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Let me start by saying I have a closet full of cute clothes. Cute skirts and sweaters, adorable pants and fun little tops, sassy jackets, some really awesome Kate Spade dresses and gosh, so many shoes.

I used to be part of the corporate arts world. After that, even before joining the ranks of people who work in khakis, polo shirts and the occasional pair of Crocs, I still dressed up.

I wore a pink sleeveless dress in my interview and an adorable, orange fringe dress for my first day on the job. Of course, my heels and purse matched, and no one commented or complained. “She’s the writer, the marketing person — she’s allowed to be flashy and weird,” I believed they mumbled.

And goodness knows I embraced the claim.

Every Sunday night, I went through my closet and drawers, and planned my outfits for the week. Consulting the weather app, I chose which would need a cardigan, and if boots or booties had to replace open toes. I picked out my earring and necklaces, as well as a scarf, when I was feeling overly anxious about my insanely aging neck.

Admittedly, I did bow to convention and buy some leggings, flats and big blousy sweaters that covered the more abundant parts of my four-foot, 11-inch frame. I even wore denim on Jeans Day and sported the YMCA T-shirt of the month that seemed to sprout through my marketing budget for various promos.

Then, COVID-19 claimed the plant and I started to work from home.

Admittedly, I loved it. After being a freelancer for years before my job as the marketing director for the Y, I knew the drill. You get up at the regular time and get to it — no excuses. I was being paid to work as a professional and not to be a “lounge lizard” in my sleep pants and my husband’s XXL T-shirt. So I did my hair and face, and put on work clothes to be ready for the endless Zoom, GoToMeetings and Facetime encounters that flitted through my day.

But something was missing.

My dog and cat did not appreciate my nice black pants. In fact, they shed like crazy on them as they became my new co-workers, never adhering to six feet, or even six inches, of social distancing. My heels served no purpose either. I was not standing during internet calls and my pets already knew I wasn’t fooling anyone with the platform wedges. I was sitting, sitting and sitting.

I still am.

Even though I do sit a lot in the office, I sit so much more on the job today. These days, I don’t have an ergonomic chair, but a pink velvet cushy one that is nooked in the corner of my bedroom, near natural light and an outlet for my docking station. There’s room on it for the dog, his blanket and a bed pillow for my back.

We look good on the calls — from the neck up.

What people don’t see is I’m often barefoot or wearing some awful slippers a well-intentioned relative thought I would like. I didn’t, but they serve the purpose of hiding my greatly-in-need-of-a-pedicure feet. They are also surprisingly comfortable, as are my tennis shoes, Sperrys and, now that the weather is warmer, flip flops.

My heels are gathering dust, even the knock-off Manolos.

I see them in my closet along with the spring dresses and skirts, slacks and sweaters – all suffocating in their dry-cleaning bags. They will not breathe until next year.

But, surprisingly, I am breathing now.

Today, I’m wearing shorts that I can’t zip and the ugly slippers. Yet, I’m ready for two Zoom calls with red lipstick applied, and a flowery blue and white top from Ann Taylor.

I am extremely productive in this new normal, logging more hours and less mindless chatting about the weather or who said what to whom in the world of strictly prohibited office gossip. The quiet is liberating and so is the uniform. I like that I can be covered in cat hair and wear pants without zippers.

My hope is for me and so many others, this is the new normal. And quite frankly, the old normal has rapidly gone out of style.

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Judi Christy

Judi Christy is the director of marketing and communication at the Akron Area YMCA.

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