Dear Lisa,

Ben, my 43-year-old husband, and I have been together for 11 years. We have a son, a daughter, and a good life. The problem is that in all this time, he has never once gone to the doctor. I've nagged, I've pleaded, I've joked. He says he's perfectly healthy and it just isn't necessary. But both of his parents died young. What can I do?
—Mara, Pittsburgh

Dear Mara,

I suspect Ben is letting fear cloud his good judgment—which, given the early loss of his parents, is both completely understandable and totally unacceptable. I usually look for the humor in a situation, but given that I've lost two wonderful friends to cancer that could have been cured had they only gotten help early on, I guess I'm fresh out of funny.

Do not nag. Do not plead. Do not joke. Simply find Ben a good doctor and schedule an appointment. When the time comes, calmly announce that the two of you will be getting him a checkup. Make it clear that there's no reason to argue, as not going is not an option. Explain that whether or not he wants to go isn't even relevant. Because it's not about what Ben wants, it's about what his family needs. This man chose to have a wife and two kids; he therefore has a responsibility—no, strike that, he has an obligation—to take care of himself, if not for him, then for you. My mom used to buy me a postcheckup Barbie. I bet you can come up with something even better for Ben.

Dear Lisa,

What do you do about people who check their phone while standing right in front of the escalator, the revolving door, the crowded train exit, completely unaware of everyone trying to get around them? I'm just fed up!
—Virginia, New Jersey

Dearest Ginny (yep, I feel so close to you at the moment that I'm giving you a nickname),

I believe the path blockers can be divided into two categories. The first consists of some silly me-monkey narcissists who are constantly taking selfies as we mere mortals attempt to squeeze by. It's not that they don't realize you're there, it's more that they don't care. We call these people Kardashians.

The other, and perhaps more common, group is the Space Cadets. They are not intentionally rude, just utterly oblivious to their environment...which generally consists of many, many people who'd be more than happy to Taser them if it meant they'd writhe two feet to the left.

Regardless of which type you're dealing with, the way to approach a path blocker can best be summed up in one word: civility.

When someone is being inconsiderate, you must take the high road, because the momentary thrill of expressing your irritation isn't worth the corrosive toll a snarky remark ultimately takes on your soul.

You see, Virginia, winter has us in its grip. People are overscheduled and underslept. They've bought the wrong light bulbs and can't find the stupid receipt they need to return them. Their dog is throwing up; they've just been told that their daughter is supposed to wear a navy blue skirt for tomorrow's school play; they forgot to DVR Madam Secretary; and they've insulted the Kardashians just three paragraphs prior to calling for a moratorium on snark.

We mustn't add any more psychic pollution to the atmosphere. Rather than assuming that the person blocking your path has a staggering sense of entitlement, try supposing she's had a crummy day, too. As kindly as possible, ask her to scooch over a bit; then go home, offer free light bulbs to your neighbor and boiled chicken to your dog, explain to your child that someday she can tell her therapist all about the time her mother forced her to wear a black skirt in the school play, and see whether you can get Madam Secretary on-demand.

Dear Lisa,

I feel like all I do is spin my wheels. I can never seem to get my dreams off the ground. Any advice?
—Rachel, Tampa

Very Dear Rachel,

If all we ever did was dream, the world would be made up of Batmans and ballerinas—it's time to stop spinning and start doing. Here's the plan: Every Sunday afternoon, sit down with your notebook and come up with two concrete steps that you can take each day from Monday through Saturday to bring yourself closer to the future you want.

Because, Rachel, it's not enough to merely want something. Unless you've inadvertently set yourself on fire or eaten a bad clam, it's imperative that you hold yourself accountable. Don't go to bed without being able to cross off the day's two objectives, and eventually those baby steps in your notebook will become a leap toward your dream.

Lisa Kogan is O's writer at large and the author of Someone Will Be with You Shortly: Notes from a Perfectly Imperfect Life. To ask Lisa a question, email


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