Dear Dr. Smith:

Recently I read your column in the Times-News about "Myself." I liked the poem, but I didn't like the rest of the article. You sound like you're trying to excuse yourself from being an "expert." Having read your work for a few years, I always thought of you as a good writer, an expert, and an honest person. Why are you trying to escape responsibility? Just because your family might have some problems is no reason to make your readers think twice before they contact you. I, for one, don't know if I'll be asking you any more questions.

Disappointed in Weissport

Hi Disappointed in Weissport,

I am sorry that you didn't like my column. I, on the other hand, still feel as if I did the right thing in writing it.

To be perfectly blunt, I am no expert in anything. I am a woman who has had many experiences in her 70 years of life and perhaps that qualifies me to give my opinion. However, all of my opinions and advice aren't worth a plugged nickel if my credibility isn't there.

I think I wrote that column to warn my readers that my life has not been all sunshine and roses, and that my perceptions are colored by my own experiences. The old adage "Physician, heal thyself" comes to mind. I might be perfectly capable of giving advice to someone else but am at times incapable of taking my own advice.

Do you believe that a person who raises a child is a better resource for a new parent than someone who hasn't had children? Do you believe that a thief can be a good lecturer to juvenile delinquents on the stupidity of breaking a law? Do you find wisdom in the writings of people you don't know? What I am asking is this – what constitutes an expert? Some people say that an expert is someone who lives more than 50 miles away. Others say that an "ex-spurt" is just a former drip.

I have been writing this column for almost 20 years. Throughout those years, I have touched on many subjects. Most of the time, I write about what I know best – education and family. It stands to reason that my own personal life gets captured in my writing. Just because I sound as if I know what I'm talking about doesn't mean that I have all the right answers. As I said previously, I am not an expert in anything.

So, Disappointed, I would challenge you to ask me another question. I will always try to be honest and give you the benefit of my experience. But, don't think for one minute that Dr. Smith is the ultimate authority. She is just a newspaper columnist with 70 years under her belt, gray hair on her head, and a family she loves but knows their faults (and her own).

I'll look forward to hearing from you again.

(IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO CONTACT DR. SMITH, SHE CAN BE REACHED AT HER EMAIL ADDRESS: JSMITH1313@CFL.RR.COM OR IN CARE OF THIS NEWSPAPER.)