I met my family for dinner last night and the walk to the restaurant wasn't so bad because of my new coat.
I met my family for dinner last night and the walk to the restaurant wasn’t so bad because of my new coat.

Sometimes it just takes one small change to make a huge difference. In my case, it was buying a warm winter coat.

I used to live in Las Vegas, and though I’ve been back in Philly for more than five years now, I never bought a coat suitable for brutal East Coast weather.  I was still trying to make do with a couple of cute but light/medium weight coats from H&M. I had just gotten used to being cold and miserable, and I tried to avoid going out when it wasn’t absolutely necessary.

Although people would comment that I look cold and that coat looks awfully thin, I just brushed it off. I always lose my gloves, too, so a few years ago I just stopped buying them. I was freezing all the freaking time. It just never occurred to me to do anything about it — it’s like I just accepted that this is how it is.

I started working from home last year, so some days the only times I go outside are in the morning and evening to walk Sassy. I go to my volunteer gig on Tuesday nights, and I bring my laptop and work from the coffee shop down the street one morning a week. So since I’ve barely gone outside last winter and this winter, the thought of buying a new coat was even further from my mind.

That’s no way to live!

Mike recently got a new coat, and a light bulb appeared above my head. Hey! I could get a new coat! I don’t have to suffer like this anymore. Mike told me that I should, that it’s important to stay warm. That’s such a basic drive, isn’t it, to stay warm? Why didn’t I think it was applicable to me?

So, I got a coat.

I actually ended up buying two online and returning them, then finding the right one in Macy’s in Delaware. I got it at the right time — it was 40 percent off (I saved $110!) and we’re still in for a lot of rough weather this season. It was one degree in Philly this morning and it’s going down into single digits later this week.

It’s lovely — it’s gray and it’s down-filled and it has a big hood and warm, fuzzy fabric inside the pockets and I can zip it all the way up and it covers the lower part of my face. It has a belt thing so I don’t look like a shapeless blob in it. Even though it’s really warm, it’s pretty thin, which is pretty amazing. It’s also not too hot — I can wear it in the grocery store and not break out in a sweat. It’s pretty much perfect.

It’s made dog walks more pleasant and less stressful. Rather than hurrying Sassy along, I’m perfectly content to let her sniff and linger and do her thing. I don’t dread going outside anymore.

My new coat has made me realize a few things. First, Mike always has the best ideas. He suggested I buy a new coat, and it was also his idea that I buy quality snow boots a few months ago, so I did, rather than wearing my old, leaky, cracked Target boots for another year. I bought a pair of Sorels and I’m sure they’ll last me 10 years at least. So, I should continue listening to him when he points out things that should be obvious to me, but aren’t, for some reason.

Second, if you’re dealing with a wretchedly miserable situation, don’t just suffer through it and hope for the best. Find a way to fix it. I’ve been guilty of this many times in my past, as I’m sure many people have — remaining in an unhappy relationship for too long, remaining in a miserable job for too long. It’s hard to see a way out sometimes, and maybe it never even occurs to you to do something about it. You just exist and accept it when you can take steps to change it instead.

As strange and silly as it sounds, my coat situation has been a good reminder that the driving force in life, what we all strive for, is happiness, and we shouldn’t bring unnecessary suffering upon ourselves.

So, even though I’m now warm and snug in my coat, my hands are still bare when I go outside. My next step is to buy a pair of gloves. And make sure I don’t lose them.

Have you ever been in a situation where something that should’ve been so obvious was so hard for you to see?

 

11

One of the things I love about blogging is reading other blogs and getting to know people from all over the world. One such person is Jillian (How to be Myself) who has only been blogging for two months but has amassed a pretty huge following already! I think that’s a testament to how relatable she is, and how much of an interest she takes in people. So, Jillian picked me to list and answer some stuff, so here we go…

11 Things About Me

  1. My original career goal was to be a cop or work in the criminal justice system somehow. I ended up getting a degree in journalism with a minor in criminal justice, and I worked as a newspaper reporter, covering crime, instead. I was on the crime beat in Las Vegas for five years and it was so much fun. Over the years I covered other beats, but crime was always my favorite.

  2. I don’t have a middle name. Neither does my dad or my brother. I never got a straight answer as to why, other than “we couldn’t think of anything.”

  3. I’m a landlord! I bought a house in 2010, then after knowing Mike for seven months, we bought a house together in 2013 (a much nicer one, I might add.) My tenants have been in my house for almost two years now — thank god — it’s been a pretty easy experience.

  4. I don’t plan on changing my name when I get married.

  5. The first type of meat I gave up was red meat,  21 years ago. It took me four years to transition to vegetarian, and the last thing I gave up was crab, 17 years ago.

  6. Every Tuesday from 6-8 p.m. I’m at the South Philly Petsmart taking care of the nine cats from the Philaldelphia Animal Welfare Society that are up for adoption there. I’m the site leader so I coordinate the volunteer coverage, approve or deny cat adoption applications, and lots of other stuff. I probably spend 10 or more hours a week on PAWS volunteer stuff in addition to my Tuesday night shift. I’ve been doing this for almost seven years and I love it.

  7. My favorite book is The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.

  8. I didn’t get my driver’s license until I was 18, and it took me five tries before I passed. I couldn’t get anyone to go on practice drives with me besides my equally as clueless teenage girl friends.

  9. I find it difficult to read the written word on paper, which is sad. I’m hopelessly screen-addicted. I’m working on reprogramming my brain, though, by reading reading regular, paper books at night.

  10. I bought my wedding dress online and it’s gray (silver?) Also, it only cost $49.99, plus $12 shipping. Luckily, it fits! I’m trying to avoid the usual wedding practices and just do what I like to do/want to do. White isn’t a color I’d really pick for a dress so I didn’t see a reason to wear one!

  11. I’m not really much of a cook, but that’s okay because Mike is, and he loves cooking for me. I’m a lucky girl.

 

And now I’m going to answer the question Jillian posed to me…

  1. Do you want kids? If you already have them, did you always know you wanted them?
    I love kids but I’ve never wanted to be a mother myself. I’m not sure why.
  2. How did you choose your blog name?
    SimpleWhen I was a reporter “By Jen Lawson” was on all of my stories! It was easy to come up with it because, well, it’s all written by me, and I’ve used it in other capacities over the years (work Facebook account, Twitter when I had Twitter, etc.)
  3. Do you have any pets?
    Yes! I have four: A 14-year-old mutt named Sassy; a 14-year-old black cat named Magilla; a five-year-old orange and white cat named Kevin; and a five-year-old black cat named Willow.
  4. Do you think it’s smart to blog on a set schedule?
    I think it’s smart to have a loose schedule, like striving to post 2-3 times a week, for example. But if you were to hold yourself to a strict schedule of posting every day or almost every day, it might be tough to find the time and to think of good things to write about.
  5. What do you think your best feature is (yes, you have to be positive and pick one)?
    I think, my hair. It’s auburn and it’s pretty thick and I don’t have to do anything to it. I just wash and condition it, then comb it out and let it air dry. I don’t use styling products, usually.
  6. How do you feel about iPhones?
    I resisted getting one for a long time because it seemed so conformist, but I abandoned the Android ship about a year ago and I really and truly love my iPhone.
  7. Do you have a recurring dream?
    I seem to have anxiety dreams a lot, like messing something up and everyone’s mad at me, forgetting to do something and disaster ensues, and stuff like that.
  8. What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done?
    Delivering the eulogy at my dad’s funeral.
  9. What’s your favorite television show?
    I’m not a big TV person so I can’t say I have a favorite, but some shows I like to watch are Seinfeld reruns, Sex and the City reruns, Top Chef (and pretty much any cooking competition show), Girls, Portlandia, and Orange is the New Black.
  10. Do you work out?
    Yes, I do, but I’m on a workout hiatus because it’s been too cold to walk the five blocks to the gym first thing in the morning. I’m a total wuss, I know. But, I just bought a new super warm down coat (40% off!) so I’m going to wear the crap out of it and get my ass back on the elliptical. I feel so much better when I’m active and I miss it. (It’s been like a month since I’ve gone.)
  11. Do you believe in astrology?
    I’m a skeptic but I do fit into many, if not most, characteristics of a Taurus, except for the physical ones. And I’ve found that Mercury retrograde tends to make things all wacky.

I’m supposed to come up with 11 questions and pick 11 bloggers to answer them, but I don’t even think I read 11 blogs at this point yet! So I think I’ll put that part on hold for the time being!  I’m sorry for not fully completing this, Jillian!

 

If someone says their favorite room is the bathroom, chances are it’s because of some special design element, like maybe they did the mosaic tile floor by hand themselves, or they had a custom vanity created.

My bathroom is nice, but I wouldn’t describe it as especially cool or unique in any way.

So, why is my bathroom my favorite room?

Bathroom
My favorite room in the house is tiny and has a pocket door.

That question took a little thought. I’ve always loved bathrooms, starting with the 1970s marigold one with the double sinks and eight-foot long mirror that I grew up using in my parents’ suburban house. I would sit on the counter with my feet resting in the sink and read books and magazines, listening to the radio.

When Mike and I were house hunting two years ago, a must-have for both of us was separate bathrooms. We found this great house that allows us to have our own full bath — the one Mike uses is part of the master suite, and the one I use is in the upstairs hall. (We also have a powder room downstairs.)

I spend a lot of time here, at least an hour each day and even longer on weekends. Why?

  1. It’s a place where I can be alone. It’s a solo hangout spot — it’s pretty cozy, so there’s not enough room for anyone else, and who hangs out and socializes in the bathroom anyway? I really enjoy being alone, and if I want to listen to a podcast or write in my blog or eat lunch or read by myself, I can sit on the edge of the tub and do it there, whether I’m home alone or not. If someone knocks on the door, I can choose whether I want to open it or not. After all, being in the bathroom is a pretty good excuse for not coming to the door.
Eating leftover pizza in the bathroom while Sassy looks on.
Eating pizza in the bathroom while Sassy looks on.

2. It’s a place I share with my puppy. My 15-year-old mutt Sassy loves the bathroom as much as I do, and she spends way more time in there than me, napping on the bath mat while I’m downstairs working all day. We make it work — I just have to step over and around her, although I do drop mascara and hairbrushes and other things on her all the time.

  1. 3. It’s a place that I can decorate however I want. I love pink and butterflies and pinup girls and woodland creatures, and I didn’t hold back when it came to decorating my bathroom. It’s like a pretty pink explosion and it makes me happy every time I walk in. I have two pieces of embroidery that I created, an owl stitched into a piece of magenta corduroy taken from a pair of pants I wore during college and a tea towel with some birds and cats on it. The most recent addition is a cart, where I store my makeup and other stuff.
How I usually have to stand while in front of the sink.
How I usually have to stand while in front of the sink.

4. It’s a place where I’m surrounded by beauty products. I’m not a makeup or beauty product hoarder — I do have a lot of lipsticks, and I enjoy trying new stuff, but I tend to hold onto my holy grail products and use them until they get discontinued. I’m insecure, so it makes me feel better knowing that a variety of products are literally at my fingertips whenever I’m in the bathroom. It also has great lighting — there’s a window plus a nice big mirror and decent lights. Great lighting is important.

5. It’s a place that welcomes routine. I’m really routine-oriented. I love the predictability of a good, solid routine; I find it comforting. And what other place allows for that than the bathroom? When I wake up, I go through certain steps in a certain order, and I have a different routine before bed. There’s nothing foreign about it, unlike the living room, which has four or five remote controls for various electronics and appliances and a whole bank of light switches that I still haven’t mastered. I know what I’m doing in the bathroom.

A few weeks ago I added a tagline to my blog: “Just something to read while you pee.” In fact, I have optimized my blog to make the bathroom the best place to enjoy it. Just so you know. 🙂

Do you have a favorite room? If so, what is it and why?

The owl I embroidered.
The owl I embroidered.
Sink and vanity.
Sink and vanity.
My new cart.
My new cart.

 

My pinup girls.
My pinup girls.
The view from the window. No one can see in -- it looks out onto the rear of some businesses that face East Passyunk, so someone would have to climb onto our roof to see in.
The view from the window. No one can see in — it looks out onto the rear of some businesses that face East Passyunk, so someone would have to climb onto our roof to see in.
It's hard to photograph a shower, but this is a nice one, with cool tile and stuff.
It’s hard to photograph a shower, but this is a nice one, with cool tile and stuff.
My butterflies.
My butterflies.
Sassy pacing in the hall, waiting for me to finish taking photos so she can go back to relaxing on the bath mat.
Sassy pacing in the hall, waiting for me to finish taking photos so she can go back to relaxing on the bath mat.