My Wardrobe, Myself

The intersection of clothing, emotions, and life

Happy February! We’re already one-twelfth of the way through 2022, so it’s high time for me to introduce my word/theme for the year. But before I delve into that topic, I want to first debrief my 2021 theme, “less.” I often do full posts for both the recap and my new word, but this time I’m covering it all in this one single essay. I don’t plan to go too deep on either subject today, but I’ll definitely circle back to both “less” and my new word in the coming months because they dovetail nicely with each other.

I’ve found that my theme for one year often “informs” and leads into the one I select for the following year, which makes good sense. We all continue to evolve and so do the areas of focus in our lives. Most years, my theme choice comes easily for me, as it’s a natural evolution from its predecessor. This year is no different, as you’ll see later on in today’s essay…

Recapping “Less”

So, how did I do with my efforts to cultivate less in the various areas of my life last year? Well, it was pretty much a “mixed bag,” with great success and progress in some respects and stagnation or even backsliding in others. I’ll briefly recap how I did with “less” related to my home, closet, productivity, and mindset.

2021 less theme recap

Win – Reducing Home Possessions

As I mentioned in the post introducing my “less” theme, my husband and I played “The 30-Day Minimalism Game” last January after watching The Minimalists’ new documentary, Less is Now.  We finished off the month having gotten rid of close to a thousand of our household possessions from all areas of our home, and we’ve done well with not accumulating more stuff in the ensuing year. There are still some categories of possessions that could be pared down further, such as books, papers, and mementos (and of course, my wardrobe!), but I don’t think anyone would call our home cluttered at this point.

Mixed Bag – Wardrobe Goals

As for my closet, I decided to incorporate an “open goal” concept last year, which focuses more on progress than numbers-based objectives. Unfortunately, I didn’t do too well with this, probably because I didn’t remind myself regularly about the three intentions I set related to my wardrobe (reducing its overall size, purchasing fewer “out-and-about” items, and buying less clothing and accessories overall). It was worth trying something new, but I think I prefer numbers-based goals for clothing, as it can be a problem area for me.

The intention I did best with was purchasing fewer out-and-about items, as I devoted more attention and money toward my at-home wardrobe (see my best at-home purchases HERE). As a result, my wardrobe suits my actual lifestyle much better now, which is a big win. In regards to my overall purchases, although I didn’t count my 2021 acquisitions, I think the number was probably similar to that of recent years. And while I purged quite a few pieces from my closet, I think I acquired close to the same number, so I probably broke even in terms of wardrobe size. Yes, “closet churn” is still an issue for me.

I will say, though, that I made fewer purchasing mistakes last year, so I did succeed in that aspect of “less.” I also experienced fewer days of wearing outfits I didn’t like, as I continued to get more in touch with my desired style aesthetic (dramatic, polished, and elegant). When I did make buying mistakes, it was usually because I was wearing “sales goggles,” paying too much attention to the opinions of others (friends with whom I shopped or salespeople), or both. So, a carry-over of my “less” theme into 2022 will be buying fewer items on sale and paying less attention to what other people think I should buy, while simultaneously trusting myself more.

Win – Fewer “Shoulds”

One big success that I experienced relative to “less” in 2021 was that I set fewer “shoulds” for myself. I allowed myself more grace to simply “be,” and I tuned in more to my inner guidance system in terms of choosing my “next right considered action.” This resulted in my getting less done, but I was also able to enjoy my life more fully, experience more time outdoors, and say yes to more opportunities for connection and fun. There is still a lot of room for improvement in this area, but I’m calling it a win because of the progress that I did make.

I also honored my commitment to consume less news, which resulted in reduced anxiety in 2021 relative to 2020. When I do consume news, it’s usually via the internet, so I’m more able to control the topics and intensity of what I’m taking in versus watching television news programs. I still had to catch myself sometimes, particularly when it came to news of the ongoing pandemic, but I didn’t fall down the proverbial “rabbit hole” quite so much, which I consider a win.

Future Growth Areas Related to “Less”

Last January, I also set the intention for less worry, procrastination, and self-criticism, but all three of these things remain areas of struggle in my life. Procrastination in particular has been challenging as of late, and it can sometimes feel like I’m wading through molasses or rolling a huge boulder up a steep hill when I’m trying to get certain things done (including writing blog posts as of late!).

In reflecting back on part two of my “less is more” introduction, I was reminded of my suggestion for setting a timer for fifteen minutes to start working on a “frog” task (something that is procrastinated upon). This simple action can help us get a bit of momentum going so we can move out of a stuck phase. I plan to implement this valuable tip, as well as set a “one thing” for myself at the beginning of each day (or at the end of the previous day). I also want to work on that one thing as early as possible during the day, as I can tend to leave it until the eleventh hour (like I did the other day with making a few important phone calls). Having a “frog” looming over me can dampen my overall feeling of joy, so it’s better to just tackle it sooner rather than later!

Introducing My 2022 Theme

Even though my “less” theme didn’t impact my life as significantly as I’d hoped, I acknowledge and celebrate the progress that I made on various fronts. I can see the growth that I experienced over the course of 2021, and I feel that the theme I’ve selected for 2022 will be even more influential in my life.

2022 word of the year

As is usually the case, I pondered a few similar words before finalizing my choice for this year’s theme. At several points, I thought I might have found the right word, but I continued my search because I didn’t feel those options fully captured what I was going for. Then the following word came to me and I knew intuitively that I had landed on my 2022 theme:


There are multiple definitions for lightness in the dictionary, but the ones that best describe what I’m hoping to create for myself this year are:

  • Ease or cheerfulness in manner or style.
  • Freedom from worry or trouble.
  • The state of being light, not heavy.
  • Ease or quickness of movement; agility.

I’ve felt an increasingly sense of “heaviness” in my body, mind, and spirit in recent years, which has adversely impacted my life in multiple ways. I often feel burdened, overwhelmed, tense, serious, and sometimes even downright old and stodgy. That’s not how I want to feel! I want to recapture some of my sense of childlike wonder and the simple joy of being alive and in the world. I want to experience a lightness of being that I’ve lost over the years, especially during the past many months of the pandemic.

The above is a general description of how I’d like “lightness” to impact my life in 2022, but I outline some specifics below for various areas of my life, beginning with the main topic of this blog, my wardrobe.

Lightness in My Wardrobe

Since this is primarily a wardrobe-focused blog, let’s start with my closet. When I look into it now, I feel heavy and burdened. There’s just too much in there, and there are also guilty feelings attached to many of the pieces. I spent good money on garments that aren’t being worn regularly, and in some instances, I doubled-down on the expense and waste by tailoring pieces that should have been purged instead. If I open the closet door in my office, I see a large number of items that have been waiting to be listed for sale online for months now. I need to either get that done or decide that I’m not doing it and instead donate those pieces to charity.

Having lightness in my wardrobe would include having fewer pieces, but there’s more to it than that. I also want to only have items in my closet that I love and look forward to wearing. I want to give myself the freedom to let go of things that aren’t serving me well, even if they were rarely or never worn. I also want to truly embrace the fact that I’ll be okay with less so I won’t keep hanging on to ho-hum items for fear of not having enough to wear. To get to this place of knowing, I may take on a few wardrobe experiments or challenges that involve dressing with less, perhaps even another round of Project 333.

Lightness in My Daily Life

I can look at this both literally and figuratively… I want to spend more time outdoors and in the light of day. I spend too much time cooped up inside and in front of a computer, and I always feel brighter (lighter) and happier when I spend time in nature. I’ve been making a point of going for a walk around my neighborhood most afternoons, and that can really help to boost my spirits. But why not drive down to the water sometimes and walk there instead? I have the freedom to do this type of thing, so why don’t I do it more often? I might want to also get back into photography, as that was something that I used to enjoy doing.

I can be such a hermit sometimes, but the pandemic has made this tendency so much worse. I want to interact with other people in person more often, and I hope it will be more conducive to do so this year – for all of us. I also long to go to the movies on a regular basis again and explore live entertainment and new restaurants. I want to smile and laugh more often with others, those I already know and new people, so I hope and pray that the masks will soon become a thing of the past, at least in most settings. I miss seeing people’s full faces and experiencing their varied expressions.

Lightness of Mind and Spirit

I want to cultivate a lightness of spirit and experience more fun and joy in my life. I so often feel like my life is passing me by and like I’m becoming an old fuddy-duddy. I just don’t have nearly enough fun, and I can be far too serious much of the time. I notice this about a lot of people as they get older, and when I see young children, I remember that we were all young once. We all had that childlike sense of wonder that most of us lose as we age.

As my husband and I went through his mother’s photos after she died in 2019, I saw another side of her that I never got a chance to experience. She smiled and laughed so much more as a young woman, but when I met her, she was already 66 years old. She had already become hardened and jaded in many respects, and this deepened considerably after the loss of her husband nine years later. I see that same hardening and jadedness in myself, but I don’t want that to happen! I know there are many men and women who are still young at heart in their older years, and I want that to be me, too. I’m not sure exactly how I will reverse the hardening that has already happened in my mind and spirit, but I believe that setting the intention is a good place to start.

Lightness of Body

Finally, I want to feel lighter and freer in my body. I know that some stiffening in our older years may be unavoidable, but I think I can feel better than I do now. I want to feel lighter and I want to be lighter, too. I’m tired of carrying the extra pounds that I acquired during and after menopause. I’m also a bit scared because I tested as pre-diabetic at my recent yearly physical. There’s a history of diabetes on both sides of my family, and I don’t want that potentially debilitating disease to be my future. It played a strong role in the deaths of my two grandmothers, who both died in their early eighties after years of living with serious health issues that reduced their quality of life.

I need to sit less, move more (even though I almost always get my 10,000 daily steps), and eat healthier foods. I don’t love to cook (but I do love to bake, and I’m going to need to adjust how I do that now!), so I too often fall back on processed foods. I try to buy cleaner versions of those, but it’s still far better to eat natural, whole foods. I used to eat a lot of vegetables and fruits, but I had multiple dental problems last year, which made it difficult to chew and led to my eating a less-than-ideal diet. Hopefully those issues are behind me now, at least for a while, so I’m gradually increasing my vegetable intake and also eating fruit in moderation.

I know that I may never get back to my 2016 weight and size without serious restriction (which I don’t want to do!), but I hope to be able to reduce inflammation and slim down at least to some degree. I hate dieting after my many years of eating disorders, and I also believe that diets usually only work temporarily, so I’m focusing on making small changes that I’ll hopefully be able to stick with over time. If I feel a lot better (and perhaps look better, too), that should provide me with motivation to keep up with the positive habits.

Conclusion – and What Are Your 2022 Words?

As is often the case, I wrote more than I thought I would! I could say more about “lightness,” but I think I gave a good overview for how I’d like to have this theme influence my life this year. Even if I only make a fraction of the positive changes that I outlined above, it would make a big difference in my quality of life. The bottom line is that I don’t want to feel old, tired, burdened, overwhelmed, and negative. I want to experience more fun, joy, levity, connection, health, and happiness. Here’s to more lightness in 2022!

I’ll definitely write more about my “lightness” theme in the coming months, but now I’d like to hear from you:

  • How did you do with your goals or intentions for 2021? If you selected a word for the year, what was it and how did it help you on your life path?
  • If you’ve chosen a word or theme for 2022, what did you choose and why?
  • If you don’t select a word of the year, what changes would you like to make in your life over the course of 2022?
  • What would you like to experience and accomplish this year?

I invite you to share your thoughts on the topics of goals, intentions, growth, or whatever else you’d like to contribute to this discussion. I look forward to reading what you have to say.

As always, I wish you all the best in 2022 and beyond! I hope this will be a good year for you, for me, and for our world at large. We’ve experienced two very challenging years in 2020 and 2021. None of us fully know what 2022 has in store for us, but I hope that the impact of the pandemic will lessen and we’ll be able to get back to more of a “normal” way of life again – and perhaps even a better way of life.

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20 thoughts on ““Less” Theme Recap – and My Word for 2022

  1. Amber says:

    Lightness – what a wonderful, multifaceted word. We all crave more lightness after these last two years. My word last year was Bloom and my intention for it was to be unapologetically myself in more areas of my life. It was a guiding reminder. This year’s word is Trust and my intention this time is to work on releasing worry about every little step towards my goals. I am a planner – almost to the point of derailing myself entirely at times and I need to “trust the process” which I’d say is my phrase or mantra of the year.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Your words for last year and this year are both great, Amber! I really like the intention to be more unapologetically yourself in relation to your “bloom” theme. Trust the process” is a mantra that I’m sure will serve you well (and something that I need to do more of, too!). Best wishes to you with the year of trust!

  2. Jelena says:

    I like Lightness as a word and hope it guides you well.
    I was struggling with the word of the year for years, my chosen word wouldn’t stick. This year, Acceptance almost leaped into my mind and looks like it’s staying. There are many things I need to accept about myself and my life. It doesn’t mean that I have to accept everything coming my way. There are still many things I want to change.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Acceptance was one of the words I considered for this year, Jelena, but lightness leapt ahead to the head of the pack when it came into my mind. Acceptance is definitely something I need to work on more, too. I really like the serenity prayer and how it speaks to accepting the things we cannot change. I wish you all the best with acceptance this year!

  3. Andrea says:

    Another beautiful composition Debbie. I have been looking forward to your word of 2022 with great anticipation. Lightness is exactly my goal going forward which I have attributed to it being about “less” but now I see it isnt about numbers although that’s a big part of the problem; the churn and obsessive pursuit of perfection is a burden that weighs me down and the compulsive need to control my partner’s stuff has caused rifts. I shall flow into the path of light! I’m going to re-read this piece and the linked articles to gain mental some calm and emotional support in remembering I am not alone.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m so glad you liked this post, Andrea. I related to what you wrote here, especially: “the churn and obsessive pursuit of perfection is a burden that weighs me down.” Me, too! I hope we can both find much more lightness this year! I will need to re-read my own posts and the wonderful work of others to help me stay the course. One day at a time…

  4. Susan Loughnane says:

    What a great post Debbie! There were many sections that I thought in my head ‘Yes’!! One of my dreams/goals this year is to reduce household possessions (have not done so well with this in the past). I am currently collating a box of Tupperware and kitchen items to try and sell on Marketplace maybe for someone getting their first apartment or a summer place. As morbid as I find the topic to be, I even reached out to a friend who is a lawyer and handles wills and the like to sit down and stop procrastinating on getting some things in place (updated will, etc..). The topic of procrastination hit home – this past month, I have become a professional at that. I am trying to be consistent with making lists, setting priorities and moving forward. The winter is just a tough time in PA and I am really feeling it this year. Especially since we still remain fairly isolated due to pandemic concerns. My husband and I are both vaccinated and ‘boosted’ as they say but I can’t imagine going into a big venue with lots of people yet. That combined with snow and ice keeping us inside has made me want to climb the walls. I also related to your discussion about a sense of heaviness. I have been eating cleaner and joined a Pilates studio which I absolutely love. I try to get two classes a week in with my membership plan and actually have lost a little weight without even trying. When you talk about joy, laughter, fun – such wonderful motivations and goals. The other day I was listening to our granddaughter on the FaceTime call. Her mom was playing with her and she was laughing so hard, she got the hiccups. I thought – aahhh…to be that joyful and uninhibited, what a gift! Your post today gave me a little boost – been really struggling with winter, isolation and just motivation in general. I realize it is okay to have these moments but I also want to look ahead to more lightness, more fun and less procrastination and worry. Peace to you! Have a great month.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m glad you liked this post and were able to relate to my words, Susan. Best wishes to you with downsizing household possessions. I know that can be challenging. I always see it like peeling an onion, as each time I take on decluttering, I’m able to release more. Good for you for taking on tasks you’ve been procrastinating on! My husband and I need to update our will, too. I can imagine that it can feel very isolating to live in a place with long and difficult winters, but it’s good that you’re being proactive about getting out and downing things you enjoy. I did pilates for a few years and really enjoyed it. The story about your granddaughter was really cute. If we could even get a little bit of that childlike wonder and joy back, it would make a big difference in our lives. Wishing many good things for you this year, including the same blessings you wished for me!

  5. Krissie says:

    Debbie, your wonderful post covers so much ground i just never know where to start with a comment. I posted in a comment to your summer uniform post , a few posts ago but sadly it didn’t post in for whatever reason, and as it was quite lengthy i didnt rewrite it.
    Anyway this year, the word that i chose was mellow, but somehow along came the word direction and i knew that was going to be it. So direction is the word and im using mellow as a sort of secondary one.
    Im 66, and i resonated with what you said. The ladt two yrs, an autoimmune disease, pain and other contributing factors have made me feel weary. I feel tired, jaded and probably a bit hardened by life. Im trying to fight it, because at heart Ive always been young, but this lately somehow hasnt translated into my life. I love your word lightness, it makes it hard to choose just the one word, when so many others are so appealing.
    I feel that i have stagnated in the last few years. So, I need direction to start moving again to where i need to be. And that cuts across all aspects of my life.
    I’ve also tentatively begun a ‘depth’ year, which may help, at least so far its keeping me interested and inspired. Ive identified the areas i need to drill down on and see where that takes me too
    Wishing you great lightness in all the aspects you have chosen to have a wonderful 2022!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m sorry your comment on the summer uniform post didn’t go through, Krissie. I never understand why that happens, but I know it can be really frustrating. Both direction and mellow are great words! I remember having two words one year: simplicity and joy. I think it was 2013 or 20114. I hope your words will serve you well. It sounds like you’ve been dealing with some difficult challenges, and life has been hard for all of us with the pandemic and all of its associated side effects. I like the idea of a “depth year,” and I hope I will have such a year in 2022, too. Good luck with everything you’re taking on this year!

  6. Vildy says:

    Though I don’t think in annual terms, nor select a theme, just this morning I was recalling an old “mantra” or Traveling Light. And I was thinking of ease of movement, being unhampered, too. Count me in with the lightness and agility themes. Agility also means to me, to turn on a dime. Not to get dug in. I’ve often felt that a hallmark of being well-balanced is to be flexible and therefore less barricaded, rigid, overly self-protective…

    1. Andrea pascali says:

      Love that, Vildy, turning on a dime! Here in the UK we say turning on a sixpence (old money, about the size of a dime or a ‘new’ 5 pence piece). That is exactly it, the lightness and agility of not being weighed down. My partner’s father died in October and he STILL has barely made a dent in the “stuff”. I cannot get involved as that is the job of his 5 kids (previous relationship) but his burden is weighing me down …. and not to mention the “stuff” he accumulates of his own bat. I am resigned to shutting the cupboard doors and trying to forget about it but sometimes I just want to go down the whole Swedish death cleaning path …

      1. Debbie Roes says:

        I love “turning on a sixpence,” Andrea. When I hear about the old British money, I always think of Scrooge not wanting more bread because it was a ha’penny extra. I know how hard it is to deal with all of the stuff left behind when a parent/in-law passes. It was A LOT of work for my husband and I to clear out his mother’s house – and in the high heat of summer, too. I can understand your wanting to go down the Swedish death cleaning path. I wish you, your husband, and his kids all the best with that difficult project.

    2. Debbie Roes says:

      I like the traveling light mantra, Vildy. Agility is also a wonderful concept to keep in mind, and it has multifaceted meanings, just as lightness does. I really like what you wrote here, and I wish you all the best with both lightness and agility this year and beyond.

  7. Murphy says:

    I love the word “lightness” Debbie – it just applies to so many situations! I don’t think I have ever picked out a word for myself, but this year the word “grace” keeps popping into my head so I think that’s it. I want to give others grace and kindness and the benefit of the doubt. And I want to give myself grace about clothes and my body and feeling like I always have to do more and be perfect (as if that were even possible!).

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Grace is a wonderful word, Murphy! When a word keeps popping into our heads, that’s a good sign that it’s the right/best one. I think we all need to give ourselves more grace sometimes. I really resonated with your last sentence, and I wish you all the best with giving both yourself and others more grace this year.

  8. Catherine says:

    Hi, Debbie, and thanks as always for reminding me of my own “lightness” goals over the years. While you’re embracing the word fully, you adopted this lifestyle years ago – and inspired many to do the same. Funny, my husband and I thoroughly enjoy the television show Tiny House Nation – which is a literal demonstration of minimalism. About three years ago, I told you how proud I was for finally having space between each of my clothing items in the closet. (Granted, I have separate winter and summer closets.) Well, that’s not the case now, and I don’t like the feeling of fashion gluttony. Thank you for the reminder!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Catherine. I’m glad I helped to inspire you and others with lightness goals over the years. I’ve never seen the show Tiny House Nation, but it sounds interesting. I’ve read a lot of articles about tiny houses and I used to follow a blogger who lived in a tiny house with two cats (Rowdy Kittens). You can get back to the place of having space between your clothing items again. I know it can be frustrating to see a fuller closet again, and I’m there, too. “Fashion gluttony” is a good term for accumulating too much stuff! Best wishes to you with paring things down this year.

  9. Katrina B says:

    Lightness is a great word and I think you will do well with it! My word for 2016 was “Light” and I expanded it to cover many different forms and meanings of the word. Enlightenment, as in learning and discovery; Lighten, as in losing some of the weight that was making me uncomfortable and ill, as well as lightening the emotional burdens of financial and relationship problems; and Light the noun, representing brightness and sunshine, which improve vision and clarity and mood. This was the most effective word I have ever had and 2016 was a year of big, positive changes for me. In later years I thought I should choose words that were more specific or more active, but none of them gave me the energy and inpiration that I got from Light. I think I might make Light a “word of life” rather than picking a new “word of the year” every January.

    I hope you enjoy Lightness and have a great 2022!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thank you for sharing how you applied the word “light” to your life in 2016, Katrina. You’ve given me more ideas for how “lightness” can impact my life this year. I didn’t think of enlightenment, but I love that, too! What a great idea to have “light” be a word of life. I had never thought about that concept, but I like it a lot. You and I are often on a similar wavelength, aren’t we? 🙂

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