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"Dear Vicki: My sister and I have been pretty close most of our lives. But we’ve taken very different paths. I went to college, then accepted a managerial position with a local bank. Genni worked as a nurse’s aide, which she loved. Several years ago, Genni married an accountant named John and it’s been a good marriage for her. Early on I realized that my brother-in-law was a controlling, opinionated person and have dealt with that for Genni’s sake. However, almost a year ago, John’s mother (another very opinionated person) became quite ill and moved in with Genni and John. Since then, Genni has really changed."...

“As winter approaches, I’ve started worrying more. Will we be able to have the traditional holiday celebrations? How will we connect with people if socializing outside isn’t an option? Will the people I care about stay well? And will this ever end? Is there anything that can help me stop worrying so much?”...

“Family is very, very important to me, but I am having trouble with two cousins who appear to have an overwhelming need to control my life. They strongly suggest that I do things the way they do, according to what they think is right. I have friends that seem to act this way toward me, too. When I haven’t done what they suggest, it has caused family rifts and the breakup of friendships. The pushy people in my life also don’t seem to feel the need to apologize for their actions, so it’s often up to me to make the first move, which doesn’t feel right. What can I do?”...

“It’s been a tough year for me in many ways and the whole idea of creating the holidays my family has come to expect overwhelms me. But the minute I decide to cut back on decorating and buying gifts, I feel guilty. And when I mentioned not baking Christmas cookies this year, my kids were shocked and now I’m worried they’ll be too disappointed if I don’t bake. I’m taking care of my own mother and working full time, and I just don't have the energy or joy in me to do the whole holiday thing.”...

“The Fourth of July is coming up and it’s turning into a real challenge. My daughter Joni wants to have a huge picnic and shoot off fireworks after dark. Stella, my twelve-year-old, hates noise and crowds so wants a quiet family gathering. My husband, thinks taking the whole family camping in the wilderness would solve the problem. But I’m the one everyone looks to for organizing and cooking on a camping trip, and it doesn’t sound like fun to me.”...

Dear Readers, Happy Valentine’s Day! In the spirit of the day, I am reposting a letter from last year that really sums up how useful knowledge of the Five Elements can be when looking for true and lasting love. Enjoy! Vicki Dear Vicki: I want to be married and in love, but I’ve been divorced three times. Even though I was so sure I’d found true love with each guy, the relationships didn’t last. My first husband and I married young – we were only 19 – but we were in love and wanted the same thing: a home and family. Or so I thought. He left me for his flashy young secretary who was a better fit as he climbed the corporate ladder. Husband #2, a college professor, left to accept a fellowship to study primitive tribes in Africa. And Husband #3 is an artist who found his muse in the woman who runs a local gallery. They live together in a loft now. I honestly thought each of these men was my true love, a person I could grow old with. But now, at 37, I’m wondering how to find the right guy. All I want is a happy home and family. Signed: Unmarried in Marengo Dear Unmarried: It sounds like you’ve had quite an experience relating to different kinds of guys. I’m so sorry your marriages haven’t worked out, but I do think there is a Five Elements explanation as to why. Let’s take a look at your primary elemental personality and the personalities of your three husbands to see what we can learn so that marriage #4, whenever it happens, is a wild success. Based on your overwhelming desire for a happy home and family, I think it’s safe to say that you are a primary Earth personality. Home and family are very high on their list of priorities. The resiliency you’ve shown and hope you continue to hold out for a lasting marriage suggests that you might have Water as your secondary personality. Bless you on staying positive. But be mindful to keep yourself balanced because too much Earth (desire for a relationship) and Water (trust that everything will be perfect) together can create a lot of mud, which usually lacks clarity and focus. And these are important to have when entering into a relationship. Information about the person and their personality tendencies is important, too, but selecting a life partner isn’t as simple as finding a “positive” elemental match. The Five Elements model shows us that all of the elements can get along well with each other if they try. This means you can “pick” whomever you fall in love with, but then make sure you take the time to determine their elemental personality so you can understand what their priorities will be in life and relationship. I also suggest that you help them understand what your priorities are as an Earth personality. Too often we tend to trust “love” as being all we need. And while it’s extremely important, I also...

Dear Readers: This is a timely “oldie but goodie” from our files. Enjoy! Vicki Dear Vicki: The Fourth of July is coming up and it’s turning into a real challenge for our family. My sixteen-year-old daughter, Joni (who I’m pretty sure is a Fire personality), wants to have a huge picnic, invite all of her friends, and shoot off fireworks after dark (we live where they are legal). Stella, my twelve-year-old, hates noise and crowds so wants a quiet family gathering or maybe even a night at the movies. Of course, Joni claims that would be boring. To make matters worse, Jake, my husband, thinks taking the whole family camping in the wilderness, along with a few close friends, would solve the problem. But I’m the one everyone looks to for organizing and cooking on a camping trip, and it doesn’t sound like fun to me. So, we are a family divided. Any suggestions? Signed, Fractured Family Dear Fractured Family: Holidays are never easy because everyone has expectations. Of course Joni will want excitement and activity; that’s what Fires need. Plus, the Independence Day holiday occurs during summer, which is Fire’s season. Joni’s personal Fire will likely be revved up even more by summer and she’ll be ready to party. You don’t mention Stella’s element, but the fact that she wants the quiet and darkness of a movie theater suggests she might be a Water. The yang activity of summer, and especially the noise and excitement of July 4th, are the exact opposite of what Stella’s Water will crave. There’s nothing peaceful, solitary, or quiet about a huge party and fireworks. Your husband Jake sounds like he might have a lot of Earth. Camping with friends can be very Earth: time out in nature is one of the most important ways to ground and feed Earth energies. Being with close group friends is also important to Earth. And you, Ms. Fractured Family, are probably a Wood. Making sure everything runs smoothly, whether camping or at home, takes the planning and manifestation skills of a Wood. The good news is that your Wood is exactly what’s needed to solve your family’s July 4th dilemma. Start by reminding everyone that family life is about compromise, but within the compromise can be nuggets that will meet everyone’s needs. Jake’s Earth and Joni’s Fire value connections. And while Joni will want a larger and crazier party than your husband will, you can use your Wood to create structure and boundaries around how many people are invited to the party you host for July 4th. While camping is important to Earths, being home with close family and friends also matters, so Jake should be equally as happy hosting family and friends at home as he might have been camping in the wilderness. To meet Joni’s need for a party atmosphere, suggest she invite five or six close girlfriends for a picnic and fireworks celebration outside (weather permitting, of course). As you probably know well, six teenage girls can easily feel like a crazy party, which will...