DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been binge-watching TV series for a few seasons now. I feel so embarrassed, but it really is addictive. Because of the way programming is offered now, binge-watching has become a trend. I hate to say it, but I sometimes choose to watch these shows rather than going to work on time or doing my chores. My family thinks I’ve gone loco. Even so, it’s hard to turn it off. What advice do you have for me? -- On a Loop, Santa Fe, New Mexico
DEAR ON A LOOP: Just because something is a trend doesn’t make it good for you, which is something you have learned with the experience of binge-watching TV. This trend has blossomed so quickly and broadly that media outlets write about it all the time as if it’s a great thing. As you are experiencing, anything that takes on the behavior of an addiction is not great. Instead, it represents being out of control.
What you must grasp is that you can regain control. Start by evaluating the quality of your life right now, including listing what you value the most. By writing down each person, relationship, goal and responsibility, you will see right before your eyes which items measure higher than your current favorite TV program.
Separately, list the things that stand in your way. This could be anything from the binge-watching to what you eat, drink and pay attention to that is distracting. Compare the two lists. Just reviewing these two topics should help you reconsider how you spend your time. Give yourself parameters for when you are allowed to turn on any device that will show your favorite programs. Don’t turn any of them on outside that time frame. Give yourself a specific window after work hours when you can indulge in your favorite pastime. Turn it off when the time is up.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have almost a dozen black-tie events to attend this holiday season. I have a new job, and it requires me to go out a lot. What it doesn’t offer is a wardrobe budget. I can’t afford to buy fancy dresses every other week. It’s crazy. How can I go to these functions and show that I know how to do my job without going completely broke? -- Cinderella, Bethesda, Maryland
DEAR CINDERELLA: You are in luck! Today there are a number of retail establishments that offer rental options for all styles of clothing, including eveningwear. Many will mail dresses to you in several sizes for a week’s fee, which is much lower than the cost of the dress. In this way you can rent a dress and return it, giving you more budget to rent for the whole season. Some reputable sites include renttherunway.com, gwynniebee.com (for plus-size fashions) and couturecollective.com. Look online yourself. There are lots of choices, both local and national, that can help you look great without spending too much money.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)