Dear Amy: I am a people-pleaser who volunteers at a nonprofit that helps Afghan refugee women. We provide fabric and a space with sewing machines where they can make items that they might be able to sell.
Recently, "Kara" contacted us and asked us to create a copy of a dress she had. She told me that if we figured out how to make this, we could let the Afghan women make and sell them. She provided fabric for the copy.
I spent six hours figuring out how to make the item and documenting it with photos and instructions (I have been a professional seamstress). I then made a sample.
I intended to ask Kara to give a $100 donation to the charity so we could purchase more fabric.
As it turns out, Kara loved what I did and wore the sample out the door. I gave her instructions and the pattern pieces, and she gave me $20 to donate to the charity. She also told me that she and a friend might make these dresses and sell them.
After she left, I felt used, so I called her and told her that if she was going to sell this dress design for a profit, she needed to pay me for my time.
However, now I feel guilty. Was I wrong to call her? Or am I wrong to feel guilty?
Amy says: People often ask if they are "wrong" to feel a particular way. And my answer is always the same: Your feelings are your feelings. They are neither right nor wrong. They simply are.
Your initial choices prevented you — and the organization you support — from receiving a justified compensation.
Kara swanned out the door wearing a custom-made dress (as well as the pattern and instructions) for $20. If you don't set your price and state it clearly before doing the work, then you leave it up to the buyer to guess a fair compensation — or to gently rip you off.
I give your choice to follow up with Kara a "five star" rating.
Dear Amy: Over the years, my brother has cut off contact. He is toxic, bossy and creates problems among family members. As a result, we siblings don't communicate with him.
We are now all elders — with him being the eldest. I assume that I will outlive him because I am the youngest.
I often wonder what I will do when he passes. Should I go to the funeral of an estranged brother if I have fond memories of our relationship from my childhood and I still have a good relationship with his son? (He also has a daughter who has removed herself from all family communication. No one knows why, but our niece's silence occurred long before we stopped communicating with our brother.)
I would want to do the right thing by my nephew by supporting him, but I also wouldn't want to create any problems with my niece. Nor do I want to cause any distress for my brother's family.
I, my other siblings and all our children remain on good terms among ourselves, but everyone else has cut off communication with my brother and his family. I believe I am the only one who attempts to stay in touch with my nephew.
Amy says: Unless you strongly suspect that your presence would make things harder for your brother's family, then yes, you should attend his funeral. Be discreet, express your condolences and do your best to read the room. If you sense that your presence is causing distress, quietly exit.
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