The End of Year “UN-Bucket List”

There is just one month left in the year.  Even during this busy holiday season, many of us also start to think about our goals for the year and how well we did or didn’t do with them.  I don’t know about you, but I often find myself feeling bad about what I didn’t accomplish over the course of the year.   Such ponderings generally leave me feeling bad about myself, which is something I’m trying very hard to avoid these days.

A Different Way of Looking at Goals and Accomplishments

I recently came across a blog post that presented an alternate way of looking at goals and accomplishments.   While many people compile “Bucket Lists” of things they want to do over the course of a year or lifetime, this author created an “UN-Bucket List.”   As she wraps up 2014, rather than focusing on her failures and the things that didn’t go as planned, she shared the accomplishments she has made since January 1st.

Bucket List

We’ve all heard of a “Bucket List,” but how about writing an “UN-Bucket List”?

I was inspired to read about the author, Sue Adair’s, accomplishments, especially the first one on her list, that she stopped coloring her hair and went gray!   Since I’ve been thinking a lot about my hair since writing this post (and long before that), I enjoyed reading about how another woman in my age group has escaped the hair color rollercoaster.   I did have to chuckle at her approximate cost savings of $173 per year, though, as I’m sure my savings would be more in the $1500 range!   However, I don’t think I could be as brave as she was in cutting off her hair once she reached two inches of natural hair color.   I know that many of you have called me courageous, but somehow it’s easier for me to bare my soul on the internet than to change my hair!

My 2014 “UN-Bucket List”

Hair talk aside, after reading Sue’s “UN-Bucket List,” I was inspired to create one of my own and share it with all of you.   I just might make this an annual tradition!  Here goes…

I published my first book

Writing a book has long been on my “Bucket List” and I was very happy to finally tick that item off the list this year.   The task was both easier and more difficult than I had anticipated, if that makes any sense.   It was easier because I basically used my blog posts as a template for the book, but it was more difficult because a lot more editing and organization was required than I would have thought.   But I did it, and I’m so proud to have released “UnShopping: Recovery Solutions from an Ex-Shopaholic” to the world.   A big thank you to all who have bought my book thus far!    I hope you found it both interesting and helpful.  If you haven’t bought the book but have been thinking about it, now might be a good time to do so, as I will be raising the price in January.

My second book will be released very soon

My second book, “End Closet Chaos:  Wardrobe Solutions from an Ex-Shopaholic” is almost ready to go.  I solicited additional editing help this time around, so I’m currently in the process of incorporating all of the wonderful feedback from my diligent editors.   I feel confident that this book will be even better than my first book once it’s all said and done, as a result of my hard work and others’ input.  My goal is to release the book before January 1st, as many people want to pare down their wardrobes and get their closets in order at the start of a new year.   Stay tuned!  You’ll be the first to know when the book is available.

I’ve cleaned up my diet and am now eating much healthier

I’ve often mentioned my health challenges on the blog and I’ve been taking steps to improve that area of my life this year.   After giving up caffeine (I used to drink a pot of coffee a day!) last year, I decided to make additional improvements in 2014.   As part of that process, my husband and I bought a Vitamix blender this past spring and a juicer about two months ago.  I now try to have a smoothie, juice, and large green salad most days (and accomplish this goal more often than not).   I’ve enjoyed researching new smoothie and juice recipes and feel good to be feeding myself many more servings of fresh fruits and vegetables than I did previously.  It’s also been fun experimenting with recipes for soups and dinner entrees, and I plan to get more adventurous with these in the New Year.

In addition, I’ve dramatically decreased my intake of processed foods and sugar.   I actually approached the change from a different angle. Rather than focusing on what to remove from my diet, I instead placed my attention on bringing more healthy foods in.  As a result, I haven’t really felt deprived.  I’ve just been eating so many good things that I’m not really hungry for the bad stuff anymore.

I also removed gluten from my diet, but the jury is still out in terms of how beneficial this has been for me.   I continue to struggle with the same health issues as before (the list is long, but the big ones are migraines, digestive problems, and joint pain).  However, I’m going to give the gluten-free diet a longer trial, as I’ve been told that it can sometimes take a number of months before one notices a substantial difference.

I know it takes time for diet and lifestyle shifts to produce major health changes, and I have to continually remind myself that I didn’t get to my poor physical state overnight. I know that years and years of eating disorders and consuming too many “Franken-foods” took a significant toll on me.  I’m willing to be patient and stay the course with my healthy eating, as I have faith that I will feel better in time.   I already do feel better emotionally, as I know I’m being proactive with my health and treating my body with much more respect and regard than in the past.  That’s enough for me for the time-being!

I cancelled all of my magazine subscriptions

I used to have subscriptions to over twenty magazines and I had a very conflicted relationship with these periodicals.   I loved receiving them, but was overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of magazines that would accumulate around my small apartment.   After learning about an app called Next Issue that would allow me to read almost all of my magazines on my iPad (for one low monthly fee), I decided to take the plunge and cancelled my physical subscriptions.

I now read magazines when I feel like it and no longer feel guilty when I don’t read a particular issue.   I’m saving a lot of money and time in the process, and gone are the piles of unread magazines that used to clutter up my living space.   I still struggle with information overload, but at least I tackled one large chunk of it by letting go of the magazine subscriptions.

I’ve significantly improved my wardrobe and personal style

I’m very proud of the continued improvements I’ve made in terms of my wardrobe and personal style.  I’m shopping far less often and making better buying choices overall.  Yes, I continue to make some mistakes, but I’m happy with a greater percentage of my purchases than in previous years.   I’ve let go of about half of my large jewelry collection (see the most recent update here) and my wardrobe is now at a much more manageable size.  I love and wear a lot more of what I have and have very few “benchwarmers” at this point (I’ll do another update on that topic at the end of the year).

But the most dramatic change has been in terms of my personal style.   Back in July, I started an outfit journal that has helped me to better understand how I really want to dress and why I was dissatisfied with many of my ensembles.  Then in August, I had my first of two virtual styling sessions with Bridgette Raes (you can read the whole series here).   My work with Bridgette has really helped to take my style to the next level.  It was incredibly helpful to discuss my style goals with a professional and receive expert advice on improving my wardrobe, accessories, and ensembles.

I now feel like many more of my outfits reflect who I am and how I want to be seen by others.   I feel better in my own skin now and I’m more confident in my interactions.   After many years of trying to please others, I’m finally starting to dress more for myself and am feeling much happier as a result.

I’m coming to grips with my other issues besides shopping

I started this blog because I wanted to transform my relationship with shopping and help others do the same.   I have definitely achieved those aims (and intend to continue doing so), but through writing my posts and interacting with all of you, I’ve become increasingly aware of the other issues I’m facing. Sure, I knew my health was sub-par, that I lacked close friendships, and that I hadn’t accomplished as much as I’d like in the career realm.  Yet I didn’t truly understand what was keeping me from having the full life I desired.

I now have a much better grip on what’s in the way of my trading my full closet for a full life.  I’ve steadfastly clung to shopping and wardrobe pursuits as a way of avoiding other, more painful issues in my life.   It’s not that I wasn’t conscious of those issues, but I just didn’t realize how much they were costing me.   When I created my “Full Life Project” at the beginning of the year, my goals definitely had merit, but I was skipping a really important step in the process.    In order to experience simplicity and joy (my theme for 2014) and make other life improvements, I needed to remove some of the barriers that were getting in the way.

A few of my recent posts (like this one, this one, and especially this one) were difficult for me to write and it took courage for me to hit the “publish” button.  But these posts have helped me to turn a powerful corner in terms of my recovery.  For me to truly experience the peace and freedom I so deeply crave, I have to release myself from the self-imposed bondage I’ve experienced for far too long.

I have to stop trying so hard to please other people and honor myself far more.  I have to believe that I am just as important and valuable as others, even if I don’t have children and/or a high-powered career.  I have to set boundaries in my relationships, stand up for my needs, and let go of people who deplete my energy and add little value to my life.  I have to accept myself for who I am and embrace the aging process instead of fighting it tooth and nail.   I have to believe that there is far more worth to me than what I see in the mirror.

I can almost taste the freedom that is mine for the taking once I let go of the rigid perfectionism that has imprisoned me for my entire life.   I feel I’m on the cusp of making changes that will take me to where I want to be.  I haven’t been able to get to the place that has eluded me for so long because I was afraid of letting go of the tight reins of control over all aspects of my existence.    I am still scared, but the fear is no longer paralyzing me.  I no longer need to immerse myself in shopping, information overload, and appearance obsession as a means of escaping my demons.   Sure, those methods worked, but they also cost me my vitality and my happiness.  I’m not willing to pay such a high price anymore.

In Conclusion

I could continue to expand upon this “UN-Bucket List,” as I’m sure I’ve accomplished more this year, but I think this is a good place for me to end.   While all of my achievements of 2014 have been valuable, I realize that the intangible triumphs are the most significant.   So instead of feeling “less than” like usual because I haven’t achieved all of the goals I set out for myself this year, I will hold my head up high and say, “Look how far I’ve come!”

I really enjoyed the process of writing my “UN-Bucket List” and I encourage you to give it a try, too, especially if you have a tendency to sell yourself short and feel bad at not being able to tick off each and every box on your yearly to-do list.   If you do write such a list (or have done so in the past), I invite you to share your feelings about its impact on your life.  If you’re open to revealing some of your “UN-Bucket List” items to me and your fellow readers, I’m sure we’ll all enjoy reading them and will cheer you on.

Coming Attractions and More Holiday Links

I’ll be back later this week with my November Accountability Update.   Upcoming posts include the results of the “Recovering Shopaholic” Reader Survey and my re-styled outfits as per Bridgette Raes’ advice.

I hope the holiday season is off to a good start for all of you.   I recently came across a few additional holiday-themed posts that you might want to check out:

53 thoughts on “The End of Year “UN-Bucket List”

  1. Enjoyed reading your thoughts on your progress during this year. I am one these people who have both feet firmly on the ground and could never understand the bucket list. Talk about setting yourself up to failure. True, there are a few things that I would like to do in the near future, but keeping them to myself makes them special and meaningful. Many of the things that I would like to do will likely never happen. But there is joy in looking forward and making small steps towards your goals. With a smile and content. 🙂

    • I have mixed feelings about Bucket Lists, too, Cornelia. They can end up making us feel worse about ourselves if we aren’t able to tick many items off. I think it’s about balance and having a vision but not being wedded to it. I used to be far too rigid about goals and plans, but I’m learning to relax a bit as part of my simplicity and joy theme.

  2. Wow, Debbie–that is impressive! I’m going to try the UN-Bucket List too! I’ve just recently started writing a journal again after a few years hiatus (during which I really could have benefited from keeping a journal!), and I will make this the subject of one of my entries.

    I see you are still grappling with your hair, and I think you will begin to see healthier hair growth as a result of you improved diet. You also describe yourself as a person paralyzed by rigidity and perfectionism in certain areas.

    Coming from a person who has never felt photogenic from the neck up (hence avoided having my photo taken at outings for DECADES), this sounds overly simplistic, but you should just be kind to yourself. Why not just accept what you look like, do what you can with what you’ve got, and move on with life?

    I’ve never seen a photo of you that was bad–perhaps your outfit was questionable, but YOU didn’t look bad. By contrast, most of the photos taken of me are cringeworthy despite my best efforts. You don’t have a thing to worry about in the looks department. I sally forth in my life every day knowing that I have a face as broad as the moon perched on a short neck. I know that nearly everyone who looks at me in person would never describe me as beautiful. I can’t let that stop me from living my life.

    • Your comment about journaling makes me want to try it again, too, Deby. I used to keep a journal for years, but haven’t in quite a while (although there is a sort of journal feel to some of my blog posts…). Thank you for sharing your words of wisdom about appearance struggles. I agree that I should accept what I look like, do what I can with what I’ve got, and move on with my life. I think for far too long, I’ve been in a place of NON-acceptance and fighting reality tooth and nail. That didn’t make me happy. It sounds like you’ve been able to make peace with how you look, both the good and the bad. I hope to be able to do the same. I don’t think I was ready to do so in the past, but I’m getting there now. I just think I never realized how much my rigidity and perfectionism was costing me. Now that I know, I am committed to changing, even if it’s simple but not easy.

      • Well, I had a little interesting reality check today regarding the appearance of my neck. On Imogene Lamport’s blog, she had a video clip of “how to tell if you have a short neck”, so I thought, “this might be interesting”. The idea is that you use your finger measurements to determine your neck proportion. What I discovered is that I have a normal length neck, but because my skin slopes under my chin instead of making a nice indent at the jaw, it gives the appearance of a short neck. I have had this sloping jawline problem my whole adult life, its not strictly the result of age. I was looking at a profile photo from when I was 28, and there is the slope! I’m glad to learn I have a normal length neck.

      • I saw that post, too, Deby, and found it quite interesting. I learn so much from Imogen’s posts! This one was simple but powerful. I love how she gives a lot of practical advice. I think a lot of people are unsure as to whether they have a long or short neck, as well as other bodily proportions. We can’t change how we are built (barring any extreme procedures, of course), but it’s nice to have suggestions for how to make the most of what we have, like you said. Imogen is very helpful for those types of things.

  3. I’m glad you are wrapping up your year with your accomplishments. Life really is how you see it. Glass half full or half empty. What I haven’t done yet or what I did.
    I don’t have huge lofty goals. Really I can only remember physical goals for landmark years. Hiking to the top of Mt. Tallac at 30, learning to surf at 35, running a half marathon at 40. I sort of debated a full marathon for my coming 45th, but we’ll see.
    I do share similar personal life goals as you. The connecting with others as we grow older. I am happy to say I’ve never really felt too down on myself. I guess I can thank my folks for that one 😉 And while I do enjoy a certain amount of ‘pretty’ currency, I know that is just the surface of who I am and what I have to offer. But our brains aren’t out there on display like our hips LOL!
    I’m in the midst of a change in job track – I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a new career – and that’s unsettling in itself. I have moments of self doubt and wondering if I’m being silently judged for leaving big tips bartending behind for entry level work. I won’t know until I try, though. Been doing the same thing for 20 years. Time to break out a bit, and it may be uncomfortable, but growth is uncomfortable. If you’re too cozy, you’re probably not growing.

    • So true that life is in how we see it, Mo. After years of being a glass half empty person, I’ve been moving more toward seeing the glass as half full. I think it’s wonderful that you’ve never felt down on yourself. My low self-esteem has been my Achilles’ Heel my entire life, but it’s not too late for me to change. And I AM changing, bit by bit. I applaud you for exploring new career options. It takes courage to make changes, but that really is how we best grow. I’ve changed my career many, many times and likely will make a few more changes before it’s all said and done. While I would have made more money and had a lofty title if I had stuck with one thing, those are definitely not the only things that matter. I wish you the best of luck with your new path and I look forward to reading how it all goes for you. I think you’ll do great and I’ll be cheering you on!

  4. Your journey is inspiring and I have started down a similar path. I love reading your posts and appreciate your open and honest posts.

    • Thank you so much, Charlotte! I’m very happy to be inspiring others. This isn’t an easy path, but I wish you the very best of luck. I hope you will comment again and share how it’s going for you.

  5. Well, those are some great accomplishments! It was interesting, especially the bit where avoiding overshopping freed you to discovered yourself better.

    • Thank you, Chiara. Lessening my focus on shopping freed up a lot of time and energy for other things. I think I was afraid to think about a lot of things before, but I’m glad that I’m not losing myself in clothes and buying anymore.

  6. Debbie – I read your posts and always look forward to a new one coming out, so I have watched you accomplish all these things. But when you see them pulled together in a list they look really impressive. You should be proud that you’ve done so much this year. Yay, you!

    • I really appreciate your kind words, Cathy. I’m really glad I did the UN-Bucket List and I definitely encourage others to give it a try. I usually feel pretty down on myself this time of year, but I feel a lot better since I focused on what I DID accomplish rather than what didn’t get done.

  7. Congratulations on your terrific accomplishments and progress! I hope you are starting to tell people you are a writer – 2 books is amazing. Now that the shopaholic demon is on a short leash I am betting you will have the energy to address some other areas of your life and will be energized by the process and outcomes.

    • Thanks, Juhli. I do tell people I’m a writer now, but I’m still a bit sheepish about it. I’d love to have a book that I can hold in my hand, but it’s a lot more cost-effective to do e-books. Perhaps in 2015, I can do a print book as well. But in any event, I DO feel proud for what I’ve done. I also feel more energy for other things now that I’m not so completely absorbed in shopping anymore.

      • I’m so glad my post could help inspire you, Juhli! I hope the “Un-Bucket List” idea catches on. I love that you have been able to re-frame a year that included something very, very sad through remembering all of the blessings that you also experienced. I enjoyed reading your list and can see that you have a lot to be happy about! I wish you a wonderful holiday season and all the best in the New Year.

  8. What an impressive list of accomplishments this year for you, Debbie! I’m really looking forward to reading your second book as soon as it comes out. I agree with others that you always look beautiful in your photos even though a particular outfit might not be your best. As far as your hair dilemma goes, I think you have such fine, elegant features and bone structure that you would look great if you wanted to go short in order to get the grey cut off. I can totally see you rocking a sleek, chic, short grey haircut!

    • I appreciate your encouragement, Kim. It’s nice to hear that I look good in my photos. Outfits are much easier to change than everything else 🙂 Thanks for what you said about my features and potential hair changes. I am scared to take the plunge, but I am committed to doing something different with my hair very soon. I’m tired of being in “hair prison” and I’m ready to escape!

  9. I enjoyed reaching this post Debbie. Thank you for the new take on New Year’s goals. I am going to make my own Un-Bucket list.

    • That’s great that you’re going to do an Un-Bucket list, Anna. I’m sure it will be an enlightening and happiness increasing experience for you, just as it was for me. I’m happy to inspire 🙂

  10. Debbie,
    Enjoy your posts and have found many useful suggestions since finding your blog this summer!
    I grew tired earlier this year of the cost, but mainly the time involved in maintaining my brunette hair earlier this year. After a couple of talks with my hairdresser, I took the plunge and am growing out to gray! My mother was horrified! I told her that the worst case scenario if I hated the way my gray looked, was that I would have to go back to coloring it!
    I did not want to go short, as I had very short hair for 25 years and felt that shorter hair was making made me look older not younger, and a year and a half before my 50th birthday, I grew it out. a After encouragement from my husband and sisters, who are very critical of these types of things, I went blonde in early May to ease the transistion and have not colored my hair since! I have continued to get regular haircuts every 4-6 weeks though and recently cut off several inches and added layers. At my last haircut, my stlist suggested toning my hair to remove the more golden tones at the ends from going blonde and I will likely have that done at my next visit before Christmas. I have longish hair between my chin and shoulders. I anticipate it being completely grown out by later Spring 2015!
    It’s great not having to visit the salon every 2-3 weeks as I had to do before. I recently saw my mother and sisters and they’re all loving how my grow out is going! They had not seen it since July! My husband likes it too!
    Best of luck if you decide to try grow it out. My best advice would be to commit to the process and resist any temptation to color. After all, it’s just hair and is relatively easy to change!
    Best for a joyous holiday season!
    Christi

    • Thank you for sharing your hair story, Christi. Congrats on taking the plunge to stop coloring and having to be shackled to the salon. I only go every 4 weeks, but I really should go more often. I just can’t bring myself to spend the time and money (and expose myself to so many chemicals). I’m sure that if I elect to stop coloring, people in my life will be aghast as well, but we have to do what’s right for us. I haven’t totally decided what I’m going to do yet, but I do plan to make some sort of hair change (cut, stop coloring, stop flat-ironing) very soon. I’m glad you are happy with the changes you have made. Your story is inspiring. You’re right that it’s just hair. I feel kind of ridiculous for being so attached to it, but admitting my issues in this public forum is helping me get ready to change. Best holiday wishes to you, too!

  11. I really enjoyed this post. This is my first time visiting your blog & a lot of what you said hit home with me. I am what I would consider a shopaholic. I have recently had an extreme shift in the way I am looking at my wardrobe all by starting a challenge to not shop for 30 days. It really forced me to look at what I had and the reasons behind the shopping in the first place. After all, I think it has nothing to do with the clothes really, but more of escaping issues I have not faced. It is a work in progress and am at the beginning stages of viewing shopping & my personal style in a new light.

    Janeane
    http://www.designingfrommycloset.wordpress.com

    • Welcome, Janeane, and thanks for your comment! Congrats on making a powerful step to deal with your shopping problem. Often, a shopping hiatus can really help to break bad patterns and increase our awareness about what we already have. Since you’re new to the blog, I invite you to check out the guest post from Jill Chivers on how a shopping hiatus can help: https://recoveringshopaholic.com/how-a-shopping-hiatus-can-help/

      It takes time to overcome a compulsive shopping problem, but the fact that you realize that you were escaping difficult issues is a big step in the right direction. I wish you the best of luck and I hope you will comment again to report on how your doing.

  12. Debbie, a great big congratulations to you for all that you have accomplished this past year, and an even BIGGER congratulations to you for all of the struggles, expectations and things you have chosen to “let go of” and “release” from your life.

    Since I’ve been on the road (so to speak) for a few years now, walking towards a more gentle acceptance of myself (to treat myself as I would a beloved auntie) and to bring further simplicity into my wardrobe, and daily routine, I thought that I had already reached a good place, and it came as a delightful surprise to learn so many new wise things and make new discoveries from reading your blog posts each week, and from reader comments. Thank you for your writing and for sharing your heart for the past few years!

    My recent take-away is that I’ve realized that I don’t want to spend excess time trying to look one hundred percent great every day. Truth to tell, all the great looks in the world would not get me what I want most, which is a kind lifestyle filled with kind people. So, I’ve simplified even more. I no longer flat iron my hair every time I wash it, and never when the humidity is over 50%, saving flat ironing for special occasions. Proof is in the new picture of me with my hair dried on the ‘cold shot’ blow dryer cycle. I’ll let it dry natural some days when the weather warms up. And I’ve moved to very minimal daily makeup, and no foundation coverage (just Nars Multiple on my cheeks and a bit of shadow on my eye lids that pull the green from my eyes) and I continue to enjoy my graying hair, and drum roll… have let go of worrying about my rapidly aging face. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I’m photogenic so I can’t prove my wrinkles, but I’m wearing them proudly, along with a great pair of jeans) and a casual shirt pulled from my ever-growing-smaller wardrobe. Oh lordy, less is way, way more.

    Again, thank you for your writing, and for sharing your heart for the past few years!

    • Terra – what an inspiring post! I’ve let go of a few ‘props’ this year, eg cutting down on make-up. As well as saving time and hassle, it does feel liberating on an emotional level.

      Debbie – congratulations! you have achieved a huge amount this year. The blog is invaluable, and so well written, as well as inspiring.

      • I agree that Terra’s comment is inspiring, Alice. Congrats on cutting down on make-up. Sometimes less is more in that arena, especially as we get older. Thanks for your kind words on my achievements and my blog – much appreciated!

    • Thank you so much for your comment, Terra, and for sharing some of your journey and realizations. I especially like this sentence: “Truth to tell, all the great looks in the world would not get me what I want most, which is a kind lifestyle filled with kind people.” That is what I want most, too, and all of the hyper-focus on my appearance hasn’t been getting me there. I’ve started to feel like I don’t want to spend excess time on looking 100% my best every day, either. That’s a big shift for me, as I never cared all that much about the time spent before, only the result. But I’ve grown weary of it…

      You are an inspiration in so many ways. I feel like you’re always a few steps (or more) ahead of me and serving as a role model for me to move forward. In regards to your appearance, I didn’t notice the wrinkles where me met, just how lovely you are both inside and out. Wrinkles and gray hair are part of the aging process and they aren’t ugly. It’s just the agreement reality of this society that have led us to believe they are. I’m ready to adopt a new reality that is more in line with that vision of kindness that you and I both have!

      • I’m glad we’re able to do that for each other. This blog has been a blessing for me in ways I never expected, as it’s enabled me to connect with a lot of wonderful women, including you!

  13. Debbie, you have accomplished SO much this year. Things might not have gone exactly according to plan, but it looks like last year you focused mostly on your closet and this year has been much more about life and real change.
    I had a list of things at the beginning of the year that I wanted to start (or stop) doing such as painting, exercising, etc. Most of these things I did sporadically or not at all. What did happen was similar to what you described above. I needed to take a look at some unhealthy relationships, establish boundaries, and start practicing self care. Figuring out why I felt the need to overshop and dealing with all of the painful things that came up gave me much better results. If I had followed through with my original goals I think I would have stayed busy and it would have distracted me rather than producing any real healing and change.

    • I think it’s been good for both of us that we haven’t followed our original plans for the year, Tonya. The types of realizations and changes we’ve both had/made have been far more valuable. Sometimes we can “white-knuckle” it not to overshop, but if we don’t get to the root of the problem, it will rear its ugly head once again, or we’ll end up with an alternate compulsion. Perhaps what we set out to do in 2014 will happen in 2015 if it still resonates for us. The painting, exercising, and other such activities will still be available to you, but what you accomplished this year has been wonderful!

  14. Hi Debbie,
    Your comment “I have to stop trying so hard to please other people and honor myself far more. I have to believe that I am just as important and valuable as others, even if I don’t have children” is exactly how I’ve been feeling. I had a so -called friend who started putting me down as I don’t have children (she has children) and I’ve been very depressed because I felt worthless. This happened very soon after the loss of both of my parents and the realisation that I won’t ever have children. But reading your blogs especially this one – I feel much more positive and less depressed. I’m also working through very similar issues which you have overcome (for me excess shopping especially when my mum was sick and the losses of both parents and learning to have more faith in myself). I’m also very thankful that I have a wonderful husband who loves and accepts me for who I am.

    • WOW! Tania, I can’t imagine that a “friend” would criticize you for not having children!! (Perhaps she was envious of YOUR situation and feeling a little overwhelmed herself??) I ditched a “friend” a few years ago who said something stupid and rather cruel and then “faux apologized” for her remarks by blaming me! It was the lack of a sincere apology that did it for me. Someone who doesn’t recognize and “honor” (in some way) your feelings and life situation is an acquaintance not a friend. Life really is too short to be surrounded by jerks who claim to be “friends.” Yes, it gets harder as we get older to find true friends but I am always attuned to meeting new people and forming a least a “friendly acquaintance” with them, and I have friends from childhood that I still “hang” with even though there is quite a distance between us. Thank goodness for the Internet and the telephone.

    • I’m glad you’ve found my blog posts helpful, Tania. My condolences on the loss of your parents. I can only imagine how painful that must be. I’m sorry to hear that your supposed friend was so cruel to you, too. Dottie is right that we don’t need friends like that in our lives! We need more people like our wonderful husbands who accept us for who we are. My wish for you in the New Year is the same as my wish for myself, that you will learn to honor yourself more and care less and less about the opinions of others. I also wish you peace and healing.

  15. Debbie: Your list of accomplishments is impressive! Just ONE of them would be a major accomplishment for most people. I spend a few minutes each day recognizing my “accomplishments,” including the very mundane (“walked to grocery store” or ” paid my bills” or “had lunch with a friend at a new restaurant”). I strive for a grateful heart and try to celebrate what I have and what I can do. Now, a trip to a lovely vacation destination would be nice too but looking forward only to big events or big accomplishments means I might lose sight of the joys of everyday life. As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans.”

    • Thank you for your kind words, Dottie. I think it’s wonderful that you recognize your accomplishments every day. I used to do that, too, as part of my gratitude journal process. I would list 5 things I was grateful for and 5 things that I had accomplished that day. Perhaps I should start doing that again! I agree that we should have grateful hearts and celebrate what we have. Those vacations and other big events are great, but it’s in the day to day that our lives are really lived. Love the John Lennon quote – it’s an oldie but goodie!

      • I found a typed 3×5″ card with a prayer of gratitude among my father’s stuff after his death. I would say that this card dates to WWII if not before (my father started using a typewriter in the mid-1930s). I now have it posted at eye level on my fridge and say a prayer of gratitude every a.m. before I make my breakfast. An interesting thing to do — especially on days I don’t feel especially grateful (the unexpected house repair, etc.). Being in the moment and full of gratitude is a very calming thing for me.

      • This is so cool, Dottie! How wonderful to have that prayer from your father to refer to every day. I agree that staying in the moment and being grateful for what we have can be a very calming practice. Thanks for sharing this with all of us.

    • Thanks, Brittany. I encourage you to give the UN-Bucket List a try. It really gave me a boost when I did it. I love the idea of your giving my book to yourself as a Christmas present. I will definitely keep everyone posted on when it will be released.

  16. As always, I am encouraged and inspired by your progress and your take on these issues. I love the “un-bucket list” idea. We spend so much time thinking about what we don’t have or haven’t done that it’s easy to lose sight of our accomplishments, even though they may be small or seemingly insignificant to others. I am REALLY struggling with the urge to shop for myself right now. My elderly mother has decided that “we all have enough stuff” and will not be giving gifts this year. My daughter is in the midst of an unplanned pregnancy that’s making her very sick and costing more than she and her husband can afford in their first year of marriage, so they don’t plan to do gifts, either. It’s ridiculous how sad it makes me feel when I think about a Christmas without one single gift. We have a very small family and I have stopped exchanging gifts with the few close friends I have because we’re all struggling financially, working multiple jobs, etc. I still intend to give gifts to my mother and kids, not to make them feel bad but because I truly enjoy giving thoughtful, carefully chosen gifts, planning surprises, finding perfect wrapping, and all that gifting entails. Every night finds me at the keyboard, barraged with holiday specials, sales and coupons from all my favorite retailers and it’s so hard to resist the temptation to get things I can later tell co-workers I got for Christmas. I feel like such a loser that although I have good, meaningful relationships in my life, they are not with anyone who would take pleasure in buying me a gift. So far, I have bought a Coach purse and scarf, a North Face fleece, and a pair of ankle boots. I know this isn’t the end of it, but reading about your progress really helps inspire me that I can do better. How does everyone else deal with self-pity and the resulting shopping binge at the holidays?

    • TexasAggieMom, I’ve realized in the last few months that one of the symptoms of being a shopaholic is to equate buying things for yourself with self love and nurturing. Of course it didn’t work because whatever I was lacking at the time (love, acceptance, feeling valued) couldn’t be found at the store. Could you suggest doing something with your mother like seeing the Nutcracker or if money is an issue just driving around and looking at the Christmas lights? Another idea is to have a project night with your family making something like a gingerbread house? If you aren’t very good at this sort of thing it can be even more fun. We tried to make a gingerbread house and it looked like it had a tail so we went with it and made a Christmas snake. Having some fun experiences with the people that you love might fill you up with what you’re looking for even more than a traditional gift. I hope that things start feeling more peaceful for you and that you are able to really enjoy it.

      • Tonya, thanks so much for your very thoughtful reply! The ideas you mention are all things I would love, and in my next lifetime, I hope I get that family. I do have a “light night” planned with my daughter and her husband before they leave town to spend Christmas with his family. Unfortunately, my mother is incapable of enjoying anything. She’s in very good health and financially secure, but just a sad, introverted, un-fun person. I’m checking with my local social service providers to see how I might volunteer to be of help to others on Christmas Day. I know that will be much better than being home alone, and will make the kind of good memories that will last far beyond the lifespan of any material gift I received. And you’re so right about not finding what we truly crave in a store. Again, thank you for taking the time to respond!

      • I’m glad you’ll get to spend some quality time with your daughter and her husband. Sorry to hear about your mother. I am very familiar with that type. I think your idea of volunteering on Christmas Day is brilliant. I’m sure that will go a long way to having you feel in the holiday spirit and experiencing fulfillment. Best wishes!

    • TexasAggieMom, I can really relate to what you wrote, as you know from reading my holiday post last week. I also miss the gift exchanges that I used to do with family and friends, which is why I’m looking to find new holiday traditions to enjoy this year. It seems the month rushes by so fast, though, that I’d better get on it! Tonya offered some great suggestions that both you and I (and anyone else who’s reading this with similar challenges) can try. I love that she made lemons into lemonade with the gingerbread snake! I just saw on the internet a list of holiday lights in the San Diego area, so I’m going to suggest to my husband that we go and check some of them out.

      I totally agree with what Tonya wrote about how buying things for ourselves can be an attempt to show self-love and nurturing. That has definitely been true for me and I didn’t even realize it until Tonya brought it up previously. I haven’t totally stopped doing it, as you’ll see in my upcoming accountability post, but when we realize why we’re doing something, we can then be empowered to come up with alternate solutions. I don’t know too much about your situation, but I think you might live alone, which can really be hard during the holiday season. I know it’s tough for my mom, but her issue is food instead of shopping (food used to be an issue for me, too, as I’ve written about). She had to find more things to do in the evening, plus she also started to go to bed earlier in order to circumvent some of her difficult times. Online shopping makes it all too easy for us to buy and night-time was often challenging for me, too, even though I don’t live alone. I still have to watch out for visiting e-commerce sites in the wee hours.

      I don’t have all the answers, as I’m still working on some of the same issues you mentioned. Try to be gentle with yourself along the way. Using words like “loser” is really bad for our self-esteem. That has been a frequent word I’ve used, too, and my husband has pretty much banished its use. If you shop too much one day, remember that you can always make different choices the following day. You can also return things if you overdo it. I’ve noticed that sometimes I don’t even mind returning things (although it does require extra time and effort) because I really wanted the jolt from buying more than the items I bought. This is a day to day process, but the fact that you’re here and asking for support is a sign that you’re working to change. Please feel free to comment any time and we will do our best to support you. You’re not alone in this!

  17. Hi Dottie and Debbie Roes,

    Thank you both for such kind and loving replies to my issue. I very much appreciate it and will definitely take your advice on board starting from today. May you both, as well as all readers of these blogs, have a peaceful and happy New Year !

    • You’re quite welcome, Tania. Dottie said it very well. It can be tough to realize that someone who was once a friend no longer has our best interests at heart (or perhaps never did). The world is tough enough as it is, so it’s important that the people we bring into our inner circles are those who support us and treat us with loving kindness. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be honest with us or that they need to “sugar coat” everything, but putting someone down for not having children is just plain mean. There are many different paths in life and there is no one right path to take. A good friend will honor us for our reality, even if it is different from theirs. There are a lot of good people out there. Sometimes they are hard to find, but we deserve to be treated kindly by others – and by ourselves (that last part is equally as important, if not more so). Sending you virtual hugs and warm thoughts!

  18. Hello from France! Your blog is such as inspiration. I have been following it closely and reading some of the older posts. I moved here from the UK two years ago and now I work at home. I found that a lot of my clothes were just unsuitable for the life I’m now living. I wouldn’t say I was a shopaholic, but I did have a bit of an addiction to buying clothes from charity shops (not sure if that is just a UK term, second-hand essentially), and then ‘saving them for best’. In fact, I found your blog when I googled ‘saving it for best’!

    Inspired by Project 333, six sacks have already gone to the clothing recycling bank. I’m starting on month two of my first Project 333winter capsule wardrobe and it’s going well. My plan is to stick mostly to outdoor activity type clothing (that will be my style, I’m no good at accessories and stuff), we call it technical clothing and I’ve even started a crazy blog about it. I love the ideas you have here and will be giving a lot of thought to the ‘un-bucket’ list.

    • Welcome, Liz, and thanks for your comment! I’m so happy that you’re finding my blog inspirational. I can relate to your charity shop (that term is used here, too) addiction, as I’ve struggled with buying too many second-hand clothes, too. I’ve mostly sworn off that type of shopping now, though, as I learned that I made a lot of mistakes (see this post: https://recoveringshopaholic.com/resale-shopping-analysis/). Congrats on paring down your closet and starting Project 333! I really learned a lot from doing that challenge and I hope you will, too. It sounds like you’re off to a great start.

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