My Wardrobe, Myself

The intersection of clothing, emotions, and life

For as many years as I can remember, I have been selecting a theme for each year that is encapsulated by a single word. This theme highlights what I feel is my biggest opportunity for growth and self-discovery for the year and what I think will make the most difference in my life. Some of my past yearly themes have been deliberate, balance, peace, essential, freedom, enough, and less.

In some years, my word had a very big impact on my life, while in others it didn’t move the needle much at all. A lot of that has depended upon how much attention I gave to my word and how much I kept it top of mind throughout the year. I didn’t do all that well with keeping my 2022 word, “lightness,” at the forefront of my consciousness, so I don’t feel like I experienced as much growth as I’d like in that realm. However, I’d still like to review the ways in which “lightness” affected my 2022 experience, as well as how I’d like to continue incorporating more of this concept into my life this year.

recapping my 2022 word, theme, and goals

Recapping 2022: How did you do with your goals and intentions for last year?

In my next post, I’ll share what I’ve chosen as my 2023 word/theme and how I see it potentially impacting my life throughout this year. I was going to do both the 2022 recap and the new word introduction in a single post, but I’d really like to start publishing shorter posts more often, rather than writing “marathon” essays that go live only every two to three weeks on average. We’ll see how I do with that, as old habits can certainly die hard! But perhaps my 2023 theme will help me on that front, as well as continued awareness of the theme of “lightness.”

The Year of “Lightness”…

I selected “lightness” as my word for 2022 because I was feeling increasingly old, tired, burdened, overwhelmed, and negative, and I wanted to experience fun, joy, levity, connection, health, and happiness instead. In my essay announcing my 2022 theme, I highlighted the ways in which I wanted lightness to manifest in my wardrobe, body, daily life, and mind and spirit.

I set a lot of positive intentions for those areas, but then life happened and I didn’t revisit this empowering vision for 2022 much at all. Last year was very difficult for me personally, and I ended up concentrating most of my energy on remaining sane and doing what I needed to do rather than on improving my life in bigger, more tangible ways. I was more in survival mode than growth mode for much of the year, which can happen to all of us from time to time.

That all said, I do have a few wins to report related to the theme of lightness, and I did experience growth and change despite not concentrating much on my word for the year. Overall, 2022 was very much a “mixed bag” in terms of lightness, much like it was for “less” in 2021. Below are some of the highlights.

Win – Weight Loss

When I wrote about “lightness of body” last February, I mentioned that I wanted to feel and be lighter. I was looking to lose some or all the weight that I had gained with menopause, and I also hoped to turn around the prediabetes diagnosis that I received in January 2022. While I don’t yet know if my A1C level has gone down (I get re-tested next month), I did change my diet in meaningful ways, which resulted in a fairly significant weight loss. I also attribute my body downsizing to experiencing a lot of stress last year, as I tend to lose my appetite and eat less during rough times. But since I had been focused on shifting my habits at the same time, I didn’t go back to my previous way of eating and the weight has stayed off.

I haven’t weighed myself in years due to my eating disorder history, but I’ve gone down one to two sizes in my clothing, depending upon the fit and style of a given garment, so I’m guessing that I probably lost about fifteen pounds or so. I shared about my issues with my clothes no longer fitting me and the need to change my “holding zone” approach in posts back in June and October, so if you’ve been following along, you’re already aware of the challenges that have accompanied the positives of my having lost weight. But despite my needing to alter some clothes and set others aside (perhaps permanently), overall, I’m very pleased to have lost weight, and I feel lighter, healthier, and more energetic as a result.

One thing that made a dramatic difference to my health and weight was starting a meal delivery subscription through Daily Harvest. I’m not that great of a cook, and I also don’t like to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, so it’s been a game changer to have healthy, easy-to-prepare meals on hand that include lots of vegetables and fruits and are tasty and low in calories.

I’ve been eating the Daily Harvest food for almost a year now, and I still love it. I don’t use it for every meal, as that would be too pricey and I don’t have the freezer space, but I do eat this food regularly. If any readers in the U.S. would like to try it out, you can use my referral code of RE-73Y7EG2 to receive up to $65 off your first box (NOTE: this is not a sponsored post, as everyone who’s a Daily Harvest subscriber gets a unique referral code, but I will receive a discount if any of you place an order).

In addition to eating the Daily Harvest meals, I’ve also reduced how often I snack and what I snack on. I could still stand to make more improvements to my diet, including eating more protein and fewer carbs and further reducing my intake of processed foods. But I’m proud of the changes I’ve made, and I feel much lighter and healthier these days. I hope I’ve averted the potential of becoming diabetic, but since it runs in my family, I know that I’ll have to remain vigilant, especially as I get older.

Mixed Bag – Lightness in My Daily Life

The good news is that I’ve been diligent about making a point of spending more time outdoors and in the light of day, even if it’s just taking a short walk around my neighborhood. Just a 15-minute walk can make a big difference in terms of my mood. While my husband and I go on walks by the water many evenings, I didn’t do that on my own during the daytime like I intended to do. I also didn’t get back into photography, but that’s something that I may opt to do this year, as taking landscape photos used to provide me with a lot of joy several years ago.

I didn’t make any new connections during 2022, but I did succeed in maintaining the friendships that I already had, both nearby and far away. I don’t see or talk to my friends very often, but the interactions are often deep and positive when they occur, so I’m grateful for that. I’d still love to meet some new people this year, and now that in-person gatherings are happening more often again, perhaps I’ll have a better chance of doing so. I’d also like to see more movies in the theater this year (I only did so four times in 2022!), explore more live entertainment, and visit more new restaurants, as I wrote about wanting to do last year. Having novel experiences is so important in terms of our happiness and fulfillment, and it also helps to decrease the feeling that time is rushing by, so I want novelty to be a bigger part of my experience this year.

Mixed Bag – Lightness of Wardrobe

On a positive note, I’m happier overall with my wardrobe than I was a year ago. I made fewer shopping mistakes, and most of my purchases were appropriate for my real life rather than for a previous lifestyle or fantasy existence. I let go of many pieces that weren’t serving me, and I separated out everything that doesn’t currently fit me into my holding zone bins (and only kept those pieces that I would actually want to wear again). The bad news is that I still have too many clothes and I bought too much last year. I still struggle with feelings of scarcity that lead me to purchase more than what I truly need. I also continue to be dazzled by sales and waste too much time, energy, and money on pursuing a “deal.”

It’s disconcerting to me how much I continue to struggle with my clothes, especially given how long I’ve been blogging on the topic of wardrobe and how much I’ve learned over the years! But I know that many of my issues are more about my psyche than related to practical shopping and purging considerations. I know what I need to do, but I continue to use shopping and wardrobe management as coping strategies during stressful times.

Shopping is my “vice” much like other behaviors and substances are for a lot of people. It may not debilitate my life to the degree that alcohol, gambling, or the like destroy the lives of individuals with those addictions or compulsions, but it has caused me a lot of pain over the years. While I’m not back to square one like when I started Recovering Shopaholic and owned a huge wardrobe full of less than great clothes, I still experience many frustrating ups and downs. Sadly, last year was one of my worst years in a while in terms of buying, returning, and purging far too much. And it’s as much about the time sink of those activities as it is about financial expenditures, if not more.

I’ll share more in my next couple of posts about how I plan to continue my intention for more “lightness” in my wardrobe. I’d still like to have a smaller and more functional wardrobe and be more intentional with my shopping. I’m reminded of how light and free I felt while on my November trip to Tahoe. Even though my travel wardrobe wasn’t perfect, there was a freedom in having a limited number of choices for what to wear. Also, when I didn’t have the right things to wear, it was easy to determine what would have better suited my needs. When I look into my very full closet now, it can be hard to separate the wheat from the chaff, as the saying goes, and the combinations are so endless as to be completely overwhelming. Going back to my 2021 word of the year, I would be better served with having less to choose from!

Wins and Growth Opportunities – Lightness of Mind and Spirit

The final area of “lightness” I’d like to cover relates to my mind and spirit. A year ago, I expressed the desire for more fun and joy in my life. I wasn’t having enough fun, and I felt like a bit of a “fuddy-duddy” at times. I was often too serious, hardened, and jaded, and I wanted to be more young at heart. Although I can’t say that I achieved that goal, I did make some good progress related to my mindset and spiritual growth.

I’m about to complete six months of regular therapy sessions. I wish I could keep moving forward with this work, but as many of you know, it can be expensive and cost-prohibitive. So, I’m grateful to have been able to do it for as long as I have. During my therapy, I worked a lot on my issues with self-criticism, perfectionism, people-pleasing, and codependence.

I’ve made great strides in terms of being more compassionate towards myself and more detached from the opinions of others. I was able to have some difficult conversations with the people in my life that I never would have taken on previously. These conversations didn’t necessarily lead to change or improved relationships, but they did help me to feel more empowered and like I’m on my own side. I still struggle with sticking up for myself and expressing my feelings and needs, particularly with my family, but I now realize that the way I feel matters just as much as their feelings and opinions. I’m more willing to set limits and detach, which has me feeling lighter in spirit than I did before.

In regards to my spiritual growth, my husband and I have gone back to attending a nondenominational church that we were participated in over a decade ago. We alternate between going in person and watching the services online, but this activity has added both perspective and calm to my life. Meditation is part of the church services, but I haven’t incorporated this practice into my daily life beyond what I do on Sundays. I can see the value in adding mindfulness as a regular activity, but I struggle to make it happen and I also find it challenging to quiet my mind during meditation. A friend of mine has had some positive experiences with chanting, so I may opt to give that a try.

Conclusion

I’m glad I took the time to do this review, as it helped me to recognize that “lightness” had more of a positive impact on my life than I previously realized. Although I wish I would have paid more attention to this theme throughout 2022, having set the intention for more lightness in terms of my wardrobe, body, daily life, and mind and spirit created a powerful backdrop for my year after all. I’m choosing to celebrate my wins now rather than beat myself up for what I didn’t do, as that’s part of my new approach of cultivating self-compassion. I’m by no means perfect and I often falter when it comes to my goals, but I do have things to be proud of for 2022.

I’m going to carry the spirit of lightness forward throughout 2023 in all areas of my life and allow it to permeate my existence in tandem with my theme for this year (which I’ll share in my next post). I don’t want to feel like I’m “getting old,” but I also don’t want to be under the delusion that I have all the time in the world, either. I want to recapture more of my youthful enthusiasm, curiosity, and optimism and embrace the freedom that I have to be, do, and have many things in life.

Most of my limitations are more in my mind than grounded in reality, yet I often forget that important fact. I also tend to fall prey to societal presuppositions about “women of a certain age” that really are hogwash and should be treated as such! We can all find many empowering examples of women – and men – that didn’t let age stop them from doing what they wanted to do and being who they wanted to be, so why can’t we do the same? The old adages that “age is just a number” and “we’re only as old as we feel” are so true, and I want to incorporate these mottos into my day-to-day life in 2023 and beyond!

Your Thoughts?

Now it’s time for you to weigh in, if you so desire. While I welcome your thoughts on what I shared here today, I’d also love to hear about how you did with your word/theme for 2022, if you chose one. What were your wins, and what challenges did you face along the way? Feel free to share about your wardrobe or any other areas of your life. If you didn’t select a theme but would still like to offer your thoughts on how 2022 went for you, you’re welcome to do so. I’ll be back soon with my word for 2023 and how I hope it will positively impact my life in the coming months. Thanks as always for your readership and your support!

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13 thoughts on “Recapping My 2022 “Lightness” Theme

  1. A very thought-provoking post, Debbie. Speaking to the wardrobe aspects, I’ve said before that I am right there with you on having feelings of scarcity lead to over-shopping. But I don’t feel overwhelmed by what I own, and I have a system for wardrobe management that ensures I wear everything, so I don’t experience as much of the downside as it sounds like you do. I also have a pretty high yield rate (ratio of items I keep to items I buy) so I don’t spend a lot of time on returns, etc. And I consider wardrobe management something of a hobby of mine (strange, I know!).

    I think it’s interesting to dig deeper into the feeling of having “too many” clothes and what that means for each of us individually. “I have too many clothes” begs the question, too many clothes for what purpose? Can we identify what the negative consequences are from our current amount of clothes? I have definitely seen people get very wrapped up in the idea of having “too many clothes” where it’s a form of perfectionism or fantasy minimalist aspiration, not that the person is actually experiencing problems because of it.

    My own “too many clothes” negative consequence is mostly due to having space to store items in a way that makes them accessible. I’m reaching the point of my wardrobe being “full up” and needing to purge existing items to make room for new.

    Debbie mentioned several negatives that are interesting to explore (and that are probably applicable to many of us!):
    (1) Time sink from the shopping cycle of purchasing, returning, purging. That is a real cost (opportunity cost at least), especially when you have a high number of returns. And if you don’t do the returns, then you’re throwing money away, which never feels good. When a person has had a big life change (like Debbie’s weight loss) and is hard to fit, the shopping cycle is going to be time-consuming.
    (2) Hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. Is this more about how the closet is organized and being able to see what you have, etc. (e.g., where is my favorite black T I like to wear with these pants) or more that you don’t know how much you like the things (e.g., do I like this black T/what do I wear this one with)? How you proceed may differ based on what you’re really experiencing when you look into the closet. Also, what is this “chaff”? Things you really should just purge, items you like but don’t know how to style, your third favorite black T, etc. Is there a reason to keep some kinds of “chaff”? If so, what kinds?
    (3) Overwhelmed by endless possible combinations. Isn’t this one fascinating to consider when we pair it up with a sense of scarcity? It’s amazing how we can feel like we have too little and too much at the same time.

    My own default response to the shopping cycle is to start a serious “shop my closet” approach, which helps me realize that I have enough already, which cuts down on the “scarcity, oh no, must buy” shopping. Basically channeling energy from the shopping cycle to the wardrobe management/outfit creation process.

    Actually, my response to all 3 of these negatives is to think, Time to spend more time with what I have and stop shopping (for anything that isn’t essential). Shopping is such a default activity when we feel our wardrobes aren’t working, but in so many cases, it’s not the solution and instead is really just making the problem worse!

    This is making me think of the…20…25…I forget the number “good/great outfit” concept. I wonder if people who easily get overwhelmed with too many choices (I tend not to be one, but my sister is; you should see us eat together from a buffet) wouldn’t be especially well served creating and documenting the good/great outfits they already have in their closets (and may have forgotten or not discovered yet). Then we’d have that menu of options to pick from rather than an overwhelming array of options.

    In thinking about individual pieces, it would be interesting to see if you can make 3 good/great outfits for each item you own…a more concrete, rubber-meets-the-road version of the hypothetical “can I wear it 3 ways?” concept.

    My reaction to the idea of “lightness” is kind of complex because it seems like there are multiple ways to feel lighter/less burdened: (1) to have less to carry, (2) to arrange what you’re carrying in a way that reduces the expenditure of energy and the sense of burden, (3) to get stronger so that the weight doesn’t tire you out. We tend to focus on (1) because it’s the most obvious and straightforward one, but I’m not sure it’s always the best approach for a specific person/situation combination.

    I’m going to stop here because I’m at risk of writing a comment longer than the original essay!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I like your long comments, Sally, as they always give me (and probably others as well) a lot to think about. I won’t respond to everything you wrote because that would probably also be as long as the original essay – lol!

      I also consider wardrobe management to be a hobby, so we’re both strange, I guess 🙂 That’s great that you have a high yield rate for your clothes. I’m wondering how you accomplish that. Perhaps you don’t do a lot of online shopping like I do… or maybe you have a better awareness of what works best for you.

      I like the questions you posed to help me and others get more to the bottom of the “too many clothes” situation. I could do a blog post – or several – answering your questions and writing about the issues you brought up.

      I think I need to start a serious “shop my closet” approach like what you mentioned to help me get clearer on what I have and that I truly do have enough! And doing this can help us to identify any REAL wardrobe holes versus the imagined ones we might think we have. Often, buying more doesn’t help us to solve our wardrobe problems, like you so wisely stated!

      I did the list of 25 great outfits for my summer wardrobe, and I have partially done it for the cool weather items, too. I think that many outfits is really more than enough for my life, as I don’t dress in out and about clothes every day. I have at least that many outfits for my at-home wardrobe, too. I know that I could create many more ensembles using what I have, but I don’t NEED to do so in order to be well-dressed and happy with what I’m wearing.

      I like what you wrote about “lightness” and that there are multiple ways of feeling lighter and less burdened. I hadn’t thought about it that way, but it makes such good sense!

      Thank you for all of your wonderful insights!

  2. Maggie says:

    Hi Debbie. As always, you gave me a lot to think about. I am back in New England after living in Colorado for 2 years. I definitely spent a lot of time on my wardrobe over the past 2 years because the climate was so mild and dry and I went up a size while I lived there. Here in New England, you have to “bow to the weather” in the morning – as I call it – and that drives your clothing choices for the day. In Colorado, most people looked like they dressed straight out of REI and wore sneakers or sandals all the time. (On the plus side, I did learn to love hiking once I got used to the altitude and the terrain.)

    Now back in New England, I have dropped a size again and impoved my eating habits. I have also returned to school. Classes are in-person again. Let me tell you – no one under 70 dressed like I did on the campus. Mind you it is a mid-size public state university but everyone was wearing oversized sweats, track pants, etc.. The only thing that stood out was the layering and maybe the occasional colored piece. I think I might have been the only person – besides the male professors – wearing a belt on my jeans. No wonder Gap stores are closing.

    It was quite the wakeup call. I feel the sands of time weighing on me and I just want to spend my time on things important to me. I bought some long underwear from Uniqlo today. I would highly recommend the fleece Heattech turtleneck. It is as soft as butter. Next on my shopping list is a new pair of goretex boots and maybe a waterproof parka.

    Regards,

    1. Maggie says:

      I forgot to add that I did see flared leggings on some of the women and a pair of bright yellow Nike cargo sweatpants on a man. (I do have a pair of cargo sweatpants from Duluth Trading Company which I wear constantly.) FYI – I bought lined Pro pants from Eddie Bauer for my kids for Christmas for dog-walking and they really like the pants. Women’s style is a lower rise but the only difference between petite and regular is the inseam. I may have to get a pair for myself since I run cold.

      Also, my saying this year is, “Good enough” to fight decision fatigue and my tendencies toward perfectionism.

      Regards

    2. Debbie Roes says:

      I like your “good enough” theme for the year, Maggie! I could do well with taking that approach, too, as I also have a lot of issues with perfectionism and decision fatigue! Congrats on returning to school and dropping a size since you returned to New England. I didn’t realize the weather in New England and in Colorado was so different. I was born in Boston, but moved to California just before I turned 6, so I don’t remember it there. I also lived in Colorado for a year in my early thirties, and I remember how it was there (much like you described). I agree with you about spending time on what’s most important to us, rather than “sweating the small stuff.” Of course, what is considered “small stuff” will vary from person to person, but it sounds like you want to agonize less over what you’re wearing, and I can appreciate that. I feel like I ruminate far too much on that topic myself!

      I’m glad you found some clothing and gear to help you better “bow to the weather” where you are. Thanks as always for sharing some of your recommendations here. I’ve heard good things about both Uniqlo and Duluth Trading Company. I wish we had those stores in my area. Best wishes to you with your schooling, dealing with the winter weather, and on your “good enough” theme for the year!

  3. B says:

    Greetings, Debbie.

    I think you achieved lightness in so many ways in 2022 from having hard conversations to getting outdoors.

    If you go the route of shorter posts, that could be refreshing for you, and I + many readers, I’m sure, will understand and support you! Sharing your thoughts and insights with us is already a generosity in the first place, and your time is precious.

    One of my own goals this past year was to feel less obligation. I said “no” more often when needed (civilly but in view of what is best for me) and that included saying no to over-scrolling online, saying no to making a fast purchase and saying no even after making a thoughtful purchase—returning clothes that didn’t give me 100% joy or meet other guidance you’ve shared over the years. Coupled with a budget, I didn’t get any closet creep for the first time in ages, and I am wearing many more of the clothes I have—which is the corollary yes to the no!

    I’m prone to working for hours at any given task, sometimes with diminishing returns. This year I’m going to try to do things in shorter spells. So maybe it’s the “one-hour” year for me. Give something a go for 60 minutes and then move on to somethimg completely different, and not necessarily a task.

    Take care, and looking forward to your theme.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thank you for your encouragement, B. I’m glad you have found my posts beneficial. I appreciate your sharing your goals for both 2022 and 2023. Congrats on being about to say no more often last year! It can be so hard to say no to both others and ourselves, especially when it comes to potentially addictive activities like scrolling online and over-buying. Yay on not having any closet creep during 2022 – that’s a big win, as is wearing more of the clothes that you own!

      I love your concept of the “one-hour year” and only dedicating 60 minutes to a task before moving on to something else. I also tend to spend FAR too long on a task due to perfectionism. That can definitely be true for me with writing blog posts, which is part of why I want to try to write shorter ones and be okay with something being “good enough” (like Maggie so eloquently wrote about above). There is freedom in not needing to be perfect or do things to “the nines.” I wish you the best of luck with your “one-hour year.” I hope you will check back in on how it’s going for you.

      1. Maggie says:

        Hi Debbie,

        I like the way I always come away with new ideas from your posts and how they inspire your readers. I don’t know if you have ever considered appearing in person at one of your favorite stores. (I consider you a version of the UKs Trinny Woodall.) If you were making an appearance near me, I would certainly go. FYI – I just finished reading “The Joy of Less” and I found it quite inspirational. (Of course, it does all coincide with just having moved 4 times in less than 2 years.)

        Regards

        1. Debbie Roes says:

          You’re so kind in comparing me to Trinny, Maggie! I used to watch the UK version of “What Not to Wear” all the time. I have made some appearances, but far more remotely (podcasts, interviews for publications) than in person. I would be open to it, though. I haven’t read “The Joy of Less,” but I have read similar books over the years. Maybe I’ll have to check it out… Yes, moving can definitely spur us on in our efforts to minimize!

  4. RoseAG says:

    B mentioned shorter posts and I think that’s a good way to incorporate lightness into your life. No need to labor long, we’re listening to you, a dissertation isn’t required!

    2023 is looking like a transitional year for me as I am planning on retiring at the end of the year. I’m saving sorting through my possessions for a post-retirement goal, right now I’m trying to get caught up on the business of my life, which I’ve happily ignored for the past few years. Leaving work is going to be a big deal b/c I often turn there when I have personal things I’d rather not think about or deal with.

    I’ve been keeping notes on what I want to do when I’m not working, and wonder whether I might make my word ‘re-arranging’ as I’ve got some rooms I’d like the change around.

    More movies are also on my list. We only made it to 2 movies last year. We went to a movie last weekend – seeing some of the movies nominated for Academy Awards was an engaging idea — I’d never heard of most of them! We saw a couple of previews that looked good and I thought we need to do more of this!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I would love to write shorter posts, Rose, but they always seem to end up being long (or at least long-ish). I’m going to try harder to cut down the length this year, though… Thanks for sharing your thoughts about how you see 2023 unfolding for you. That’s exciting that you’re planning to retire soon, but I can imagine that there’s also some stress and anxiety involved with the process. I definitely think that a lot of us keep ourselves busy in order to avoid personal issues that are painful. I know that I do that with shopping and ruminating too much on my wardrobe (among other things). I like the word “re-arranging” for you given what you have going on. I hope you will share about how it all unfolds for you!

      I plan to see many of the Academy Award nominated films, too (and I also hadn’t heard of a few of them). I used to make a point of seeing ALL of them, but I saw some films that I didn’t like – or that I found disturbing, so now I just see what appeals to me. A lot of the previews looked good, so I hope to catch up in the month and a half leading up to the Oscars. Enjoy!

  5. Sue says:

    About the difficulty of writing shorter posts: I would definitely accept longer …. I only ask for oftener ☺️

  6. Meghan says:

    Debbie, praise the Lord that you are seeking spiritual growth! I am a Christian and Jesus Christ has changed my life. I hope you will live in God’s grace as well. We are already perfect in God’s eyes if we believe what Jesus has done for us – Taken all our sins and given us his perfect righteousness in exchange. I was struggling with the sense of scarcity yet overburdened by acquisition and management of my wardrobe for over a decade – as Sally described “feel like we have too little and too much at the same time”. I tried all different ways to achieve peace and freedom in my shopping and wardrobe management, only to realize that Jesus is the only solution to my problems in the end.

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