Pressing the Pause Button

I’m grateful for the wonderful comments and emails I received on my last two posts, “Recapping Balance and Striving for Peace” and “The End Game of Project 333 and Capsule Wardrobes.”  I’m always happy when my writing resonates with readers and I appreciate those who took the time to let me know that what I wrote was meaningful to them.  I’m actually quite proud of these two essays, as well as much of the content I’ve published in the past four years.

The Value of the “Power Pause”

I’ve often written about the “power pause(a term borrowed from Jill Chivers of “Shop Your Wardrobe”) as a helpful technique for cutting down on mindless shopping and compulsive buying.   So many of us feel utterly convinced in the moment that we have to have a particular item of clothing, but if we push ourselves to wait for a couple of days – or even a few hours – that need often dissipates.  I use this technique as much as possible, even if it means leaving items in my online shopping cart overnight or having to backtrack to a brick-and-mortar store the next day to buy something.  More often than not, I don’t end up purchasing the item in question because the passage of time shows me that it’s just not critical to my wardrobe or my life.  I simply don’t need it as much as I thought I did, if at all.  The power pause has saved me a lot of money I might have spent on items I didn’t really need or even want.  It’s also saved me countless hours spent on making returns, as well as deep feelings of guilt regarding the sheer waste of it all.

pressing pause

Sometimes the path forward becomes clearer after we pause for a while…

The power pause can also be applied to other aspects of our lives.  “The Minimalists” frequently undertake experiments in which they give up an item, habit, tool, or pastime to determine if it truly adds value to their lives.  Giving something up for a while allows us to objectively and deliberately decide if it deserves a place in the finite realm of our homes and our days.  The Minimalists have undertaken such experiments with television, smartphones, home internet, and other things many of us believe we could never live without.  After the trial period of deprivation was over, they brought back the things they missed, but perhaps they approached them in a different and less overwhelming way.  Other things never returned, for the simple reason that they weren’t adding any real value after all.  The bottom line, however, is that they never would have known what their true feelings were if they hadn’t made the leap to let go for a period of time.

Following the Lead of The Minimalists

In the spirit of The Minimalists’ experiments, I have decided to press the pause button on this blog.  This is something I’ve been considering for a while, but I wasn’t ready to let go.  At the end of every year, I always asked myself if I wanted to continue with “Recovering Shopaholic.”  After all, this began as a one-year project and I didn’t really think I’d continue it beyond that timeframe.  For the first two years, my answer to “Do I continue?” was a clear yes.  I felt I still had lessons to learn and information and insights to contribute to readers, so I carried on happily.

During the third year, it got trickier.  With increased visibility, the critics and trolls came out of the woodwork, attacking not only me but also their fellow commenters.  I seriously considered quitting at that point, as it stopped being fun and I didn’t want to dedicate so much time and energy to my posts only to be attacked for what I was saying.  When I started my private online Facebook group (which has now been transitioned to new leadership) in August 2015, it was with the intention of providing readers with a safe place to engage with each other, but I also saw it as a stepping stone to ending the blog without leaving people high and dry.  I didn’t expect it to take off as much as it has (it’s now at over 1300 members!), but that’s how I felt about the blog when I started it as well.  I’m pleased that both the blog and the group have attracted the interest they have.

I really did think I would stop the blog at the end of 2015.  While I wasn’t yet “recovered” (and I’m still not and maybe never fully will be…), I wasn’t sure if continuing to blog about my journey was right for me or not.  I ultimately opted to carry on, mostly because I received feedback from people who told me my blog made a difference for them and for lack of another creative project I wanted to pursue.  I had wrapped up a lot of my identity in this blog and it was difficult for me to ponder stepping away, so I carried on into 2016.

Why a Break and Not the End?

Towards the end of last year, I started to feel increasingly burned out on the blog.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say anymore and I had also taken on new projects that were occupying more of my time.  It’s time-consuming to write a good blog post and respond to a number of comments and emails, probably more so than most people realize.  Thus, I cut back on how often I posted and committed to discontinue the blog after doing my 2016 wrap-up posts.   But when the time came, I was hesitant.  I wasn’t sure if I truly wanted to say goodbye.

I do still have things to say, but I’ve become weary of writing about my wardrobe, shopping, and style.  I’ve pondered either changing the direction of this blog or starting a new one, but I’m not yet clear on what I want to do.  Thus, I’m taking a break and hoping that clarity will come during my hiatus.  No matter what, though, I will keep this site available as a resource for those who are struggling with compulsive shopping, closet chaos, and related issues.  I will likely move it to a free platform, as it costs money for me to maintain the site and I haven’t done much to monetize the blog because I felt that was a conflict of interest with its mission.

I’ve received countless solicitations to do sponsored posts and include advertisements on my site, but the last thing I want to do is make things worse for my fellow compulsive shoppers by introducing undue temptation to buy.  Yes, I want to earn money for my hard work, but I also want to be able to look at myself in the mirror and feel proud of myself and my actions.  The latter is more important, but I hope to find a way to combine the two, as I don’t have the physical and emotional bandwidth to juggle many balls in the air.  I admire those who seem to be able to “do it all,” but I have to accept that as a result of my illness and my personality, that is never going to be me.  I have to do the best I can with my given reality and I’m hoping I can figure out what that is in the near term.

Thank You to My Readers

I will be back online in one way or another and once I have clarity on what that will look like, I will let you all know.  In the meantime, I want to thank all of those who have accompanied me on this journey, whether from the beginning or just in recent months.  As I’ve mentioned before, I learn so much from my readers and I’m grateful for all of you, regardless of whether or not you’ve ever posted a comment or sent me an email.  Although I’m not as far along in my recovery as I’d hoped to be, I feel confident that I wouldn’t be anywhere close to where I am today had I not decided to put myself out there and share my journey through this blog.

The feedback you’ve given me along the way has informed my introspection, choices, and future writings.  I’ve always strived to ponder all of the input I’ve been given, even the mean comments, which luckily have been relatively few.  The hard questions have made me think and the encouragement has kept me going, but what I’ve appreciated most is those who have opened up to me about their own struggles, journeys, and recovery.  It’s been wonderful to feel that I’m not in this alone and even if I never meet most of you face to face, I’ve been able to feel you metaphorically walking beside me across space and time.

The Full Life Part of the Equation

When I started this blog, my goal was to trade my full closet for a full life.  Four years on, my closet isn’t nearly as full as it once was and I’m far happier with what’s in it these days.  I feel much more confident in my style and I rate the majority of my outfits as “8”s or higher.  I shop a lot less often than I used to and devote far fewer hours to the process of browsing, shopping, buying, and returning than I did previously.  I shudder to think of how many hours and dollars I’ve wasted over the years, but I’m pleased that my wardrobe occupies a much smaller percentage of my life energy now.

The full life part of the equation is more complicated and I would be lying if I said I have a full life today.  I have a lot of work to do in this area, but the question I need to answer is whether or not I want to write about this journey in a public forum and if I want it to be this one.   Perhaps after a break, I will feel re-energized and more ready to share once again.  I honestly don’t know how I’ll feel, so at this point I’m just going to say so long and not goodbye.  I really don’t think it will be goodbye, but I’m not going to say it won’t be.  I have to do what’s right for me and put myself first.  That’s part of my recovery, as is working on my physical healing, which will remain a primary focus.

Au Revoir, Not Goodbye

When I first published this post on February 28, 2017, I mentioned that you could find me in the private Facebook group that I founded in August 2015.  However, as of May 8, 2017, I have transitioned that group I founded to new leadership as part of my continued quest for balance and peace.  Although I love many of the people I met in the group and remain in touch with some of them, I don’t love Facebook as a medium. I find it stressful and overwhelming with its never-ending feed and visual “noise,” so I need to minimize my time there.  I also need to minimize the proportion of my life that is dedicated to clothes, shopping, and style, as that’s an important part of my recovery.  At this point, I’m aiming for quality over quantity in all areas of my life, including in my interpersonal interactions.

I’m struggling with how to end this post, so I’m just going to end it.  I wish you all the very best with your shopping, wardrobe, style, finances, and fuller lives. I send you love and virtual hugs across the miles. Thanks again for your support, encouragement, and feedback.  Au revoir (goodbye until we meet again)

au revoir

Goodbye until we meet again, my friends…

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