Maine Advice is a semi regular column where we find Mainers to answer your Maine questions (and we weight in ourselves). This week’s guest is Carrie Jones. Carrie Jones is a New York Times and Internationally bestselling novelist, writing coach, and podcaster.  An award-winning newspaper editor and journalist, she’s also a content writer and photographer based in Bar Harbor, Maine. For more information about her writing coach services, podcast, and books check out,

Dear Gift MDI,
My neighbor accidentally took out my mailbox with his plow. He ‘fixed’ it but it is crooked and keeps falling over. I am worried even if I paid someone to really fix it, it might just happen again. What should I do?
I’ve Got Mail… If It Could Only Be Delivered

Carrie: When you say that you’re worried that ‘it might just happen again,’ do you mean that your neighbor will smash into your poor mailbox again? You can’t worry about that because… You can’t control your neighbor or his ability to drive his plow. I know! I know! This is a shattering realization. We all want to be able to control other people’s driving skills. You should hear me when I ride in the passenger seat. Actually, no. You should not hear me. I am terrifying and shriek a lot when other people drive.

Here’s the thing. You have to let go of things you can’t control. You can’t control other people’s skills with their heavy machinery.

A similar situation actually happened to me once and my neighbor tied my mailbox up to a tree after he took out the post that it was on. The postal carrier complained because the mailbox was suddenly a foot lower than it was supposed to be, so I told my neighbor, nicely and with empathy and respect. My neighbor paid for a new mailbox and post.  I was super nervous about it because I am conflict averse, but it was so mellow.

You can do this.

The next time you are both outside, show him the mailbox and ask him for his advice on how to make it more stable. That’s a pretty big hint. Or… make a huge production out of propping it up. Or… just ask nicely if he could stabilize it a bit more and demonstrate how it falls over.

Nicole @ Gift MDI: OK the passive aggressive version of myself says get something totally ridiculous as your mailbox (like the people on the Bayside Road that have a portapotty (I assume not a functional one) attached or adjacent to their mailbox. (Mental note for me to check next time I drive by!)

The actual version says fix it the way you want it fixed and move on. The neighbor will probably see what you did and know to do differently next time.

Dear Gift MDI,
My friend is getting married in Maine in September. It’s an outdoor wedding. What the heck am I supposed to wear?
Weather Is Weird

Carrie: Clothes.

Haha! I crack myself up. Seriously though, do not stress about this.  Just wear a normal dress. There’s no need for flannel, fleece, or L.L. Bean vests unless that’s already your aesthetic. Bring a shrug or cardigan. Bring tights in your purse in case you get chilly. If the day is obviously cold wear the tights to start.

A lot of outdoor weddings on shoulder seasons have plans for potentially chilly weather. I went to one that ended up being super toasty thanks to men in beards dancing, men in beards drinking, and a lovely use of space heaters.

Nicole @ Gift MDI: Honestly, I love a hard working dress with 3/4 sleeves in a cool neutral color (like navy) in a nice lightweight fabric. You can add tights, add a shawl, etc.

My main advice is to not pick crappy shoes. I once wore heels on a date to Nemos (for those of you who never went, it was a super divey bar on the Backside) and not only did my getup not impress my date but navigating the outdoor patio was difficult. I completely tore up my awesome shoes. Wear boots, flats, or wedges and you can go from mountaintop to barn to bonfire without sinking into the ground… or wasting your sky high heels on an occasion on which they will be at best under appreciated and at worst, your undoing.

Dear Gift MDI,
My friend works with an animal rescue down south and is always trying to guilt me to adopt more animals. I have two dogs already but I know rescue people who have five or seven dogs at a time (plus there are cats, rabbits, etc.). I want to help all the animals but I can’t, financially or otherwise. How can I nicely shut down a ‘can you take Petey in’ request while supporting their work?
Animal Lover… To A Point

Carrie: The best way to really make your friend understand is by appealing to their logic and the animals’ best interests.

So tell them just what you’ve written above.

A dog deserves to have the support and caretaking system it needs and if you’re maxed out financially and because of other animals, you aren’t capable of giving that dog the love and care that it deserves. That’s not cool to the dog and you’d feel awful about it. Let your friend know that.

Tell them how much you care about the cause and the rescues, but that it’s going to be a bit before you can take in any more animals. Be sure to tell them that you’re willing to help in other ways such as donating, maybe fostering (if you can) or by sharing the news about the rescues’ needs and the organization. Sharing and promoting can really help find these fur babies the right homes that they need.

Nicole @ Gift MDI: I would just come up  with an honest stock response you copy and paste in every comment you are tagged in, in every message you get, etc.

“I support your mission to take care of animals but having adopted two dogs, I can not welcome any more animals into my home. Thank you for understanding.”

Once you put it in a bunch of times, people will get it. I did something similar when I started my business and people wanted to bug me all day over chat. Took about two weeks but soon, everyone understood that office hours during the week, I was working. Soon, other people were answering for me something like my stock response. In other words, honestly stick to your guns, repeatedly. If you seem ok with it, other people will be ok with it too.

Need advice? Contact us with your Maine problem!

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