Being well-bred in your neighborhood

               How should a well-bred woman conduct herself in her neighborhood, specifically one that is a bit older, run-down, or lower on the socio-economic scale? With grace, wisdom, and patience, as in the following examples.

               If she spends her days at home, a woman may tend to pass many hours at the windows peeking out every time a dog barks, a person shouts, or a vehicle drives by. While common sense and awareness of one’s surroundings is useful, one can take one’s curiosity to an extreme by obeying every impulse to discover what is happening outside. In humbler neighborhoods, houses are closer, people move around quite a bit, and there will likely be no shortage of dogs who will bark at anything from strangers to squirrels. Knowing this will help the curious woman refrain from indulging every desire to know what is happening in her neighborhood at every moment. One can become caught up for several minutes staring at a dialogue between neighbors across the street, while trying to read lips or invent reasons for their meeting. One can feel undue stress by imagining the possible scenarios caused by people walking about the neighborhood, such as service and repair men; city workers such as animal control workers, meter readers, or property assessors; salesmen; and religious folks out proselytizing.

               Unless someone knocks at the door, do not worry about their general presence in the neighborhood; this will only cause stress. Salesmen can be told kindly but firmly that one is not interested; the same approach should be used for those seeking to proselytize or invite one to a place of worship. In neither case must one wait to hear out their speech while trying to be polite if one already knows she is not interested; that only wastes time. During political seasons, one may wish to rebuff survey-givers and grassroots promoters. A “No Soliciting” sign may be helpful, but in many areas rude and inconsiderate people will completely ignore this and pound away at one’s door or bell anyway. Simply take a few deep breaths, answer the door, and then politely send them on their way. If the dialogue becomes heated, gently remind them that they are trespassing. Beware of people who begin their speech with “I’m not trying to sell anything.” If they are unfamiliar and accompanied by paperwork, they are most likely trying to sell something. An exception to the above would be when the neighbors’ children come by trying to sell items for their school’s fundraiser. However one treats them will likely be the same way one’s own child will be treated someday when in that position.

               Concerning barking dogs, there is little one can do about the neighbors’ dogs. Yelling at them will only make one look petty and angry and it seldom works. If one’s own dogs bark frequently at things they should not, such as squirrels, regular neighbors, or servicemen, begin proper training as well as consider implementing bark collars or a privacy fence. However, when one lives in a low-end neighborhood, adding too many special features to one’s lawn such as expensive fencing or other amenities may merely result in one’s having the nicest property on the block without bringing up the value proportionately should the home ever be resold. Beware of over-improving both the inside and outside of an older home in a neighborhood where the general feel is that of casualness or mediocrity. One’s home will only attain so much value, mostly because of the neighborhood influence.

               When looking for a first home, another home, a second home, or an investment to rent out, beware of low priced “good deals.” Compare the price of a potential house to buy with the estimated values of the surrounding houses; if they are within $20,000 or so, the house is not really a good deal. Instead, it is a home that will not end up being worth any more than the neighboring homes, but may cost much in improvement expenses just to make it livable. The well-bred woman knows that cost does not necessarily equal value, and will consider a variety of factors to determine in which neighborhood she would like to settle. That said, if she finds herself in an affordable neighborhood that she does not exactly love, or if her neighborhood has declined over the years, she can still adopt and develop an elegant, professional, well-bred attitude toward both her living situation and her neighbors. This includes not spying, not stressing over the actions of others which one cannot control, and setting the example of how one would like her neighbors to treat her by being quiet, courteous, and respectful; minding her own business; not spreading or listening to gossip; not returning evil for evil; and both maintaining and beautifying her yard and home.

               Meanwhile, if one is not happy with one’s circumstances, one can and certainly should try to put away some money regularly in order to make the move she dreams of, using the common sense gained over the years to aid her in making a better choice the next time she signs a 30-year loan! Although moving one day may be the goal, however, do not let discontentment, discouragement, or excessive daydreaming cloud the present days. Find the balance between planning, wishing, and hoping for the future and deriving satisfaction, happiness, and good memories from the present. No matter how poor one is or how unbearable one’s neighbors are, one can still choose to be happy. And in the meantime, one may just find solace in spending more outdoor time at parks or nature sanctuaries instead of one’s yard if one yearns for an escape from the mundane. Wherever you live, cherish the opportunity to exercise the finer character qualities of a well-bred woman in your neighborhood!

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