DEAR ABBY: I am a working mother who just had a baby last June. Fortunately, everything is going great. She is healthy and happy, my husband and I are doing well, and the proud grandparents baby-sit for our newborn.
I have gotten right back into shape. I swim 40 laps every day, eat very healthfully and happily fit into a size 4 again. (Actually, the pants I'm wearing right now are a size 2!)
My problem is this: Since my job is laid-back and does not require a dress code -- Web development, sitting behind a PC all day -- I seem to dress very poorly each day. Sometimes I look at myself in the mirror and say, "For someone who takes such good care of her body, eats so well and stays in shape -- you look like a slob!"
Please, Abby, help me devote more time to myself. Although going to the gym during lunch is a priority and eating healthfully goes without saying, I let my hair look like a complete mess, my clothes never match, I wear old sneakers every day, and my shirts are wrinkled and three sizes too big. What can I do to look neater and actually make it a priority every day? -- "L" IN MIDDLE VILLAGE, N.Y.
DEAR "L": Everyone should have your problems! An effective way to make sure you look sharp at work each day would be to coordinate your outfit the night before so you'll have it ready to wear the next morning.
Talk to a hairstylist about creating a style you can manage in 10 minutes with a minimum of bother, and then determine how much (or little) makeup you need to look civilized. Many young women apply only mascara, a little rouge and lipstick, and look terrific.
Taking a few extra minutes to fix yourself up before leaving the house will ensure that you start the day feeling good about yourself. It's been my experience that every time I failed to do it, thinking I probably wouldn't meet anyone who knew me, I inevitably ran into someone I knew -- and was ashamed of myself because I didn't look my best. 'Nuff said?
DEAR ABBY: I am a family law specialist and feel compelled to add my 2 cents' worth regarding the action to be taken by "In Shock and Heartbroken," the dumped and virtually penniless wife of the surgeon. You said she should find an attorney on a contingency basis.
Although in some states attorneys may be able to accept family law cases on a contingency-fee basis, such an agreement in a dissolution action in California is generally thought to be "void against public policy" because, in the event of a reconciliation of the divorcing parties, such an agreement places a lawyer's financial interest in conflict with the client's interest.
However, "In Shock" should have no trouble obtaining counsel for little or no advance fee in California -- given that her husband is a surgeon (and presumably earns substantial amounts of money) -- because California Family Code 2030 provides that a court may make an award of attorney fees and costs to any party in an amount as may be reasonably necessary for attorneys' fees and the amount of maintaining or defending the proceedings. The purpose of this statute is to ensure equal access to legal representation to preserve litigants' rights. -- GEORGIA ANN MICHELL-LANGSAM, ATTORNEY- AT-LAW, ALAMO, CALIF.
DEAR GEORGIA ANN: I have heard from attorneys in at least six states saying exactly the same thing. Thank you for explaining that although "In Shock" may not be able to have an attorney take the case on a contingency basis, her ability to defend herself is still protected under the law.
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
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