Am I Living a Deliberate Life?

Half of 2015 is behind us and I realized that I have yet to post an update on how I’m doing with my theme for the year.   In hindsight, I wish I would have done at least a quarterly update, if not more often.  It’s very important to keep our yearly themes top of mind, and an update from me may have reminded those who also selected 2015 themes to take a look at how they’re going.

Well, better late than never, as the saying goes.   So today I’m going to let you in on my progress with my 2015 theme, which is “deliberate.”  Early in the year, I shared this theme and my thoughts on what constitutes deliberate shopping, a deliberate wardrobe, and a deliberate life.   While I will touch on all three facets in this post, my main focus will be on the third one, a deliberate life.  The reason for this is because I write about my wardrobe and shopping all the time here.  You know how I’m doing in both areas through my accountability posts and “Love It, Wear It” challenge updates, and many other essays I write on this blog.  Yet I don’t write about my life at large nearly as often, even though the theme of this blog is “Trade Your Full Closet for a Full Life.”

Think Before You Proceed

Are YOU living a deliberate life? 

It’s Easier to Address My Wardrobe

I write more about my wardrobe for a few reasons.  For one, readers seem to most enjoy reading about wardrobe management, personal style, accountability, and shopping behavior and psychology.  I also enjoy writing about those topics, which was a big reason for starting this blog and why I’ve continued it for the past 2.5 years.

But there is also another reason why I have been sticking to those subjects. It’s much easier for me to address my wardrobe and style dissatisfaction than my unhappiness with the rest of my life.   While it’s certainly not easy to overcome a compulsive shopping problem, cultivate a workable wardrobe, and define an inspiring personal style, it’s much easier to do those things than it is to build a fulfilling life.   But if we are to create lives we love, focus and attention needs to be given to this pursuit. Dare I say deliberate effort?  Yes, that’s a key to the process…

Touching on Deliberate Shopping and Wardrobe Management

But let’s touch on my shopping and wardrobe first before I delve into the harder stuff.  First, the shopping…  While I have made a few buying mistakes thus far in 2015, my shopping track record has definitely improved. I shop much more intentionally and purchase pieces for my actual life rather than for fantasy activities which only come around once in a blue moon.   My new pieces are far more likely to quickly make it into my wardrobe rotation than in the past, and many of them have rapidly become closet favorites. I will soon post a purchase analysis for the first half of 2015 in which I will recap the good, bad, and ugly of what I bought this year, so stay tuned for that.  But I really do feel I’m becoming a much more deliberate shopper when compared to years past.

In regards to my wardrobe, I’ve made some vast improvements there, too, with the help of my LIWI challenge and my outfit journal.  I am wearing my favorite pieces more often and I’m happy with my outfits a much higher percentage of the time.  By means of the “KonMari Process,” I’ve mostly pared my closet down to only those pieces which “spark joy.” I plan to revisit that method later in the year to let go of any remaining stragglers that I don’t love wearing.

I don’t have a minimalist wardrobe and likely never will, but my closet is far leaner than when I started this blog and I’m pleased with how far I’ve come.   I believe that I will continue to build a more workable and joy inducing wardrobe as time goes by.  Being more deliberate about what I own and what I buy is helping to making all of that happen.

Living a More Deliberate Life – The Good News

But now we get into the more difficult part, living a deliberate life.  Many commenters have called me out for being too hard on myself, so I’m going to try my best not to do that here.   Although I haven’t shared in much detail about what’s going on with me, I’ve had a very rough year.   That’s made it far more difficult to focus on the changes I want to make in my life, but I’ve started to rally more as of late.   Let’s start with the ways in which I have been deliberate with my life, and then I’ll delve into the facets of my life in which I am still struggling.

Making Health a Priority

One of my greatest challenges is in relation to my health, as I’ve mentioned at least a few times in previous posts.  I have a “laundry list” of health issues that strongly impinge upon my quality of life.  I’ve pursued more avenues than I can count to turn things around and have come upon dead ends time and time again.   But I haven’t given up and have recently embarked upon a full court press to help restore my health. I’ve had numerous tests run, am seeing several health professionals, am taking a list of supplements as long as my arm, and have made quite a few dietary changes – with more to come. I hope and pray that I will see some positive changes soon.

Restoring my health is my most important project for the year – and for my life.  It is taking precedence over everything else right now.  It’s often been said that if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.  This is completely true.  A close friend who is my age (48) is currently losing the battle and it’s beyond tragic.   It truly breaks my heart…  None of us knows how much time we will have on this earth, so we should never take for granted that we will be accorded longevity.   There are lots of things we can do to maintain and improve our health, but there are no guarantees. We can only do our best and that’s what I’m trying to do.

Dealing with Information Overload

I have also written about my issues with information overload, including in this post.   I have made some progress in that area.  I still subscribe to quite a few blogs and have too many browser tabs open at any given time, but I’m no longer as attached to consuming information. I’m now far more likely to close out a tab without reading what’s there or to not read a given blog post if the topic doesn’t inspire me.  And since I switched to using Next Issue to read my magazines, I regularly skip certain issues without giving it much thought.  My next step is to unsubscribe from at least a few blogs, remove some of the periodicals from my Next Issue feed, and keep my open browser tabs to a minimum.   That will bring me some additional peace.

Claiming Leisure Time

Another area of progress is in regards to claiming more free time and leisure for myself.   I used to be such a “task master” when it came to my to-do list.  I would force myself to remain in front of my computer until I got a certain number of items done.  Of course, most things take longer to complete than we think and our to-do lists never really end.   So lately I’ve been giving myself more of a break. In addition to my many health-related appointments, I’ve been allowing myself to leave the house more often to take photos, go for walks, or for other activities I want to do when I’m feeling well physically.   This has resulted in a lot more peace and joy in my life.   Yes, I also feel behind the proverbial 8-ball much of the time, but I believe I can turn that around without being like a drill sergeant to myself.  More on that shortly…

Intentions for the Remainder of 2015

So those are some of the positives, the ways in which I’ve been more deliberate this year.  But without beating myself up for what I have yet to do, I’d like to share some intentions for the remainder of the year.   Here are some ways in which I’d like to be more deliberate in the coming months:

  1. Go to bed earlier and get more sleep – I have always been a night owl, but I’ve been going to bed increasingly later in recent months, often as late as 2 a.m. Then I usually wake up around 8:00, which results in not enough sleep!  I’d like to eventually go to bed between 12 and 12:30 and wake up between 7 and 7:30 such that I will get seven hours of sleep. I know some people need their eight hours of sleep every night, but I feel pretty rested if I get a solid seven.
  2. Start my work day earlier – I don’t like to rush in the mornings and am fortunate not to have to. I like to take my time with breakfast, read a bit, and exercise.  But getting up later and lagging in the mornings often means that I don’t start on my daily tasks until noon or later!   I would like to start my “work day” (such that it is…) by 10:30 at the latest each day.   That will allow me to get more done earlier in the day, so I don’t have to be at my computer late at night (like I am now…).
  3. Have 1-3 key intentions for each day – I used to always write to-do lists that would include twenty or more items. That was a recipe for failure and frustration, as it was virtually impossible to get everything done.  Not only that, I often left the most difficult – but important – tasks undone.  Limiting my daily priorities to one to three items will ensure that I tackle the most critical actions each day so I’ll feel better about my accomplishments when the day is over.
  4. Improve my social life and develop new friendships – I continue to feel very lonely, but I don’t do much about it. Having a better social life seems daunting, but if I just focus on doing one or two new things each month, such as attending a class or a Meetup event, I’ll be more social while doing something that appeals to me and which will hopefully be fun. I can’t force making new friends, especially as an introvert, but my hope is that it will occur organically if I am out and about and around people more often.
  5. Improve my existing relationships – I don’t have a lot of friends at present and my family connections are quite distant. I don’t harbor any illusions of having a family that resembles an 80’s sitcom, but I’d like to keep in better contact with my relatives. I’d also like to maintain my connections with the friends I do appreciate, even if they live far, far away.  An email here and there, a Facebook chat, or a Skype conversation can help to keep my friendships alive.  A little can go a long way, so I don’t have to do anything too overwhelming here.  I will just pick one or two people each week to reach out to and do it.  It will probably only take a few minutes per person and hopefully it will help both of us to feel more connected and cared for.
  6. Cultivate 1-2 new hobbies and interests – When I did my post about hobbies besides shopping, I received a lot of excellent suggestions. I would like to try a few of those and see if I might be able to find one or two to add to my regular activity repertoire.  Again, I don’t have to do anything drastic.  I can devote an hour or two to trying a potential new hobby to see if the interest is there.  If not, I will move on.  If I feel intrigued, I can take it to the next level.
  7. Further my photography interest – I am still really enjoying my photography hobby. I would like to learn how to use my new camera, read the photography book I bought recently, and possibly take a class and/or join a local Meetup related to photography.
  8. Take a few day trips – My husband and I used to travel a lot, but haven’t in recent years due to my health challenges and various other reasons. While we hope to be able to travel again soon, we can still take some local day trips to get the feel of traveling. I can also take a day or half-day trip alone to take photos in a new location. There are a lot of great coastal towns that aren’t that far away, so on a day when I’m feeling up to it, I should just grab my camera and go.  Some deliberate leisure time…
  9. Go on at least 1 trip before the end of the year – I would like to visit my mom and brother in Tahoe sometime this year, preferably when it’s still warm there (the summers are my favorite time of year there). In addition, it would be great to go to Catalina Island (which I wrote about here) for an overnight trip.   I would be very happy if I’m able to do both of those trips before the end of the year.  Next year, I’d love to visit the San Francisco Bay Area (I lived there for years and miss it) and perhaps someplace farther away.
  10. Find a way to make dealing with my hair easier – Over the past few years, I’ve really been struggling with my hair. It’s been breaking off and has gotten more frizzy and unruly. It’s too high-maintenance and gets in the way of my feeling free (I wrote about that in this post).  While I may not be ready to cut it all off just yet, I would love to find some new ways to wear it that I can do quickly and easily.   Perhaps some up-dos or maybe a way to work with the natural texture (wavy and frizzy) instead of flat-ironing it every day (which is time-consuming, damaging, and futile in summer humidity).  It may seem like such a silly thing, but it would make a big difference to me if I could find a way to be freer with my hair.

Too Much to Take On?

Now that all may seem like a lot to take on, but I believe it’s doable, especially if I am deliberate about my actions.  Even if I don’t accomplish all of the above, I know I will make more progress than if I had not set those intentions.  I don’t think any of those items constitute particularly lofty goals, at least not in the way I’ve worded them.   They can all be furthered by means of “baby steps” that I can build upon over time. I have no major goals for the year, other than to improve my health. And truth be told, if I make that happen and do nothing else in 2015, the year will have been more than worthwhile for me.

Just today, I received a very thoughtful gift from a wonderful reader in Australia (shout-out to Krysta) that will help me be more deliberate in my life.  It’s called a “Reflection Journal” and includes daily pages on which I can capture key things about my day.  Here’s a snapshot of one of the pages:

Reflection journal

Sample pages from my new “Reflection Journal,” which will help me be more deliberate.

Isn’t it great?  It’s simple yet powerful – and absolutely perfect for where I am in my life right now.  Thank you so much for the early birthday gift, Krysta (my birthday is August 8th and I will be 49!).   I love it and will start using it right away!

I Won’t Wait So Long for the Next Update

I promise not to wait until the end of the year to do another update on my 2015 theme.  I will plan to do another update at the end of September, if not sooner. Please remind me if I don’t do it, as it’s very important that I keep the theme of deliberate alive in my mind and furthered through my actions. If I am going to trade my full closet for a full life, it will take being deliberate about both what I want and how I make it happen.   I still don’t really know what I want in terms of big picture goals, so that’s why I’m focusing on smaller, more manageable steps like what I outlined above.  If I can accomplish those ten things – or even if I only make half of them happen, I know I will be in a much better place by year’s end.                                                              

Your Thoughts and Coming Attractions

Now it’s your turn to share your thoughts, either about my theme for the year or your own. If you selected a 2015 theme, I invite you to share what it is and how you feel you’re progressing with it now that the year is half over.  If you have not chosen a theme but are interested in doing so, it’s definitely not too late.   Please let us know what your intention for the year is and how you plan to fulfill upon it.   If you have any thoughts about my progress thus far or on how I can be more deliberate in the coming months, feel free to share those, too.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!   Some upcoming posts include my purchase analysis for the first half of the year, a debrief of my Nordstrom Anniversary Sale shopping experience, and some more lessons from my outfit journal focusing on summer outfits past and present.   If you have any suggestions for future topics, please list them in the comments section of this post or contact me directly via my website or social media.  I’m always open to suggestions for what you want to read about in the future.

48 thoughts on “Am I Living a Deliberate Life?

    • Thanks for your suggestion, Ellie. I know a lot of people rave about the keratin smoothing treatments and the results can be impressive, but I had one back in 2009 and had a very severe reaction to it that is part of the reason why my health is so bad today. Many of these products contain formaldehyde or release formaldehyde when exposed to the high heat that is required to bond the product to the hair. I didn’t know that the treatment I got released formaldehyde AND I didn’t know how sensitive I was to formaldehyde. It was a very bad experience for me and both my health and my hair haven’t been the same since.

      My advice to everyone reading this is to investigate new processes and products thoroughly before you use them. I would hate for anyone to have to go through what I did. I wrote about my experience and what I learned from it on a former blog. Here’s the link for anyone who wants to read it (I think I need to read it again….): http://debbieroes.com/perspective-and-appreciation/

  1. A very thought provoking post – the idea of keeping all these running, while recognising that progress on even half would be good, seems realistic. I’ve just made a list, which includes your 3,4 and 5 – and (being a spreadsheet fanatic) entered it into a table so I can plot progress against each. I look forward to your September update!

    I think you would look good with short cropped hair, you have the delicate features and slender neck that would suit it – although I do know hair is a really personal issue.

    • I’m glad you found this post helpful, Alice, and have taken on a few of my intentions! What a great idea to track progress in a spreadsheet. I didn’t think to do that… Thanks for the hair suggestion. I get nervous to cut my hair short, but I’m going to go to a wig store and try on different styles. I may even do a blog post about it. I need to at least start exploring other options, even if I’m not ready to take the plunge just yet.

  2. First, Debbie, best wishes with your health battles. You are right that comes first. I got teary reading that part of your post: you are so open and honest that I feel close and definitely care about you. That is why you do need to be around people: others deserve you as a friend. It is a waste for you not to have a few close friends for give and take. Go places, do things where people are. Some day you will click with someone and then another. Deliberately. That is good for health, too. Please. Volunteer, join a book club? (I hate social awkwardness, too, but I am working on this same thing since we moved away from close friends to a new state 4 months ago to be near family as we age. I need friends in addition to family.)
    Keep the wardrobe stuff as a hobby; it is too much fun to give up. Once you are comfortable with what you have, again deliberately, tuck the statistics away, enjoy your clothes on a lighter level. In order to do that you need substitute activities, right? Like you, I suspect, I will always enjoy thinking and reading about wardrobes to a degree. No problem.
    Choose an easy and natural hair style. Ironing, dying, whatever you do , is futile and harmful to your hair. People really don’t mind if you let you locks be natural and healthy! If you have the budget room, see a reputable hair consultant and find out what you could do to make best show of your natural hair qualities. You are your personality and humanity, your verbal acuity and kindness, your honesty and generosity–not your hair. You are a most amazing woman! Mr. Rogers would say, “I like you just the way you are.” Hair is a head covering that we try to make attractive, but it should not consume us trying to alter it instrinsically .
    Please take good care of your precious self and remember that we need your most original blog in our lives. Love, h

    • I really appreciate your very kind comment, Helen. You said that my post brought you to tears. Well, your comment brought ME to tears, especially what you wrote towards the end about me being an amazing woman and about my good qualities. You are right on about so much of what you wrote – about my needing friends, about it being okay to keep wardrobe as a hobby, about choosing an easy and natural hair style. I’m tired of fighting my hair and I’m tired of fighting life… I want things to be more free and easy. I look forward to the time when I don’t feel the need to track my wardrobe so much because it’s just working for me. I don’t mind doing the tracking and I have needed it the past few years, but I hope to be in a place where I don’t need it anymore before too long. As for my hair, I don’t know if you read my earlier post where I wrote about it (https://recoveringshopaholic.com/we-dont-have-to-try-so-hard/), but it’s been a struggle for me for awhile. I don’t get a lot of help from hair stylists, either, as they tell me I have “difficult hair” and pretty much need to flat-iron it as I do. But I’m not going to just accept that. There has to be an easier way and I will find it eventually. It’s part of my full life goal…

  3. Comments on your intentions (by question #);
    1. I also to bed by 12:00-:30 and get up at 7:00. It works very well for me as I don’t need any more than 7 hours sleep. I find this schedule makes me feel rested and refreshed.

    2. On starting the workday earlier–I like to read, review my to do list and have some tea when I first get up. By 9:30 I am ready to get prepped for the day (shower, dress, etc.) By 10:30 I am ready to start working. Although I consider the strategic planning of the to-do list to be part of working so I could argue that I actually start earlier than 10:30. But 10:30 is when I am ready to present myself to the world.

    3. I have evolved a system for my to do list that has the benefit of allowing me to be guilt-free most of the time if I fail to complete something. I have a thin hard back notebook with removable pages and 3 dividers. I divide tasks up first in priority of where they fall, hence the physical dividers: Longterm Personal, Job Projects, and Daily Pages. The first two sections are updated as necessary. The daily pages are updated daily, and when the day is done, the activities that were not accomplished are listed on the next day and then I throw away the page of the day. Once the day is over, there’s no sense beating yourself up about what you didn’t do. You put it on the next day. Throw away the page = no guilt.

    6. Knowing what hobbies to cultivate comes from within, like your photography. I think sometimes we equate hobbies with the acquisition of objects (such as someone who defines themselves as a collector of —— as a hobby). Your shopping, which was a hobby, was about acquisition. There are also hobbies that are about creating things with your hands as an expression of your being, which is what your photography is.

    10. For your hair, I recommend you try Wen products if you haven’t already. It works wonders for me–I have thick wavy hair with a mind of its own. Wen smooths and makes it behave. I also gifted a friend with a Wen product kit for her fine thin hair and she is now hooked–even her hairdresser has commented on the improved condition of her hair. I buy Wen through QVC–they have a lot of kits and special pricing.

    • An additional comment on #3:
      Even though I throw away the daily page once the day is done, I still keep an overall month view calendar where I note important events or appointments I don’t want to forget.

      The other thing is, my daily pages don’t deal with how I feel about anything, they are just a list of tasks or activities to perform. Once I complete something, I mark it off with a highlighter. For the emotional aspects of the day, I keep a separate journal which I write in as moved to do so, which is not daily.

    • Thank you so much for your suggestions – and for sharing your process, Deby. I got a lot out of what you wrote. I love your planning process, especially the fact that you throw away the daily page at the end of the day to avoid guilt. I do too many guilt trips on myself, so that appeals to me. I feel better about my later start to the day, as I know you are very productive and successful and follow a routine similar to what my goal is. Not everyone has to be a morning person! As for the hair, I have heard about Wen and have been curious about it. I think I can get samples at Sephora so I can see if I like it. I am wondering if I would be able to tell if I like it from the first use or if it takes a little while to see if it will work on one’s hair. I have tried a lot of products that have been miraculous for others but not so much for me. I am definitely open to continue trying things, though, because I never know when I might find something that I love. I will give the Wen a try!

      • You will see a result from Wen from your first use. I use the Lavender formula because I like the scent. If your hair is really dry, you might want to try the 613 formula, which has a vanilla scent.

      • Thanks for your reply, Deby. I think I will order the 613 formula, as my hair is dry AND I like the smell of vanilla. I hope I am as happy with the products as you are.

      • Deby, thank you. I’ve thought about Wen for a while but wasn’t sure, and yet now after reading this I’m also going to give it a try. My hair is dry so I will first try 613. And hair, what a wide open field for good discussion! I’ve finally made peace with my hair and I no longer beat my hair into submission. But the peace I’ve reached is the understanding that acceptance of my hair is a process that will need to take place many, many times throughout my lifetime! My hair texture, thickness, thinness, wave, straightness, frizz– continues to change, with health, age, stress, weather, water condition (hard water is very bad) hair length seems to change things dramatically and it took me lots and lots of experimenting to find which short and long lengths work best for my hair.

  4. I’ve been using the Sleep Cycle app to track my sleep with good results. My worst nights are when I’ve had a late dinner. I too have a work schedule that runs late, I’m not usually home until 7 so dinner can be later; the app have given me the licence to tell Husband that we are not having a big dinner! I’m not going to track my sleep forever, but it has been helpful.

    • Sounds like a good app to check out, Ginger. Thanks for the tip. I eat too late, too, often as late as 9 or 9:30! But I stay up so late that I don’t exactly go to bed with a full stomach. I need to move everything earlier, though, so I can get a better sleep. I think that tracking sleep can be helpful, just like tracking one’s wardrobe can be. Neither thing is really something to do forever, just as long as it takes to make the progress you’re looking to make. I wish you continued good results!

  5. Hi Debbie

    I’m very pleased to hear your wardrobe and your photography are in such a happy place. Kudos for that!

    It’s sad to hear the year’s been hard on you physically and psychologically. I truly hope the new therapies and supplements can help you. And I wish you all the best in your endeavors to cultivate new hobbies as well as friendships.

    I think traveling (even a little) will do you good. It frees the mind and nurtures the soul….I tend to leave my worries behind at home and feel more liberated when I’m traveling. Hope you do get to go to Tahoe, Catalina island and SF soon.

    And yes….go to bed early missy! Staying up till 2am is not going to make you feel
    Any better the next day! It’s not helping with the medical issues at all…I have done a lot of research on the subject and written many articles. It’s not only important ‘how much’ you sleep but it’s equally important ‘when’ you sleep. Our bodies are programmed to sleep best between 10pm to 5am. Try and get your bedtime as close to that as you can.

    • I didn’t know that about sleep, Maneera, but it’s very interesting. I don’t see myself ever going to bed as early as 10 pm. I just never have and am a night person. But if I could get to bed by midnight, I could get 5 of my sleep hours during that optimal time frame. I know that I need to sleep more and better as part of my health plan. I don’t know why I’m so resistant to doing it! Thank you for your kind wishes about my health, hobbies, and friendships. I appreciate it.

  6. Hi Debbie, sorry to hear this year has been particularly difficult for you and that your friend is not doing well. Like you I have been making health a number one priority, especially experimenting with my diet, reading lots of high quality research, and watching a couple of youtube videos each night. I find it is a delicate balance keeping an open mind and also applying critical thinking to all the conflicting messages that are out there regarding health, but I’m not averse to experimenting.
    I love the suggestion of trying a device like FitBit to track your habits- I may try that to see if I can find any patterns for myself.
    I also have trouble getting to bed on time and I’ve been reading it can be related to hormones, especially the stress hormone cortisol. So I’ve been making a concerted effort to keep my stress levels low. Since I cut back some of my committments I’m already feeling less of an urge to shop so it seems to be starting to work! I think it’s hard to suggest to someone else what will decrease their stress though. For some it’s having a project to focus on, while that same thing can stress someone else a lot. For me, I have trouble sitting around “doing nothing” to relax, and prefer to have something I enjoy to do.

    Best of luck- I hope you find out which little “life hack” work for you very soon.

    • Thank you for your kind words and wishes, Sarah. I know you have been struggling a lot with your health, too, and I have the same wishes for you… Your approach seems very good. I agree that it is a delicate balance to keep an open mind and also have critical thinking regarding health messages. It can be SO overwhelming to deal with all of the conflicting messages, but I believe there is no one size fits all approach. What works for one person won’t work for another.

      Yes, cortisol has a lot to do with our being able to sleep well and mine is out of balance (I had a saliva test done). I don’t even have a particularly stressful life, but stress is often in the mind. I’m glad you have been able to cut back on your commitments and are feeling less of an urge to shop. I’m not good at sitting around “doing nothing” to relax, either, and also like to focus on projects instead. It seems you are very aware of what works and doesn’t work for you and it’s serving you well. I wish you continued improvement in all respects.

  7. Hi Debbie, Really good luck with your health. Having my fair share as well, I couldn’t agree with you more about the value of one’s health. You mentioned that you and your husband used to enjoy travelling. I too like to “see the world” but with my health constraints, I’ve decided to enjoy and do what I can, and not focus on what I can’t. For me, this means that any trips have to be short, I need a fridge in the hotel room for meds and supplements, and in Canada or the US where I can ask lots of questions of the servers and hotel staff . I encourage you too, to begin exploring your own backyard in short, feasible outings. North American has some pretty spectacular places, I’ve found.

    • Very wise words, RM3. We definitely are happier when we focus on what we CAN do instead of what we can’t. And you’re right that North America has a lot of spectacular places to explore. I think that I would probably be able to travel with the specifications you have outlined. I have been keeping my trips to just visiting my mom, but with a fridge in the hotel room (or better yet, a kitchen), I could venture out a bit more. Thanks for sharing your perspective and I wish you the best of luck with your health challenges AND your travels.

  8. My chosen theme for the year had to do with focusing on my health, specifically by paying closer attention to it, recognizing problems and taking action. Last year I missed several weeks of work and had multiple procedures due to a problem I had been ignoring for years. My goal was the result of reflecting on that. My tendency to over shop and collect stuff are more problems I was neglecting. You are several steps ahead of me as I only recently realized that I have a problem. I am still trying to uncover what is driving it. But I do have some goals. The first was better health maintenance including diet, exercise, and some health surveillance I had been procrastinating. Another goal was to refine my appearance to suit my self-image including wardrobe, hair, makeup, etc. I already mentioned I cut my long hair into a short style. I can relate to your comment about working with the natural texture of your hair. I wasted so much time and effort trying to create waves in my super straight hair! I ended up consulting several stylists before finding one with good ideas that work for my hair type. My other goals involve my family and a couple of long term projects I have undertaken. All of these things revolve around making myself a priority again, something that got lost with becoming a wife, mother and pursuing a demanding career. I think that I am experimenting on myself which has involved a lot of wardrobe changes and hair cuts to figure out what tends to “spark joy” for me. I just need to learn to pace myself.

    • Your focus and goals sound really great, Misty! Congrats on taking positive steps with your health and happiness. And good for you for working WITH rather than against your hair. I have the opposite situation – wanting straight, silky Jennifer Aniston hair when my natural texture is wavy and frizzy. Wavy I can deal with, but frizzy I cannot, but I haven’t given up hope on a good solution to the problem. I am tired of spending so much time on my hair and STILL not being happy with it because the humidity just brings the frizz right back. The best thing you wrote was that you are making yourself more of a priority now. So many women put themselves last, so I always love to read about someone giving themselves more attention and love. I wish you all the best with the wonderful goals and vision you have laid out for yourself.

  9. I think that you have made some very important changes this year. Last year seemed very focused on wardrobe, this year it seems like you’re tackling the full life much more. To me, the biggest one was picking up photography as a hobby. Now that you have something else that brings joy to your life, I think that it changes everything.
    As for myself, I had to go back and look up what I had picked for a word. It was consistency…and it hasn’t really happened. The last three months have been difficult for me as well and full of uncertainty. I was very protective of the internal changes that I’ve made, but many of the external things I wanted to change fell by the wayside and it’s fine. I did the best I could under the circumstances. I’m not a tv watcher at all, but I have spent many nights in front of it lately. I think that I watched about 20 hours of shark week, and good news-I can now tell the difference between a male and female great white and I know that lemon sharks have bellybuttons 🙂 Also, I ate too much cake. This week we got the answers to many of the questions that we had. I have one more (hopefully small) hurtle to get through and things should be back to as normal as they get around here. I think I’ll restart my yearly goals now and see how I do for the rest of the year.

    • I think you’re right that finding a new interest outside of shopping has been instrumental for me, Tonya. I hope to find one or two more, but I am really enjoying the photography. As I write this, I haven’t taken photos in about a week, though, and that makes me sad. I was going to do it today, but then we’ve had monsoon conditions here! But we need the rain, so my photos can wait.

      It seems our lives continue to mirror each other. It’s hard to have consistency or to be deliberate with a lot of uncertainty surrounding us. I’m glad that things are getting back to normal for you now. I got a chuckle out of your shark comments. I didn’t even know there WERE lemon sharks, let alone that they have bellybuttons. We learn something new every day 😉 I wish you the best of luck with incorporating more consistency into your life in the second half of the year. I hope you get past that small hurdle soon and that it’s smooth sailing after that.

  10. What a terrific set of goals for your 49th year. Have you looked into “The Curly Girl” approach? I have a friend who went that route and her hear is still long and healthier than ever. Hope you have the happiest of birthdays!

    • Thanks for your kind wishes, Juhli, and for the suggestion about “Curly Girl.” I have heard of it, but don’t know much about it. I have been fighting my natural texture for SO long and my hair stylist thinks I would hate my hair curly, but it doesn’t hurt to look into something and try it. You never know… and one of these days I just might be so sick of fighting my hair that I’m read to do a 180. I never thought I’d pare down my wardrobe so much, either…

  11. Whew! So much to accomplish in 365 days! One of the things I do on a seemingly non-productive day is count all the things I did do: 1 – make my bed; 2 – take the recycling to the recycle bins; 3 – pay bills on-line; 4 – meet with prospective client, 5 – do laundry, and so forth. I also try to acknowledge s sense of gratitude (I have a small prayer of gratitude that I found among my father’s things — he probably wrote it/found it during WWII; I keep it posted at eye-level on my fridge so I see it — and say it — every day.) I don’t focus on being deliberate but rather I strive to be mindful. As I have gotten older, I have cut myself a lot of slack on my to-do lists: 3-6 big items per year is all I focus on. Perhaps I have less to tackle with the passing years or maybe I care less about satisfying the expectations other people have for me. Oh, I can beat my self up over stuff BUT I try to be mindful of my good fortune and focus on creating happy fulfilled days for myself and my family.

    Debbie: I hope focusing on your health has a most positive outcome as good health is the most valuable gift.

    • I really like your idea of counting the things you did do on seemingly non-productive days, Dottie. I think we all do more than we think, but we can be so hard on ourselves. I like the idea of saying a daily gratitude prayer, too. Believe it or not, my to-do lists are getting smaller, too. I used to have a weekend to-do list for myself and my husband most weekends. He called it my “task-master list.” Now I can’t remember when I’ve done such a list. It was months ago… So I’m making progress. If I don’t fulfill upon all of my intentions for the rest of the year, I will be okay. I probably should have kept the list to a smaller number. But I really would be THRILLED if I could have a good health outcome. You’re so right that good health is our most valuable gift. Most of us don’t realize that until we are challenged in that area…

  12. I am sorry it has been such a hard year; health issues are very wearing and often prevent you from feeling like you can make any progress in your life until you feel better. May your 49th year be a lot better than the previous one!

    I am also working on 1-5 of your list. Having stopped working has made me think about how I want to structure my days now that they are not dictated by someone else. My husband retired 3 years ago and he says the most helpful thing for him has been to pick one task to accomplish every day and not worry how the rest of the day unfolds. It’s working for me. 🙂 I need to get to bed by 11 and get moving by 10:30 in order to feel happy and productive. My worst downfall at the moment is my diet, so that is my special project for the next few months: less refined carbs.

    • Yes, I definitely feel like I am stalled in terms of progress in my life due to health challenges, Tara. I feel very stuck, but I want to try to make some forward movement, which is why I selected the intentions in this post. I like your husband’s idea for picking one task to accomplish each day. That is doable for me and for most people, but the “task master” in me often writes down 5 or more thing and then feels bad when most of them are left undone. I’m glad your husband’s method is working well for you. Good luck with working on your diet. I struggle there, too. I have tried many different ways of eating to try to feel healthier and it’s hard to know what will work best. It’s a very individual thing, but refined carbs are best in moderation, I think. I like them, too, but maybe they don’t like us very much…

  13. Hi Debbie, it has been a long time since I last commented and I have seen a few other followers by the same name so I am adding a Y to differentiate. Please do make health your number one project, but don’t obsess about it. I learned this from my own years long health battle. In the end being happy and sleeping well every day turned out to be much powerful cure than any professional, therapy, medicine, herbs, or even food (as long as you are not eat junk food every day). For many years I was subconsciously worried, pessimistic, and stressed, no matter how “non-stessful” I made my work and life to be. Our thought and mood affects our health and determine the quality of our lives, period. The same idea goes for shopping as well. When I first start reading your blog I realized that I share so much of your shame and guilt about shopping addiction, so I went to another extreme to be very minimalism. I started to think over and over again about every single purchase to make sure it is flattering, meets my quality standard, is within my budget, and will last many years. I felt exhausted by this deliberation process. My new boss shared her shopping philosophy with me. She only shops 2-3 times a year and during each trip she will buy 10-12 complete outfits that covers her activities. Then she will just rotate these outfits for the rest of the time. No mix and match at all. Once her clothes show signs of wear or are outdated she will donate them. If any new purchase turns out not working well she will donate it as well. She doesn’t want to be weighed down by meaningless decisions or guilt. I know she is spending much more on clothes than me but at the same time she has much more mental clarity to focus on things that really make a difference. She is very happy and content. Debbie I encourage you to embrace you as who you are and stop judging or defining yourself. Do things that make you happy. I am confident that you will not revert back to excessive shopping because that didn’t make you happy. And do go to bed early. Sorry if my comment sounds preachy. I genuinely wish you well!

    • Thank you for your comment, Meghan. I didn’t think it sounded preachy at all. I agree with you that being too obsessive about health, shopping, or pretty much anything can be a bad thing. I think I can definitely get too obsessive about things, health and shopping included. It’s kind of my personality, but it isn’t really working for me. I really hate obsessing about what to eat because it reminds me of my many years of being anorexic. Even if the obsession is about health instead of calories, it still pushes my buttons. I love your new boss’s approach to shopping. I’m not sure if most of us need 10-12 complete new outfits each season, but some people probably do. But I like the simplicity of what she is doing – getting the shopping done and wearing the same outfits she loves over and over again. I have found that I’m re-wearing outfits a lot more lately. I used to try to mix and match and rarely wear the same things, but it’s not really necessary, plus I find I’m happier with what I’m wearing if I just stick with the tried and true. Going to bed early will be tougher for me, but I need to do it!

  14. All good wishes and power to you, Debbie! I always enjoy reading about your journey.

    I too have thick, wavy/curly/frizz-prone hair and have always been sold “straighter is better” by stylists, mainly because that’s the style AND because they don’t know what to do with it otherwise. I spent years straightening with a blow dryer, chasing a magic bullet with endless straightening sessions ($$$$) and fussing, fussing, fussing. About a year or two ago I realized that I don’t really look better with straight hair (despite what stylists tell me and despite what people who also straighten their hair tell me–sorry, I love them but they are biased). After much rumination I came to the realization that I was spending a ridiculous amount of precious time and valuable energy on something that actually didn’t really complement me as I aged and changed. I realized what I really needed was to get better at managing the waves and curls I have naturally. Although I am white, I started checking out blogs for black and mixed-race hair and found some amazing methods to make my hair look good. I never straighten these days. I had my hair blown out for a recent event and although it looked “nice”, I realized that the flatness and lack of volume really wasn’t enhancing anything about my appearance. It’s just the style.

    Good luck on your road to deliberate!
    Kim

    • Thank you so much for sharing your hair story with me, Kim. It’s inspiring to read about people who have stopped fighting their hair AND are actually happier with it. I always feel like I have to choose between obsession/fighting my hair and looking good. I’m convinced that my natural texture looks awful and I would look horrible if I didn’t flat iron my hair all the time. Multiple hair stylists have told me there isn’t much I can do with my hair because it’s “difficult.” But maybe they are wrong, as your stylist was. I’m glad you’re happy with your hair now and aren’t having to spend a lot of time and money on it. I hope I will get there one day. For now, I would be happy to find some up-dos that I can easily do during the summer so I am not fighting the losing battle against the humidity.

  15. I think it might be time to find a new stylist; probably one more comfortable dealing with textured hair. For me, washing my hair less often has made a big difference in frizz. That, and putting a tiny bit of body lotion on the frizz to weight it down.

    And I just want to say that I as a reader enjoy all of your posts. I truly wish you the best, but as someone quite a bit younger I don’t really feel like it’s my place to be offering life advice. Hair on the other hand..that’s a battle we’re in together!

    • I don’t wash my hair all that often, either, Sara, and it HAS made a difference, at least in terms of dryness. I have never thought of putting body lotion in my hair, but I will give it a try. Don’t worry about not wanting to offer advice because you are younger. Wisdom is not necessarily attached to age. We can learn from people of ALL ages about all sorts of topics, including hair. I have switched hair stylists multiple times over the years. I like the way the current one does my color (the last one made it too bright red), but I’ve found that most stylists aren’t all that imaginative when it comes to cuts and styling. I wish they would make more suggestions, but they are probably afraid to do so. Sometimes I ask and really don’t get a lot of input…

  16. I find for myself – connecting with someone (can be online or phone or mail, whatever), getting a chore or errand done, getting some exercise in, and having a small reward or way to relax (chocolate? wine? bubble bath – you name it) makes for a well rounded, balanced day. I feel most content and centered when I address each facet, even if only very briefly. This could be as little as sweeping up the cat hair, doing some push ups, IMing a friend about meeting up later in the week, and having a glass of nice wine over dinner. If I ignore any one area too long, life starts to feel out of whack. Chores mount up, feeling more ominous than they are, friends start to seem like a distant memory, work feels like all that is going on in life, etc. Balance makes it all so much better 🙂

    • I really like your approach, Mo. Sometimes it only takes SMALL actions to make a big difference in our feeling balanced. The examples you gave are very good ones and show that we don’t need a lot of time to feel more fulfilled. I often let certain areas of my life fall by the wayside and I end up feeling sad and stressed out. This has happened lately and I haven’t even taken photos in over a week because I’ve had SO many appointments to go to. I know that even if I take an hour to take photos, I will feel much better. You’re right that balance is key.

  17. What a wonderful gift you have Debbie. This sincere post that has inspired so many readers to leave heart-felt comments, is a rich community on so many levels. You are offering us the kind of women’s-group discussion gathering that so many of us crave. And Debbie what a good facilitator you are. The best leaders (and clearly you are) know how to get others talking about themselves by sharing and disclosing personally about topics that have a wide universal appeal to other women.
    I will second what you, and others have said about health. When we have our health (and when our partners/husbands/wives/children have their health) we have everything! Second best thing is to have someone who shares our sense of humor to laugh with. Many years ago I nearly died from Cat Scratch Disease that went undiagnosed for too long, and it took me a number of years to recover, though now my health is more fragile and I need to take extra good care of myself. And yes! I did keep that kitty that infected me, I kept her for 19 sweet, long years, and I also learned proper kitty scratch wound care so that it hopefully wouldn’t ever happen again. And a few years after that my young son was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and that’s when I learned that we can’t wait to feel better in order to begin to live our best lives, and that laughter and humor is a strong medicine. But like everyone I need to be reminded. It’s so easy to forget. That’s what I love best about your blog Debbie. You, the lovely person you are, and the topics you write about, stir up great conversation and connection that is also a strong medicine that can help all of us feel better, no matter what ails us. Some here have health problems, and others just need to find connection and acceptance in order to grow a healthier spirit.

    • I love what you wrote here, Terra. I agree that this is a great community and I really treasure the heartfelt and interesting comments that you and others make in response to my posts. I’m happy that my heartfelt posts are appreciated and honored and that I rarely get any harsh or mean comments. I know that’s not the case with a lot of blogs, so I’m grateful to have such respectful and kind readers. I agree with you that health and humor are two of the most important things in life. I didn’t know about your battle with cat scratch disease, but I’m very glad that you recovered and your cat lived a long and happy life (it wasn’t her fault she had a disease that she passed on to you). I knew about your son and I think it’s great that you have shared your story with so many and have helped others to heal. I’m glad people seem to appreciate these types of posts. This blog is about sharing my journey and that journey really needs to move out of the closet and into the rest of my life. That doesn’t mean I won’t still write about wardrobe and shopping topics, but I have been focused too much in that arena and it has been to my detriment. I need to have more of a life…

  18. Thank you, Debbie, for such a thoughtful and thought-provoking post! I know we talked a bit about your health issues over coffee, and you have been and will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers…

    About “deliberate,” I am glad to see you being more kind with yourself! I think the reason you are finding it easier to make progress in your life goals is from the habits and growth you have made with your wardrobe, so if that was the best place for you to start, then so be it! Often, the skills we learn in one field can be adapted and applied to other areas in our life if we take the time to look at what, how, and why we are doing things. Which is exactly how you have been handling your shopping!
    Sometimes, we need to come at out problems sideways. My mom calls this approach “backing into it.” Sometimes we don’t have the energy or strength to tackle the big issues, but if we just do one little thing (without looking at the whole mess) it leads to another little thing, and then another… And when we do finally look, we may be almost done!

    • I really appreciate your keeping me in your thoughts and prayers, Liz. Both you and your mom are very wise. I think the “backing into it” approach can often work very well. Although it was daunting for me to tackle my wardrobe, it was still far less scary than dealing with the rest of my life. I’m still not done with my wardrobe (not that we are even totally done), but I’m ready to apply the skills I learned with that overhaul into tackling other areas of my life. I’m still scared, but I need to move forward. I have been stalling long enough, but I had my reasons. I still struggle with being kind toward myself, but I’ve learned that beating myself never leads to lasting change. It just makes me feel worse and often sends me back to compulsive behaviors like overshopping. And that’s not what I want at all!

  19. Debbie,
    Health issues:have you had a blood test? If not, suggest you get one asap. Our daughter had a surprising diagnosis of leukaemia, totally unexpected and after that experience I recommend blood tests when something is wrong, however vague.
    Friends: I really recommend joining something or doing sonething where you meet the same people regularly eg. For me, this is political party meetings, a weekly exercise group and friends for lunch where we set the date of the next lunch before we leave the arranged lunch. Seeing people regularly over a few years really helps with making friends. Nothing wrong with you – look how many friends you have online!
    Kate

    • Yes, I have had a blood test, Kate, and some issues were found. Nothing as serious as what your daughter experienced (I hope she is okay now), but a few things to pursue. I’ve actually had a lot of extensive lab work done recently and am following up on what I learned. It’s kind of exhausting, but I really want to feel better. I think your suggestion for meeting friends would work well for me. I’m too introverted to make friends at a one-time event. My mom makes friends everywhere, but I take more after my dad in terms of socializing. I was involved in some clubs in the past and that helped me to make friends. It didn’t happen overnight, but it happened. I’ve been hesitant to join anything new because I don’t feel well a lot of the time, but there are probably things I could do for which it wouldn’t be a big deal if I couldn’t make it sometimes. Yes, I really appreciate my online friends. I wish I could meet everyone in person!

  20. Hi Debbie, I wish you *so* much good progress on your health goals! As you know I had a crisis lately which was awful, but at least got me plugged into some good health care resources in the DC area (as well as a diagnosis I wasn’t expecting). We have had a reversal of fortune recently and are FINALLY back in our hometown of Charlotte, NC after 5 wandering, lost years! I already feel improvements mentally/physically after just a week. I would love to share more but probably should limit my typing and I just wanted to have my say about one other thing… no offense to your current stylist, but I think you could really benefit from someone with enthusiasm and skill in working with different hair types (and who doesn’t exacerbate messages about hating your own hair type, yikes!). There might be some middle ground between your current routine and embracing “natural”. Could you consider this a time/money investment priority just like clothes/health/etc? I do think our hair can feel that important. And I would like to suggest one anti-frizz product, Giovanni Frizz Be Gone Hair Serum. It has a relatively short ingredient list and may work with your chemical sensitivities (their products are usually rated well on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database, a personal care product watchdog list – which is where I found it – http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ if anyone’s interested)

    • I am so glad to hear that you are doing better, Claire, and that you are back in your hometown at last. It seems to be agreeing with you well if you have seen improvements in such a short time. Thank you for the anti-frizz product recommendation. That is one that I have yet to try, so I will check it out. It is good to learn about products that I am less likely to experience an adverse reaction to. About the hair stylist, I have yet to find one who encourages me to work with my natural texture. That’s either because it is so bad (that’s how I always feel) or because I always seem to want straight hair. It could also be because the styles of late have been straighter and it’s easier to do that kind of style. I DO ask about alternate ways to wear my hair, but multiple stylists have said I wouldn’t like it. But I can check things out on my own and try different styling techniques. I haven’t really wanted to before, but I am more motivated now as part of my overall efforts to simplify my life.

      • Truly, it is so hard to find a good stylist. In all our many moves, I dreaded having to seek out a new one, over and over again. Sometimes (often) I resorted to cutting it myself, and definitely doing my own coloring. While I find coloring kinda fun and like to change and try different things, eventually I would be pretty desperate to find someone for a full cut. After one move I drove almost 4 hours back to my previous city to use my old stylist. I also found I didn’t necessarily have better luck with more expensive stylists. Some of my favorites have been at discount or mid-level hair places. I have rarely (maybe never) found a stylist worth fancy salon prices, even though it was nice to have the ambiance.

        I hope my comments didn’t seem to imply it’s easy to find or change hair stylists, or to change your feelings internally to be more accepting of your natural hair. I just really wish that kind of freedom and self-acceptance for you, Debbie. It does make life easier and simpler to figure out how to work with what we’ve got, body-wise. I would love for you to be able to find someone more creative/accepting/encouraging when it comes to your hair. None of our natural hair textures are inherently “bad”; some may be more challenging than others; but I’m more of the opinion that these differences give rise to different advantages/disadvantages. Anyway, I wish you so much luck and progress in this area of your “deliberate” life! 🙂

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