Who is Miss Abigail?

Abigail Grotke
Silver Spring, MD
email: missabigail at missabigail dot com
twitter: @DearMissAbigail

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Miss Abigail has a collection of over 1,000 classic advice books, spanning from 1822 to 1978 and covering a variety of topics, from love and romance to etiquette and charm. The collection sparked the idea for this site, then a book, Miss Abigail's Guide to Dating, Mating, and Marriage, which has inspired an Off-Broadway production of the same name!


Posts Tagged ‘fatigue’

Fuzzy Math

Monday, August 30th, 2010

her moral energies are prostratedQ Dear Miss Abigail:

A man bought a number of eggs at three a dollar and as many eggs at four a dollar and sold them all at the rate of seven for two dollars, losing one dollar in the bargain. Find the number of eggs he bought.


A Dear Sreekumar:

I’m sorry ~ last week I was working and playing in New York City, and then when I got home Saturday night I went to a fabulous Halloween party. I really tried to concentrate on this problem of yours, but according to The Young Lady’s Aid to Usefulness and Happiness, which was written in 1838 by Jason Whitman, I can’t possibly answer your question. I need to rest for a few days, at least!

1838: Intellectual Improvement

In regard to amusements and recreations, I have sometimes thought that we overlooked or forgot the refreshment which may be derived from a mere change of pursuits. Consequently, we often fatigue and unfit ourselves for mental efforts, and destroy, for the time, our moral energies, by the exciting nature of our amusements. A young lady is often so engrossed in the anticipations of a ball or assembly, so absorbed in thought and feeling while preparing for it, and so highly excited amidst its scenes, that she is unfitted for any vigorous and profitable intellectual efforts for days after. And, then too, in the fatigue which follows, her moral energies are prostrated. Had this young lady simply danced at home, with her brothers and sisters, or with friends and neighbors who might be present, without any previous feverish anticipations, or any fatiguing preparations, it would have been a healthful and refreshing amusement. So if a young lady is fatigued with long continued study, or feels that she is in danger of neglecting to take sufficient exercise for her health, let her leave for a while her studies, and bestir herself in useful household labors, and she will find herself much refreshed.

Source: Whitman, Jason. The Young Lady’s Aid, to Usefulness and Happiness. Portland, Maine: S. H. Colesworthy, 1838.
~ pp. 189-90 ~

Useless Tensions and Busy Girls Don’t Mix!

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

disturb the mental stateQ Dear Miss Abigail:

I have this really difficult boyfriend. I am involved in a lot of different things at school and sometimes I don’t have a lot of free time on my hands. I also have a job. My boyfriend is always complaining that I never spend enough time with him. I also have really strict parents who continually check to see that I have good grades. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed and then my boyfriend calls me and complains. It’s so hard to deal with. I don’t want to quit any of my clubs or my job and I don’t want my grades to slip, but I really can’t deal with the pressure from my boyfriend. What should I do? How can I make time for him, my activities, and myself?


A Dear Kimberly:

Have you considered Yoga? It’s working wonders for stress in my life these days. But alas, you probably don’t have time for something like that, particularly when you’re trying to trim down your schedule.

The following is from Questions Girls Have Asked, and may provide you with some information about wasteful energies that drag folks down. Although it speaks to exercise and work, I think we can apply some of the concepts to your problem. Of course, you’re on your own to determine what your “useless tension” is, but it sounds to me like you’ve already figured that out.

1963: Get Rid of Useless Tension

Get rid of useless tension that wastes energy. Probably the most common cause of futile energy loss is in emotional states. For example: The amount of energy used by a person in the doing of a piece of work is dependent in a great degree upon his peace of mind. Work that is distasteful, disagreeable, or just boring takes more energy than the same work if pleasing and interesting. (1) Strange as it may seem, brain work of itself requires no energy. Only as the associated work of a pencil or typewriter brings muscles into play, or some strain of position or posture prevents complete muscle rest, does mental effort draw on energy store. (2) But let an element of fear, displeasure, or hurry disturb the mental state, and tension increases in the whole body; every muscle is affected, and there is added energy output, energy used to no purpose. (3) The thinking one does while walking or gardening requires no extra energy. The mental activity that accompanies physical work may be very relaxing.

The exercise value of physical work may be greatly lessened by an associated emotional disturbance. A muscle may be able to work, yet be unable to let go and rest between contractions. What a waste! Much greater energy is expended, but useful work is not increased. The result is exhaustion and excessive fatigue.

Source: Wood-Comstack, Belle. Questions Girls Have Asked. Southern Publishing Association, 1963.
~ pp. 140-41 ~

Overdoing Things

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

it is a folly and a sinPlease forgive me for presenting such a brief selection, but I’ve been awfully busy lately. This one is from Gladys Cox’s book titled Youth, Sex, and Life, I hope you ennnnjoyy iiit $)kdlj0J)djfo940zzzzzzzzzzz………

1946: Overdoing Things

There are degrees in overdoing things. If you faint at the end of some effort, or if you feel an overpowering desire for a doze, it must strike you that you have gone somewhat beyond your limit; but there are less obvious indications ~ slowing-up, a loss of ‘heart’ in the game, irritability, lassitude which is not healthy (and rather luxurious) tiredness, tiredness which lasts over the following day ~ all these are signs of excessive exertion. It may be that you are undertaking something which is beyond your strength; or it may be that your condition is not what it might be; or you may just have carried on too long.

Naturally, you will go ‘all out’ when you are committed to any sort of contest. There is something admirable ~ morally ~ in continuing to go all out when you are feeling ‘all in’; but physically it is a folly and a sin. You will be wise; therefore, to watch yourself and to make sure that whatever you undertake is well within your powers, and that you are trained up to a proper pitch for it.

Source: Cox, Gladys M. Youth, Sex, and Life. London: George Newnes Limited, 1946.
~ pp. 94-95 ~


Saturday, August 14th, 2010

rest is neededI’m just back from a trip to California for a friend’s wedding, and the time change ~ while some may think nothing of it ~ has wiped me out. I’m exhausted! And my dream of lots of caffeine to help wake up was crushed when I broke my coffee pot this morning. Sheesh. Let’s hope the happily married couple Liz and Brian are doing better on their honeymoon. In the meantime, I’ve read the following, from Elements of Healthful Living, and have decided to go to bed immediately.

1942: Fatigue

The most striking effects of fatigue are upon the nervous system, where it produces irritability, nervousness, restlessness. Trifles become disturbing. Enthusiasm is gone; attention distracted; judgment warped. The whole world looks drab. The most amiable disposition is ruined by it. . . .

Caffeine has long been used as a stimulant to offset fatigue, and, except for the nervousness and insomnia which it causes in some persons, no known ill effect results from its use. The same cannot be said for the so-called ‘pep pills’ . . . these tablets are more powerful stimulants than caffeine but they make some persons so nervous and jittery that they are unable to sleep or do concentrated work for several days. A few serious toxic results have been reported from their use.

Clearly, the attempt to obtain relief from fatigue by drugs, either depressant or stimulating, is unsound. Fatigue is nature’s warning that rest is needed. To silence this warning signal or to whip one’s body along in spite of it can only lead to catastrophe.

Source: Diehl, Harold S. Elements of Healthful Living. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1942.
~ pp. 107, 08 ~