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DEAR HARRIETTE: Many of my friends are about to be empty nesters, including me. My son is graduating from high school and moving away for school. The same goes for the kids of three of my closest friends. We are all in a bit of a panic about what life will be like after our kids are gone. We are all married, but that doesn’t necessarily mean everything is perfect. My husband and I bicker all the time. I don’t know how much I will be able to tolerate after our son, our buffer, is gone. What do you recommend? — No More Buffer
DEAR NO MORE BUFFER: I’m in the same boat as you, so I have started interviewing parents of older children who have already gone through this process as well as a few psychologists. The advice has been consistent: You have to make a plan for what your life will be like after your child is gone. What do you want for yourself and for your marriage? How will you spend the time that you once focused on your child? One psychologist suggested that it is important to look beyond work responsibilities. While it may be easy to fill your schedule with work, that is not a long-term solution. You need to find activities that you and your spouse can enjoy together as well as things that you can do on your own for your personal fulfillment. Do not delay. Start now!
DEAR HARRIETTE: I was invited to go on a work retreat with my new job. I read the agenda and saw that there will be a lot of outdoor sports activities. I am overweight and, sadly, move slowly. They don’t necessarily know this because we met during the pandemic and they have seen me from the shoulders up only.
Part of me feels like I just shouldn’t go to the retreat. I don’t want to be embarrassed when people look at me and see I’m not fit. I do great work, but being physically present has always been hard for me. Working from home and looking at people through Zoom worked great for me. This is totally different, and I feel self-conscious, but I want to be a team player. If I go, I have to tell them about my limitations. I don’t want to be judged, though. How should I handle this? — No Sports
DEAR NO SPORTS: Speak to your boss and be honest about what you can and cannot do. Find out if they can make accommodations for you during the athletic time. Legally, they should ensure that anyone who is unable to participate in planned activities has alternative options. You may be surprised to learn that you are not the only one who has trepidation around the sports plans. Stand up for yourself. Explain that you want to be there as an active participant, but your body is not ready for the sporting events.