My Wardrobe, Myself

The intersection of clothing, emotions, and life

NOTE:  This post was originally published on my previous blog, Recovering Shopaholic

Earlier this week, I posted an update on how I’m doing with my shopping and wardrobe goals for 2014.  In today’s post, I’ll share my progress thus far with what I’ve termed the 2014 “Full Life Project.”

Many of you have praised me for my honesty, so I’m going to level with you.  I wrote the other update first because I had more glowing progress to report.  Although transforming my relationship to shopping and my wardrobe is definitely not easy, it’s far more straightforward than improving my life at large.  The steps involved may require dedication and willpower to undertake, but at least I’m mostly aware of what I need to do in order to shop less, buy smarter, and streamline my closet.

Creating a New Life

Sometimes the Pathway Isn’t Clear…

The path to improve my life is much less clear and I’m often unsure of how to create a more fulfilling and balanced life for myself.  While I definitely want to trade my full closet for a full life, as my blog’s tagline specifies, the prescription for doing do often appears foggy and uncertain.  When I created my “Full Life Project” in January, I did my best to outline a plan of action that felt “doable” and like it would make a difference.  I realized that some modifications and course-correction might be needed along the way, but I had to start somewhere.

Below, I recap the various goals I set for my life at large and provide a brief update on my progress with each thus far.  At this point, I plan to stick with my initial goals for the year, but I’m also open to suggestions for changes I might make to increase my chances of creating a fuller life by year-end.   I always value the feedback I receive from readers and have modified many of my goals and actions as a result of the wisdom you’ve shared with me.  I appreciate that all of you read my words and I feel your support, even if you never leave a comment or email me. So thank you for accompanying me on my recovering shopaholic – and life – journey!

Striving for Simplicity and Joy in 2014

In my January post, before I delved into my specific life goals for 2014, I shared the theme I had selected as my focus for the year.  Since I was unable to narrow my theme down to one single word, I selected two:  simplicity and joy.  Not only did I want to shift my “more is more” ways and simplify my life, I also wanted to experience a lot more joy on a day-to-day basis.  I felt these two words work well together, as I particularly want to more fully enjoy the simple pleasures in life.

I have to admit that I’ve focused more on the “simple” part of the equation than on “joy” thus far.  I’ve been reading a lot of material from minimalism and simplicity bloggers and authors and have been working to pare down my activities and possessions to only those that add value to my life.  As I mentioned in this post, my husband and I took on “the Minimalism Game” after attending a lecture and book signing from The Minimalists. We’re at the tail end of that game and have managed to purge hundreds of additional possessions from our already pared-down home. As we strip away the items that aren’t contributing to our lives, we are experiencing an enhanced sense of freedom.  The saying, “whatever we own, owns us right back” is definitely true!

Addressing Information Overload

In addition to simplifying the physical contents of my home, I’ve also been working to eliminate unnecessary activities and information.  I’ve unsubscribed from a number of blogs and mailing lists that weren’t adding value to my life.   I still have a long way to go, however, as I continue to have more information to read than I have time available for reading.  I still read far more magazine and blog articles than I do books, and I have a number of books on hand (either in physical or digital form) that I’d like to read but don’t seem to get around to.

Being the “information junkie” that I am, I have a hard time letting go of both books and articles, as I fear I may miss out (that dreaded FOMO again…) on critical and life-changing information.  I’ve often written about my overloaded closet and my struggle to pare it down to a manageable level, but the truth is that I struggle far more in letting go of books.  This is something I’d like to conquer before the end of the year, as the guilty feeling I experience when perusing my bookshelves saps a lot of joy from my life, and that’s no good!

And Then There’s Joy…

Speaking of joy, I need to place a lot more focus on that half of my 2014 theme moving forward.  I still don’t feel as joyous as I’d like, but I have made some progress.  I’ve dropped a lot of the unrealistic expectations I used to put on myself for how much I should accomplish each day.  Instead, I set one to three goals for each day and allow myself to feel satisfied with my accomplishments once I have fulfilled those objectives.

I’m now far more likely to take breaks and accept opportunities for fun activities than in the recent past.   Although my love of walks is no secret here, I now more readily pause my to-do list to enjoy time outdoors.  I also accept invitations to do things more readily than before taking on the “simplicity and joy” theme.  While such invitations still don’t occur very often, I do feel a shift in terms of my priorities.  I need to continue to embrace the opportunity for joyous activities as much as possible.  I believe that doing so will not only have me feeling happier, but also healthier as well.

Goal #1:  Vastly Improve My Health

That’s the perfect lead-in to discussing my specific life goals for the year… This first goal has been my primary area of focus thus far.  I know I’ve alluded to my health challenges from time to time on the blog but haven’t really spelled out what they are.  My reason for that is not just a desire for privacy, although that does factor into the equation.   I mostly haven’t shared my health issues because there are so many of them!  Although I consider myself fortunate in that none of my ailments are life-threatening, they do rob a great deal of my quality of life, especially as they mount in number and severity.

Some of my health challenges are strange and difficult to explain.  Neither I nor any doctors or health experts have been able to diagnose some of them and draw connections between them.  I continue to search for answers but have been somewhat hindered due to sub-standard health insurance and the high cost of health-care in the United States.  Yet I do not give up and I will not do so as long as there are avenues to explore and new options to try.

Acceptance and Forgiveness

I realize that I may have to accept less than ideal health as a more permanent state of affairs rather than a temporary challenge.  I am fully aware of the tremendous wisdom contained within The Serenity Prayer, yet I am still grappling to understand that which I can and cannot change.  I’m also working to forgive myself for the tremendous damage I did to my body as a result of more than two decades of anorexia and bulimia (I write a bit about that struggle in this article from 2010).  I know I can’t turn back the clock and do things differently, but I also know that many of the health challenges I’m experiencing today have their roots in my starvation, poor eating habits, over-exercise, and purging behaviors.

Thus far, my other “Full Life Project” goals have taken a back seat to my number one goal for the year.  The saying that if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything is so true.  I am lucky in that I have my share of good days to offset the bad ones.  I’m aware that many people out there only have bad days and some have little or no hope for the future.

I believe there’s still hope for me to turn at least some of my conditions around, so that’s been a large part of my focus over the past few months. I’m a big fan of alternative treatment modalities and addressing the root cause of health conditions, so that’s mostly been the path I’ve been walking.  I hope to have good news to report on my health in my August “Full Life Project” update.

Goal #2 – Find Two New Hobbies

I have to admit that I have yet to even try any potential new hobbies this year.  There are some excellent options in this list sent to me by a reader, so I still plan to try at least a few of them (if not the five that I originally stated) before the end of the year.   I know I can’t wait until my health is perfect (or even much better) in order to work toward my other life goals.  I just have to start where I am today and do the best I can.  Perhaps embracing new hobbies will bring additional joy into my life that may potentially offset my health-related frustrations.  It’s worth a try, anyway.

Goal #3 – Make Three New Friends, Improve Existing Relationships

Sadly, I have not made any additional friends this year.  In order to do so, I have to get “out there” more often and connect with new people.  However, I do feel that I’ve improved some of my existing relationships and reconnected with a few friends in recent months.  My relationship with my mother, for one, is better than it used to me, in large part because I was willing to take a risk and communicate more openly and honestly with her.

I’ve also taken a risk and shared this blog with more people, including my shopaholic friend whom I’ve written about in the past.  Surprisingly, being more open has not led to rejection as I’d feared.  Instead, my honesty and openness has led me to feel closer to others, just as it does with the wonderful women who read this blog.

Goal #4 – Take on a New Volunteer Role

This goal is on hold at the moment, as my health is not in a place where I can commit to regular volunteer hours.   I know, however, that I contribute a lot to others by means of this blog and I feel that is more than sufficient at the moment.  I hope to pursue some in-person volunteer work later this year, though, both as a way to help others and as a means of meeting new people.

Goal #5 – Find New and Enjoyable Ways to Earn Money

In my initial “Full Life Project” post, I mentioned that I was writing an e-book.  The release of that book was delayed a bit due to my health challenges, but I’m happy to report that it will be available in May (and I will definitely announce it on the blog).  I’ve also started a second e-book that I plan to release in July.  I am also exploring the idea of releasing an e-course later in the year.

For the time-being, I’m going to stick with writing as my main career-related pursuit, because I enjoy it and it’s something I can do on my own schedule, when I’m feeling well.  I also believe writing is something I do well, so my hope is that I can begin to earn some income through my writing this year.  Don’t worry, though…  I will continue to produce lots of valuable free content here on the blog!

Goal #6 – Continue to Learn and Grow!

As I shared in my “What is a Full Life?” post, growth is one of my core values.  I firmly believe that when we stop growing, we start dying, so I endeavor to continue learning new things all the time.  I also have a deep thirst for knowledge (remember that “information junkie” distinction?) that I’m always striving to fulfill.  I am happy to report that I have continued to grow and learn during the initial months of 2014.  I have especially been reading a lot about health-related topics, listening to helpful podcasts, and watching some excellent documentaries about diet and health.

I am learning new tools and practices that I feel will help me be healthier and stronger over time.  I am even toying with the idea of writing about health-related issues, as well as additional personal development topics.   I had three other blogs prior to “Recovering Shopaholic,” including one titled “The Healing Project” (many of the articles from my previous blogs are available on this blog’s archives page here).  I may either revive an earlier blog or periodically write about those issues here.

I have yet to take any courses through Coursera or edX, but that option is still on the table and I hope to pursue it before the end of the year.  I may also take some in-person classes through continuing adult education in my area.  I have attended a few Meetups, primarily to see independent films, something I also love to do.  I plan to investigate other types of Meetups soon.

The Bottom Line

Now that I’ve shared my updates, I realize I’m doing better with my “Full Life Project” than I thought.  Sure I’d like to be farther along in terms of meeting new friends and developing new hobbies, but I’m not doing half-bad, all things considered.  I’m glad I took the time to review my goals and report on my progress, as it’s helped me acknowledge what I have done and recommit to doing still more in the coming months.  As with my shopping and wardrobe goals, I will review my life goals each month when I prepare my accountability updates.  I don’t want to wait another three or four months to revisit my goals for the year. It’s far better to look at them on a monthly basis and keep them “top of mind.”

How About Your Life Goals?

Now it’s your turn to chime in!  If any of you feel comfortable sharing your life goals for 2014 and how you’ve progressed thus far, I’d love to hear how you’re doing.  I always find it inspiring to read about other people’s goals and what they’ve set out to do in their lives.   Even if you’re struggling with your 2014 goals, I hope you’ll still choose to share.  I always value the support I receive from readers and I love how you all support each other as well.  Together we’re stronger than we are alone!

48 thoughts on “Full Life Goal Update – April 2014

  1. Mo says:

    I have been trying to make some changes to make my stay here more enjoyable. I don’t really have stated goals, but need to do many of the same kinds of things you do. Although making a new friend or two here is not on my list (as I’m moving away in a few months anyway) it is good to just ‘get out’ and interact. I try and be friendly with those I come into contact even if it’s just cashiers during transactions. It remains a fact that my BF is my sole acquaintance to spend time with here. Luckily, we enjoy each other 😉
    Fitness is a positive outlet for me. I decided to run a 10K, and trained for it. That was a good way to give focus to my days. Then, 2 days later I took on triathlon training. Signed up at the pool and have been starting back with lap swimming after too much time off. Again, the training gives me structure and focus for my days. BF and I also go to the gym together now once or twice a week.
    Along with that, I am trying to drink less wine. I enjoy it, and it isn’t a ‘problem’, I just know I’d be healthier with less. So I’ve been online with a moderation forum and although it’s not in person, it is interacting with like minded others.
    I hope most of these changes are ones that I will take with me and will continue to improve my life even when I get back home and ‘back to regular programming’ lol. I think you are right in that we need to grow. That is the goal, no matter where I find myself living. Growth and improvement.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Congrats on your ambitious fitness goals, Mo! I agree that these goals are a great way to focus your days in a positive way. Your goal to drink less wine is also a good one. Wine, like shopping, can be a good thing, but both can be overdone. Best wishes to you with all of your goals!

  2. Juhli says:

    I think you have made a lot of progress and had very ambitious goals to start with. Especially lovely from my perspective are your deeper and renewed relationships with your mother and existing friends. Opening up to them took courage. And the ebook as well as deciding to focus on writing – that is huge. Good luck with your health challenges and learning to live a happy life despite what you can’t change about them.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement, Juhli!

  3. Sophie says:

    Hi Debbie!

    This is my first time commenting, but I’ve been lurking and enjoying your blog for some time now. =)

    First off, good for you for the progress you’ve made and your firm commitment to trying and keeping yourself accountable to this blog! That in itself is really huge. I’m really inspired by your blog like lots of others. A writing career seems like a wonderful fit for you.

    I’m biased (because I work at one), but I was wondering if you use the public library in your area? Besides the obvious free access to books and movies (that you return=no clutter!), most libraries organize all kinds of programs and are thrilled to have new attendees. One branch in my area has a guided meditation every month! Resources can vary a lot from place to place, but where I live you can access your library account and browse the catalog online to reserve books (it is SO VERY MUCH like online shopping which I typically want to avoid at this point). You can also check out ebooks and even virtual copies of magazines.

    I’ve actually finally let go of some books I’d been holding onto for some time (because I REALLY SHOULD read them) because I added them to my To Read list on my library account (like a wish list of books to check out later). I know I can read it anytime, just like I could when it was on my shelf…but I can let the physical book go and know I won’t forget about it.

    I made a lot of progress since late last year in letting go of objects and “minimalizing” my life to some extent. I’ve cut down the size of my wardrobe significantly and I am actually really happy with it right now. Keeping that up and embracing a minimalist mindset are definitely goals for me. It is still hard for me to completely avoid browsing online and finding new things. I still seem to crave frequent doses of “new” and have trouble paring down past shopping every other week (and a lot of the time I seem to crack for something every week!).

    I have several hobbies I love (knitting, yoga, jogging, baking, and reading), but the temptation to online shop instead of doing any one of those things is still huge for me! I don’t neglect them completely; I just still shop too much. It’s hard to understand why I register browsing clothes as more “relaxing” or even fun than my other, better hobbies! Maybe because it is more mindless, but is that all there is to it??

    But anyways, I feel I’m rambling on at this point and should stop. Thanks again for another thought provoking post! Your blog is really unique and obviously helpful to a lot of people, myself included!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thank you for “de-lurking” and leaving this comment, Sophie! There is a public library not far from where I live. I’ve checked out books from there before (not recently), but haven’t looked into their programs and events. Will do, though – thanks for the suggestion! Congrats on reducing the size of your wardrobe and letting go of books and other objects. As for the hobbies, I really “get” what you’re saying. Shopping can be very compelling and provide a “rush” that other hobbies don’t. However, I’m hoping to find some hobbies that will balance out the shopping, at least to some degree. Glad you like my blog and are finding it helpful!

  4. Kayla says:

    Debbie, I think you’re doing very well. Congratulations on your book! I’m very much looking forward to hearing more about it. I hope you can find some answers for you health issues.
    I’m afraid I’m not doing well as I’d like with the initial goals I set this year, but I had an unexpected work opportunity come my way that at least partly fulfills a goal I had for a couple of years in the future, so that’s a good thing.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for your encouragement, Kayla! Congrats on your unexpected work opportunity and best of luck with your other goals! Sometimes we have to re-adjust our goals a bit based upon what comes along in our lives. The other stuff will probably still get done, but the timeline may be a bit different.

  5. Susan says:

    As usual, you have much to say of great value.

    I do have a thought or two on friendship.

    From my observation, friendships that are deep and abiding are usually based on shared values. I don’t know that hobbies and interests necessarily lead to deep friendships. I don’t know that seeking “joy” leads to friendships either.

    I am sometimes surprised by those who become friends as well as those who do not. I will say that people who are close by and that you can see regularly are more likely to become close friends. (Obviously, there can be close friends who live at a distance, but my guess is that most of the friendships formed during a time when you saw a lot of each other.)

    Friendship will lead to a certain loss of control over your life. It will happen that you put aside your time, needs and preferences to meet the time, needs and preferences of that friend. (Of course, in a healthy friendship, there is a certain amount of reciprocity … but nonetheless, it is unlikely to be “equal” at any point.) This is to say that friendship is not about meeting your needs. It is not about having control. It is about caring about that person as much as you care about yourself.

    I don’t know that a self-help program is the best way to achieve the goal of “friendship” but it certainly can meet the goal of increasing the number of acquaintances … which can be a good thing in and of itself. The problem is that “self-help” is focused on your needs and goals (again … a good thing), and friendship isn’t.

    I expect to see some very interesting thoughts from you on this subject in the coming months. You take ideas, think about them and run with them!


    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for sharing your insights on friendship, Susan. I agree that shared values is probably the most important factor in friendship, at least for those friendships that are deep and lasting. Having the same hobbies and interests only goes so far. For instance, my husband bikes with a group of guys and is in a flying club (he flies small planes), but he doesn’t connect on a deep level with any of these people. He enjoys the activities, but he doesn’t have very many close friends, either. We’re very lucky to have each other, but we could both benefit from more connections. There aren’t any easy answers and connecting with people takes time. I remain hopeful, though, and will definitely keep everyone posted.

  6. Katy says:

    You have come so far – much further than I think you realize. When you write about your mother it makes me think that as you relax and trust, or accept your mother more, you will find it easier with friendships, old or new. You mention meditation. If you go to meditation classes you may get more out of it, and meet more people who may or may not become friends.

    I’m so impressed by your minimalization efforts. I find it is a slow but ongoing battle, but an enjoyable one. Lucky for me it’s enjoyable as I don’t think it will come to an end.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I appreciate your kind words, Katy. I think meditation classes could be a good thing for me. I agree that I need to relax and accept others – and myself – more. Being a “control freak” like I am doesn’t lead to much inner peace or connection with others. Like you, I find my minimization efforts enjoyable and plan to continue paring down to only those things that add value to my life. I am feeling more peaceful as a result and look forward to increased peace moving forward.

  7. FrugalFashionista says:

    Debbie it’s definitely much harder to tackle the life goals than to organize a few closets… So don’t be discouraged, you are doing really well and I’m surprised to hear how many new things you have started. You will have to keep doing them for a while, then they become second nature. And getting back in touch with people requires time and patience and every attempt will not be successful – people have their own issues and busy lives. It sounds wonderful that you have been able to get closer to your mother….

    I tried a form of the ‘information diet’ recently and it was great (I mostly limited time spent online). I’m pretty aware of my limited time and if I choose to read a book or learn a new skill it means I won’t have time to do many other things. I’ve done a lot of purging in the past (got rid of piles of magazines, unsubscribed everything). I second the idea of using the public library. Limit yourself to 1-3 titles, otherwise you will have a lot of unread library books at home. I’ve started to read more fiction lately, I tend to prefer nonfiction but feel that a great novel can be much more satisfying. I also keep free opening chapters on my Kindle but am only allowed to make a purchase if I have finished what I was reading before and read the opening chapter. This keeps things much more manageable.

    I’ve had a strange weekend. Everything was going really well and then I realized I will need an evening dress next week. (I need a full length gown about once in a decade.) I could have used a second hand gown but somehow I talked myself into ‘just looking online’ and after a few hours spent in a daze I had ordered 9 dresses to try on and, as collateral damage, found and purchased a coat that I really wanted last year and that was now half price somewhere. I’ll do a lot of returning next week – the second hand gown idea is still the best – but this just illustrates how poorly I can control my online shopping when I’m ‘in the zone’ and how dangerous ‘just looking’ can be… Also, staying shopping free requires willpower and self-control and even momentary lapses can be really damaging.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for your insights, FrugalFashionista. I like the idea of the “information diet” and the practice of reading the free chapters on Kindle before buying the book. I think I’ll take that one on. Sorry to hear about your strange weekend and the overshopping online. I think we are all prone to relapses even if we’ve been doing well for awhile. Luckily, you realize what happened and can do damage control. Online shopping can be particular dangerous because it’s so easy to do. I hope you find a gown that works for you. I find that type of shopping stressful, but I like the secondhand idea of you can make it work. Best of luck to you. Forgive yourself, learn from the experience, and move on. You’ve been doing so well and I’m sure you’ll continue to do well!

  8. I was going to second the library idea above. Not only do libraries have lots of programs to attend (in my little town, there are book groups, knitting groups, scrabble, etcetc at the library), but the directors are always looking for people to LEAD PROGRAMS. I think your “activity enrichment” could well emerge from the blog. Why not discuss leading a group on shopping issues with your library director? Why not pitch a group on blogging (since you created a successful blog). Sometimes you even get paid for this. And it’s a great way to meet people.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I had no idea that libraries had so many programs! I will definitely look into the opportunities in my area based upon what you and others wrote. I may find a good fit for me in at least one of the offerings. There are quite a few libraries in my area and one of them is only about a mile from where I live.

  9. P.S. The library group would also be a great way to publicize your forthcoming ebooks!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Good thinking!

  10. Prim says:

    Have you looked in to the auto immune protocol, to perhaps help your health? And yin yoga for a hobby. Best wishes on your continuing journey. It is a precious thing to share

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I haven’t heard of the autoimmune protocol before, but I will investigate it to see if it might work for me. I have done yoga before, but haven’t heard of yin yoga. Thanks for the suggestions, Prim.

  11. Amy says:

    In the DC region where I live, there are volunteer organizations that are designed to harness the talents of busy people. One group, called One Brick DC, lets people pick an event and volunteer their help for that one thing on that one day. No fuss no muss–like a meetup for volunteers. It could be a low risk way to try different things until something clicks. Perhaps you have something like that in your area. Don’t forget that you could use your talents in fashion for Dress for Success, or your writing skills to teach English literacy.

    A natural introvert, I’ve learned that not every friendship I have has to be super close to be valuable. I have neighborhood friends I chat with when I walk my dog, movie buddies who relish indie afterglow as much as I do, friends I like to shop with, and of course, those treasured long time, true blue, extra special friends. Every connection “counts.” Have fun!

    1. FrugalFashionista says:

      Reading today’s NY Times, I saw this article – I firmly believe that small, insignificant encounters with random strangers can really increase our happiness –

      1. Anne says:

        Thanks for posting this. I had a pleasant conversation with an older woman while thrifting today. It was the highlight of my shopping trip. I left without buying anything but with a happy feeling in my heart. Maybe this is why many of us enjoy shopping – the social connection with strangers really does make us feel better!

    2. Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for the suggestions, Amy. I like the idea of one-time volunteering and feel that might be a better fit for me right now. I do worry about feeling very bad on the day of the event, though, and needing to cancel. My health is very unpredictable. But I will look into it.

      As an introvert, I agree with your comments on friendship. I try to derive value from all of my connections, even those that are more on the surface or a one-time thing. I like the article that FrugalFashionista posted and I agree with Anne about enjoying connecting with others while shopping. The feeling of being less alone has definitely been a big part of it for me, but I know that I don’t have to shop to connect with people. I just need to be open and put myself out there a bit more…

  12. I love your honesty and I really look forward to your postings. Just one thought…you often hear people say happiness comes from within. That is because “within” is where our connection to source is. That connection gets strengthened as we learn to accept ourselves and everything in the world around us through forgiveness and releasing our habits of judging. As we learn to truly love ourselves, we offer love to others which means that love comes back to us.

    Although organized houses, good books, friendships and helping others are things that contribute to little moments of joy in our lives, real joy comes from something else entirely.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      These words are so wise and really resonated with me, Happy Forgiver. I have been working on loving myself for a very long time. I’ve made progress to be sure, but I still have a long way to go. It’s a very worthy effort, though, and I plan to continue it. I agree with you the real joy comes from connection to source. Spirituality is one of my highest values and I haven’t been honoring it enough recently. I see it a bit differently from a lot of people, but I need to incorporate more of it in my life. I agree that forgiveness and letting go of judgments are very important. I think I need to read YOUR blog more often!

  13. Bette says:

    Wow! I found myself wanting to comment on every paragraph you wrote. What a great post!

    I broke my foot nine months ago and have had to come to terms with perhaps never walking normally, without pain, again. I never would have believed that physical limitation would affect me — but it has been hugely depressing. Everything I loved — walking, gym, bicycling, hiking, buying shoes (!!) — is painful. So, I really sympathize with what you wrote about having to accept physical pain. It changes everything.

    Now, for the psychic pain! For 30 years, I have worked in the world of men. All (and I mean ALL) of my coworkers, peers, mentors, confidantes, and people who know my story are guys from work. The reality is, though, they’re not really friends. I recently changed jobs (to another all-male enclave across town), and would you believe, not one of these former coworkers has called, written, invited me for coffee or a drink, or even asked me to go shopping with him. LOL! My eyes were opened — I need female friends. It might be too late to make any! But, now I know why I’m so lonely!

    I looked at the world’s greatest list of hobbies that you mentioned — sadly, not one of them is appealing to me! What is WRONG with me?!?! I guess the things I enjoy daily — cooking, reading, writing — must be my hobbies. Seems kind of boring.

    Supporting you from afar!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I can relate to SO much of what you wrote, Bette. Thank you! I’m so sorry to hear about your foot and your continued pain. You know I can relate… I can also relate to the friendship issue. I used to have a lot of “work friends,” but when I left the corporate world, most of those people dropped out of my life. I think female friendships can be deeper, but they aren’t all that easy to find. I don’t think it’s too late for us to make them, though! As for hobbies, I think cooking, reading, and writing are very worthy hobbies! I need to cultivate that cooking one, as it will be helpful for my health to eat a lot better. I don’t know if I will ever love it, but it’s possible…

  14. Carina says:

    It sounds like you still have enormously high expectations of yourself – chill out, read a book, you’re doing really well!

    I try to focus on just one or two goals at a time, or else it gets stressful. I have also reorganized my wardrobe, but only then thought more about my career – and unexpectedly decided to start my own business, having realized that freedom is what will make me most happy.

    There’s a fine balance between discipline and enjoyment. I think you can relax a bit (just not by shopping!) 🙂

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      You’re right, Carina. I still have very high expectations for myself, but I’m working to tone them down. That’s part of my “simplicity and joy” theme. I like the idea of focusing on one or two goals at a time. I used to have a much longer list – LOL! I agree that there’s a fine balance between discipline and enjoyment. Still trying to find it… Best of luck to you with your new business!

  15. Cornelia says:

    I spent a lot of time thinking about this post while going about my day yesterday. As you said, it is a lot easier to unclutter a closet than a mind, but I think that is where the work begins. Dealing with what life throws our way and coming out on top is hard work. I remembered a TED talk I listened to a few times titled ‘Simply Happy’. It is a compilation of various speakers on the how, what and why of finding happiness. Each speaker approaches the topic from a different angle, but it always comes down to the point of the effort it takes to achieve moments of happiness.
    As always, you have written a most thoughtful post.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for sharing about the Ted Talk, Cornelia. I just found it and downloaded it to listen to very soon (here’s the link in case others read this and are interested: Sounds like it’s right up my alley. I look forward to listening!

  16. Tonya says:

    I think that you are doing much better than you think. Writing an e-book is a huge accomplishment! As well as developing deeper connections with the people in your life and what you’ve done with this blog. That’s quite a bit.
    I know when I first started to try to make changes I thought that they would have to be big, grand gestures. When I did the everyday things that I was supposed to be doing, paid more attention to things I used to love like watching baseball and painting, and reached out to people more I really felt like my life was so much fuller.
    I also enjoy adding in one time events like travel, concerts, plays, or games throughout the year. Having something to look forward to really helps me to be more focused on enjoying life, rather than trying to fix it.
    I would encourage you to try a few things as new hobbies. You could do them when you felt well without having to make a commitment. I just hung up a painting that I had done back in 2003 in my office. I’m hoping that it will keep me motivated to continue working on the one I started. When I paint something that I think looks good I get a similar feeling to the “shopping high”, but better because it’s something I’ve done rather than something I’ve bought.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      You make some good points, Tonya. I guess I should acknowledge myself for what I’ve accomplished thus far! I agree with you that little changes can be very powerful over time. I love that you are enjoying so many other things besides shopping these days! That’s so great that you hung up the painting from 2003 in your office and have started painting again. My ebook is finished (will be published very soon) and I got a bigger high from that than from any shopping trip. I also get a high when I publish many of my blog posts. I will try some new hobbies – or revisit old ones – soon. I won’t put a lot of pressure on myself; rather, I will focus on enjoyment and fun. I definitely want more enjoyment and fun in my life!

  17. Jeri B says:


    This is a note of thanks. You have a blog that I’m keeping because you inspire me. Today its just a small thing: getting rid of blogs that I receive notices for, but no longer read. They turn from helpful sources to dead weights that nag at me to do more. Thanks for helping me frre myself from them.


    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks so much, Jeri! Congrats on letting go of other blogs and I’m glad you decided that mine is worth keeping. We don’t need those “dead weights” that nag at us to do more. Here’s to freedom!

  18. KimM. says:

    Debbie, this is yet another wonderful blog post! Very insightful. I think you’ve made great progress over the last year or so. I also agree it’s easier to organize or declutter than it is to create a full life. Since I retired 4 months ago I’ve tried 2 new things – sewing and a pizza class. I enjoyed the sewing class but don’t have room at home for all the paraphernalia that is needed. The pizza making class was good but I had a difficult time understanding the French chef instructing it and felt like I learned more from a Craftsy lesson. I did enjoy the camaraderie of being in a class with others who wanted to perfect making homemade pizza. Surprisingly I met another nurse who works at the same hospital and has the same director where I used to work. Small world. But even though I enjoyed this I can see how a class may not be conducive to making friends because you’re really there to listen to the instructor. I don’t know what I’m going to try next. I think I need to revisit my goal of losing weight and getting healthy again. Just saw myself in some photos and I didn’t like what I saw. There’s some motivation to get me off my butt and exercising, as well as eating less junk. Thanks for being so open and honest. I can’t wait to read your e-books!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m glad you liked this post, Kim. Congrats on trying two new things this year, even if neither of them ended up being a “keeper.” I agree that it can be hard to meet people in classes, unless the class is ongoing and allows for some interaction between the students. Best wishes with your goal of losing weight and getting healthier. I’m sure you will feel a lot better if you exercise and eat less junk. Junk is so compelling, isn’t it? But it’s not good for us (too bad it has to taste so good, though).

  19. Lisa says:

    It sounds like some great progress so far! I have also struggled with making more friends and finding activities I enjoy that are not centered around shopping. I recently started my blog again, I’ve started writing a book, and I’ve increased both how often and how long I am horseback riding (one day to three). I’m still trying to figure out what other ‘new’ activities to do since I’ve been unsuccessful so far with the meetup groups in my area. I also have been trying to do more activities with DH which is tough because of health problems. But since we cannot ride together we try taking a walk, sitting outside on a bench in a park, or time over a cuppa tea at home.

    It’s interesting how often minimalism pairs with trying to slow down overshopping. I adore minimal blogs and advice and have tried to pare down the possessions in the home beyond my personal closet. It’s amazing how much stuff you can cull, even when you think you’ve got nothing to get rid of.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I think you’re making excellent progress, Lisa. I love your blog and I think it’s very exciting that you’re writing a book and doing more horseback riding. Spending more time with your husband is also a wonderful thing. I think the fact that you’re having more quality time together is more important than what you’re doing. I agree about minimalism and cutting down on overshopping. For me, the minimalism came first and the shopping has been one of the last die-hards of my previously “maximalist” self. Now I have to tackle all of my files and online clutter!

  20. Grasshopper says:

    I agree that the “full life” part can be really hard. I think you are making wonderful progress and I am glad to see that you have chosen writing to focus on as a potential career. Also, remember that lots of little steps equate to big steps over time. It is good that you had successful attempts with reaching out to your mother and friend. I understand the fear of rejection. Lately, I have been conquering some of those fears myself. After gaining courage to speak with my Beloved about an issue troubling me, we have been talking over several things over the last few weeks. And, you know what? None of these conversations ended in an argument, so I am gaining confidence, which is what it really is all about.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for your kind words and insights, Grasshopper. I agree that all of those little steps add up! Congrats on reaching out to your Beloved. I’m glad that the conversations have gone well and are helping you to gain confidence. I wish you continued progress and resolution of the issues that have been troubling you.

  21. Terra says:

    Debbie, lovely post. It’s inspiring, beautifully written, heartfelt and honest to the bone. And it proves that you are doing far better with your life goals than you previously thought. Expectations are not always a good thing. As long as we take care of the moments, let go of the outcome, and do the best we can (and you are) the years will take care of themselves, and it will lead you to good people and places.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I really appreciate your wonderful compliments, Terra. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I agree with you about expectations. I think it’s a wise concept from Buddhism that we let go of expectations. I try to live in the moment, but I’m not always successful. But life is definitely easier if we take it one step at a time!

  22. Meli says:

    I also enjoyed reading this post. Congratulations with achieving so much in such a short time Debbie!!!

    I’m having mixed success- my concrete goals are going well but my more difficult to define ones are just that- difficult to define! I’ll have to write a post sometime. Overall to focus on the positives, I have already met or almost met my goal for reducing debt by $12k and am making progress in almost all the others. My words were Simplify and Change, which so far is working!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for chiming in, Meli! I appreciate your congrats. I know some goals can be difficult to define. You can see how I struggled with mine. We just have to do our best and revise as needed. I’m glad your words for the year are serving you well. You’re doing AMAZING with reducing your debt – SO good for you!

  23. Amy says:

    Hi Debbie! Skimming through the comments, I realize I made a mistake in recommending “Dress for Success” as a volunteer organization. I meant to say “Suited for Change.” It’s an organization in DC that collects professional clothing and distributes it to women who are looking for work and can’t afford appropriate clothes. Other major cities have similar programs. It struck me that the skills required: interest in women’s clothes and fashion, culling, sorting, assembling outfits, etc. would allow you to indulge your passions without spending anything–and while helping others. Just a thought. Keep up the good work!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for the clarification, Amy. I hadn’t heard of “Suited for Change.” I just looked them up and it seems they are only in DC, but perhaps there is something similar where I live. There IS Dress for Success here and I tried TWICE to get in touch with them regarding volunteering (back when I was feeling better). I left voicemail messages but they never called me back! I do think that working with an organization like that could be a good fit for me. I’m tabling the volunteer work until later in the year, but perhaps I will revisit Dress for Success or try to find another charity like that.

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