What’s a small but meaningful thing you can not live without?

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My days of wearing high heels appear to be (largely) behind me, and now so too are my days of wearing clog boots, which used to be what I’d tromp along in all winter long. I don’t know if it’s the result of my bad knee, or the fact that we lose the fat in the balls of our feet as we age, but these days, all I feel like wearing are my Blundstones, or similarly flat boots. Still, even that can get uncomfortable if I’m walking any distance at all, so I am always sure to use these genius inserts, which are firm but really cushiony too. They also kind of magically provide insulation, and aren’t too thick, so you can fit them even in shoes that fit on the snug side.

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71 Thoughts on What’s a small but meaningful thing you can not live without?
    priscilla
    9 Feb 2022
    11:32am

    I had a bad knee. or so i thought because it hurt (killed) going up and down stairs, etc. After a few years of it coming and going, and after two physical therapists worked on it for about a six month period for each therapist, I ended up with a third therapist who said it wasn’t about my knee, it was about my shoulder! Whaat? Yes, apparently, in my body, the knee bone is connected to the shoulder bone. And guess what? She was right!!! I won’t go into the whole process cuz zzzzzz, but if anyone has a non-specific knee thing, it’s worth getting checked. Ha, ha, I’ve still given up the over 2″ heels and, lordy, the wooden clogs, too. Aerosoles are comfy, and I put Birkenstock insoles into everything I can.

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      Avril
      12 Feb 2022
      9:32am

      This realization that everything is connected has been a real game changer for me. I had glute/hip issues that popped up and seemed to be connected to running. Then I had neck/shoulder/ upper back pain that sent me into a yearlong period of trying all the pillows. Even when I asked, doctors and PTs treated them as separate issues. I’ve been working virtually with a running coach who specialized in biomechanics and injury, and while the neck/upper back/shoulder issues have gone away, I’m still working on the hips. I’m basically having to retrain my body how to walk/stand/run so I’m not lopsided, so it’s been a long journey, but it really seems like the way forward.

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      Betsy Palmer
      10 Feb 2022
      1:54pm

      I broke my shoulder this past Summer and, 3-4 months later, developed knee pain. I will def be asking my PT about it. Thanks for the insight.

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        priscilla
        10 Feb 2022
        3:11pm

        It’s crazy, right? If your PT doesn’t think it’s connected, think about finding one who will connect the dots

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      Jane
      9 Feb 2022
      2:22pm

      Priscilla, this is so fascinating. Feel like I’m in the same boat and the PT is not making any headway into resolving my knee pain. Shoulder is an interesting thing to explore!

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        priscilla
        10 Feb 2022
        3:13pm

        Keep looking for a PT who will take that nugget seriously. I went to 2 different therapists in the same group, one who treated just the knee, and one who treated the shoulder. I promise I’m not making this up!

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      Erica
      9 Feb 2022
      4:04pm

      Doesn’t surprise me—it’s all connected. I have knee problems, but they seem to start in my glutes/hips and posterior chain. I have to stretch, roll, and get regular massages along with strengthening. This getting old stuff…..

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        priscilla
        10 Feb 2022
        3:14pm

        It IS getting old fast. And when I’m feeling all spritely and fine, I slack off on the stretching etc and fall right back into old times

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      Viajera
      9 Feb 2022
      12:14pm

      Actually, I would be interested to hear a bit more – I’ve never heard of this – but of course, not if it is too personal.

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        priscilla
        10 Feb 2022
        3:35pm

        I’ve known for a long time that I hold everything in my left shoulder. Tension, anger, the cold, even. (And probably a lot of other things I have not explored.) But my knee just started hurting out of the blue. Both behind the knee towards the outside, and the famous ice pick in the middle of the patella. I was going up stairs on all fours, and down sitting on my rear and bumping down each stair. When my husband called me out on this, I had to go to the doctor. Yes, I am one of those who thinks/wants things to just get better on their own. I saw an orthopedist who said there was nothing to see there and was told to move along to PY. Jumping ahead to the third therapist, she watched me walk, tested my leg and core strength and looked at me from behind. Looking at me from behind, she said she thought the knee pain was coming from my shoulder (one stood higher than the other). That’s pretty much all I know about how the diagnosis was made. she had me do all kinds of exercises for shoulder and core strength and really went to town digging into my shoulder. I’m telling you, the digging hurt, but when she stopped it felt like I wanted her to keep digging. She said I had a lot of whatever the professional term for knots are, and kept digging around. So the exercises consisted of a lot of actions like rowing, but rowing standing upright. There were 1lb weights involved, deployed while lying across one of those giant balls, face down. After the weights and rowing and digging, she had me lay on my back on a 36″ long roller. She had me spread my arms wide to the sides, giving the pectoral muscles (and whatever muscles attached to the arms) a big stretch. That was for 3-5 minutes. By the way, I think it was the therapist before the last who put KT tape on my knee. That really, really helped with the pain (but obvs didn’t get to the root of the problem). If you want a specific question answered, it might jog my memory to hear it, but this is what I remember as being important to me. Haha, too personal! Not at all.

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          Viajera
          11 Feb 2022
          12:45pm

          Thank you so much!! This is really interesting stuff – and what a smart therapist!! I tend to have feet issues but this is still good to know – and those are also some very creative exercises. Bodies are just amazing. (Though also sometimes a huge nuisance.) Thanks again – and good for you for being persistent!!

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    Stef
    9 Feb 2022
    11:46am

    I really want to try the Bergal inserts, but Amazon seems to only offer one size, and I can’t find them for sale anywhere else. Any ideas?

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    dkl
    9 Feb 2022
    11:12am

    Oohh, I wonder if those inserts would fit inside my tap shoes! For a sport that’s all about smacking your feet on the floor, the shoes are disturbingly uncushiony.

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    Nancy
    9 Feb 2022
    11:06am

    Love this…cannot wait to read other comments. Mine are: my custom orthotics for same reasons as you, perfume (my signature scent is Narciso Rodriguez), Milk Brow Mascara (to cover the grey), hair color and highlights.

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    Katrina
    10 Feb 2022
    9:59pm

    10 foot charger cables for my phone. I can never go back to those short ones that come with your new phone anymore.

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    Tara
    10 Feb 2022
    10:05pm

    My small thing…the Chirp app.. its an audio books app that sells classics very inexpensively. I just finished listening to the Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. And what I love is, for $1.99, I own the audio book and if life gets busy and it takes me a month to listen, the price was well worth it. Listening to books is delightful I’ve discovered in this older age and I actually feel my pulse slow down.. such a nice reprieve from daily life!

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    y.k.
    10 Feb 2022
    7:46pm

    I too love my Paperwhite- getting books in an instant is pure magic.
    also- must mention those Tinkle Razors (i know, not the best name). it’s always disturbing how much growth there is on the upper lip after a few days. I know that dermaplaning is a thing (i think that’s the name) but no need for all that – the tiny razors work very well.

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    Kim
    10 Feb 2022
    8:23pm

    Oh my, I have so many things! My Ooler, which is a pad that sits under your bottom sheet and cools via water; Breville Tea maker/water kettle (you put the tea in a metal strainer that it lowers into the water when it comes to the temp you set and then lifts it out after the brew time you choose, and then keeps it warm for up to an hour; Bose sleep buds – earphones that are small enough to wear all night and play white noise and have an alarm so you don’t wake your sleeping partner; Apple Watch (with cell service) and ear pod combo, they are all I bring for walks – can listen to podcasts, books, music and make/receive calls and texts and pay for stuff with Apple pay. Breville coffee maker that grinds and then brews all in one – I set it up the night before and it has coffee ready in the morning; silk sleep mask and silk pillow case; weighted blanket. I’m really into sleep.

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    Kay Erikson
    10 Feb 2022
    9:44am

    This blog!

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    patty
    10 Feb 2022
    10:15am

    Two small things: CeraVe cream in a tub.
    Neubrow.
    One big thing: DeLonghi La Specialista espresso machine. What a treat!

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    Mimi A.
    10 Feb 2022
    11:31am

    Latisse! I’d used it before for my lashes but had slacked off and a 1/4″ bald spot on one eyelid appeared where my lashes had been. It works if you use it regularly! Then Kevin Aucoin eyelash curler and here’s a tip: hold it under a hair dryer on hot for a few seconds, then curl your lashes and they’ll be “set.”

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      priscilla
      10 Feb 2022
      3:43pm

      I use the Latisse not on my lashes but on my disappearing eyebrows. My doctor prescribes the generic Bimatoprost, and I use a coupon from GoodRX.com (which makes the cost about 1/3 of Latisse).
      I do hope you all know about GoodRX. Put in your drug of choice and it gives you the cheapest place near you to get it, and a coupon. I’ve been using GoodRX for Tretinoin (generic RetinA).

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    Ak
    10 Feb 2022
    3:33am

    Good bottle of red wine.

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    JB
    10 Feb 2022
    6:00am

    Right now it’s my apple ear pods…was the one who waved them off for years and stuck with the corded version that my kids cast off. I run with them and they sound great, stay in and no pesky cord to catch your hand on, are able to read text messages, you can tell Siri to skip songs, answer calls, and reach 911 all hands free. The only bugaboo is making sure they charge or ur back to corded. Since running is so much a part of my routine and a reason to get outside I also can’t live without hand warmers that I tuck in my gloves when it’s under 20 degrees and Nano spikes that I can put over the bottom of running sneakers for slippery days or trails. The spikes are great for walkers too.

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    Mamavalveeta03
    9 Feb 2022
    11:01pm

    A couple of must haves for me:
    Prestidge Beaute Ageless Skin Serum gives me glowing skin, Jenni Kanye’s “Oak Essentials” Moisture Rich Balm has kept my skin healthy and unchapped despite chilly daily walks, and PBS Passport keeps me sane. I watched a show about poop (Secrets in the Scat) tonight and it was fascinating!

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      T
      11 Feb 2022
      11:31am

      I just ordered the oak balm. It instagrammed stalked me for a while. Does it truly deliver a “glow?”

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        Mamavalveeta03
        12 Feb 2022
        10:47am

        It does! If you have very dry skin, it should do wonders for you, T.

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    cw
    9 Feb 2022
    11:12am

    Even though I prefer to read actual physical books my Kindle Paperwhite has been my stalwart go-to for checking out library books during Covid. I do still purchase books from my local indie (BookPeople in Austin), but if I’m wanting to read something genre (like a mystery) or if a book has been published that I’m on the fence about––I’ll check it out of the library. As for the balls of ones feetz…for long walks with Betty I swear by Hoka sneakers. I wear the Bondi 7. They are not attractive. You will not feel like you are on your way to Fashion Week, but they are very comfy and well padded. As for size reference…I went up a half size because I wear thick sport socks when I know I’m going to be on my feet for awhile.

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      Mamavalveeta03
      9 Feb 2022
      10:46pm

      Totally agree about the Hokas, CW. As a person with lots of ankle/foot problems, they have been wonderful – like walking on pillows.

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      Mindy
      9 Feb 2022
      2:52pm

      My husband got me a second pair of Hoka One Ones for Christmas. I wish they came in more appealing colors, but they are really comfortable.

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        D.Morgendorffer
        9 Feb 2022
        4:59pm

        CW, although I prefer physical books, I so know what you mean about Kindle Paperwhite now. I got my first one at Christmas. Even when my mother worked at the library when I was a child, I have never had fresh reading material at such a quick turnaround. Madness! Madness! In fact, comfort reading with hot beverages at any hour, along with starting a new ms, are the reasons why I haven’t commented much lately. I swear I’ll get a grip, but CW, you can buy a Kindle book and start reading it at any hour of the day! Madness! Madness!

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    Cedar
    9 Feb 2022
    12:43pm

    I went off heels at least five years ago because I was having sharp shooting pains in my forefoot every time I put my foot down, even in my flat shoes. I had x rays and several baffled doctors before a genius podiatrist diagnosed that I needed metatarsal pads and made me orthotics with them built in. Most orthotic friendly shoes are super frumpy, so the orthotics stay in my running shoes and I buy “Powerstep Metatarsal Pads” by the 3 pack. They are peel and stick with a crazy powerful adhesive, so I paste them into every pair of shoes I buy, including sandals. Works like a charm especially if the shoes have a little arch support already. High heels still are uncomfortable, but I can wear wedges and clogs again.

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      Victoria
      9 Feb 2022
      8:43pm

      Tell me more about this please! I have terrible pain in one foot in the front pad,

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    Jenny
    9 Feb 2022
    12:51pm

    Ingenious collagen. Without it my hips and knees are incredibly painful. I’ve tried the powdered versions but the way these are formulated let them really get absorbed by my body. Every time I think I don’t need them and stop, I end up going back.

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    karen
    9 Feb 2022
    12:51pm

    Uniqlo Heattech…really don’t know how i got dressed before i discovered this. warmth without bulk. i wear the tops, 7-8 months out of the year. (i have both the regular weight and the extra warm). and in the last 2 years i added the leggings.

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      priscilla
      10 Feb 2022
      3:46pm

      I am shopping for this right now! Thank you

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      Eloise
      9 Feb 2022
      2:59pm

      I second (and third) Heattech – I was skeptical but bought leggings (for myself) and a beanie cap for my husband at the beginning of the winter and we are both sold.

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      Mouse
      9 Feb 2022
      4:40pm

      Me too–esp. the Marimekko collab in leggings. I live in them all winter with boots and a tunic length sweater.

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    melsybelsy
    9 Feb 2022
    1:20pm

    Wool Socks – my feet are always cold and they are soft and don’t make my feet sweat. Smartwool is life! Also, the Cosabella bralette that was posted here. Insanely comfortable and just enough lift where I can leave the house with them on when I’m dressed casually. They are a godsend on long flights and road trips.

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      Karen
      9 Feb 2022
      7:25pm

      Yes, to wool socks….and if you haven’t tried them, give Darn Tough a try.

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        Heather
        10 Feb 2022
        7:48am

        I also rec Darn Tough and also, Farm to Feet (100% US supply chain, made in a vintage mill in rural NC).

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    Viajera
    9 Feb 2022
    12:27pm

    I’m sorry to be a broken record, but just in case the knee doctor didn’t look at how you walk? – then it might be a good idea to visit a podiatrist or a good running store and ask them to watch you walk. They can see if you pronate or what-all. There are a variety of ways to fix these issues. Probably you already sorted all this out. Anyhow, cute insoles!

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      priscilla
      10 Feb 2022
      3:50pm

      The podiatrist I saw (before the orthopod) said I do pronate and I had already started wearing the inserts when the knee started acting up.
      I am a mass of tape and inserts and falling out eyebrows and more! I couldn’t understand why my body is falling apart until a new GP said, “For YOUR AGE, you’re doing pretty well.
      Smart a** 12 year old doctors!

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    kara
    9 Feb 2022
    12:34pm

    MIne are the wool-fleece insoles that you recommended. They have made my popsicle toes much more bearable in winter. Anyway, THANK YOU, Kim!!

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    JennyMick
    9 Feb 2022
    6:07pm

    The Cozi calendar app. It’s free and allows everyone in your family to view and update a calendar on your phone. It has been a lifesaver. It has almost (almost) completely prevented conflicts. We are an activity-heavy family and only two legal drivers. It has amazingly resolved heartburn over unscheduled practices, birthday parties, work things, carpool commitments, etc.

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    Allison
    9 Feb 2022
    5:44pm

    There is a great episode of the Hit Play Not Pause podcast that is all about foot issues during peri menopause and beyond. I think it’s called Feet First. Lots of great info and product recommendations. I wear Hoka’s for exercise but I was struggling to wear clogs and flat sneakers. Adding gel pads and different inserts has helped a lot. As for a can’t live without thing here’s mine: I have multiple ear piercings and for years I foolishly kept all of my earrings in a pile on a ceramic dish. This added years to my out the door routine every day especially if my reading glasses weren’t nearby. Last week I finally bought a $6 tray from Amazon to keep each pair separate and I feel very grown up and organized.

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    Cara
    10 Feb 2022
    8:34am

    Had foot pain for a long time (bunion related). Found Aetrex insoles – problem solved. I wear a lot of New Balance 574s, they come in wide width. As for an item, I cannot live without: Zoloft.
    Trump plus pandemic plus Jan. 6th almost did me in.

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    Viajera
    9 Feb 2022
    7:46pm

    Also may I say, I wish I read as fast as youse peoples! I am like creeeeeeping along in Killer Angels. (I only read books when I go to sleep – hmm maybe that is why …) I am a bit envious, really. Tragic story, well told.

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    Gablesgirl
    9 Feb 2022
    8:16pm

    I just ordered the Cle’ de Peau concealer based on so many recommendations. It is $! Hope its worth it.

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      AnneL
      10 Feb 2022
      9:34pm

      A couple of things

      1) True Botanicals Pure Radiance Oil – Along with sunscreen, I really don’t need anything else to keep my skin feeling like, well, my skin, especially during winter.
      2) At my last physical, they did some blood tests and discovered that my vitamin D and B12 levels were extremely low. I have to tell you that this was a game changer. It turns out that I’m not experiencing some form of early dementia/depression. I was just low in D and B vitamins. I’m a new human being.
      3) Kosas Rosewater lipstick – Jean Godfrey June mentioned swiping it on her cheeks as well as her lips on your podcast and it is my go-to for “shit I have to be on a Zoom call and look like a person”)

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    LisaC
    9 Feb 2022
    8:20pm

    I love CND Solar Oil. It’s the only thing that keeps hangnails at bay, and it also keeps my heels smooth.

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    Mindy
    9 Feb 2022
    2:46pm

    1. O’Keeffe’s Working Hands – the only thing that cured my recurrent cracked skin in winter. 2. Native Soul incense – makes people who enter my house stop and comment on how wonderful it smells. I love the White Sage Lavender, White Sage Cedar and White Sage Palo Santo in particular. 3. Carmex in the lipstick tube (the original squeeze tubes I stored in my car were impossible to use in winter). 4. My library card and Libby on my PaperWhite Kindle. After disposing of many books after my last move, I swore that I wouldn’t buy books again. I’ve lived up to that promise and Charlottesville has a solid library system. I’ve also made peace with not getting new releases quickly.

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      Mindy
      9 Feb 2022
      2:50pm

      Oh, and….5. Benefit’s Gimme Brow and 6. Shiseido eyelash curler – it works great for my short, straight lashes.

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    Viajera
    9 Feb 2022
    7:44pm

    Well … it does occur to me that this might be helpful to some – I find that if I chow down about 2 TB of peanut butter at about 4 pm, then I feel energetic enough to do stuff at the end of the day. It’s a small thing but when I forget, I do really notice.

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      Jen
      10 Feb 2022
      11:48am

      OMG Viajera, you are my soul mate! For me it’s almond butter on a cracker. What a difference! For so long I thought of snacking as a no no—but postmenopausal blood sugar drops are real.

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    Caroline
    9 Feb 2022
    7:43pm

    My zojirushi hot water boiler/warmer. It’s a big 4L carafe that plugs into the wall and keeps your water at a designated hot temp, and at the push of a button you have hot water to make your tea, coffee, whatever. I had a plug in kettle for years but now I could never give up my boiler/warmer!
    I love all the orthotic/shoe insert suggestions and can’t wait to try…

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    Joannawnyc
    9 Feb 2022
    4:40pm

    1. Tweezerman cuticle nippers
    2. I bought some Ahava mineral hand cream at the beginning of the year and apply it daily and SUDDENLY I have nice long sturdy nails, which is nice at 61 (and my cuticles are in better shape too)

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    Papersitter
    9 Feb 2022
    4:22pm

    Something I’ve purchased: a pair of custom orthotics. They cost close to $150 13 years ago, but they immediately changed my life for the better. I wear them nearly every day so they have repaid their expense many times over.
    Something that is free: my local library. I’m fortunate to live in an area with a great librarly system (Washington County, Oregon) It’s my happy place with an embarrassment of riches. I routinely come home with half a dozen books. They also have a Library of Things, where I’ve borrowed a vitamix, a spiralizer, a die cutter, a tape to digital conversion kit, a violin (!) and so many other things.

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      Viajera
      11 Feb 2022
      1:33pm

      Berkeley used to have (and I hope still does have) a tool library – plus, the librarian would tell you how to use things!!!! It was freaking fan*tas*tic.

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    Eloise
    9 Feb 2022
    12:12pm

    Must also mention my newly acquired pretty close to life changing (it’s COLD!) “under the door” draft guard. It actually stays put and keeps the artic (well, NJ) chill at bay so that I can sit on the couch and not worry about frostbite. (My Cavalier King Charles puppy thought the annoying kind you put in front of the door was a toy and would drag it around the house even though it weighed almost as much as he does.)

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      EW
      9 Feb 2022
      2:03pm

      can you rec a model/make??? we need one!

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      liz
      9 Feb 2022
      1:27pm

      Are you up north? I am in Hoboken and really appreciate my heated Sherpa throw.

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        Eloise
        9 Feb 2022
        3:04pm

        I’m a bit more “central” Jersey but “north” enough to commute to NYC pre-pandemic.

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      Liz
      9 Feb 2022
      7:06pm

      I’m so grateful for this recommendation because apparently it helps with smoke, and we live in the PNW where we’ve had such a hard time keeping wildfire smoke out of our drafty house.

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Kim France

I was born in Houston, Texas in 1964 and have lived in New York City since 1988. I had a long career in magazines, working at Sassy, Elle, New York, and Spin, and in 2000, I founded Lucky magazine, which I edited for ten years.

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