Finding Life Lessons in a Warm Winter Coat

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?



  1. This kind of thing happens to me all the time. Partially it’s because I forget I have money and am not in school anymore. I’ll be really needing something, and it will never occur to me that I can go buy one. Super genius, over here. It really makes you appreciate the simple things, though!

    February 18, 2015
    • byjenlawson said:

      Yes! I have poor brain too! I think that was part of my problem. Although I wasn’t fully aware of it at the time, I think I had been assuming nice coats were out of my price range so I never considered getting one. I was like that with smartphones for a long time too.

      February 18, 2015
      • Exactly. I just assume I can’t buy anything, which is absurd. In the last few years I’ve gotten a lot better about it. I’m glad you’re warm!

        February 18, 2015
  2. I can TOTALLY relate to this…my life changed when I bought my new winter coat just before Christmas (which somehow was 60 percent off at the Macy’s in Herald Square in NYC)! It’s sooo warm, but also doesn’t make we sweat too much when I wear it inside, at the grocery store or other places. I’m glad you caved and found when you like. And, that you’re warmer! Winter can be brutal, let’s not make it more brutal for ourselves!! <3 ya 😉

    February 17, 2015

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