My Wardrobe, Myself

The intersection of clothing, emotions, and life

In a comment on my last post, a reader reminded me that there are only a little over two months left in the decade. Since I’ve been blogging, I commonly reflect on the end of each year, but I don’t think I’ve ever formally looked back on a decade as it drew to a close. I was planning on doing an update on my “freedom” theme for 2019 today, but I’m going to take a bit of a different approach in this post.

Instead of reflecting on the progress I’ve made in terms of my freedom and sharing what else I’d like to shift before 2019 ends, I’m going to highlight the things I do not wish to bring forward with me into 2020 if at all possible. I may not succeed in leaving behind all of my burdens, but I believe in the power of intention to help facilitate positive transformation. So here’s my list, from the easiest to the most difficult…

Moving forward into 2020

What attitudes, beliefs, and practices do you want to leave behind in the 2010’s?

Uncomfortable Clothes

This is something that I’ve already made great progress with and it’s had a definite positive impact on my life. For years, I shoehorned myself into tight, thigh-sucking pants and jeans simply because they were “in style,” but I was often miserable. The pant styles of the last decade or so have not been favorable for either my body type or my physical comfort, but I mostly had to just wear what was available to me. Because I’m tall, I typically only have about a tenth of the options that other women have, so that makes things that much harder. However, this year I have spent the time and the energy to find some better alternatives and I feel much more comfortable, both physically and emotionally, as a result.

I already feel highly self-conscious about my lower half, so encasing it in clothing that made me feel like a sausage did me no favors. I will leave the pants and jeans styles that require staying within a very narrow weight range to others. If I don’t look trendy or even “current” in my looser-fitting bottoms, so be it. Yes, the tide seems to be turning toward wider-leg styles, but most of those styles are also high-rise, so that again leaves me in an uncomfortable zone with my short-waisted body and ongoing digestive issues. Most of my new and more comfortable pants are cropped, so I will have to search far and wide for full-length styles for the cooler months that are on the horizon, but it will be worth it. If I have to, I’ll spend the upcoming cooler months in athleisure. No more uncomfortable clothes for me in 2020 and beyond!

Unnecessary Tracking

For years, I have tracked anything and everything, from what I ate and how I spent most of my waking moments, to maintaining daily and weekly to-do lists that I couldn’t possibly complete. I did all of this tracking because I thought it would make me more effective and more successful. I feared that if I stopped keeping such close tabs on everything, I would be even less successful than I already am. While it’s true that I like data and statistics, the resulting information overload from all of the lists and logs only served to add to my already abundant anxiety. In recent months, I started to question if it was worth it to keep tracking things so vigilantly.

At the beginning of this year, I decided to stop tracking what I wore after having done so for eight years. At first, I was a bit scared to make this change because I thought I’d end up with a closet full of “benchwarmers.” However, I was tired of all of the number-crunching and the guilt around not wearing my clothes often enough. So I gave up all forms of wardrobe tracking beyond “the hanger trick”- and I’ve never looked back! Since such a burden has been lifted by giving up the wardrobe tracking, why not ease up on other forms of tracking, too? I’m not sure exactly what I will give up and what I will retain in this arena, but I like the idea of paring the tracking back and just letting myself be a bit more.

Unnecessary Guilt

It has been said that guilt is a wasted emotion, so I must be wasting a lot of time! I don’t think a day ever goes by on which I don’t feel guilty for one thing or another. Interestingly, I feel a lot more guilt for the things I don’t do that for what I have actually done. And so much of what I feel guilty about isn’t even a real transgression. One of the primary sources of my guilt is around not being in touch with the people in my life often enough. Despite the fact that I truly believe that the “quality over quantity” philosophy applies to most situations, including personal contact, I’m burdened by guilt for not keeping up with today’s “always on,” constantly in touch culture.

I’ve mentioned my love/hate relationship with Facebook a number of times. A major source of my disdain and anxiety surrounding that medium is the guilt that it engenders in me. Because most other people seem to check in there on a daily (or even many times per day) basis, I feel guilty and wrong for not following suit, even though it’s been a very positive thing for me to take a few steps back. Removing the Facebook and Messenger apps from my phone helped to significantly decrease my anxiety, and I have no intention of ever adding them back. I’m considering taking the Gmail app off of my phone, too, as well as only checking text messages at predetermined times (as Cal Newport recommends in Digital Minimalism).

I also like Newport’s idea of “conversation office hours” and I’m thinking of giving that a try, too. I believe I’d feel a lot less guilty if I created a dedicated time for receiving and initiating calls, although there are bound to be some “gotchas” involved (like “phone tag”). But I’d probably feel less inadequate, anxious, and guilty about staying in touch – and I’d likely do a better job of it, too.

Symptoms Controlling My Life

For years, I have suffered from a plethora of health issues. I’ve mentioned this from time to time on the blog, but I never go into too much detail, partly because that’s not what this blog is about and partly because “it’s complicated.” I don’t even want to ponder how many plans I’ve cancelled due to my many symptoms, not to mention the many plans I simply never made in the first place. I have put my life on hold for far too long and I have lost many days, weeks, months, and even years because of pain and fear.

I’m tired of it! I may never be free of the symptoms that have become albatrosses around my neck and have robbed me of my life force for decades, but I want to be free of the fear. So often I say no to taking on anything new because I fear that I won’t be able to see it through. I fear that I will disappoint others and myself, so I sit on the sidelines of life over and over again. I feel like a bystander of my own life and meanwhile I keep getting older. Now I find myself smack dab in the center of middle-aged with the senior years fast approaching.

Part of why I struggled so much with overshopping was because shopping was something I could do when I felt well enough to go out. It didn’t require making plans that I might later have to cancel. The stores are always welcoming and when I got dressed in regular clothes and ventured out, I felt more normal and more alive. I was out among other people and I felt like I was more a part of the world instead of the sick person who didn’t leave the house on most days.

Of course, there are many other things I can do besides shop and I want to do more of those things. I also want to make more plans and take the risk that I might occasionally have to cancel them. But I want to challenge myself to see plans through whenever possible, as often when I push myself, it ends up being okay even if don’t feel fully up to par. I can always go home early if I need to, and I’ll already be wearing comfortable clothes because I’m saying no to uncomfortable clothing in 2020 and beyond!

The Opinions of Others

I worry far too much about what other people think of me. I don’t like to meet new people because I fear they will judge me, and I often don’t want to interact with people I haven’t seen in a while because I don’t have a good story to tell in terms of career and “success.” I even wore the uncomfortable clothes because I wanted other people to think I was “cool” and stylish. My gray hair transition took much longer than it should have because I feared criticism and judgment for walking around with two-toned hair, but the highlights and toners I used to try to camouflage it made me look worse and set back my progress.

I have long felt like the black sheep of my family and I didn’t feel like I fit in with my peer group at school, either. I still don’t feel like I belong in many groups because I’ve taken some unconventional paths in life, including not having children and switching jobs/careers multiple times. I often feel embarrassed to speak my truth and be who I am, but that costs me far too much and I’m ready to be done with it. No matter who we are, not everyone will like us, but so what? We won’t like everyone else, either. Yet as long as we find some people with whom we share mutual love and respect, that’s truly all we need.

I’m tired of apologizing for who I am and how I’ve lived my life. I’m tired of avoiding social situations because I don’t have a good answer to, “What do you do?” It’s a boring question anyway! I remember reading about someone who instead asked, “What is your dream?” and The Minimalists like to ask, “What are you passionate about?” In most instances, those questions will elicit far more interesting conversations, and those who are lucky enough to earn a living from pursuing their dreams and engaging in their passions can serve as an inspiration to others. Additionally, there is so much more to us than what we do or don’t do for work anyway, so why not talk about those things?

Obsessive Worry and Rumination

The Serenity Prayer is a tough one for me. I get so stuck on “the wisdom to know the difference” that I lack the peace and serenity I crave so deeply in life. On a fundamental level, I believe that I should be able to control everything and generate the outcomes I want in virtually all situations. This leads to excessive worry and rumination, which is definitely not compatible with any type of serenity! And when things don’t go my way, I always make it my fault. Personal responsibility is great, but sometimes we accept responsibility when it’s not ours to take. I’m overly self-critical (I could also add that one to this list!) and I hold myself to far higher standards that I have for other people, which is also exhausting.

As I move into 2020, I want to stop worrying about anything and everything and I want to stop the obsessive rumination that also plagues me. I want to stop second-guessing everything I do. Sometimes we have to make the best choice in the moment and then try not to look back. We can’t always know what’s right and best, no matter how much we research a situation.  In many instances, we’ll be able to course correct if necessary, but even when we can’t, most decisions aren’t life or death issues anyway. We have to do our best and move on.

There’s a saying that worrying is praying for what we don’t want to happen. Most of what we worry about never comes to fruition and the worry simply serves to rob us of joy in the moment. I’m tired of stealing my own joy. Old habits die hard and I know this one will be hard to let go of, but I have to try. I have to kick my obsessive worrying and rumination habit to the curb and live more in the moment. Doing so will bring me more of the peace and freedom that I desire. Down with worry!

What I Want to Keep

I could probably add a few more items to the list, but the above pretty much encapsulates what I most want to leave behind. But there are also many things about myself and my life that I will gratefully take forward with me into the coming decade. I will happily embrace those I love most, including my wonderful husband and kitties, as well as the handful of friends who love and accept me for who I am. I will also continue to cherish this blog and my readers. Additionally, I am grateful for the personal qualities that will continue to guide my path, such as my curiosity, creativity, compassion, and courage. I hope that these traits, as well as my intelligence and love of learning, will accompany me for the rest of my days.

I look forward to embarking upon a new decade and I know that writing will continue to be a big part of my life. Thank you for your readership and your support, whether it has been for months or for years.  Now I’d love to read about what you want to leave behind in the 2010’s and what you plan to carry forward into 2020 and beyond. I invite you to share your thoughts on that topic, as well as how you’d like to finish out 2019. I’ll be back soon with an update on my “freedom” theme, along with how I’m doing with my “half project” and other topics.

17 thoughts on “Thoughts as the Decade Fades

  1. Tara C says:

    Hallelujah on comfortable clothes! I have done the same this year. And I have two big trash bags of shoes ready to go to charity because they no longer fit my lifestyle and/or are not comfortable. I am only keeping things I feel good in.

    I never did any tracking, but I have felt plenty of guilt about buying too much and not using it all. I don’t have any truly serious health problems, but I do have anxiety and a dodgy stomach, and those things often keep me from making plans or following through on them. But like you, even if I don’t feel great, I can push myself to go and usually end up having a good time. And of course my anxiety is often provoked by excessive worry and rumination.

    What I want to focus on going forward is a sense of gratitude and having enough, controlling my impulsiveness and getting my finances back on track. Instead of worrying about the future, I am telling myself that I am strong enough to handle whatever life throws at me. I want to let go of worry, anxiety and impulsivity, to find my inner peace.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Good for you for passing on the uncomfortable shoes, Tara, and for only keeping things you feel good in. So much easier that way! I struggle with anxiety a lot, too, which makes it hard to do some things, but I usually feel better when I get out and do things. I love what you wrote in your last paragraph, especially about gratitude and having enough. I really hope that you will find more inner peace in 2020 and beyond!

  2. Sally says:

    Hi Debbie

    Thank you for sharing your insights. Unsurprisingly my list is very similar to yours, as are my reasons:

    Uncomfortable clothes:

    Having put on lots of weight, all my clothes were far too tight and uncomfortable for me to wear and I have given them to charity, rather than continue to try and force myself into them and be miserable and berating myself for not being able to lose the weight.
    I have had to reassess my style and buy clothes that are more flattering, forgiving and comfortable for my current size. I now wear tops with stretch that skim rather than cling, soft flowing or fine pleated midi skirts with elasticated waists, ankle length, 7/8th or cropped straight leg pull on stretch pants, as I too struggle to find full length pants that are long enough, loose fitting dresses that have an elastic waist, tie waist or belt, to give them some shape. I wear quality clothes and fabrics which are soft to touch. I wear soft relaxed tailoring instead of structured tailored clothes as more comfortable and forgiving. The fabric must fit with my sensory need now for comfortable clothes that move with me and are not constricting, feel soft to touch, nothing itchy or scratchy or without stretch or ease-of-movement, softly flowing. I wear bamboo clothing as loungewear and sleepwear, as its extremely soft, stretchy, comfortable, breathable and temperature regulating.

    This is the website I buy them from & their full length Softline Essential pants are actually long enough for me and I am 6 ft tall!

    Unnecessary Tracking:

    Like you, I was a very analytical, organised, efficient person, who loved making to do lists and tracking clothing, food, exercise, expenses etc but it took a lot of my time and effort. However now that i’m suffering from depression, I don’t have the headspace to be able to do that anymore and have given up most of my tracking. I too use the hanger trick to see what I haven’t worn yet and as I have already taken photos of all my clothes & accessories, it is easy to update if I buy something new, or get rid of something.

    Unnecessary Guilt:

    As you know, I have cut back Facebook and now only have 6 friends & family who are in another country and I get notifications if they have posted anything, otherwise I don’t check it. I am not on any other social media and my true friends are there when I am able to catch up with them, which isn’t very often.

    Symptoms controlling my life:

    I used to plan everything and put things in my diary so I knew what I was doing and when. However, I now suffer from social anxiety, I don’t like leaving the house and I get stressed if I have made plans to see someone or do something, as I may not feel up to it on the day.

    I now take each day as it comes. I am happier if I have nothing planned in my diary and to let the day unfold, depending on how I feel. Often when I feel well enough and I am out walking my puppy, I meet strangers with dogs and get chatting to them or I may see my neighbours as I walk past their houses and they join me on my walk or invite me and my puppy in for a drink and a chat. These unexpected encounters enrich my day.

    The Opinions of Others:

    I don’t want to see old acquaintances and work colleagues that I used to know, for fear of judgement about my weight gain, depression and not working, as I will feel inadequate and a failure, compared to the slim, successful person I used to be.

    I now just spend time with my true friends, who don’t care what I look like or what I do, they like me for the person I am and I don’t have to prove or justify myself to them.

    Obsessive Worry & Rumination

    I too am a worrier, a perfectionist and I liked to control things, however this year things have happened to me which have been out of my control. I don’t know what the future holds for me, but there is no going back. The point in life is not the destination but the journey and I am just trying to go with the flow now.

    What I want to keep:

    My values have changed and I am becoming a better person. I have realised what is really important to me and it’s not my career, status and material things, but health, happiness and love for myself and my nearest and dearest and my cute puppy dog!

    I look forward to continuing to read your blog, in whatever form it may take and to keep in touch, as it’s rare to make a connection with someone we have so much in common with and can help support each other on our journeys.

    Love Sally

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks so much for sharing so openly, Sally. We definitely do have so much in common and it feels good knowing I’m not alone in how I’m feeling and what I’m going through. It sounds like you have found a way of dressing that works well for you. I wish I could order some of those bamboo clothes, but maybe I can find something similar in the US. As for everything else, I think you have gained excellent perspective and have a good attitude about life now. I know it has been hard won and you’re still struggling, but I’m glad you have eased up on tracking, guilt, concerns about what others think, and worry and rumination. I love what you wrote about the things you want to keep. You know what is truly important in life now. I wish you peace, more self-love, and more happy times with the closest people in your life and your adorable puppy. I appreciate your support very much.

      1. Sally says:

        Hi Debbie

        FYI, Bamboo body deliver worldwide, and those pants would be long enough for you and very comfortable.


        1. Debbie Roes says:

          That’s great news, Sally! I’m a bit scared to order something from Australia, but since it’s SO hard for me to find pants that are both comfortable enough AND long enough, I’m willing to give it a try 🙂 Thank you!

  3. Katrina says:

    Oh, I have a feeling that your list is going to resonate strongly with many here! And how funny that I didn’t even think about the end of the decade until this moment! It’s been an interesting one, for sure. I started out on a real high and ended up somewhere in the middle at a terrible low. The last couple of years have been huge for me in terms of learning and growth of spirit and strength. I learned about being intentional (or deliberate :)) even in small ways like choosing a word each year, and those simple ideas have helped me make some dramatic changes. Then, through a miracle of modern medicine I’ve been relieved of a lifelong health problem and I’m now adjusting to the strange freedom. I would have liked to have had it at age 20, or even 40, rather than 60, but that’s OK. Because of all these positive things that have happened, or that I have made happen, I don’t feel the need to make any *huge* changes in the coming years. If I just keep working on my financial and relationship goals, stay courageous, and make time for self care, I think I will maybe be OK.

    I want to say that during the last decade you have been a big influence! Your blogs have given me a lot of support and food for thought, and I have appreciated your kind responses to comments. I look forward to following along in the coming years.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Congratulations on your wonderful healing, Katrina! I’m very happy for you that you have this great freedom now. I like that you’re not planning anything big now and are just enjoying your new lease on life. Thank you for your kind words about how my blogs have positively impacted you. I have appreciated all of your insightful comments on my posts. What you shared about “armor” a while back was especially helpful for me. I wish you all the best with your self care in the coming months and years.

  4. Jenn says:

    What a great idea… to think about the attitudes, beliefs, and practices we want to leave behind in 2019. Seems logical that doing so would help us to move forward in the coming year.

    Here are the ones I’ve thought of so far, many of which were inspired by you, Debbie.

    Uncomfortable clothes
    Clothes that bore me and serve no practical use
    Buying pieces to wear as a layer under UNDETERMINED clothing items
    Buying pieces that are too sloppy/casual to wear to my writing group meetings (my most casual out-and-about activity)

    Over-worrying about my health and my husband’s health. I’d sure like to leave this one behind. I hit sixty this year. I worry about each new sensation, pain, the diseases that are out there, the future… running out of time. I also worry about my husband’s health. Specifically, him dying before me. (I lost my first love to cancer at age 21, so maybe that comes into play here.)
    Maybe going forward, I need to start listing these worries—individually—and ask myself how I can address them. If I should address them. I eat fairly healthy, exercise regularly—as does he. Once they’re on my list and have been addressed, wouldn’t it be a waste of time to ruminate about them? Something for me to think about.

    Unnecessary tracking. No. wait. I’m a tracker. The stuff I keep track of might impress some and make others question my sanity. And though I wouldn’t say all the info I track is necessary per se, I enjoy tracking, am calmed by it, and often find the information helpful. So maybe going forward in 2020, I’ll quiz myself about each aspect of my life that I track to assure doing so benefits me—in some way.

    As for struggles with guilt, others’ opinions of me, (non-health) worries and rumination, I have those too. I think everyone does. But as I get older—and no longer working for a large company that required me (an introvert) to interact with dozens upon dozens of personalities throughout the day—I have more energy for introspection and gaining self-knowledge. As a result, I feel more grounded. I am finding myself better able to keep my guilt, my insecurities, regrets, and uncertainties at bay. I still have my moments, but given the trajectory I’m on, I expect further improvement. Not elimination. We are human, after all.

    As for the things I want to keep. I believe they are the same as yours—including the kitties, plus one dog, and minus one blog. Every single one of the personal qualities you mentioned resonates with me. I may even copy your word for 2020—freedom. Love that!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Sorry for my delay in responding to this comment and the others below. I was out of town and I find it difficult to reply to comments on my phone, so I opted to wait until I returned home…

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jenn! I’m glad that what I shared inspired you to think about what YOU want to leave behind in 2019. I resonated with a lot of what you wrote, including about over-worrying about health. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to lose your first love at such a young age and I can see why you would be prone to future worries. Good idea to list out what you’re worried about in terms of health and then be proactive about addressing those issues. Re: tracking, I know that I will continue to track some things next year, but sometimes I feel that what I do is overkill. It’s a very individual thing and I’m still pondering… Asking the questions is the right way to go – keep what works and leave the rest! That’s wonderful that you are more grounded now and are able to keep some of the less productive emotions and thoughts at bay. You’re right that we’re all human and we will never be able to fully eliminate these things… And bravo to keeping the good stuff (love the “plus one dog, and minus one blog”!). Freedom has been a wonderful word for me this year and if you opt to adopt it as your 2020 word, may it serve you as well as it has me!

  5. Renée says:

    This was such an open and thoughtful post that, as another commenter noted above, it will probably resonate with many people. I hope you will forgive my long comment on it.

    When you write:

    I don’t even want to ponder how many plans I’ve cancelled due to my many symptoms, not to mention the many plans I simply never made in the first place. I have put my life on hold for far too long and I have lost many days, weeks, months, and even years because of pain and fear,

    I am reminded of my year of incredible abdominal bloating that I suffered through as I went through menopause. Anything I ate swelled me up like a balloon. At first I fretted and fumed, but finally realized that I couldn’t put my life on hold, but would have to learn to live with the problem. So, before a trip to Italy, I went to J. Jill and bought a capsule wardrobe of their Wearever line. It’s not my favorite style of clothing, but it allowed me to look presentable and be comfortable while dealing with a waistline that might increase by as much as 4 or 5 inches depending on what I ate. It was so liberating! And it was a real lesson to me not to put life on hold because of an unwelcome condition, but to accept the limitations and live my life fully.

    You also talk about not being successful in the conventional sense. That’s certainly been the case with me, and it’s especially acute because I was the girl in high school with the highest grades and the one voted most likely to succeed. In fact, I recently connected with my high school best friend and she asked me a real stunner: Why had I done so little with my life, given that I had such a privileged background, was “so smart, and could have done anything?” Believe me when I say that she wasn’t being nasty when she asked; she was genuinely curious. And I didn’t feel bad about it. I told her it was because I had never found anything that I wanted to do that badly, and was not pressured to succeed in that way. But I have had a satisfying life with a great deal of free time, a loving family, and plenty to do, for all of which I am most grateful. I would have hated a power job in my field, with the long hours and the inability to speak openly and skeptically that is a feature of so many jobs once you hit a certain level.

    I am glad that you have reached a point of acceptance with yourself and that you can now try to move ahead without the constant fear of what others will think. Of course there will be setbacks. We don’t improve over night. I once told a friend, only half jokingly, that my epitaph should read, “She tried,” because whatever else is true of me, this is: that I keep on trying. I almost never live up to my expectations for myself, but I don’t give up. The French Neo-Platonist philosopher, Pierre Hadot, said that true philosophy should be for us as it was for the ancient Greeks, a way of life, by which he meant that it was not essentially the creation of an elaborate intellectual system, but rather the pursuit of wisdom and “a conversion, a transformation of one’s way of being and living.” He writes that:

    man [i.e., the human being], before his philosophical conversion, is in a state of unhappy disquiet. Consumed by worries, torn by passions, he does not live a genuine life, nor is he truly himself. All [the ancient philosophical] schools also agree that man can be delivered from this state. He can accede to genuine life, improve himself, transform himself…

    So, in this sense, let us all set ourselves to pursue philosophy!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      No need to apologize for a long comment, Renee! I like when people have a lot to share and I think others so as well.

      I have had issues with bloating related to menopause, too, and I wish I would have adopted your solution early on, as it would have saved me a lot of grief. Since I continue to experience bloating due to IBS, I’m going to check out the J.Jill Wearever line. I think it’s always good to have some clothes on hand that we can feel comfortable and look presentable in despite bloating, weight gain, or whatever may be going on. I love the lesson you shared about not putting your life on hold and to live our lives despite limitations. Excellent!

      What you wrote about being “successful” was especially meaningful for me. You have such an amazing attitude about yourself and your life and I was very touched by what you wrote. I think sometimes we think we SHOULD want something that we don’t actually want. This culture often gives us the message that if we’re smart and capable but choose an alternate path, that we’re “wasting our lives.” But it sounds as if your life has been very meaningful. I would have been taken aback by a comment like your friend made, but your response was perfect. Who’s to say what is “doing a lot with one’s life”? I’m still working on the acceptance piece (maybe that should be my 2020 word – hmmm), but what you wrote really made me think. I think “she tried” is actually a good epitaph, especially since so many people give up. I love the Hadot quote and resonate with it. “Unhappy disquiet” is a fitting description of my mindset. I’m glad I’m not alone and that there is hope to be delivered from this state. Maybe I should have studied philosophy instead of psychology… Of course, it’s not too late! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts!

  6. Lori says:

    Your list is a very good one. I had not thought very much about the fact that we are entering a new decade. These milestone events do tend to make us assess and re-evaluate things. I have made great strides with my wardrobe, partly thanks to your thoughtful posts about wardrobe struggles and techniques to remedy them. I want to continue to make thoughtful decisions about my wardrobe requirements. I, too, worry about what people think of me and I often berate myself after socializing because I felt that I was “too much” and didn’t act the way I wanted to. I tend to go out of control when I am around people and can’t stop myself. It has been a lifelong problem of social anxiety.. I think I will have to come up with some sort of word or habit to gain control when I am around people. I have no desire to carry this behavior with me into the new decade. Like you, I had some health issues that really impeded my daily life and I started to feel guilty about being a bit disconnected with friends, but true friends understand and will gladly wait until you can be relatively comfortable and able to see them.
    I hope this new decade will be a great one for all of us and that we will continue to grow and learn and love better than ever before.

    1. Samantha says:

      Hi Debbie, it’s good to read you’re determined to do away with unnecessary guilt and rumination.

      It’s a difficult topic that I used to think a lot of when I lost my Mum (long before my Dad). I got into reformed theology at the time (which I’m not anymore) and read the Swiss pastor Lytta Basset, a deeply humane woman who struggled with such feelings. One of her points was that “always mak(ing) it (our) fault” was a defence mechanism aimed at protecting us from a much more authentic, but distressful feeling of powerlessness and vulnerability. And that there comes a point when the protection becomes a prison. I believe she had a real point here, and we likely all more or less struggle with such feelings. I know I do.

      Yes to everything, especially “What is your dream?” I myself don’t work ‘enough’ hours by society’s standards. I would love to, and hopefully will, but many jobs don’t do much either for the environment or human rights/respect of individuals, so I won’t be doing anything I don’t feel authentic doing unless it becomes a matter of survival. I also want to leave behind the grieving, including feelings of anger and sadness. It’s getting much better, though, and my psychotherapist has recently suggested I now only make an appointment when I feel like I need it, which I haven’t yet.

      As for clothes and appearance + the opinions of others… I remember my Dad’s widow commenting on how much better I looked with foundation on *as we were getting ready for the funeral*. It’s such a widespread thing to put image above all else that sometimes we don’t even realize we make ourselves/others “‘in style’ and miserable”, as you put it.

      I’m glad your blog is on the list of things you want to keep. I’ll definitely keep it along the things and people I am passionate about, mainly my son, my cat, the English language & people who make it so meaningful or study it, and as much freedom as possible.

      (Not sure why I signed Samantha rather than Sam in my last comment! Same person)

      1. Debbie Roes says:

        I appreciate your comment, Samantha/Sam. Very interesting what Lytta Basset said about making things our fault. It makes perfect sense, as most of us try to avoid vulnerability at all costs, even though being vulnerable is what connects us most with others (as Brene Brown speaks about so eloquently). Good for you for not doing work that isn’t in line with your values. I couldn’t do that, either, unless it was a matter of life or death. Grieving is so hard and I still need to write about that topic here. My experience has been more that grief diminishes over time but generally doesn’t reach a point of zero. It just gets to the point where it doesn’t consume our lives as it had previously. I like your list of what you want to keep, especially the part about freedom!

    2. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m glad you have made great strides with your wardrobe, Lori. I know it’s been an ongoing struggle for you. Like you, I also struggle from social anxiety, but I didn’t even fully realize that until recently. I’m not sure what you meant by “going out of control around people,” but I know that sometimes I will talk too much because I’m anxious and I don’t like that I do that. I’m trying to listen more and talk less and to give short responses to questions and not feel the need to over-explain myself. Sometimes people are just asking a question to be polite and are not anticipating a long diatribe as an answer. It’s hard to balance how much to share and how much to talk, as I tend to veer to one extreme or the other!

      I hope that your health will be better in 2020 and that you’ll find a way to be more connected with friends while also taking care of yourself. I love your wish for all of us for the new decade. I’ll second that!

  7. Maureen says:

    Hi Debbie,
    I think the fact that you write this blog could actually be a really good conversation topic when people ask “what do you do?”! You bring up such great issues about trying to live a fulfilling life, and there’s a lot of potential for discussing these topics with people IRL in addition to in the comments section 🙂

    I don’t think anyone (or at least…not anyone nice) who asks that question is trying to judge your level of success in life. It’s just like “What do you spend most of your time doing each day?” since that is probably the easiest topic to talk about. Besides, some people make a lot of money blogging, and there’s no way for random people to know whether you do or not, unless they start asking rude questions about money!

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