

Our kids will match and mirror who we are. So if we think the world is a dangerous and unfriendly place, then that is what they will grow up believing. Instead of telling them about "bad" people and about "danger," tell them that some people are lost, don't have parents or people who love them, or don't have enough money to eat, so they sometimes do bad things. That doesn't make them "bad" or "dangerous" people. I personally would be very mindful of using those kinds of words with young children who do not know where to draw the line between a stranger and a person who they just don't know well.

 

With that said, there are a few things I would teach:

 

- not to accept any food, even sweets or water, from anyone they don't know

- to speak up if something is making them uncomfortable and that nothing is too small or too big to talk about. Using their voices is a sign of strength (It's what superheroes do!).

- to tell someone that they have to ask their parents if they don't know the answer to something

- to always tell you who they have met or spoken to. And that if someone tells them not to tell their parents, that they should tell you right away.

 

The right time will present itself for you to have this conversation. Be mindful of not creating too many fear-based scenarios for your kids, though. If you teach them to be afraid, that is what they will look for.

Charlie:
My wife and I will celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary this fall. I've never been the romantic type, and I'm sensing this hurts her feelings, but she's not the type to dwell on it. What are some simple things I can do to show her that I'm so glad to be married to her after all these years, even surprise her a little?
Ariane de Bonvoisin:

There really isn't a woman on the planet that doesn't appreciate a bit of romance. So, even if you are "not the type," if you love your wife, you can become the romantic type she probably longs for.

 

Here is a list of simple things she will adore you for:

 

- Find 10 photos of the two of you, one for every year you've been married, have them framed and attach a little note behind each. Or create a photo album of some sort. You can do this online or the traditional way.

- Get a glass jar and a bunch of small colorful post it notes. Write down a bunch of great memories you have of your last 10 yrs together. This can be your Magic Moments jar.

 

- Get in touch with your local florist and schedule a monthly flower delivery for the next 10 months. A different color and arrangement every time. It shouldn't be on the same day each month, so that she is always surprised when they come. I promise you she will love you for this!

 

- There is something about new, fresh, high-quality bedding that women love. It also hints at romance! So consider investing in a new set of sheets. Crisp white usually works! And actually make the bed, so that when she comes into the bedroom she can jump into bed straight away. This is much better than just giving it to her all wrapped up (so then she has to wash, iron and make a bed before enjoying the gift). You spend so much time together in bed that this will also have her thinking about other things!

 

- Get a white board or chalkboard and put it in the kitchen or entrance or lounge. This board cannot be used for to-do lists! Next, get a permanent marker and write up top: What I love about my wife?And write one thing you love about her. Do this weekly and see how loved and nurtured she feels!

 

Women love to know that you've spent a bit of time actually thinking about them and going out of your way to do something with them in mind. It's the thoughtfulness that really matters, not the action nor the cost.

Jeff:
I've been putting off a few tough decisions because I'm feeling overwhelmed and shut down by the complexity of all the variables involved (people's feelings, mostly!). What are a few techniques I can use to just get me going in the right direction?
Ariane de Bonvoisin:

The truth is, you are not here to protect people's feelings; you are here to help them grow. That is actually the kindest thing you can do for someone, even if they don't like you for a while! Know this: The time before making a decision is always much harder than the time after the decision is made. Somehow, things fall into place -- people who didn't approve of your choices before suddenly understand your point of view, and you become an inspiration for others who are also feeling stuck, etc. So, with that said, here are a few practical ways of getting going and making some healthy changes.

 

The right decisions are always what your intuition has been telling you -- sometimes for years! Your intuition speaks softly, usually through your physical body, not through your endless thoughts. You feel tight, tired or stressed, you eat more or less, and you sleep more or less. Its not a mind thing. So check in with how some of your decisions feel in your body. That's your clue.

 

Good decisions involve you getting back to doing what you love, being happy and some element of taking care of yourself.

 Once these three things are present, I can assure you that any of the people involved in your decisions will always benefit from your energy and presence.

 

Strange as it might sound, my first advice is always to start with getting a bit healthier! When you are healthy, you have energy and your self-esteem is higher. You are then able to see more clearly what needs to happen. (Not when you are loaded up on sugar, alcohol or caffeine and no sleep!)

 

The intention behind a decision is what will make it a good decision. What is the reason you want to make this decision? For example, decisions that are only based on money rarely succeed. Decisions that have a higher purpose do.

 

Remember, when you are stuck not making decisions, all your life force and energy are blocked. We are born to move forward and, yes, even though some decisions are scary, you can see only what's behind the next doorway once you've made the first decision.

Carlos:
Should I sell my stocks now?
Stacy Johnson:

As I write this, the market has recovered most of its losses, but his question is still pertinent, because it highlights the inherent fear we all confront when investing in anything other than an insured bank account.

 

Here's the deal, Carlos. It's healthy, and understandable, to become concerned when the market gets scary. But running scared is exactly how people buy at tops and sell at bottoms. So let's talk about overcoming the natural fear that accompanies investing, as well as other things in life.

 

For the rest of my answer, click here.

Lisa:
After a string of unsuccessful blind dates I'm about to take the plunge into the world of online dating, but, of course, I'm skeptical and a little timid about it. A few of my friends have had good luck, but I'm not sure it's for me. How can I make the most of the experience if I decide to jump in?
Ariane de Bonvoisin:

It is great to suspend judgment for a while and be open to all possibilities. There is nothing right or wrong about online dating —it's only your own beliefs that make it seem so overwhelming. Meeting a partner is often about synchronicity and being ready. You have to let go of your "fantasy" partner and be open to a real-life partner. It's true, most of us never imagined we would meet our partner online. It goes against all the fairy tales, Disney movies and what we have been taught about romance. But romance starts when you talk to a person, then meet them.  How and where you meet is ultimately irrelevant. And if it's right, the romance, one "offline," can last a lifetime.

 

Here are three tips to have a great experience:

 

Be totally, completely honest about yourself in your profile. Do not try to write what you think a possible date will want to read. If you want kids soon, write it down. If you meditate and have a bookcase of self-help books, let them know. If you are a little overweight but happy with yourself, make it clear. Be transparent. Be who you are. If it scares guys off, then they aren’t the right ones. Let a good friend of yours review your profile and see what he or she thinks.

 

Do not start this experience hoping or imagining that you are going to meet your one and only, your beloved. Start it from a place of openness, fun and excitement. See it as an adventure. A few scenes from the script of your life.. Lower the pressure. Remove the burden of expectations. Its meant to be fun, remember?

 

You do not need to tell your friends, family or colleagues that you are now "doing this online dating thing." Keep it to yourself. It's private. They don’t need to know, especially if you don’t already feel great about it, otherwise they may make you feel more uncertain. Make it your choice and your business, and if you end up meeting someone special, everyone else will find out soon enough.

Rich:
Should I pay off my mortgage early, and if so, how?
Stacy Johnson:

In general, mortgage debt is like any other kind. You should pay as little interest as possible by paying it off as fast as possible. There's only one way to do it: paying as much as you can. The only exception? When you can earn more on the money elsewhere.

 

For the rest of my answer, click here.

Rhonda:
My toddler (2-and-a-half) just started preschool because I got a part-time job and needed the childcare. I chose the school route instead of going with a nanny because I liked the idea of my daughter socializing with other kiddos. She's a month into it and is doing OK, but she shows signs of stress. What can I do to ease the transition?
Ariane de Bonvoisin:

It's always a difficult thing to leave our precious kids and go work or even just take care of ourselves. Usually, it's the moms or parents that are stressed, not the kids. So I would first ask you, how are you dealing with the stress? Are you doing OK? However you are feeling is what she will pick up on and mirror your behavior.

 

Secondly, all the research shows that healthy kids do not need us to make everything easy and comfortable for them. They need to experience disappointment, frustration, not being liked, not being first, etc. Since I don't know from your question what kind of stress you are noticing, try determine whether you are seeing healthy "stress" for a child of her age, unhealthy stress. If it's the latter, go talk to the teacher.

 

Finally, remember that all change takes time. At any age! So give your daughter (and yourself!) some time to adapt. Things will feel very different in a few more months, let alone a year. Teach her that she has a "change muscle," a part of her that is really good at change, and that new things like school, new activities and new friends, are super-exciting. If you are positive about the new situation, she will match your excitement.

 

We can't always prevent our kids from facing the stress of the world they were born into. There are some obvious things that stress a child out, both in and out of school, that you may want to consider. How much technology is she exposed to? Devices like cellphones, computers, iPads, TV, etc., should be excluded from her life completely, or as close as you can. Even having too many toys or too many activities to go to can be sources of stress for a little one.

Tami:
I'm 49, have a full time job in marketing, and have zero energy when my workday is over. I go home and crash. I'm not living; I'm getting through the day. I know exercise would help, but I'm beat.
Ariane de Bonvoisin:

I totally understand! We need to change your view of exercise and see what is something you would consider fun. How does yoga sound? Or learning how to pole dance? Or jump on a trampoline? Or joining a meditation class? All these will help with your energy and outlook and actually leave you with more energy, not less.

 

Making time for yourself is what matters here; its not exercise. This is what needs to be a non-negotiable! It's about self-care more than anything. Could you do some exercise during the day and not leave it till the end of the day? Could you get a friend or colleague involved and do something together? Could you make a small commitment to leave earlier, maybe just 2 days a week to begin with?

 

The other thing I would look at is why you are 'beat'. Is it because you don't like your job? Is it because of what you are eating and getting energy from during the day? Unhealthy snacks and lunch etc? All these things are affecting you.

 

Take a good look at what is not working for you. Can you add some fun into your life? How? Can you feel like you are contributing in some way? That always makes people feel better. Its not just exercise that is the cause, sometimes it's a deeper sense of dissatisfaction that could be work or personal that might be trying to get your attention. Have the courage to take a look at what it is for you.

Gayle:
Our son graduated with a master's degree in business. His undergrad degree was political science and history. He has not found a job after 2 1/2 years because he does not have experience! No one will give him a chance or even an interview! He scored high but could not work due to the massive reading, writing during his master's. We are scared!
Stacy Johnson:
I disagree with your assessment, Gayle and Fred. I don't think the failure of your son to find a job is because he lacks experience. Everyone who's ever had a job found their first one without experience.

So if a lack of experience isn't the problem, what is?

There's no way to know for certain from the information you've provided, and odds are it's a combination of factors. But let's go over some potential problems and possible solutions.

He's not applying for the right job
Last year, I ran an ad for a video producer. I specifically asked those without the required five years' experience not to waste their time or mine by applying.

Result? Tons of applications from new grads.

Submit a thousand applications for jobs you're not qualified for and you'll get a thousand rejections.

The way to prevent rejection due to lack of experience is to apply for jobs that don't require it. They probably won't pay well, but that's OK. Create value for the company, then ask for more money. If that doesn't work -- if you can't add value or make your voice heard -- find a different job. Read on for more of my in-depth advice about your son's situation.
Debbie:
I'm trying to tone up a bit, but I'm scared that if I cut back on food then I won't be as fast of a runner because we're in cross-country season right now. How do I lose fat without compromising athletic ability?
Ariane de Bonvoisin:

There is so much out there on food, fitness and fat! The best thing to do is to see what works for you and your body since everyone is different. Djokovic for example, the Number 1 tennis player in the world, found that when he cut back on gluten, GMO foods, dairy, and sugar, his fitness went through the roof. It wasn't a matter of cutting back quantities of food, but what his body wanted to burn as fuel, and what it was allergic to. Many athletes have found that gluten is an energy killer and is poorly digested and keeps weight on the body, so perhaps try eliminating that.

 

Over half of Olympic athletes are vegetarian, so perhaps take a lesson from their experience and supplement your food intake with beans, green juices, vegetarian sources of protein etc. Fat is never the culprit- you need fat to burn fat. Burning sugar is what you want to avoid as a runner. Train your body to burn fat and you will feel extraordinary.

 

Change your approach from cutting back on food, to cutting back on the wrong foods and adding in the right ones. Avocados, kale, lentils, seeds, omega oils ... there's a long list of great quality foods and fats that your body is begging for.

Andrew:
Is it normal to feel like you have been beaten when you wake up?
Ariane de Bonvoisin:

Well, this can depend on a lot of factors. How much sleep are you getting? How stressed are you? Are you eating healthy food and staying off alcohol late at night etc. The short answer is no, its not normal.

 

Look at creating an evening routine, where for example, you turn off all technology from computers, ipads, phones, TV's at least an hour before going to sleep. Watch what you are eating and drinking at night as well as that can interfere with feeling rested.

 

Next, look at what is on your mind? Do you love and enjoy your work or days? Are you feeling like your life is meaningful, you are helping others, giving back in any small way? Are you living an authentic, honest life? All these things affect our minds and especially our bodies!

 

One suggestion is to learn to meditate. The benefits are well known and it will certainly help you feel calm and rested. It's not complicated, anyone can do this. Your mind, your stress and your health will all benefit from sitting quietly in meditation a few minutes a day.

Laura:
Is there anything that can help produce more breast milk?
Ariane de Bonvoisin:

The less stressed you are about producing milk, the more the body is likely to produce. Remember, whatever you are holding in mind is what is likely to manifest! Visualize what you want. Stay away from all the other stressed out moms, stories, beliefs and choose what you want to focus on now.

 

If you are supplementing with formula, your little one might just have become more used to the ease of drinking a bottle than having to do the work to suck from the breast. It's a very different mechanism for the baby, as you probably know.

 

From a more practical standpoint, you can certainly try a few alternative ideas that new moms love: Fenugreek is known to help, as is fennel tea. Staying very hydrated with high quality water goes without saying.

Debby:
What do you do to manage chronic illnesses -- financially, socially, with family?
Ariane de Bonvoisin:

Its tricky for family to know how best to help or share in what you might be going through. The best thing is for you to get clear on what you most need and want from them. Do you need emotional support? If so, in what way? What would help?

 

Do you need them to help financially? Could they do a fundraiser for your illness as one example?

 

If it's practical help, solicit their support in very specific ways. It is wonderful to allow people to help and give to you, as hard as it might be sometimes.

 

Whatever they are doing that isn't working for you, e.g. worrying about you too much, or projecting their fears etc, be courageous and gently tell them that it's not helping you. The truth is, no one knows how to help someone else who is dealing with a chronic illness, so see it as being their best intentions.

 

If you don't want them to treat you any differently, or to talk about the illness, tell them that. Give them some guidelines. They really do want to 'get it right' and all of you will feel better around each other.

JW:
My wife and I have been trying to start a family. We recently found out we need to start treatment plans. How do we minimize our stress level with this and also with school debt issues?
Ariane de Bonvoisin:

The first thing to manage is your state of mind, not the state of your finances. Your mind is tremendously powerful, a manifesting machine. What you focus on, expands, so, most important is to stay positive, visualize the outcome you want. Fear of any kind is not good for your health and especially not for conceiving!

 

Next, have you asked your health insurance company what it might cover in this field?

 

Also, there are many alternative ways to help you conceive, from what you eat and drink, to exercise for example. For example, many couples who have done a detox/cleanse and gotten off things like GMO foods, gluten, eggs and dairy, sugar, meat and alcohol etc and increased their intake of things like green juices, vegetables etc find their fertility has tremendously increased. It's definitely worth doing some research in supplementing any other protocol you are considering now.

 

Finally, do not mix this stress now with school debt issues. See them as 2 entirely separate issues, otherwise it can start feeling overwhelming. There is always a way and you will find one. Visualize how you want it to be, believe in that outcome happening.

 

One last word, be very mindful of who you surround yourself with, who's stories you allow in about fertility, conceiving, money etc. Choose your circle of friends very carefully. Only surround yourself with positive people now and don't be afraid to create your own little sanctuary of what you want to believe and keep focusing on!

 

All the best to you!

Chris:
My daughter is 19. After years of bad choices, she fell in love with a wonderful guy. Two months into the relationship he died in her arms in a motorcycle accident. His parents blame her. Should I intervene?
Ariane de Bonvoisin:

Since I don't have the details of how the parents could possibly be blaming her, I'd suggest trying to move beyond blame into a place of compassion for everyone involved here. They lost a child. Your daughter lost her love. The world lost a great guy.

 

If you can, try and explain to your daughter than they are in pain and this is the only way they know how to deal. Blame never achieves anything and if she is strong, she can allow them to use that as one of their coping mechanisms.

 

If you feel it's the right thing, instead of seeing it as an 'intervention', may I suggest you perhaps write to them, or send them flowers or a care basket with a note in them, sharing some of your sadness and also asking them to see that this is no one's fault. Make yourself available for them to reach out to you when they feel they can or want to. What they are dealing with is of course way worse and we need to let them get through these phases of grieving, whether it be anger, disbelief, blame etc.

 

Help your daughter out more than wanting to 'correct them, or make things right' with the parents. Your daughter needs your support. She needs to understand that this was his time, that she can learn some incredible wisdom from this loss. What does she want to make this tragic event mean in a more positive way?

JJ:
I recently learned that the husband of one of my dearest friends has a life-threatening illness. Our families live in different states. How can I best offer my support from afar?
Ariane de Bonvoisin:

This is always a difficult situation to navigate and depends a little on your friend. You know her. What does she most respond to? Emails? Phone calls? Hand written cards? Communication is very important during this phase and she will appreciate your checking in regularly.

 

It's vital though that you continue to treat her like you always have. Do not bring any 'poor her' energy to your chats, or feeling sorry for her. Worrying about someone is very different than loving someone, so make sure you check your own worry/sadness energy at the door before you talk. See her as strong and powerful; believe in her and her wisdom now. Listen to her when she does want to share, don't try and change anything, just be a safe space for her to land. When she feels really heard, she will already feel better.

 

If you are able, try and see if you can organize a trip to go see her, or invite her to come see you and spend a weekend together. I know it might be a stretch financially, but there are so many generous people out there, perhaps they can contribute some donation to flying her out somewhere special.

Time for a change:
I am looking to switch careers. I have many technological skills, I am going back to school for additional retraining and I am personable. However, I get nervous during interviews. Any suggestions?
Ariane de Bonvoisin:
Son:
My mom is in a hospice and the family is fighting. How do you keep peace with your family?
Ariane de Bonvoisin:

Getting nervous is very normal; so first and foremost let yourself be human. Here are a few suggestions that can help:

 

-When you are waiting before the interview, practice using very solid body posture. Open up your shoulders, your lungs and lean back. Stand if you can, take deep breaths. Nerves are often a compression of the breath, which then makes your heart beat faster, you sweat, your throat shuts down etc. The most important thing is to have open body language, i.e. the opposite of making yourself small, shut down, cutting off your diaphragm. Go to the bathroom, take 10 deep breaths before. Have a big glass of water, stay hydrated. Help your body out; it's trying to help you.

 

-Start visualizing yourself having a relaxed conversation, not seeing this as an 'interview'. Visualizing the outcome you want several days, even weeks before is incredibly powerful and works!

 

-Sometimes, it's authentic to even admit you are nervous at the beginning of the interview. It makes you real, and you're not spending half your time trying to hide or pretend you are not. Owning the truth of it can already relax you, especially if you show that you love this job and it's important to you.

John:
I’m considering adopting a dog and was wondering what some of the cons were to owning a pet.
Ariane de Bonvoisin:

Owning a pet is not a short-term decision. Some pets if you get them young, can live 15-20years so yes, this is a commitment in itself, which many times is more than we are ready for.

 

If you have started thinking about getting a dog, first, ask yourself honestly, why you want one? Your reasons are the ultimate clue as to whether this is a good decision or not. Are you lonely? Do you just love animals? Do you want a dog for your children?

 

Next, ask yourself if you have the money to take care of it. Pets can cost a lot, from good quality food, vets, insurance, toys, daycare for pets, travel and dog walking costs potentially. You don’t have to spend a fortune on your pet, but you do need to be in a position to take care of it well.

 

What type of social life do you have? Are you prepared to make arrangements if you need to go away for the weekend, or stay out late? Pets can change your entire schedule around which can come as a surprise to most people who think more of the cuddles, fun and affection and not the practicalities, the regular walks, the organization needed. If you have a partner, are they open to the idea? If you are single, do you realize this might mean a change of plans and coming home earlier for example? If you travel a lot for work, think about how you will manage.

 

Some buildings don’t allow dogs, so make sure you check this is OK. Also, does your home feel big enough to have the dog you are thinking about? Are you prepared to toilet train it, if necessary if you get it young? Are you ok about losing this pet one day, as that too can often be incredibly traumatic?

 

If after all these types of relatively rational questions your heart still leaps for joy at the thought of getting a dog, then do it. Adopting a pet should not be an impulsive decision, but one that truly inspires you and makes you happy. Pets really can be our best friends, unconditionally loving towards us when we don’t feel too loving towards ourselves, and truly become part of our families!

 
Julie:
How can I cohabitate with my parents until I get my degree (May)? They are wonderful and I love them, but they live in the middle of nowhere, and I’m going a bit crazy.
Ariane de Bonvoisin:

Living with parents when you are older is never easy. We want our independence, we want to be closer to our friends and our social life. If you have made the choice to co-habitate with them, the best way to accept this is to be 100% grateful! See this experience as a lesson in appreciating the positives this brings you: does it allow you to save money? Do you get free food? Clean laundry? No need to pay bills? Make a list for yourself.

 

Next, remember that this experience is not forever. One day your parents will be gone and you can remember the time you had with them as being special not only for you, but also a wonderful time for them. Friends, clubs, concerts, shopping malls will be there when you get out in May. Indeed they are there now and I am sure you can make arrangements to enjoy them too. Its not an either/or.

 

Plenty of people are living with their parents till they are a little older. It doesn’t mean anything about you or your identity. Find a way to maybe get involved in something in the local community, volunteer, or even use this time ‘in the middle of nowhere’ to write a journal, read, pursue a hobby.

NickM:
How can I know if my son is ready to manage money like allowance? What rules should we discuss and should I give him a credit card like paypal?
Ariane de Bonvoisin:

Having no idea how old your son is, it depends a little on what you have shown him and taught him about money so far. Children need to develop positive and empowering beliefs about money from the earliest of ages. If you as parents have fears, problems, scarcity around money, if you casually speak negatively about your financial situation, I can assure you, these are being picked up by your son. This is the first place to turn to if you want to make some good changes!

 

Find ways for your son to ‘earn’ money. What can he do around the house for example? Maybe he can get a small part time job around town (depending on his age of course) and you can match his small salary? This often works very well and is a great incentive for kids to go find real work. And get experience.

 

Teach your son about keeping a record of what money he does have; what he wants to buy on a regular basis (a treat, a video game or magazine etc), a dream he has that maybe he wants to save for (an iPad, a trip somewhere), and how to really decide if this is something he wants, (ie no peer pressure, that kind of thing).

 

If he needs a way to buy things on-line, maybe start off by managing these expenses together before giving him a credit card. Have him show you his trustworthiness first.

 

Never punish a child with threats around money. Too many parents remove allowance as a way to control their kids. This doesn’t work and creates very negative associations to earning their parents love and money. (If you had a bad week or month at work, imagine how you’d feel if your boss suddenly decided not to pay you!)

Laurie:
I’m 41 and I’ve been dating a newly divorced man. I’m the first he’s dated for any length of time (about 6 weeks) and have done pretty much everything except have actual sex. Is that normal nowadays?
Ariane de Bonvoisin:

There is nothing that is ‘normal’ or not, nowadays you will be happy to know. There are no real rules you need to know either about dating a divorced man, or a never-been-married man! Everyone is different. Some divorced men will be so desperate to have sex again, after years of being in a bad marriage, some will be tentative and not know how to ‘date’. Trust yourself on this one. No one else can give you the answers as to what feels right.

 

All good relationships start with great communication. After 6weeks or so, you should be in a place where you feel safe bringing up questions around the 2 of you, what he wants, his intentions. Don’t make it too serious…start by sharing your feelings, how excited you are about him for example. Sometimes men just need to be sure they aren’t going to be rejected!

 

If you don’t want to talk about it, the next time you are intimate with him, find a way to initiate sex. It doesn’t have to be him taking the lead. He will after he gets a clear message from you. Or he won’t and then you will have something to talk about and you will know more about where he stands with you. So either way, you win!

 

If he needs a way to buy things on-line, maybe start off by managing these expenses together before giving him a credit card. Have him show you his trustworthiness first.

Gloria:
I can’t stand my mother because she is the most manipulative, passive-aggressive, bitter person I know. Am I a bad, horrible person?
Ariane de Bonvoisin:

Our parents have a direct manual to triggering us, pushing our buttons, bringing up our wounds! Our parents are also very very human, they have their fears, they worry they aren’t good enough, they had difficult childhoods etc. We need to start accepting that our parents are far from perfect, they have their own lives, their own issues.

 

Here are a few things to try.
-No matter how bad and horrible she is today, your mother carried you, gave birth to you, changed years of diapers, fed you, taught you how to walk, eat, read, sleep, did homework with you, drove you to school…..endlessly with nothing in return, for many many years. All moms want at some deep level to know they did an OK job with their kids. They are all craving recognition. If you can, perhaps find a way to acknowledge her for what she did do. Not everything was bad.

 

-Your mom is acting out the behaviors she is today because she is hurting, she is in pain, she desperately wants something. This really has little to do with you, although you are bearing the brunt of it, it appears. Try and develop some compassion for what she might be feeling; perhaps she is terrified of growing old, perhaps she is lonely, perhaps she feels she has no real life purpose and is not excited about the future. Can you see how these are her issues? You do no need to engage or fix her or them. All you need is to accept her, not need or want or try to change her!

 

Finally, ask yourself, what is this bringing up in you? If you want to heal this, heal the feelings that show up for you. She is a great teacher for you if you want her to be. Distancing yourself from her doesn’t help as the feelings stay with you no matter what you do. Create some healthy boundaries with her, speak your truth in a kind way and release any guilt you have towards her that you are bad.

 

Focus on you being happy. That is the most important thing you can do with your life.

Joann:
I’m 40 and happen to be one of those unlucky women to grey early in life. Should I just be natural and let it grow out or will it instantly age me?
Ariane de Bonvoisin:

This is a very personal choice. Some women love their grey/white hair at any age. Even some young celebrities are choosing it nowadays. Many others prefer to dye it and get highlights, not because of any shame but just because they love how they look with a certain hair color.

 

There is nothing wrong with coloring your hair. It has no meaning other than the meaning you attach to it. Some women highlight their hair for decades and never think about why, other than, they feel great and beautiful when they do.

 

Society can be quite superficial, that goes without saying and yes, grey hair is often associated with ageing. Why don’t you try some color and see how you feel. Just by your question, that you are ‘unlucky’ it seems like grey hair is not something you will accept anytime soon. So consider yourself ‘lucky’ that hairdressers can make you look fabulous easily and quickly these days! Many more women than you think get their hair dyed and remember, a great cut is just as important!

Nick:
Is my daughter old enough to date? When do you think is the perfect age? She turns 15 in September.
Ariane de Bonvoisin:

Every girl is different. Some teenagers are wise beyond their years. Some mature a lot later. Regardless of age though, your daughter is growing up, wants to fit in, wants to explore who she is, often through dating, clothes, make-up, and is experiencing a change in her hormones, making her also want to see what sexuality means to her.

 

There really isn’t a perfect age. As the father, you can’t possibly see your little girl dating, until she is 30 probably! And yet, putting boundaries and rules on dating can create a rebel, or a girl that grows up not feeling ‘seen’ as a woman, because you, the parents didn’t.

 

Within reason, let her date, let her wear sexier clothes…the more you empower her to make good choices and believe she will, the more she will stay connected with you and not feel this is something you disapprove of. Remember, you can’t stop what is natural and put artificial ages and timing on something. Talk to her as an adult, share what’s important and then trust her. She most likely won’t break it then.

Joe:
How old is too old to become a parent? I mean, is there a perfect age? Why? My wife and I are both 42 and think it may be too late for us.
Ariane de Bonvoisin:

There is no perfect age. If you want to try to conceive a child, there is nothing stopping you. Of course, go see a gynecologist to make sure she is healthy as are you, but then, trust life and see what’s in store for you. Many people are having kids later in life now. If you are both in good shape, there is no issue.

 

Look at why you want to become a parent now. Your truth around this will often play a role as to whether having a child is going to be easy or not. Is it a fear of missing out? Is it wanting to let a soul come into your family? Is it a way for you to leave a legacy? Is it about giving you a purpose in life?

 

Your beliefs around ‘if its too late’ will also have a significant impact if you do start trying. We get what we focus on remember, so anything you hold in your mind, is what manifests. You need to start letting go of the conventional beliefs then around pregnancy and childbirth and know that having a child is also a spiritual experience and this goes beyond any age of limitation.

 

Also, remember, there are many ways to parent. You can of course adopt, you can foster, you can even work in such a way that you are taking care of people or children.

Lizzie:
My son turns 5 just before the cut-off date for kindergarten. Should we delay school entry for a year? How can I know if he’s ready?
Ariane de Bonvoisin:

Every child is going to be different, so age is just one of the factors. Does your son want to go to school? Is he happy and excited to be around other children? What about your situation? Can you stay at home with him another year? Are you working? How do you feel about having him go? Many times, it’s the mothers who feel sad about this first transition away from their child. Get honest with yourself about how it makes you feel. Are you ready?

 

As parents, we can have a mistaken view of what kindergarten is. Remember, they are going to play, learn a few things, eat, but basically, it’s a way for kids to be around other kids and also let the poor exhausted parents have a bit of time for themselves.

 

Its not as if your child wont have the brain capacity to do homework or any tasks he is being asked to participate in. Nearly all kids love kindergarten, love their teacher and love being with other kids.

MaryB:
I’m thinking about going back to school. I’m looking at teaching, but don’t have time. Do you think online courses are good?
Ariane de Bonvoisin:

If your heart’s desire is to start teaching, then yes, absolutely, take an online course. You can never go wrong with following your intuition and doing what you love. Everything changes when you do! And we all find and create the time for things that we love and are important to us!

 

Online education is increasingly being recognized as the future of learning. Top universities are now offering courses that have thousands of sign-ups. These are already well oiled and have already been tried and tested so you are in good hands.

 

They do give you the flexibility it seems that you need as well. The only thing you often miss is the social element of meeting people who have the same desire as you, people to study with and a network for after you graduate. Having said that, some courses make you interact with others by creating study groups, making you a part of correcting your peers’ homework, that kind of thing.

Stacy:
What is a good age to give your kids a cell phone?
Ariane de Bonvoisin:

This depends on the reason ‘why’ you want to give your kid a cellphone. Is it for safety and security reasons? Is it for him/her to fit in, because everyone else has one? Is it for you to feel you are being a cool parent? Is it because they are rebelling and you think this will help? Get honest about what the reason is behind your decision here.

 

Beyond giving your kid a cell phone, the few things to consider are the following
-Who is going to pay for the monthly bill? Is this something you will split? Sometimes data roaming, downloads, games etc can get very expensive, so keep an eye out on that.
-Will your kid be allowed to surf the internet? Or can you put some restrictions on the phone to start off with?
-A cell phone can be a huge distraction, because of all the various apps they can now use to chat, text, play games, listen to music etc. Is this phone going to be a communication device and/or an entertainment device?

 

When a child gets a cell phone, you let them have some element of privacy. You also signal to them, that you trust them, that they are growing up, all positive things for them to feel. Some kids abuse this trust, so it’s a balancing act between you and them.

DucatiPaul:
I’ve turned into a recluse due to an illness that I finally have managed after many years. What advice can you give to try and get a life back?
Ariane de Bonvoisin:

Congratulations on your return back to health. The best advice is to start doing what you love. What does your heart feel inspired to go do, be, learn, experience? When we do what brings on the joy, we feel good about ourselves, we are attractive, we emit a certain energy to others, and we stay healthy. While you were dealing with the illness, what did you dream of being able to do, once you were back on your feet?

 

Maybe you want to take a class, join a sports team, go to a workshop on the weekend, learn yoga...only you know what inspires you now. Perhaps you want to start a blog or website or be creative in some other way.

 

The most important thing is to now be in the present moment. No need to think about or even speak of your past and illness with others, unless that really feels right and is coming from a strong, empowered space of helping others. Maybe your journey is to share how to overcome an illness and create an amazing life afterwards.

 

Yes, it is an incredible courageous thing to have dealt with, and now, you get to create a new story about you, about Paul, about the healthy version of Paul. Your identity is already different, so make sure you keep up with the new version of you. Maybe you want to explore dating, either online or through friends.

 

Do you plan to go back to work in some way? If you do, commit to only doing work that makes you happy. When you've been sick, you know only too well, that life is short and its simply not worth climbing the wrong ladder professionally.

Nikki:
How can I get my parents to trust me? How can I prove to them that I can do things on my own and want to be happy with what decisions I make, and that I am ready to move out? My age is 25.
Ariane de Bonvoisin:

The best way to get your parents to trust you is to really trust yourself first, to be happy with your own decisions. You do not need to 'prove' anything to them. This kind of energy is not coming from a mature, wise woman. It is coming from a younger place in you that still is trying to get their approval or permission. I am not clear why you cannot move out by your own accord at the age of 25? It seems you are ready to start living in the world the way you want to. All life changes involve other people being unhappy with us, being triggered, being disappointed, not agreeing with us. You are not here to make your parents happy with your decisions, you are actually here to have your own trajectory, which in the end, will be what makes you grow and flourish.

 

Be compassionate with your parents. You are their 'baby girl'. Its hard for any parent to let their child go, at any age. Dont argue or rebel with them, instead be loving. See it from this space. One day when you have children, you will feel the same way. They have loved, cared and protected you for this long. Their intention is coming from a good place even though it may feel very frustrating to you. Sit down with them and acknowledge how hard it must be for them. Give them some certainty that you will be in touch, that you need to go learn and grow and make your own mistakes now. The most important thing they need to hear is that they are good parents and that you recognize that in them. Often, they then take a deep breath afterwards.

Carrie:
I had a really great date. We hung out for hours -- first drinks, then dinner nearby, and talked about fun things we could do the next time. Thing is, I haven’t heard from him since. What gives?
Ariane de Bonvoisin:

A few things you might consider. Some men want you to take the first step and at least thank them and show appreciation for the date. Have you done that? Many men say they aren’t sure of the "signals" they get from a woman and aren’t sure if she’s interested. Do you think you made it clear to him?

 

If you have made your interest clear, then I’ll be honest with you: Men who are interested in someone do call or text or email. And you deserve a man who really likes you and wants to see you again. I wouldn’t spend too much time asking the famous "why" question, as it usually leads to just more questions and suffering.

 

Instead, focus back on yourself. Get healthy, take a fun class, start doing things you love. That always makes a woman attractive and you start giving off an energy that is irresistible. Don’t wait for a man. They will be there when you really start loving your life.

Carla:
How do I ask my in-laws to stop parenting my child?
Ariane de Bonvoisin:

In-laws can be tricky, as their intention, they will tell you, is often positive. They love their grandchildren, they want to help them -- and you -- and instead it feels like they are taking over, they don’t trust you, they know better. Not fun.

 

The simplest way is for you and your partner to have a conversation first. He needs to be on your side and take a stand for you and the children. How does he feel about all this?

 

Next, I’d arrange a time when you can have a chat with your in-laws. Let go of any defensive, frustrated energy you might have and start with, "I need your help. All I want is to be a good parent. I love that you are great grandparents, and I also want to feel like when it comes to the parenting side of things, that resides with me and X (your partner). Does that make sense?"

 

And see how the conversation goes from there. If they need it, be ready with a few specific examples as they may sincerely not know or feel that they are over-stepping their roles and boundaries.

 

Finally, you need to remove any feeling of guilt that might come after that. If they are upset or uncomfortable or you notice them judging you, choose to stand firm in what you want. Its important to you. So stick to what you have to say. Do not feel you need to be a good daughter in law or understand them or negotiate.

 

What’s most important here is that you are happy with how things are. Even your children will feel the shift here.

Dreamer:
I'm not happy in my relationship. We were in high school and got pregnant, and I've been with him for 14 years. We have three kids. I want to explore life without him. Is it worth it?
Ariane de Bonvoisin:

When your inner voice starts speaking up loudly, as it seems for you, I can tell you, it won't go quiet again. In fact, it will usually get louder! Before you get up and leave, though, I’d love for you to do a few things: 

*Spend some time writing down all the lessons you’ve learned from being in this relationship, what you learned from this man, from mistakes, from good decisions.

 

*Next, look at all the reasons you aren't happy. Are they really about the man you are with, or are they life circumstances? Too many times we think someone else is the cause of our unhappiness.

 

*Finally, start really dreaming about the life you'd like to have and explore (with or without him). What does it look like? What are you doing differently?

 

Of course it’s worth living your dreams, listening to your heart, re-discovering what you love. Do that first before ending the relationship. You will feel different, you will feel stronger, empowered; you may even have a plan. Make this kind of decision from a place of clarity, not a place of anger, upset or unhappiness.

 

No matter what, everyone will benefit if you can start getting to that place now. Remove any blame you might feel toward your partner, your life and yourself, as that doesn't help either. Either way, something good will always come from a change, whether it's a change within your current relationship or starting something new.

Sam I Am:
How can I store enough energy (after working 9-5) to build a business that I am passionate about? After coming home from work, I feel like I have no energy.
Ariane de Bonvoisin:

If you already have the business idea and you really are passionate about it, then that in itself usually gives a budding entrepreneur energy. All you want is to find time to work on your idea.

 

So, first, do you have the business idea? Are you really passionate about it, or is it just a way for you to get some money, leave a job you hate or give you more freedom?

 

The reason why you are doing it is the biggest motivator for starting and building a company and pursuing a dream. That is your fuel. It's not about more or less physical energy. So go back to the drawing board and answer honestly WHY you want to build this business. When your reasons are exciting and empowering, and about contributing and making a difference, learning, growing and having the life you really want, then the fuel is unleashed.

 

Starting an amazing and fun business is also about priorities. What else is taking up your spare time? Where might you be able to find a few productive hours? If it's really energy you're lacking and not time, I’d look at your health. Are you drinking too much alcohol or coffee? What are you eating that’s draining your energy? Are you surviving on too much fat and sugar?

 

If you want more energy, clean up your health, and your body and mind will liberate energy you didn’t know you had.

Silo:
I am 61 and in a career transition, from a successful sales and marketing career. I am lost about what to do with the next season of my life.
Ariane de Bonvoisin:

First, congratulations on your past career and also having the courage to make a transition now. The only way to find true happiness and fulfillment is to: Find and do something you love; and find a way to contribute, give back and serve others.

 

So, your job now is to get back in touch with things you love. What have you always wanted to do or try, even if it seems far out or you don’t feel qualified? What are your gifts? This is your time. Don’t worry about what other people might think or say, you don’t need their approval.

 

Second, as we get older, we shift our focus from things just being about us (our life, career and money) to how we can help others in some way. How might you do that now?

 

Just sit with these open questions. No need to rush. Your mind will start showing you the way. Find the time to get quiet, to still the busyness in your life. Only then can you hear that inner voice, the voice of the soul. It’s what I call your “inner microphone.” As we get older, we tend to ignore it, or turn the volume way down.

 

Go from an outward journey to an inner journey. I promise you, the answers are inside of you!

Kat:
I’ve been divorced for nine years, and can’t seem to meet anyone new. I volunteer for community events, and work at a large company. I didn’t like online dating. What’s a good way for me to meet someone?
Ariane de Bonvoisin:

If you are looking for the love of your life, stop. He will be waiting for you when you start doing the things you really love. Not with the intention of meeting someone, but just because you love and enjoy those things. There is something magical and special about people who are pursuing their dreams, their hobbies. They shine; they have a smell about them. People notice them.

 

It can be anything: dancing, painting, taking a class you’ve always wanted to take. Think about what you loved when you were much younger. We tend to get serious and forget those things in our adult world of responsibilities.

 

The other thing that is irresistible are people who take care of themselves and their health. They give off a certain energy, one of self-love and high self-esteem. So take a look at how you might be able to focus on yourself in this way. Do you radiate health and vitality? Try something new: yoga, zumba, why not pole dancing? Get that life force really moving and see how that becomes a magnet for others.

Cat:
I have a boss whose management style is to attack managers in the weekly meeting. When I confronted him with my concerns, he said we should part company and asked for 60 days’ notice. What do I do?
Ariane de Bonvoisin:

First, ask yourself these questions: Do you want to continue working for a boss who isn’t respectful, isn’t pleasant, who attacks you and others? Is this the environment you want to spend your time in? Do you like your work? Do you feel your work matters and has meaning? If it doesn’t, consider this a little gift from the universe to get you out and doing something you love, with good solid people to spend time with.

 

Far too many people work at jobs and with people who take the life force out of them, all in the name of “keeping a job” or paying bills. I promise you, there are other jobs out there. Think with an attitude of abundance.

 

If you do want to continue working there, then you need to approach your boss again. He won’t respond to any confrontation so instead, use the phrase: “I need your help.” This always opens up the more aggressive types since they feel needed.

 

Ask him how you can perhaps take his comments less personally, or share with him that you want to contribute and do well, but aren’t sure how to interpret his words and actions. Do not try to get a person like this to be compassionate, sensitive or even try and understand you. But do get him to express what would work for him; get him on your side.

 

Most likely, he is aggressive to cover up his insecurities, his lack of self-worth. He feels this is a management style that is necessary. He may even be like this in his home environment and you bringing this up just triggered that button even more strongly.

 

Be courageous and first do the inner work to figure out what you want, not how to repair or change the situation.

Diane:
My son is having major problems in school. He is failing everything and doesn’t want to do homework. He just doesn’t care. We’ve tried everything. How can we change this attitude?
Ariane de Bonvoisin:

Since you don’t share his age or what you have tried, I am going to suggest a few other things and questions that perhaps you may want to consider.

 
  • -What is going on at home that he might be rebelling against?
  • -How are you and his father doing? The most important thing for a child is for you to be happy. Do whatever it takes to take care of you. That has a major ripple effect on your children.
  • -Has he spoken to a therapist or life coach that he can feel safe opening up to, who is not a family member?
  • -Have you asked him what he does truly care about? Is it sports? Video games? Find ways to get him to do more of those. Can he take an online class in how to create a video game, for example? Just encourage him in more ways that he does care about. Show him those things are equally important. He does love something, and he needs your support in that area, too.
  • -Does he have siblings? Whatever you do, do not compare him in any way. Let him have his own identity.
  • -What is his dream? What does he want to do with his life? Start helping him in that way because you care and want him to be happy, not as a way of getting him to do schoolwork. Often kids know much earlier on what they want to be doing.
  • -Is he in the right type of school for him? Is he more musical/artsy/creative?

Perhaps your lesson here is to let go of control and embrace a less conventional path for your son. Remember, many kids don’t like school. That’s OK. He needs to know you agree with him. Much of what kids get taught in school is a waste of time. Get on his side.

 

I promise you he will find his way. Be patient. Life is taking care of him, too.

Pureserenity:
I love my current boyfriend, but I recently ran into an old friend who confessed his love for me. My current boyfriend and I are going through problems. Should I leave him for my old friend?
Ariane de Bonvoisin:

Without knowing what exactly the problems are that you are going through, it’s hard to give specific advice. Here is what you do need to know: Whatever problems you are having with one person, you are going to have with the next person; they just appear to be in a different external package!

 

What do you think your lesson is here with your current boyfriend? Is it to express yourself and your truth? Is it to have boundaries? Is it to start doing things you love or take care of yourself? Is it to leave? Is it to listen to your intuition? Is it to not take things so personally, to forgive, to focus on the bigger picture? Once you know and have gotten your lesson from this current relationship, then yes, you can evaluate how you want to be with this new potential man.

 

It’s always tempting to go for what’s new and shiny. Choice is limitless. Are you even attracted to your friend? It’s fine for him to confess his love, but how do you feel about him? What makes you want to go toward him? Do not compare these two men. Listen to your inner microphone. How does your heart respond?

 

Finally, there is something really special about working through the harder times with someone and staying in the fire, getting really vulnerable and knowing you’ve done whatever it takes.  If that doesn’t feel right, then by all means, end your relationship, but at a minimum, take some time before starting something with your friend. It sounds like this friend has had feelings for a while, so he can surely be patient while you create some space between both relationships here.

Jane:
I am 43, have a full-time job and a family with two kids. I feel happy about my life, but sometimes I think I’m too focused on delivering what’s expected from me. Are homework, cooking, my job, etc., keeping me from enjoying a full life?
Ariane de Bonvoisin:

The key to you feeling you are enjoying a full life is for you to do what makes you happy. The number one thing your kids want is for Mom to be happy! So, what are some small things you could be doing for yourself? Get clear on your "non-negotiables": explain them to your kids and partner. They may even help hold you to them.

 

Your life isn’t all about what you "should" do. We all get the same 24 hours in a day and yet some people find time to pursue their dreams, do things they love. The first thing is to get clarity on what those are for you. Most people know they want a fulfilled life, but they haven’t gotten clear on what’s missing. Think about it and write that down. Then, day by day, be like a woodpecker. Take one small step in that direction.

 

A lot of us these days feel we are lacking meaning and a sense of contribution. For others, it’s a sense of fun that is missing. Or true intimacy and connection. Or a profound relationship with yourself, your inner world, a feeling that you are taking time to nurture yourself physically but also spiritually. Dig deep and figure out what is making you feel the way you are.

 

And finally, remember that we are all so hard on ourselves. Disapproval runs our lives, so perhaps take a moment each day to acknowledge yourself: everything you are getting done, the balance you have already created, the kids you are raising, the home you are managing.

Kelvin:
How do I know if I am in love?
Ariane de Bonvoisin:
This is different for everyone, so there isn’t a general rule. Typically I’d say that you are in love if you:
  • -Are willing to do something you would never normally do just to spend time with him/her.
  • -Think about his/her day nearly as much as your own.
  • -Feel like the luckiest man/woman in the world because she/he is with you.
  • -Cannot imagine your future without him/her.
  • -Find yourself sharing things about yourself that you’ve never shared before.
  • -Consider him/her to be your best friend.
  • -Are open, honest and vulnerable with him/her.
  • -Have a familiar feeling with him/her, as if you’ve always been together.
  • -Can see yourself going through the harder things in life together.
  • -If relevant, can imagine having children with him/her.
  • -Feel a sense of safety with him/her, and can be yourself.
As you can see, there’s not much talk of sex or romance. Those have their place, but when you are in love, something much deeper will call you.
Chris:
I don't have control over my life because I'm too busy and can't afford to stop doing things. I have a full-time job, two children and a husband, and I'm tired all the time. What can I do?
Ariane de Bonvoisin:

Well, if you don’t stop doing things, your job, children and husband will also suffer, if they aren’t already. It’s never in “doing” things that we resolve what’s not working or we get control back over our lives. It’s in how we are “being.” You can be busy with an attitude of real positivity, for example. Do you think your kids and husband like someone who is busy all the time? I am sure they’d prefer you to do less and be more present and available for them.

 

The most important thing children need is for their parents to be happy as people. This means, if you want to be a good parent, start doing things you love, carve out the time, they will all understand. You will be more fun and more relaxed to be around. There is always a way to make this work. Enlist their help and they can find ways to solve problems.

 

The other crucial thing for you in all areas of your life is for you to take care of yourself, and that means your health: sleep, exercise, eat well, drink water (the S.E.E.D of any change). Take one at a time and see how different you feel.

 

Choose your two non-negotiables -- two things that you can commit to, for you. A walk, a period of silence to meditate or read, a yoga class or a regular night with some girlfriends. These come before your spouse, before your kids, before anything. Share these with them. You will like your life a lot more if you are part of it and have boundaries with all that is trying to use up your time.

Carol:
I have been living with the same man for 14 years now. When I bring up the subject of marriage he just gets mad and says he isn’t ready and I am. Should I go or stay?
Ariane de Bonvoisin:
Anyone who has been in a relationship for 14 years has, in many ways, already shown the commitment to be married, just without the paperwork involved. So when your partner says he is not ready, he actually has demonstrated that he is, by simply choosing to be in a committed relationship with you. You guys have lasted longer than 50% of couples that ever get married! That should make you both feel great. Clearly you are doing something right. Ask yourself: What is most important now to me? Getting married or enjoying the relationship I am in?
Nikki:
After 10 years of marriage, my husband and I decided to get a divorce. We have two little girls and financial problems. How do I tell my kids and how do I deal with the money problems?
Ariane de Bonvoisin:

This is never an easy one and every child needs to hear and understand it according to his/her level of development. I would recommend you tell them that love between a parent and child never changes, that it is permanent, so that they feel secure in their love from you and their father. The most important thing is that they don’t consciously or unconsciously make up reasons why this breakup is their fault or how they could have prevented it.

 

Then share with them that love between two people can change to become friends. That friends don’t live in the same house and sometimes they spend time together and sometimes they don’t. Give them a very clear sense of routine and structure very early on; give them the certainty of when they are going to see their dad, if they are living with you, etc.

 

As far as money problems go, are there things in the house you aren’t using anymore that you can perhaps sell? In what ways do you spend money that maybe is unnecessary for now? Is there anyone in your family who might understand your current situation and lend you some money for a certain period of time? Sometimes our lesson is to put our pride to the side and simply ask.

 

If you work, you could you ask for a raise, from a position of strength, from your qualifications, not a position of you’re getting divorced and you are having money issues. If you are not working, what would you love to be doing that can bring in some money? Work doesn’t have to feel like a huge drag. Many people are working at things they enjoy and coming home with a paycheck, and that’s also a great example for your girls.

Sandy:
I am struggling with telling my family that I have bought a new home. My parents are financially struggling to make ends meet. How can I tell them?
Ariane de Bonvoisin:

We are not here to get our parents’ approval, or avoid them being upset or disappointed. Actually, in the end, we are here to live the life we want and choose, that is their gift to us. And yes, many times, our choices will make our parents grow! If they are uncomfortable, that is not your issue. You are not in a co-dependent relationship with them, where your happiness and theirs is co-mingled. Be an example of what’s possible.

 

We all unconsciously feel a loyalty toward our parents -- we can’t be happier than them, have more money than them, be thinner than them. It keeps us hostage. Identify your loyalties toward them and bring them out of your blind spot, otherwise you will never feel comfortable moving forward with your life.

 

Speaking your truth is where your power lies, so find a good time to share the news with them, preferably over the phone. Don’t expect or assume anything -- they may be happy or sad, they may make you feel guilty or compare their situation to yours, or question your decision to buy a new home. Let them. If you are strong in your choices, what they think will have no impact on you.

bridetobe:
Planning my wedding has been a stressful experience so far that has caused me to dread my wedding day. I can’t wait to get married, but I am really not enjoying all that goes into making the day perfect. Do you have any tips on how I can change my attitude, accept that it WON’T go perfectly and just try to enjoy it?
Ariane de Bonvoisin:
Weddings are not made special or memorable by the flowers, the food, the decorations or even the photographer. Beautiful weddings are about the connection between the two people getting married, how happy and in love they are, maybe something special they say to each other in front of everyone, the speeches, the funny things that weren't meant to happen, the unexpected, and the fun atmosphere. If you really want to shine on your wedding day, this is the big secret: it's never about any of the other details. It's always just about you, your energy, your heartspace. Find wedding-planning inspiration.
Patricia J.:
At what point in my career should I know whether I am ready for advancement in my company?
Ariane de Bonvoisin:
Ask yourself whether you like the company you are working for, and if you  like the job you have and actually want to be promoted. If you are content, express your overall desire to take on more responsibility, to stay with the company and show your loyalty to do whatever it takes. Ask your superiors what needs to happen for you to be promoted and when they likely see that happening. Although these conversations are not necessarily comfortable, staying in doubt and not knowing where you are heading is even less comfortable and sometimes a total waste of time! It's always about finding the courage to ask, and having no fear of the outcome, or expectations of how things should be. Stay positive at work.