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Initially, by watching my youngest daughter, although 18, acting like a little kid again. She couldn't wait to go out in the snow (although I told her it was more like icy sleet with an inch or two of dusty snow on top) and take photos (for social media, of course). And build what I think was the world's smallest (and cutest) snowman. Her pure joy and excitement made me realize how important it is to see the best in any given situation. (At that point, we still had power although it was heartbreaking to see how many people were already without power, and I knew we might be next.)

The next day, in the middle of the night, we joined the growing number of people (millions!) without power. And although we had done our best to prepare for this possibility, it's still a shock, especially when temperatures are well below freezing. But the funny thing is when I now look back, I don't remember the difficult parts. I remember sitting around a table, dressed as if we were Bernie Sanders at the inauguration, initially playing Trouble and then what became a game of Monopoly that lasted days. (I didn't mention it to Black, figuring I'd get a business analysis of board games.)

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I live in a Houston high-rise that whenever the wind blows, we seem to lose power. So, I was not surprised to find we had lost power at 2 a.m. Monday morning, but I was shocked to see all the snow. And, although I briefly enjoyed the beauty and peacefulness of the blanket of white, knew the fact my condo has huge windows (and no window coverings) meant the temperature would start dropping very quickly. There is a hotel down the street and I was able to get a room, so I counted my blessings. Not because I was able to get a room (by lunchtime, there were none left), but because I had the luxury of being able to escape to a hotel when I knew most people were not as fortunate and had limited, if any, other options.

FULL QUESTION: I gained weight during the pandemic, and now that I'm returning to the office, none of my clothing fits. Any suggestions?


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I'm not sure that I'm the best person to ask this question as I work from home. However, unlike my sister, who has mastered maintaining her weight, I sympathize with you completely because, like so many people, I've succumbed to putting on weight during the pandemic. My downfall? Comfort food. And although I've always loved that kind of home cooking, what really did me in wasn't what I prepared, but having second servings because it tasted so good.

So, I need to go back to my Weight Watchers days. I never felt like I was on a diet because I could eat anything I wanted, but developed better eating habits, including being aware of portion control and making smarter food choices. That, and kicking up my exercise routine a notch (or two or three) – whether it's morning weights, mid-day walks, and/or late afternoon bike rides.

Well, I guess I really didn't answer your question as to what you should do. But I realize that I've analyzed how I got in a similar situation and what I should do. Now I just need to do it!


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I am not going to tell Red that she is going through the logical sequence of change, but I will say that once many of us, Red included, understand WHY we are doing something, it is easier to do something about it. Just do not be too hard on yourself. And, be realistic.

Obviously, the pandemic caused isolation and anxiety, which resulted in more eating and less activity. And being able to work from home wearing "comfy" clothes did not help. But you are not alone, which explains why weight management businesses are doing so well. For example, gym memberships are up, and digital subscriptions at WW (what Weight Watchers is now called) are significantly higher from a year ago at this time.

Even if you are not ready to make drastic changes, you can start with small adjustments. Alcohol consumption increased (no surprise there), so maybe substitute low-calorie (or no-calorie) beverages, such as fruit-infused water instead of wine and cocktails. And, keep in mind short "office-friendly exercises" can also be done at home and can make a big difference. (Think: push-ups in a standing position against a kitchen counter or office desk or if you have stairs at home, putting away items immediately instead of accumulating them to minimize trips.)

One final thought … if you have to buy new clothes, keep it to a minimum and make sure they can either be altered easily or inexpensive enough that you do not mind giving them to a charity (such as Dress for Success or CareerGear).
Image on screen is from "What I Learned About Life When My Husband Got Fired!"


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Oh, there are more days than I'd care to admit that I'd be grateful if it was just my desk that had too much paper on it as I've been known to use my floor as a filing system. Really! And I've been known to lament about feeling like I'm drowning in paper on way more than one occasion.

So, what do I do? Well, after kicking myself that I've let things (once again) get out of hand instead of keeping on top of the paper clutter, I take a deep breath and remember the advice that Black gave me years ago. And although I initially resisted following her advice, once I gave in, I found it was the perfect (and easiest) way to turn a mountain of paper into manageable stacks. And since it's her "system", I'll let her explain it to you.


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All those words and Red provided only empathy – but no real advice. However, she brings up a good point in that paper will always accumulate, and we should strive to keep it from getting out of control … versus trying to control it "perfectly".

Now, in terms of the advice I gave Red, this is where our accountants would suggest that I refer you to our book, but I hate when people do that. Instead, I will refer you to the relevant excerpt that is available on this site, Too Much Paper – Not Enough Time.

But, here is a short version ("short" in terms of explanation, not the time it will take to make the piles shrink): take a handful of paper and begin to sort them into piles based on priority – immediate, this week, next week, next month, next lifetime. You will quickly realize that the majority of the items will be very low priority, such as reading, filing, or shredding. And, separating out the highest priority items will not only help you focus on them, but will reduce the stress of wondering if there is something important you are forgetting to do.


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I'm not a research geek, that's Black's area, but I've heard the phrase " retail therapy" and know that some people actually enjoy shopping. But I'm not one of them, and although I don't hate shopping, I'm definitely not a fan of online shopping. Plus, I think some things that are very difficult to shop for. Full stop. Like mascara. I wear minimal make-up but feel like I'm always in pursuit of the perfect, affordable mascara , which isn't helped by the endless magazine ads and the racks of mascara in the stores. Of course, some shopping's more of a necessary evil. For example, as a mom, groceries are never really ticked off a shopping list, so grocery shopping feels more like Groundhog Day.


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There was a time in my life that I shopped to offset boredom, but now I usually only shop when traveling or need something specific (I guess that makes me a " hunter" versus a "gatherer ") But there are three things I hate – truly hate – shopping for: jeans, bras, and cell phones.

Recently, I traveled to Nashville with my niece, and we decided to go jean shopping for her. Not only did it take getting her psyched-up to do so, but even the sales staff agreed how frustrating shopping for jeans can be – and we were at a store that specialized in a specific brand of jeans.

I am not going to get into my pet peeve about vanity sizing and the inconsistency of sizing across clothing brands and styles, or the many frustrations of bra shopping (although the linked article is amusing to read). And shopping for cell phones, and the need to keep up with technology, may explain why I still use a Blackberry Bold and a flip phone.