Is Shopping Your Only Hobby?

The other day, I saw something written on a forum that really made me think:

Seriously, it’s just clothes.  How empty must your life be if your only hobby is shopping?”

In fact, that quote didn’t just make me think – it actually made me cringe and almost cry.   It hit just a little too close to home for me.   I haven’t written about the “full life” issue for a while, so I think it’s high time for another one of my open, honest, and emotionally raw posts.  These posts aren’t easy for me to write, but they do help me explore important issues, and I also think they strike a chord with many readers.

Default Activity

Shopping hobby

Is shopping your default activity for all of your emotional states? 

For years, shopping was my only hobby. Sure, I did some other things, like going to the movies, taking walks, working out, and reading, but none of those pastimes occupied nearly as much of my time and attention as shopping.  Shopping was my go-to activity.  If I had some extra time, I shopped.  If I wanted to avoid doing something – or thinking about something, I shopped.  If I needed an emotional boost, I shopped.  The list goes on and on…  Shopping was it for me, the be-all, do-all activity.

I deluded myself that shopping was actually fulfilling for me.   Sure, it brought some excitement to my life.  There was a certain thrill in the new and in finding good “deals.”  I also enjoyed being out and about and interacting with salespeople and other shoppers.   I was very lonely and deluded myself into thinking those interactions had more depth than they actually did.   I wanted to believe that the salespeople who recognized me and asked me questions about my life were actually friends of a sort.  It was easier to believe that than to face the intense loneliness I felt inside.

Not Just the Past Tense

I wrote the last two paragraphs in the past tense, but the truth is that not much has really changed. Sure, I don’t shop as much as I used to and I’ve been able to adhere to a clothing budget for two years.   And my closet is less than half as full as it was when I started this blog.  But what was broken inside of me is still broken and I actually feel worse than I used to without the emotional salve that shopping provided for me.   I’m still wrestling with a multitude of health problems, I have very few personal connections, and I haven’t developed new interests to replace shopping in my life.

I can see how shopping became such a default hobby for me, especially in recent years.  My health has steadily declined and I haven’t been able to get that trajectory to turn around.  It’s tough for me to make commitments to people or activities because I never know if I will feel well enough to keep them.   So most of my interactions are confined to the virtual world and while that is fulfilling on some level, it’s just not the same as being face to face.

And while I do my best to make a difference in the world through this blog, I long to be able to do much more.  I even long to be able to do more with this blog and this community, but I just don’t have the physical and mental energy most of the time.  It’s often all I can do to get two posts up a week and interact with those who comment and email me.

I’ve been increasingly challenged on both a physical and emotional level in recent months.   The past few weeks have been especially hard.  I’ve struggled to cope and haven’t known what to do, so I have turned back to my default activity – shopping.  It didn’t give me the rush it used to, but it provided the diversion I really felt I needed.

I bought too many things and will likely return at least some of them to mitigate the damage done.   I don’t feel that I’m at risk of blowing my budget at this point or slipping fully back into my old ways.  I’ve come too far to let that happen, but I do know that something needs to change.

“How Empty Must Your Life Be…”

When I saw the quote that began this post, it hit me on a visceral level.   The hardest part to take was, “How empty must your life be…?”   I have to admit that my life is pretty empty – still.   In many ways, I feel like life is passing me by.  I feel so lonely and disconnected and a bit like a rudderless ship.  I have no idea what the future holds for me.  I’m not even sure what I want it to hold, but I do know that I want to feel more a part of the world and more connected to other people.   I’m not sure how or where to start, though.

If I try to fix the whole empty life problem all at once, I will surely feel overwhelmed and drive myself crazy.  So I need to tackle things one little step at a time.  I think a good first step to take for me – and for any of you who likewise struggle – is to find other interesting and compelling pastimes besides shopping. In my case, they need to be things that I can do when I’m feeling well, that don’t necessarily need to be tied to a particular time.

Part of why shopping fit the bill for me was that it could be done pretty much anytime.  As long as the stores were open, I could go to them.  And with online shopping, I could shop any time of the day or night.  I often preferred to go to the brick-and-mortar stores because it got me out of the house.  When I found myself feeling better physically, I would view going shopping as a sort of celebration of that fact.  I loved being able to fix myself up, put on nice clothes, and get out and about among people.  It didn’t take any advance planning and could be done at the spur of the moment.

Good Shopping vs. Bad Shopping

Of course, shopping for the sake of shopping is never a good thing to do.   Shopping is best done when there is a specific wardrobe need we have identified that needs to be fulfilled. If we shop as a hobby, we’re far less likely to make smart choices and there’s a good chance we’ll end up buying things we don’t need or even really want.

Plus, shopping isn’t even a particularly fulfilling hobby.   After all, we’re not broadening our minds, exercising our bodies, doing anything creative, or helping other people.  We’re just buying clothes – and accessories, shoes, beauty products, and whatever else strikes our fancy.  Those things don’t feed our souls and they usually don’t even lead us to feel better for more than just a brief period.

I’m tired of beating myself up for overshopping for so many years. I know it wasn’t the right thing to do for my wardrobe, wallet, or spirit.   However, I was coping as best as I could at the time.  I did it because it worked on some level.   But it doesn’t work for me anymore.  It doesn’t make my health problems go away and it doesn’t make me feel any less lonely or any clearer about my future path in life.

In the end, the commenter is right – they’re just clothes.   Yes, clothes matter and can help us feel more attractive and confident. But they can’t cure what makes us ache deep down inside. They just don’t have that power.

Where to Go From Here

So, where do I go from here?  Well, as I mentioned above, I’m going to find some new hobbies.  None of them will probably be ground-breaking, at least not in the beginning. I’m simply going to identify a few activities that seem like they might be fun and I’m going to do them – when I’m feeling up to it.  I’ve already taken on the first one and will write about it in an upcoming post.

I’m open to suggestions for hobbies that don’t have to be time-based and can be done at a moment’s notice, just like shopping.  If you know of any pastimes or activities that I might enjoy, feel free to mention them.  I will give each suggestion thoughtful consideration and may feature some of your ideas in future posts.

Still a Recovering Shopaholic…

I know that my struggles may be foreign to some of you, but I would imagine that at least a few of you found resonance in my words today.  Of course, I write this blog for all of you, but if I touched the souls of those who walk a path similar to mine, then my work today is done.

Many of you praise me for my honesty, but in truth, it isn’t easy for me to bare my soul in these types of posts.  I do it both to unburden myself and to touch the hearts and minds of others who can identify with my experience.   I’m tired of hiding who I am from the world, so I’d rather risk ridicule and derision than stay inside of my self-imposed shell quaking with fear over the opinions of others.

I am a flawed human being – just like everyone else. I don’t have it all figured out, not by a longshot. In many respects, I’m making it up as I go along.  I’ve been writing this blog for almost two and a half years, but I’m still a recovering shopaholic.  And you know what?  I may always be in the process of recovery.  I’m okay with that as long as I keep learning new things and making progress. As I’ve said before, I’m all about progress over perfection. I’ve tried to be perfect for too long and look where it’s got me.   I’m not happy and I’m still not perfect.

In January 2013, I set out to trade my full closet for a full life.  I’ve made excellent progress on the first part of the equation and I know I will continue to cultivate a wardrobe that works better for my life.  But the full life part is where the magic truly lies.  I need to devote more of my time and attention to this part of the equation.

I need to determine what a full life is for me and then forge my path for how to get there.  Yes, I have chronic health issues that really put a damper on my quality of life.   Yes, I am beaten down, but I am not beaten.  I want to squeeze more “juice” out of my life and I believe I can, even though I so often feel simply lousy.

I don’t know what the future will bring, but I’m tired of putting my life on hold so much of the time.  I need to steal more moments of joy and pleasure wherever I can find them. And one thing I know for sure is that those moments won’t be found at the mall and most of them cannot be bought.   It’s time for me to set out to find them.

Before You Go… This May Be of Interest

Before I sign off for today, I want to mention a new low-cost offering that is available for those who want to overcome their overshopping habit.   April Benson, PhD, the author of “To Buy or Not to Buy,” has created a new text-messaging program geared toward shopaholics.

This innovative program sends daily text messages—tailored to your individual overshopping profile—directly to your cell phone. You’re also encouraged to text the system anywhere, anytime, for immediate, personalized support. 

If you’d like to learn more about this program, you can visit this page for a full overview. There’s also a free webinar happening tomorrow (April 22nd) at 9 p.m. Eastern Time that you may want to sign up for.   A full overview of the program will be presented during the webinar and you’ll have a chance to ask any questions you may have about it.

If you’d like to register for the free webinar, click here.

115 thoughts on “Is Shopping Your Only Hobby?

  1. thank you for such an emotional post – it must have been difficult to publish. I’m trying to reduce the focus of shopping in my life and am finding cooking and gardening good but solitary (apart from my kids) activities to replace it. I don’t at this stage have much opportunity to do things out of the house.

    • You’re welcome, Rebecca. Yes, these types of posts can be difficult to publish, but I know they resonate with many people. Congrats on finding two new hobbies to do instead of shopping. Best wishes!

  2. Your struggles and your stories absolutely resonate with me, and I thank you for each chapter that you share. I never thought of my shopping habit as a hobby, but I can see now that it was, in addition to serving as a therapy, a drug, and the hoped-for cure for everything that was wrong with my life. I slowly but surely moved away from the clothes-shopping and found that I got a lot of enjoyment from creative activities – painting, sewing, and other arts. I love colors, and that carried over from my clothes into my crafts.
    Unfortunately, I also carried over my need to collect things. I wanted all the paints in all the colors. I bought every pretty fabric that caught my eye. I stocked up hundreds of dollars in supplies for each new project, with the result being that I’m in a similar situation to what I was before. I have way more stuff than I can ever use, half of which I’m not sure I even like now. Got myself into debt again, for what?
    I am now in the process of using the shopaholic tools I’ve learned to understand my problem and deal with it, and fortunately parting with the craft supplies is a bit easier than the clothing and shoes were.
    I guess all this is to tell you that it is awesome to get some hobbies, but make sure they are activities that are investment free! It is very easy to get yourself right back into the same trap. Best of luck to you and thank you again for sharing all your stories.

    • Very good point, Katrina! I definitely think the need to “collect” can spill over into multiple areas. It’s something we need to look out for in all of our pursuits. I don’t want too many of anything in my life, not just clothes. Best wishes to you in dealing with your shopping problem. It can take time and there can be lots of ups and downs, but it IS possible!

  3. Thank you for your honest post. My suggestion is to find volunteer work that does not require a commitment to a schedule. There are places that always have work that needs to be done, such as shelving books at a library or stocking/organizing at a food bank. I recommend calling a few places and asking about their needs and how well they meet your requirement for flexibility. Best wishes to you as you search for more fulfillment in your life.

    • I appreciate your suggestions, Amy. I’m sure there are many volunteer opportunities that are not time-sensitive. Those would be the ones I’d be comfortable pursuing at this point, as I hate to have to cancel any commitments due to health challenges. Perhaps there are more ways that I can help others than I thought even with my limitations.

  4. When I relocated to a different area post divorce I tried to do a new thing once a month to try some different things – dance class, walking group etc. I must admit working in an office gives quite good people contact as does going along to church. If you can build a rapport with others who would like to chat on the phone that might help. Skype makes long distance doable. And to reduce the financial impact you could switch to car boot sales, thrift shops etc where the cost of the things you are buying is less, even if it is still feeding the shopping habit (I must admit this is one strategy I have used in the past). I enjoy sewing and other craft projects e.g. making cards etc, but do watch out that this doesn’t become another shopping opportunity buying craft supplies etc. I like to challenge myself to use up what I already have so remelting candles to make new ones etc can be fun.
    Helping others improves self worth, so see what activities are available locally where you can help your local community (I realise this is harder if you can’t commit to things due to health issues)

    • Thanks for your ideas, Ruthie. I love that you tried one new thing a month after your divorce. Sounds like a good plan for anyone who is looking to find new hobbies and interests. Good point about making sure hobbies don’t become yet another shopping outlet.

  5. It’s funny that you wrote this post because I’ve been thinking about this very topic for the last few days. I can remember so vividly when shopping was the one thing that made me feel excited and could make me light up. A trip to the mall in Nashville was my big social event. Visits to family were centered around shopping trips. I had lost interest in my other hobbies. When I started to see shopping as a problem and I tried to “fix” things by going on shopping bans, I substituted shopping with extra chores and projects. After realizing that I wouldn’t get far taking away something I liked and replacing it with work I tried doing more “fun” things. Although I enjoyed some things to a degree, to be quite honest I felt like it was all just more work. I couldn’t figure out what the hell was wrong with me because I couldn’t seem to have fun anymore.
    What I needed to do first was to work on the emotional issues I had that compelled me to over shop in the first place. I did a lot of reading, journaling, meditating, even a few months of therapy. I changed many behaviors and started to treat myself in a kinder way. Without even realizing it things started to bring me joy again. I read quite a bit and am an avid baseball fan. I had almost stopped doing these things before. Something new I’ve picked up is going to plays, mostly at the university here in my town or a local playhouse. Hiking is another newer interest. I live in a beautiful state. I feel like I’m open to keep trying and adding new things. I finally feel like I’m having fun again. The other day I bought concert tickets to one of my favorite bands and I had that super excited feeling that only shopping could bring me before.
    Some ideas to try are: I know you said that you’d been enjoying cooking. What if you had some challenging recipes and on days you felt good you could go shopping for the ingredients and make something out of the ordinary. You’d get out of the house, but would be going to a different kind of store. Another is going on You Tube and finding ways to do new hairstyles for when the hot weather comes and you want to wear it up. Photography could also be fun. I just took my digital camera and tried to take artsy photos. I’m not very good at it, but I did manage to get a pretty good picture of a handsome dragonfly.
    You have come so far in the last few years. Not only with wardrobe management, but with the fuller life. Your blog touches so many people and you wrote two books! I know you feel stuck now, but that is what will encourage you to make the next step.

    • Oh yes you just reminded me to suggest that make up can be a wonderful artistic hobby as well. You can learn everything you need to know from YouTube at your own pace. You don’t need to spend a lot on fancy brands either, there are so many great affordable drugstore brands these days.

    • I really appreciate your kind words and suggestions, Tonya. Your point about needing to work on the underlying issues first is a really good one. I know I need to put more attention on that area. I’m so happy that you have been able to not only reduce your desire to shop, but you’ve also adopted some wonderful new hobbies and interests. Your life seems much more balanced now. I hope to be able to say the same things before too long. I thank you so much for the nice things you said about me at the end of your comment.

  6. Dear Debbie, I wish I could give you a big hug. It must have been really hard to write this honest post. You may feel ‘stuck’ right now, but you have come so far. You inspire so many people, including me 🙂 I suggest you try something different that does not take too much effort. I bought some beads on Ebay (for 3 USD) and will try to make my own bracelet. Maybe it’s something you could try? I recently downloaded a meditation app (‘Stop, breathe, think). I feel better after 10 minutes of meditation. Or how about walking? I felt very down the other day and my BF suggested we take a half hour walk around the block. That made me feel better.
    Please do not feel obliged to try any of these suggestions, they are just suggestions! I always feel pressure when someone suggests something when I tell them that I feel sad/depressed. I know they mean well, but in my head it is just another task…. I hope your health will improve and that you’ll feel better soon. You do matter!

    • Great ideas, Jessica, some of which I had never thought of before. I definitely think I could benefit from meditation. Maybe the app will make it feel more doable for me. I wish you could give me a big hug, too, but the thought was meaningful and I appreciate your telling me that I matter. Sometimes I don’t feel like I do, but this wonderful community here is good at letting me know that I do make a difference.

    • Yes, definitely. We’ll Skype soon, but it was nice to chat with you on Facebook late the other night!

  7. Debbie–Keep writing, write more–perhaps diversify/take a writing class. How about a book club? Volunteer tutoring? Would you be able to go into schools and talk to girls about clothes, style, color? Hospital volunteer? Any of these would connect you with others, and eventually with sensitive ones like yourself.
    You are so sweet and full of thoughts: I would be your friend if I lived by you for sure. I am picky and have only a handful of women I feel close to. You would be perfect. You need a “girlfriend” to share these ideas and feelings with. It’s what we do as females!
    Hang in there; you are special to so many readers. Best wishes.

    • You offered some excellent ideas, Helen, and I thank you. I really appreciate what you said at the end, too. I feel like I’d love to be friends with many of the wonderful women who comment on my blog posts. Yes, I definitely need more girlfriends and hope I will be able to make that happen soon.

  8. Thank you for your truly honest post. Your wardrobe, style and shopping patterns have improved so much, this next step is obviously key. I echo Helen above, you are a talented writer and a lovely person.
    The post is also very timely, in my case, as I’ve become quite distressed by my own behaviour patterns over the last few weeks. When I first came across this blog, and started my ‘Project 60’ I didn’t count myself as shopaholic at all. I was more interested in the wardrobe management aspects – clothes spending has not been a problem. However through your blog I’ve come to realise that I do have a major problem, what you call the underlying issues. In my case it mainly manifests itself in excessive amounts of time on the internet ‘researching’ possible purchases (eg lately, triggered by a skin problem, I spent hours comparing reviews and reports on creams and dry oils.).
    The thing is, I just don’t want to be that person. I too would like more friends. I grumbled in another post that I don’t enjoy small talk, but have realised this is largely my fault. I truly don’t have a great deal to say. A lot of my time is devoted to work, and as for hobbies, if I’m honest the answer to your opening question is pretty much ‘yes’.
    So I would really like to join you in this journey (it’s a beautiful spring morning, so a good day for new starts!. I will call it Project60+) I have very few suggestions to make, except that as a start I am going to go cold turkey on shopping/style sites for a few days (except for this one!), and try to find some other worthwhile blogs and topics to turn to in tired/stressed moments.

    • I love that you are starting Project60+, Alice! Perhaps I should do Project50+ since I will be 50 in less than a year and a half (Eek!). I’m glad that you found this post helpful and saw some resonance in it. I don’t want to be that person who spends the bulk of my free time on shopping and shopping-related activities, either. And what you said about small talk rings true for me as well. I don’t have a lot of life-related things to talk about with people, but I do love to discuss deeper issues (but find it hard to find those who want to join me in that, at least early in the game). I wish you the best of luck with your efforts to find new hobbies and interests. Please keep me posted. I’ll be cheering you on!

  9. Oh Debbie, I so admire your honesty and openness. It’s hard to find friends, particularly when you’re not feeling well. I know you’re looking to connect with the wider world, but one tiny suggestion from me would be to look at the grown up colouring books amazon sell. They are very fashionable here in the UK at the minute and come in all sorts of patterns. If you could find one you liked that might help – you have such a good eye for colour and there is something satisfying about them (and not much of an investment apart from the book and some nice pens). The other thing someone said to me which struck a cord was to write down anything that you do enjoy even if tiny; over a bit of time they mount up and you can see a pattern which might help direct you. In the meantime sending you love and best wishes from over here.

    • A further thought… I’m sorry you have health issues, and can see that writing these in-depth posts must be very tiring. Why not cut it back to once a week for a while? I am sure we would all understand. And/or have some very short posts, basically just allowing us a space to report on progress or issues, prompted by a short paragraph or question from you, with maybe links to earlier or more detailed posts. Many of your older posts are still very relevant, especially to people discovering the blog for the first time.

      • Good ideas, Alice! I will probably try to stick with two posts per week, but I like the idea of sometimes doing shorter posts like what you suggested or even doing a “Throwback Thursday” type of post that highlights my earlier writings. I will definitely keep these ideas in mind for those times when I’m not feeling up to writing the longer and more time-consuming posts. Thank you for chiming in with your suggestions.

    • Second the suggestion to look into grown-up colouring books! I’ve recently started playing with these and I find them really relaxing. You can even find mandala patterns online for free, all you need to do is print them out which cuts the cost down even further.

    • I had never heard of the grown-up coloring books before, but it actually sounds like fun. It is a low-key thing to do that could be relaxing and therapeutic. I like the idea of keeping a running list of things I enjoy, too. I probably have more interests than I realize.

  10. Hello Debbie!
    I’m at a loss most days too. I’ve been focussing on my wardrobe recently because it gives me something to do. I’ve decided that if I have the ‘right’ clothes then I can move forward and have the ‘right’ life. If only my clothes were ‘just right’ then all would be well in my world.

    The truth is I’m bored. I’m 50, I have no children, a cat and a husband who adores me and me him so I can’t grumble about anything but I have too much time on my hands. My new wardrobe is raring to go into my new life but I don’t know what to do with all this free time.

    In an effort to get out more I met up with a lady last week who I know quite well, I wouldn’t say we are friends because I don’t actually have any! Anyway, this lady bored me rigid. She talked about her kids, her grandkids, herself, herself, herself and it left me thinking that I much prefer my online life. Here I can come and go as it pleases me. Sure, I’d like to connect to people but only people that I have things in common with.

    I tried hobbies like card making, scrap booking, making jewellery etc but they are lonely pastimes and due to my shopping habit I found I had to have ALL the ‘stuff’ to start making things and I got bored very quickly and had a load of stuff I didn’t use so I urge you to apply caution before you start that!

    I love nature so I enjoy gardening. I love jigsaws because they take my mind off everything as I look for a particular piece of sky with a touch of cloud. I love reading blogs as time disappears when I do that although I find myself feeling guilty about spending time online too!

    One last thing Debbie, the author of the Happiness Project Gretchen Rubin says her first rule is to Be Gretchen. I’ve learned a lot from this. You have to be you. What other people are doing isn’t necessarily what you should be doing. be Debbie. Do what Debbie enjoys and not what you think she should. Oh and finally should you ever want to chat offline I’ll happily be an email pen pal to you, you have my email and I’m in the UK so we’re hardly likely to want to meet for coffee!!
    Lots of hugs, T x

    • Saltbox, I could have written this exact same post! We might be twins. I just wanted to let you know you aren’t alone in feeling this way. 🙂

    • I really appreciate your kind and heartfelt comments, Saltbox. We seem to have a lot in common. I have also made the effort to get together with new people and found myself bored by what they talked about. I long for deeper interactions with people, but not everyone is interested in that. Also, it can take time for people to be willing to open up, but do we want to endure listening to the excruciating minutiae of their lives in the meantime? Hard to know… I wish that you, Kim, and I could all hang out. Maybe we could do a Google Hangout sometime! You’re so right that I need to be true to myself and not try to do what other people think I should do. I like that I’m getting such great suggestions here and they provide excellent food for thought, but in the end, I have to do what I feel is right. I’m still pondering and I’m sure the growth will come over time, but I believe I will cultivate a more balanced life. You will, too! Please keep me posted on how you’re doing.

  11. Are you musical? Do you or have you ever learnt the piano or something? I am a piano tutor and an adult student that I have is really enjoying learning to play the piano-right from scratch, too! Just a thought. And I wish you lived here in New Zealand, I think we would be friends. xoxo

    • I’m an adult learning to play piano and I love it! In addition to being engaging, I get joy out of crossing a goal off my list that’s been there since I was six years old (I’m 40).

      Debbie, it doesn’t have to be piano–find a language buddy, take an art class, yoga, etc. I’m in a situation similar to yours and it’s hard getting out into the world but all the little experiences are adding up to making my life overall so much richer and enjoyable.

    • I was going to suggest a taking music lessons as well. I started taking drum lessons about 2 years ago when I saw a deal on Groupon. It has been so much fun and a wonderful challenge to learn something new.

    • I used to be very musical, Fiona. I took piano, voice, and guitar lessons years ago. I might want to pick up an instrument again. That’s definitely something to consider. Thanks for saying you’d want to be my friend if I lived in New Zealand. I love your beautiful country and I hope to make it back there one day. If I do, I will be sure to let you know.

      JB and Jen, I appreciate your suggestions, too. I have received so many wonderful ideas from the caring readers of my blog!

  12. Hello Debbie,
    I’ve been following your posts for a while and have just signed up for your emails. I too have been trying to find meaningful ways to enjoy life (without shopping) since being retrenched from my job a few years ago, and have now found the most satisfaction in the volunteer work I do each week. I don’t remember where I saw the below quote, but it has helped me immensely and may help you too.
    ‘Balancing Act: Every day, do something physical, something pleasurable, something intellectual and something for someone else.  It will bring balance to your life.’
    Please keep inspiring us with your writing, best wishes, Louise (in Melbourne, Australia).

    • Thanks for sharing your wonderful quote, Louise. I’m sure you saw that I included it in my next post. I wanted to make sure that everyone saw it. I’m glad you are experiencing more satisfaction in your life. I’m sure if I follow the formula in the quote you presented, I will be more satisfied and fulfilled, too.

      • Yes I saw that you included the quote Debbie, I’m glad you liked it enough to share it with others. As well as my volunteer work, I also go to a yoga class and a line-dancing class each week, and do knitting and hat-making at home. Those activities and my two Burmese cats are enough to distract me from shopping most of the time but I still feel the pull of my favourite stores occasionally. I’m happy to have found your blog and to realise that it is a familiar struggle for others as well. Thanks again for your inspiration and good luck with your own ‘Balancing Act’.

  13. I took up knitting a couple of years ago. Now I have a skill/hobby that can translate to thoughtful gift giving throughout the year. It’s easy, requires some sort of dedication to learning, but can be done in a formal class setting, or from the comfort of your own home on YouTube. My pro-tip is to only buy what you need for a specific project, otherwise you’ll end up with a massive stash of yarn.

    I think a cooking class is also a great idea, as is photography. Both can be as big or small as you want to make them.

    • Great ideas, Melissa! I have taken on one of them and will share soon. The others will definitely be possibilities for me as well. Good tip about only buying what one needs for a current craft project. I can see how stockpiling supplies could easily happen.

  14. hi Debbie
    I’m the type of person who once someone tells me what I’m doing wrong I get it. Your posts spoke to me and I just got it. Because of your posts I have halved the size of my wardrobe and spend so much less time shopping. And that’s what you have done. I’m over the other side of the world but your posts reached me and made a difference.

    • I really appreciate your comment, Pru. It means a lot to me to know how my blog has touched people. Congrats on downsizing your wardrobe and spending less time on shopping. The fact that I played a role in your progress makes me very happy – thank you for letting me know.

  15. I had a lengthy response but for some reason it didn’t get posted so I’ll spare you the part I wrote about myself and write my suggestion….

    I think volunteering for a non-profit organization like Dress for Success would be great for you. This way you can combine your love of fashion and doing something fulfilling into one realm. Perhaps other readers that know of other kinds of fashion-related organizations like charity auctions in the area where Debbie resides can make some suggestions. I know volunteering for me helped me greatly to find a paying job. The key is to spread yourself around, volunteer for a few different ones and they can all be in the area of fashion. I don’t see why you have to give up your love of clothes and looking good completely to find something that is meaningful to you. I think you can embrace all the things you love into something meaningful.

    • Sorry your initial comment didn’t get posted, Wendy. I hate when that happens and I don’t know how to prevent it on my end. I’m glad you took the time to write again. Good idea to help women with clothing in some way. I would be interested in helping out at Dress for Success or a similar group, but I will probably do that a bit later when I can commit to a regular schedule. I agree that it would be a good fit for me. Thanks for sharing the link.

  16. Debbie,
    Thank you so much for this post and your willingness to be real about all aspects of the journey of recovery. As a reader, I am really proud of you for all the progress in the Last two plus years. Every journey has set backs, but you’re doing amazingly.
    My main hobbies are writing (both poetry and journaling), reading, and I want to get into scrapbooking and baking over the summer.

    • Thanks for your nice comment, Angel. It helps to know that others think I’m progressing well with my recovery. We can all get discouraged sometimes and it’s nice to have others prop us up. Thanks for sharing your hobbies, too. I have done all of the things you’ve mentioned in the past and may opt to take some of them up again.

  17. My heart went out to you when I read your post. And though all of the suggestions above are lovingly offered, it sounds to me as if you need something, someone deeper in your life. Jesus is this for me. He offers love, peace, fullness. He is enough. You are enough in him. You have helped me transition from gluttony of things i.e. clothing , hobbies, cooking etc to a rightness in Christ , to let him lead me in what to be, do, have. I realized for me that the constant humming bird flitting from one thing to the next was because I was the center and not Jesus. When I surrendered control, relief swept over me and I now have purpose in what I do. I am not less in this, I am more. This is my prayer for you.

    • Thank you so much for your kind and heartfelt comment, Kathy. I agree that I need something deeper in my life. I used to be more of a spiritual and religious person than I am today and the lack may be part of my issue. You have given me some important food for thought. I appreciate your prayer for me. I’m glad you are in a much better place in your life today and I’m happy that my blog has been helpful for you.

  18. Deb, I just want you to know that you have changed my shopping habits. You have made me aware and you are really smart. I love your writing. I am sorry to hear you don’t feel yourself lately. I really hope you feel better soon. Be kind to yourself and simply take care of you.


    • I really appreciate that you took the time to let me know how my blog has positively impacted you, Marianne. I love knowing that my writing is making a difference in people’s lives. Congrats on your success and thank you for your very kind wishes.

  19. Re: feelings of unwell. Someone above mentioned adult coloring books, some of which are good for meditating and relaxation. And, this next suggestion may strike you as super odd, but have you checked out ASMR videos on YouTube? They help me with my insomnia but I’ve seen in the comment sections that they also help people relax and forget their chronic pains for a while.

    Re: hobbies. Most of the “making” hobbies have been mentioned above, and I agree with all of them. As for volunteering, I think the hospital suggestion was a great one. Many of the volunteers are sedentary/stationary. I would also ask about administrative-type volunteering with different non-profits. When I worked in non-profits we had a few women who took shifts in our office during the middle of the day – they answered phones and accepted packages while the secretarial staff took their lunch breaks, helped with things like stuffing envelopes and preparing binders, making travel reservations for our directors, etc. Most volunteers want to be hands on with the population served, but it’s just as (if not more) help to have volunteers in administrative-type roles. Look on Volunteer Match for postings, but I also suggest just calling around to agencies near you.

    • I really appreciate your suggestions, Sara. I hadn’t heard of ASMR but will definitely check into it. I will also look into Volunteer Match to see if there’s something I can do that will work with my situation.

  20. Debbie;

    I want you to know that you have accomplished far more in the past two years than ‘just’ focus on clothing. You’ve reached hundreds (if not many more) of people, helped us, inspired us, and in many cases brought us to the path of healing and recovery. For others, you’ve taught them to have compassion for ‘silly’ shopaholics, and to relate in ways they never thought. You’ve published TWO BOOKS that are wonderful- what a huge accomplishment! Please, please have compassion for yourself.

    You want more out of life- and so do I. That’s wonderful for both of us, to be able to see past the distractions we once provided for ourselves. It hurts, not being in a constant state of delusion and fully owning up to what we feel and want to change. But look at what you’ve done- change is more than possible. Just take one day at a time, one step at a time. Finding new things to do takes time- I suggest the following, which I did:

    What are things you’ve always wanted to do (regardless of excuses) or things you wish you’d have done? What are things that make you smile? Activities you really enjoy currently? What are things you are doing now that are not bringing you joy? Now, look at your list and think deeply about them . We cannot do too many things at once, but try one or two that call to you. If you’re over scheduled, swap something you don’t like for something you do! If you can’t do something now, what can you do to get there? A full-out hobby is not required, sometimes just small things helps. Maybe you see a movie, or go to a butterfly garden. Maybe you research a topic you’re interested in, or take a class to learn something you want to learn. Etc.

    I’ve found enjoyment in a few activities recently. I’ve picked up doing Zumba at home on the wii, which is really fun. I always wanted to learn to dance, but cannot find a class to take. Zumba is a great ‘first step’ for me. I love to read, but am trying to minimize book purchases. I’m working on decluttering so that I can get back to scrapbooking, which is a creative outlet I’ve always loved and that I overspent on in the past and no longer need barely any supplies for. (This is causing me frustration, not accomplishing the decluttering so I can do it!) And most of all, I’m writing my book. I’ve written ~13,500 words so far, and am really happy with how it’s going. I try to write a few times a week at least.

    • I thank you so much for what you wrote, Meli. I am not very good at acknowledging myself for the good things that I’ve done. I tend to minimize my accomplishments and dwell too strongly on what is lacking in my life. It means a lot to me to read what you and others wrote about how my blog and my books have made an impact. You’re right that I need to have more compassion for myself. That’s been an ongoing issue for me. I appreciate your suggestions for questions to ask myself to find more outlets for joy and pleasure in my life. You’re right that small things can really help and I probably don’t need to take on as many new interests and pastimes as I think. Congrats on writing your book! You have written quite a few words so far. Keep up the good work – I will be cheering you on!

  21. Debbie,

    Thank you for such an honest post. I am sorry you are going through a difficult time right now.

    Like you, I viewed shopping as my hobby for far too many years. My normal routine was to go the mall Friday night after work to socialize with the salespeople and buy new things. What I know now is that I was trying to fill an empty space. I loved having new clothes and being able to wear a new outfit each week. I wish I had redirected half that money to something more productive, like paying off my mortgage sooner.

    Two years ago everyone at my office had to take two pay cuts (about eight months apart) to keep the company afloat. The first pay cut didn’t hurt my finances all that much, but the second one did. I was forced to cut back on shopping, as my disposable income simply didn’t allow for it. I miss having the extra income, but the pay cuts taught me a valuable lesson in what’s important and what’s not. I save money monthly in an investment account as well as in a travel account (for my annual vacation).

    As for new hobbies: Do you like to go to museums? I enjoy having lunch at museum cafes and then browsing the collections. Most museums have nice outdoor areas, too, for sitting and reflecting. This is a hobby I truly enjoy. I am not artistic in the least, but I appreciate art very much.

    Do you have a neighborhood association? My small community has get-togethers two or three times a year, and we also participate in an annual beautification project. We’ve planted trees, shrubs and flowers over the years. It’s a good way to meet people who live in your area. One of my neighbors has become my walking buddy and a wonderful friend over the years.

    And lastly, I started going to a new church three years ago during a really low time in my life. I have made some acquaintances, but not really friends, as the church is quite large. The message and music I hear every Sunday is uplifting and sets a good tone for the week to come.

    I look forward to your next post. Until then, take good care.

    • Thank you for sharing your story and offering such helpful suggestions, Maddie. I can identify with what you wrote about shopping to try to fill an empty space. That has been a lot of what it’s about for me, too, and it never worked. Sometimes I would feel less empty for a little while, but the empty feelings always came back and then I shopped again to try to fill myself up. It created a vicious cycle that made my life less happy instead of better. I’m glad that I’m turning things around, but it’s not without pain. I appreciate all of the wonderful suggestions I’ve been offered by readers and know I will find some fun new hobbies to pursue soon.

  22. Oh Debbie,
    My heart goes out to you. Your emotional honesty and ability to lay it all out there is amazing. Since you enjoy reading, I suggest checking with your local library to see if they have a book club. No commitment beyond a meeting once a month (typically), and the others there are readers so you might find a friend. Also, are there any local gardening groups or clubs? Gardening is a great hobby to take up, there’s a lot to learn and gardeners are, or the most part, great people. Or perhaps a class in an area that interests you? It’s been said before, but bears repeating: Do what you enjoy so you can meet people who enjoy the same thing. I wish you much success in your search.

    • Thank you, Sherrie, for the heartfelt wishes and the suggestions. I will definitely consider the ideas you have offered, as well as all of the other great suggestions I received.

  23. everyone else has said what i too feel about your post already – better than i could probably – and of course, you know that i’m in a very similar (identical?) situation with regard to shopping recovery. BUT, i will say that that quote really upsets me. not that it makes me feel guilty, but because it’s very judgmental, when it need not be.

    i agree that UNHEALTHY shopping (shopping to fulfill a deep emotional need, and buying what you cannot afford) can potentially be a sign of a relatively “empty” life, but it’s not always the case. i do what i do because i love clothes and trying new things = shopping. i love to advise other women on fit and encourage them to try things they wouldn’t normally try, by trying them myself, and then posting pictures of the evidence! i love to see what’s new, and see how things fit, how clothes create a persona, and observe other people wearing clothes.

    and i don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. it’s not up to me, or anyone else, to judge what a person does with his/her time and/or his/her money. fashion & shopping are easy targets because they’re mostly seen as frivolous and self-involved. people love to pick on us – those of us who love clothes & shopping – because they can’t understand why we care so much, or would want to spend $x on “just clothes.”

    if you filled in “shopping” with any other hobby like reading, gardening, racing, gaming, etc., would we feel so guilty about engaging in it? like
    “seriously, they’re just books, how empty must your life be if reading is your only hobby?” – can you imagine anyone saying that?? and if they did, we’d say, so what? because reading is a “lofty” endeavor, as opposed to shopping…

    anyway, this is a long way to say that we shouldn’t beat ourselves up about doing what we love, whatever that may be. and it’s certainly no one else’s business what our hobbies are.

    the key is getting shopping back to HEALTHY, so it can truly be a hobby, and not a sickness. and i know that you and i both are moving in that direction – clothes ARE more than “just clothes” to me, but they are not as much as they used to be.

    • I tracked down what I believe is the source of the quote and I must say its one unhealthy website at the best of times!!

    • Ditto on the judgment communicated in that email. Wow! I wonder what kind of problems the writer has, although perhaps I should be less judgmental of him/her and be compassionate about a person who may have little emotional support in life. And we know, misery loves company.

    • I really appreciate your comment, Grechen, as you know from my foll0w-up post. Your perspective really helped me a lot and I am grateful to you . Yes, the comment was very judgmental and probably wouldn’t be applied to something like reading. I feel much better now after what you and others wrote. I should probably stay away from the “mean girls” sites, even if the comments aren’t specifically directed toward me. I need to do more things that make me feel good and steer clear of things that make me feel bad. Thanks for coming here to share your valuable insights.

  24. Thank you so much for your honesty and vulnerability. Your words really resonate with me as I try to figure out my own feelings and compulsive behaviors. These posts really help. So happy I found you. Best wishes for health & strength!

    • I really appreciate your kind wishes, Lori, and I wish you the best with with your journey to overcome compulsive behaviors and find peace and joy.

  25. Debbie,

    I’m pretty much in your boat health wise. Here’s what I do–perhaps something will resonate.

    Since I am no longer married, I live in a senior (I’m in my 60s) apt bldg so there are always people around. I have made friends through my 2 main activities in this building which are leading an aerobics class in the indoor heated pool 3 times a week and painting (watercolor and colored pencils) in the studio with the other residents who do art. I volunteered to be in charge of arranging (not teaching) art classes for the residents. I also spend a lot of time on the computer reading blogs and other things. There is also yoga here that I try to get to. I also try to keep up an active email and and/or phone communication with family and friends not nearby. I have 2 little dogs that don’t require much activity but are wonderful companions.

    These 2 activities keep me busy but often the pool exercise wears me out for the rest of the day. Also, I have a very limited amount of energy and a disease that leaves me unable to be vertical by about 5pm. I belong to congregations in my community and a larger nearby one. I rarely get to activities as they are usually in the evening, but I have friendships through those groups. too.

    My horizontal activities include a lot of tv watching. I record movies and dramas and watch them without commercials. I like tv and am not ashamed about my couch potato activity. If I feel up to it, I stretch or do some yoga postures. I also read, color in coloring books using colored pencils and do crossword puzzles.

    I am content and do not regret being able to join the other residents at dinner or other evening activities. (I have my main meal at lunch). I had a busy life working and raising 2 boys, one autistic. My former spouse was emotional high maintenance and the 33 years we were married have taken their toll although we are still cordially engaged in co-parenting, especially the disabled son who is in a residential program for adults like him. I feel like I have earned my simple life, which is fulfilling.

    I hope this helps you, Debbie.

    • Thanks so much for sharing your story, Hope. I really appreciate your insights as a fellow person who struggles with debilitating health issues. You seem to have found a good life for yourself with hobbies, interests, friends, and balance. Our lives may change as we get older and our health declines, but they can still be meaningful and include joy. Thank you for passing your insights on to me and others who can benefit from them.

  26. Debbie, I am so appreciative of your honesty; so many of us face similar challenges, and your openness allows all of us to share those experiences in a safe and supportive forum. Even though I work outside the home, I was feeling the need to connect with others on a social level. Someone suggested to me. There are all sorts of activities and groups to choose from, depending on your interest and availability. My book group meets monthly; there are groups for women who lunch (I can’t), various social/crafty outings (making lotions, visiting a pottery studio), walking (got mistakenly signed up for the power walkers – oops!, back to the Tortoise Society for me!). I could see you exploring your eye for color with a free introductory class of whatever suits your fancy at Doesn’t get you out and about, but expressing your creative side is always a positive. And yoga. My yoga instructor reached a point in her journey with Crohn’s Disease, turned to yoga, and has made remarkable improvements in her life; not just her physical well-being, either. It wasn’t easy for me to start, but I found that each new activity was its own reward. Good luck, and please let us know how you do. Oh, and promise never to read that evil source site again!

    • I’m glad you appreciate these types of posts and my blog in general, Tina. Thanks for your suggestion of I have attended activities through that site in the past, but often the groups fizzle out. Perhaps I need to look again. I like the idea of meeting like-minded people while doing things I enjoy. I will definitely keep everyone posted.

  27. I completely empathize with you and think to some degree, this is a common modern issue. Especially for those of us who did not raise children. I am home sick the last few days, so I can even more understand the wanting to go out and grab life by the horns but not have even the energy to get past the mailbox.
    My first thought was cooking, as others have mentioned. It can be done on your own time frame according to how you feel. You could explore farmer’s markets in your area and absorb the community vibe there. Also, the fruits of your labors nourish your body and soul. Win -win! Maybe you could eventually branch out from there and host a dinner party as part of a group that rotates hosting once a month. I know some online friends who do this as part of a wine group. They choose a theme and do the food and wine pairing at one person’s place each month. Since it’s a group effort, all the workload does not land on one person’s shoulders. Anyway, just a thought.
    Part of growth IMO is getting past the daily distractions and actually contemplating our lives, their meaning, and our place in this world. It can be painful, but growth almost always is.
    And, hey, if you want help to maybe try the forum/group thing we’ve talked about before, I’m totally up for taking it on 😉

    • Thanks for sharing your insights and for offering such helpful suggestions, Mo. I hope you are now feeling much better, as it’s taken me a while to respond to all of these great comments. You’re right about growth being painful, but it’s so necessary. I do want to pursue the forum but I keep putting it off because I have trouble getting everything done with my health issues. I will do my best to get something going in May and if you are able to help, that would be great. I was thinking of starting with a Facebook group because they are easy to set up and manage. Plus, people would be able to post photos which they can’t do here. I don’t know how many people would join, but it doesn’t have to be a large group. We never know until we try, though. It could become a valuable resource for those involved.

  28. Debbie thank you for your honesty, warmth, compassion, the writing you put forth, and the hard work you have accomplished with this blog, and the community of readers you have gathered. The “writing life” is hard work, and blogging is even harder because it requires constant, careful attention without much downtime, and you have accomplished so much! It makes sense that you might be exhausted both physically and emotionally. Also, sometimes things seem to feel worse than it really is when we are overly tired and everything gets magnified. And often it is two steps forward and ten steps back, and then all of a sudden there is an emotional growth spurt. I love Tonya’s comment, along with many others who have also opened their hearts and shared deeply and honestly. Debbie, I can strongly identify with your need to always be accomplishing something, and the high standards you set for yourself. I do it too. And we both need to remind ourselves that we are doing just fine, and that it is OK to slack off, and a set back is only a set back, and in the big picture you are making great gains. What I love most is how so many readers can identify with how you are feeling. It lets us all know that we are not alone. Since I spend the majority of my very long work days alone writing, I spent most of last year finding ways to connect with other people out in the community, and what I discovered is that I don’t need as much face-to-face people time as I once thought. For me a little goes a long way. Once you begin to figure out what activities you enjoy doing with others you will also begin to find the right balance that works best for you.

    • As always, I appreciate your kind words, Terra. I know that as a fellow writer and blogger, you understand the challenges and it means a lot to me to have your support. I think you’re right that I don’t need as much face-to-face time as I think. I agree that a little can go a long way. I will take baby steps and see how I feel as I go along. I have received so many helpful suggestions that I know will take me in the right direction.

  29. Great suggestions and feedback, everyone. I cannot tell you, Debbie, how much this resonated with me. Wow.

    • I’m glad this resonated with you, Catherine. I hope that the feedback and suggestions that I received will help you and others, too.

  30. Some brainstorms to help you get started:
    Gardening (even indoor potted gardening!)
    Gentle yoga
    Photography and photo editing
    Drawing or painting?
    Birdwatching or other naturalistic activities like mushroom or fossil hunting
    Cooking new dishes and writing/photography about them
    What creative skills do you have other than writing? Many people enjoy building model airplanes, kites, sewing, making models or birdhouses… Maybe browse etsy for some offbeat ideas!

    I’m glad to see you are being kind to yourself and knowing that we are all flawed but you are still making progress!

    • Really great suggestions, Sarah. Thank you! One of your ideas is what I’ll be writing about in my next post… I’m trying my best to be kinder to myself. It doesn’t come naturally to me because I am such a perfectionist and tend to look at what’s wrong instead of what’s right. But that doesn’t make me happy, so I’m trying to change my perspective. Yes, I’m making progress and that’s what matters most.

  31. one hobby that worked for me!
    Get yourself an Instagram account and post one photo per day that sparks joy in your life!
    (Thus is for you … not for others … but you can share if you want to…)
    Look for something that helped you to smile inwardly!
    It may sound too simple … but it makes you more mindful and aware of the world around you!
    It could be a flower in your garden etc!
    And don’t “judge” your posts … just let them reflect what makes you smile!
    I suspect “judging” yourself and mercilessly condemning yourself is a big issue for you!

    • I really love your suggestion, Wendy, and am seriously considering giving it a go. I love that it’s simple yet has the potential to be powerful and meaningful, too. You are right that judging myself and condemning myself is a big issue. I’m trying to turn it around, but old habits can die hard. It does help that I get so much support and validation from readers, though. Every time I do an honest and raw post like this one, I get an outpowering of love and support from all of you and it means a lot to me.

  32. You may recall that I have never been in the shopping as a hobby camp, but I have followed your blog from its very early stages, and I still do. So let me start out by saying that, yes, clothes are just clothes, just as food is just food. There are many people who shop too much as there are many people who eat (0r drink, gamble or gossip) too much. We all have coping strategies to get us through life’s rough patches. My strategy might not be yours and vice versa. Therefore, a comment about one’s empty life is demeaning and serves only to build the writer’s self esteem. You have recognized that an area of your life is in need of approving, you tackled it, and what’s more, bare it for us to see and comment. That is a brave step forward in my book. Best wishes. 🙂

    • I really appreciate your ongoing support, Cornelia. I’m happy you have followed my blog for so long, even though you are not a shopaholic yourself. What you wrote is really spot on. Virtually everyone has some sort of coping strategy and they aren’t always all positive and beyond reproach. Thanks for acknowledging my courage. That means a lot to me.

  33. Most people with disposable income spend their money in ways that they enjoy without excuses: travel, sports, dining out, collecting, hobbies and yes, shopping. Unless you are spending yourself into the poorhouse I don’t see why you are so hard and unforgiving towards yourself about your particular spending habits. Just because your choice of spending is on clothes why is that any worse than someone who goes to Paris or dines in fine restaurants or sees the latest Broadway shows? If you’ve cut back on shopping to the point where you miss it then you have also missed the boat. Life is short. I’m sorry to say this but it’s crazy to worry about what some nameless kook on the internet says (including me!). Be nice to yourself. Enjoy your money in a way you can afford and make apologies to no one. Good luck on your journey.

    • Very good points, Diana! You’re right that spending money on clothes is equally as valid as spending money on things like dining out, traveling, or seeing live entertainment. I will probably always love clothes and shouldn’t have to apologize for that. I just want to have some more balance in my life and integrate a few more hobbies and interests. And yes, I shouldn’t be too concerned about the opinions of strangers on the internet. That one struck a chord with me, though, and I’m glad I took the time to write about. I feel better, plus my thoughts resonated with others and we got lots of great suggestions here. Win, win, I feel.

  34. Debbie, many of the above responses clarify what I was thinking. Your writing is excellent and lead me to believe you could write a different type of book. A crime/thriller? I think you could intertwine a book quite nicely. I even have ideas floating around in my head as I write! Volunteering was another thought I had. Mixing with people is important. You could do this on your terms, when you are feeling up to it. I hope I am not being too personal, but I tend to think you are an introvert (like me), and sometimes we just have to push ourselves.
    I knit and sew at various times to keep me occupied now, instead of the merry-go-round of compulsive shopping. Not great at it but I give it a go. I enjoy it. I also paint (oils) at times and have done house renovations in the past.
    Travelling is another thing I do frequently. Opens my eyes to the world.
    I hope your health improves as does your loneliness. I have been where you are and there is light at the end of the tunnel – it just takes you to make it happen. X

    • Thanks for your kind wishes and suggestions, EB. Yes, I am an introvert and the fact that I spend almost all of my time at home is making me more of one. I am not used to interacting with others as much anymore and my social skills are quite rusty! I do need to push myself to get out more, especially when I am feeling better. I sometimes make excuses, but even with my health challenges, I believe that I can connect more with others and find more meaning in life.

  35. Hi Debbie,
    I saw some of myself in your post. I spent way too much time, energy and thought on clothes (a lot of it surfing on Ebay) mainly because it was the one thing in my life that is just about me and what I like and I could do it on the computer at home while waiting to play chauffeur for the kids, cooking dinner, walking the dog and other “duties”. But for sure I counted on it to make me feel better when I was unhappy or disappointed with the important people in my life.
    Anyway – long story made short and after some therapy related to my marriage and immediate family, I started taking care of myself, working out a bit, I went back to school at the community college for a degree that is in a transfer program with the state university.
    (I have a previous degree but haven’t worked anywhere but in retail for a few years. I quit to be at home with the kids quite a while ago.) I just started with one class and you can attend class at the campus – which is small – or take it on-line or do a hybrid version. I am on my second class now.

    I was working out at a gym after using a personal trainer for a time but hurt a muscle in my back a few months ago and had to rest almost completely so I signed up for Salsa classes through my town. Last year, I stumbled across a website called for social clubs and have attended several events for one for women 35 and up who live nearby – single or married. Some of the groups are geared to more impromptu gatherings.

    In reading about thinking patterns related to alcohol in someone close to me, I came across a reference to a book called “Addictive Thinking and The Addictive Personality”. It blew me away. I could see how my surfing Ebay was an addictive behavior. It talks about how to do something and you feel better, so you keep doing it although you don’t necessarily feel better every time. You start spending more time with this “object” or that behavior and spend less time with people and deal with those feeling of anxiety, uncertainty, rejection…

    Since there has been a change in my living situation – for the good as far as I am concerned – and I have cut my spending/shopping way back to accommodate this change. I have now limited myself to 1 new item a month. I still go to the mall every 3 weeks or so and look for
    something that will meet the requirements on my list or I just have a nice lunch. Even though
    I have other social encounters, I still like browsing and looking at things even if no salespeople
    talk to me. I do enjoy reading a few shopping/fashion blogs and your blog is one of them.

    Another book I read 2 years ago was “Radical Acceptance” by Tara Brach and this actually
    helped me think better of myself, my life, and the universe. I also like the books by Pema Chodron particularly “When Things Fall Apart”. I am truly working on being a different
    person than I was two years ago and I can’t say I am happier but I do have some moments
    of peace and am not as hard on myself as I used to be…

    • Thanks for sharing your story, Maddie, and thanks for the great book suggestions, too. It sounds like you are on a very positive path and I commend you for that. I can identify with what you wrote about the addictive personality. I have experienced addictive thinking and behavior in other areas besides shopping, including eating (or not eating), exercise, and relationships. The book you mentioned seems like it might be a good one for me to read. I wish you the best with your continued journey. It can take a long time to grow and get to a better place, but both you and I are on the path and will get there eventually. Peace to you!

  36. Hi Debbie,

    I would just ignore what other people have to say about you and your shopping history (although this is very difficult to do). You’re on the road to recovery and don’t need others bringing you down with such a demeaning, ignorant, and insensitive comment about your shopping past. I think these type of comments say a lot more about the people that say them than they do about you. I think you may need to do some deep deep soul searching into what a fulfilling life for you is and not what other people see as a fulfilling life. I know it is not comfortable for you and you have turned to shopping in the past in order to allow doing this, but ultimately this was the root cause of the shopping compulsion in the first place so that would need to be tackled in order to see long lasting improvement and a greater life satisfaction. Of course this is all easier said than done, but take it one step at a time and I hope to continue to see how this progresses in the future. =)

    • I really appreciate your insights, Margaret. Although the comment in question was not specifically directed toward me, it did strike a chord in me. You’re right that I need to determine for myself what a fulfilling life means to me. I am not sure at this point really. I just know that I feel a bit lost and have so much uncertainty about the future. But I also know that shopping doesn’t help me to get to where I want to go. I need to go deeper and keep going on my journey, which I will. I I will definitely keep everyone posted on how it all progresses for me.

  37. What a brave and courageous post! I concur with many of the above suggestions, particularly volunteer work as it’s been a tremendous gift to me during difficult times. Managing health issues is a tremendous emotional burden, but getting outside ourselves takes some of the weight away. So – like so many others – I’d encourage you to find a cause that you can embrace. Find a way to engage your excellent mind, your deep creativity, and your kind heart in service to others. That’s the only thing I’ve ever found to address my own times of sadness and isolation.

    You are a tremendous gift to so many. Don’t ever forget that.

    • Thanks for your kind words, especially your last statement, Sybil. I often do forget the value that I add to the world, as I have a tendency to get depressed and feel down on myself. I appreciate your suggestions, too. I agree that embracing a meaningful cause could be helpful to me.

  38. I have also listened to her audiobooks borrowed from the library and like those too.
    Her video on “Why I became a Buddhist” on YouTube is very amusing.

    • I assume you’re referring to Pema Chodron, Maggie. I will have to check out that video, as it sounds interesting.

  39. One last thing – since my kids are pretty independent now, I have picked a few small projects around the house to work on as my energy and time allow that don’t involve my husband in any way, shape or form. Right now, I am replacing a few broken balustrades on my staircase with the help of YouTube and the people at Lowes. Did you know that Benjamin Moore can match a stain if you bring in a piece of the original wood/color and a sample piece of wood for them to test?
    This was news to me.

    • Good for you for taking on some new projects, Maggie. I wish you the best of luck with making your home more beautiful. This is a good idea for other moms whose kids are growing up and don’t need as much continuous care.

  40. Wish I could meet you, Debbie. You are so fascinating and brilliant and human. There must be so many many many people who would love to hang out with you on a regular basis. Whether shopping is involved, or comfort eating, etc, or not, it seems to be quite a common thing for women ‘our’ age to feel lonely. I think you are so wise in having decided to take positive steps to make a change. I do not know what is wrong with you, healthwise, but I do hope that you feel well and healthy soon. Know that many many people are thinking of you and wishing you the very best.



    • I wish I could meet you and many other readers, too, Wendy! Thanks for the wonderful compliments and positive wishes. Yes, I think loneliness is very common in general and perhaps more for certain age groups. I know I’m not alone in feeling that way for sure. It helps to know that so many readers are wishing the best for me. I have been very touched by the comments on this post.

  41. Hugs to you, Debbie, and thank you for your integrity and honesty. I have a suggestion. Dress up, as you would to go shopping, and go to the local library. It’s amazing how the hours can fly by there. Since you like to read, you may really enjoy it. And it’s free.

    • Great idea, Nutrivore. The library is only about a mile from where I live and I haven’t been there in a while. It could be a fun thing for me to do.

  42. I hear you. Life can be tough and perfectionists like us are even harder on ourselves! I don’t have your health challenges but the shopping thing is always going to be with me I think. I have improved a lot like you, but it will always be something we have to be mindful of.

    Being a natural introvert and childfree woman, I have to put effort into forcing myself to reach out to others and get involved, although like a previous poster I have realized I only need a certain amount of social contact, too much is exhausting and annoying. I plan to spend more time cooking, going for walks, playing with my dogs, and reading books from the library. I will participate occasionally in meetup groups and find a place/group to learn to knit, something I’ve always wanted to do. This is my full life plan, to break away from my shopping habits.

    Hang in there. When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we thought we conquered long ago.

    • I can relate a lot to what you wrote, Tara. I also have to put a lot of effort into reaching out to others. I say that I want to be less lonely but then I don’t take the steps required to make that happen. It just feels very tiring sometimes to do it. I agree that not a lot of connection is really needed for us introverts. I believe that a little will go a long way, but I need to take the baby steps required to be more connected in the physical (vs. online) world.

  43. Hi Debbie,
    I thought of one more thing this morning. Have you considered starting a group on

    With your blog, I am sure other people would be interested in meeting you and it would be face-to-face. You can always share the task of planning activities with someone else. You don’t actually have to attend everything. The 35 and up group I went to a few times had everything from yoga, knitting, lunch in town, movies (I saw the movie “Divergent” with a few people from this group), beading parties at the local bead shop, trivia parties, running in different charity events and going out to dinner. (I proposed the idea of going strawberry picking and they were very interested in it.) The thing I like about this group is that the organizers live in my town so most of the activities are close by.

    • Interesting idea, Maggie. It’s definitely something I would consider, but probably a bit down the road. I still have hope that I can get my health to a better place and I keep trying new things. The group you mentioned sounds like fun. I have been to some meetups and have enjoyed them. I am in an arthouse movie meetup but they don’t have as many events as they used to. But I’m sure there are some other great groups out there that I could join.

  44. Hi Debbie
    Alarm bells started ringing as I read your post. Please will you visit your doctor and get a proper assessment regarding the possibility of depression. When you have chronic health problems it’s easy to miss the slide from feeling down about your health and how you feel, and clinical depression, which can involve all sorts of chemical and hormonal factors. I’m not sure exactly how old you are but in my experience the hormonal changes of peri-menaupause made it impossible for me mentally or physically to enjoy hobbies I had pursued for years. I lost my creativity and they just became devoid of interest, pleasure, and just too much effort. The good news is that I gradually got back into them . The most valuable thing I did were some small group classes once a week for a few weeks . There was a chance to learn something new, have a go at doing it, meet new people, bond over learning something new, and focus a potential friendship on a common interest and experience. Don’t worry about missing the odd week. I suspect you have an undiscovered artistic creative streak as you get pleasure from combining clothes. Some activity playing about with colors, shapes and textures may work for you. I loved my print making course, am currently doing pottery and am considering a class in mixed media. These sort of activities can be totally absorbing and take you back to how you felt as a child. If you don’t feel up to doing something creative, volunteering to help can get you into a group of people with a purpose, and I’m sure your internet and communication skills would be very useful to all sorts of organisations. Do you have an organisation that lists local charities and groups and volunteering opportunities in your area? Maybe the library has information.
    Meanwhile- accept that you enjoying shopping. There is nothing wrong with it, it isn’t a bad thing to do. If you spent as much time thinking about and planning travel, you would not beat yourself up about it. Stick within your budget and allow yourself to enjoy it, because enjoyment is something that needs to to practiced.

    • Hi. I am another poster but I wanted to say that you had a great point. I did not think of mentioning perimenopause since I am in menopause now. I am not complaining but the hormone swings that started in my late thirties were beyond anything I could have imagined and I had never had any issues before. I went on hormones and an antidepressant and then went off hormones after I read the book and decided to see how I would feel if let the hormones decline naturally. I wonder if anyone has read “The Female Brain”? I thought it was an excellent source to read about how hormones affect your body and mind throughout your lifespan. Also, Debbie could consider holding a talk at her local library. You all have some great ideas.

    • I definitely have issues with depression, Lynn, and have since I was a child. And I am 48 and the hormonal issues factor in as well. I’m getting some tests run very soon, so I will have more answers. I am hesitant to take anti-depressants (I took them quite a bit in the past) or hormones, but we’ll see what the tests reveal and what’s recommended. I may pursue some talk therapy soon, as that might be helpful for me (I’ve done quite a bit of that in the past, too). I appreciate all of your suggestions regarding creativity and volunteer work. More outlets for creativity would probably help me a lot. Maggie, I appreciate what you added to this conversation as well!

  45. I can relate to so many of your issues. I too am a recovering shopaholic. I too have many health problems – chronic pain which seems to be getting worse as I age. Can’t take narcotics anymore for the pain since I had a lot of problems when on them. You are so honest and open and I really apprciate that. Thank youn sooo much.

    • Thank you for sharing that you can relate, Lois, although I hate the fact that you are suffering so much, too. I can’t take most meds, either, due to side effects. I knew there would be others out there who resonated with what I had to say. I always know that when I am really open and honest that I will touch others. That’s why I continue to do it. Sending healing wishes to you…

  46. Ah Debbie, I hear you. I too know how unpredictable and isolating chronic pain/illness can be. This is such a challenging aspect to something that is already so very hard. I don’t have a quick answer for you (gosh wish i did), but i just wanted you to know you are by no means alone.
    I also want to take just a moment to gently and respectfully echo the commenter who suggested you see your doctor about clinical depression; I say that as someone who has been dealing with similar issues recently.
    I agree with others that the spirit of the comment that hit you so hard is a bit harsh, insensitive and overly simplified. You could add any number of hobbies into the formula of the sentence in order to condescendingly undermine and invalidate a person’s experiences and interests. It’s not kind or helpful to judge yourself by this standard, and you don’t deserve it.
    Anyway, as always wish I could write more, but please take care of yourself and try to take heart in all the amazing things you have created here.
    best xo

    • I appreciate your chiming in here, Claire. I know you struggle a lot with health issues, too, and can relate to what I wrote. It does help me to know I’m not alone, although I would never wish these things on others. You’re right that no one should invalidate another hobbies or interests. As long as we don’t hurt anyone else, all of our pastimes are valid, including shopping! Thanks for your kind wish in your last statement. It is much appreciated.

  47. I would also recommend reading “Younger Next Year: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy – Until You’re 80 and Beyond”. It was recommended to me by my sister and she had someone recommend it to her.
    I don’t know how much of the book would be helpful to you but it’s message of “age is inevitable but decay is not” really hit home with me. When I started working out again, I added some weight training after I read the story of a 78 year-old woman who was competing in bodybuilding competition. Her name is Ernestine Shepherd and her story is quite inspiring.

    • I have heard of Ernestine Shepherd, Maggie, and I agree that she is very inspiring. I have been doing weight training for years and I think it’s very helpful for aging more gracefully. I don’t have as much muscle tone as I used to, but I have more than many women my age and I think the ongoing weight training has definitely helped. I appreciate the book suggestion (you’ve given so many and I know others will benefit).

    • Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful blog post here, Janine. I really liked it and resonated with what you wrote. I do feel that I need more of the “bliss of being” in my life, as I focus too much on doing. I appreciate your kind wishes. I intend to keep moving forward with courage.

  48. I like to read what your write, Debbie. I think you are very thoughtful and it is wonderful that you are trying to change your life and it looks like that you have already made many meaningful changes.

    I can relate to what you write here. I honestly think that so many of us suffer from affluenza. This is not derogatory in anyway, I include myself in the group. I can tell you my personal story. I grew up in a poor country, I remember only having two pairs of pants for an entire year and both had patches over the knees. I came to the US many years ago. I always like clothes. When I was a student, I was only able to buy stuff from stores like Woolworth (if you remember it). I was able to later move to stores like Target, then Macy’s, then Nordstrom Rack etc. I pursued my professional degree and raised a child at the same time, I was so busy and never really had much time focusing on clothes. Now my child is in college and I have more disposable income than I ever dreamed of, my job is quite stressful, I end each day by surfing e-bay.

    I am exploring other hobbies too. But shopping is just so brainless and relaxing. Therefore I call it affluenza, an affliction of too much time, too much money, too much stress, too little of something else. I really think fuller life is not just less shopping, although it may be a good start. I am still trying to find the answer to that something else myself.

    Thanks for your post.

    • Thank you so much for your comment, Lynn, and thanks for sharing your story. I agree with you about “affluenza.” I have often said that my shopping issues are a “first world problem,” as I know that such problems don’t exist in other parts of the world. I agree that a fuller life cannot be gained simply by shopping less. I did that and felt a big void that I am now trying to figure out how to fill. The void was always there, but I masked it by my immersion into shopping. The next part of my journey is learning how to fill the void in a positive way. I will be sure to keep sharing how that goes for me.

      I am very familiar with Woolworth’s. It used to be within walking distance from where I grew up and it was a big treat to go there to either shop or eat at the counter restaurant (such things are always exciting for little kids).

      Best wishes to you in finding new hobbies to enjoy and in putting shopping in its proper place in your life. I’m glad you liked this post.

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