On Self-Care, Clearing Backlogs, and Taking a Break

It’s a known fact that many women have a tendency to put themselves last. They expend the majority of their time and energy taking care of other people, such that they can become totally depleted and have nothing left to give to themselves. This phenomenon is common among mothers of young children and members of the “sandwich generation,” but it can happen to all of us.   And for those of us who struggle with compulsive shopping or other addictive behaviors, not taking care of our own needs can set us up for exacerbating those issues.

This has been the case for me in recent months.   No, I don’t have small children or elderly parents with failing health, but I also don’t really have a lot to give at this point.   I have been struggling more so than usual with my health over the past few months and have also been investing a great deal of energy in trying to help a sick friend who is really in a bad way.  I have also been spending many hours each week going to various medical and holistic practitioner appointments, which only seem to be eating up my time and money without doing much good.   And I often lose entire days or partial days as a result of feeling just plain awful.

lake tahoe clouds

Beautiful Lake Tahoe, where I will visit during September (my dad’s photo). 

Low Productivity and Many Backlogs…

My productivity is terrible.  I frequently stay up too late trying to catch up on email, blog comments, and other tasks that I’ve fallen behind on given all of the above.  I’ve managed to keep up with the blog, but I have a long list of projects – both blog-related and otherwise – that keep getting pushed out.   I have many backlogs that keeping getting longer and longer, and I just can’t seem to keep up with even the modest number of responsibilities I have in my life.   I have beaten myself up about all of this more than I can adequately convey here. I feel like such a failure for not living up to my expectations and having to continually lower the bar for what I hope to accomplish in my life.

My frustration about my ongoing health struggles, social isolation, task backlogs, and lack of productivity has driven me to shop more over the past two months, especially last month.  I should know better and be able to manage my stress in more positive ways, but I didn’t do that.  I slid back into overshopping and I feel ashamed about it.   Although I maintain that recovery is not a linear process, I have experienced probably one of the biggest setbacks I’ve had since starting the blog almost three years ago and I’m not proud of that at all.

Some readers have commented that they feel I spend too much time and energy on my clothing and wardrobe – and they’re right.   While I do spend some time every day tracking what I wear and writing in my outfit journal, that generally amounts to ten minutes or less on average. The bulk of the time I spend focused on my clothes is in writing posts for this blog.   I enjoy doing it and I’m always profoundly touched when I learn that my blog is helping others, but I agree that it probably isn’t the best thing for my recovery sometimes.  Plus, it takes a really long time to write many of my blog posts, particularly those with photos and statistics.  Most non-bloggers probably have no idea how time-consuming it can be to run a blog…

A September “Modified Break”

It was suggested by a few people that I take a month or two off from blogging so I can concentrate on recovering from my recent setback and cultivating a fuller life for myself.   I have decided that I want and need such a break, so I’m going to take some time off from the blog during the month of September.  However, it’s going to be a modified break. I’m not going to go away entirely. I will still do some posts, but they won’t be posts focused on me, my shopping, and my wardrobe.  Instead, I plan to share some of my photographs, as well as some “useful links” posts on topics that I feel will be helpful to you (I’m open to suggestions).   I may also do a “Throwback Thursday” post or two focusing on some of the previous articles on the blog (I have almost 300 now!) that you may have missed the first time around or may benefit from reading again now.

What am I going to do with the extra time?  Well, for one, I’m going to take a week to visit my mom and brother in beautiful Lake Tahoe towards the end of the month (I hope to take lots of photos and meet up with Mo of “MOderate Wardrobe” while I’m there).  I’m also going to work on clearing all of the backlogs I have – papers (I have tons of those), emails, blog posts and articles to read, etc. And more than that, I’m going to cut down on the amount of information I consume.  I don’t need to read every single article that comes my way and I could also stand to pare down my blog list in Feedly.   I also plan to remove myself from some mailing lists and Facebook groups (I’m in far too many and am spending most of my Facebook time these days in the private group I founded anyway).

In addition to clearing my backlogs and visiting family, I also plan to catch up on a few projects related to the blog, including updating the Resources and Recovery Tips pages and switching to a mobile-friendly theme (I hope that won’t be as difficult as I fear).   I also want to spend some time thinking about – and writing about – how I want to proceed with the blog moving forward.  As I come up on the three year mark, I feel that it’s important to reflect back on how things have gone with the blog thus far and to consider a future vision for it. That vision looks pretty foggy right now, but that’s all the more reason why I should take a step back and ponder the matter.

After the Break…

When I return to “regularly scheduled blogging” in October, I will do combined posts for my August and September accountability updates and “Love It, Wear It” Challenge (LIWI) recaps.  I will definitely stick with both of these projects/commitments through the end of the year as planned.  As for everything else, we shall see…   In the meantime, stay tuned for some theme-based photography and links posts, coming soon.   Thanks for all of your support and I wish you the best of luck with your shopping, wardrobe management, and style during the month of September.  And above all, I wish you full and happy lives, which is really what matters most of all anyway.

71 thoughts on “On Self-Care, Clearing Backlogs, and Taking a Break

  1. Oh no! Will you not be accepting any comments here?
    The Facebook group is not for me. I don’t want to see pictures of what others have bought.
    You are just beginning to get some really interesting journeys in the comments people are making.
    Would you consider just allowing the comments to run here? (approved of course!)

    • Babs, I will still keep comments open on all of my posts. As a result of spammers, I have had to close comments after two weeks, as it just got too out of control. Since I will still be doing some posts during my modified break, anyone who would prefer to comment here rather than on Facebook can still do so and the comments do not have to be confined to the topic of the post at hand. I likely won’t respond to all comments, as that can be time-consuming and goes against my objectives for taking a break, but anyone is free to comment. I don’t moderate comments as a rule and very rarely delete comments once they are posted. Luckily, it has very rarely been a problem, as I have such a great group of readers.

  2. Awww Really? Long time reader, first comment. Sorry you are not feeling well.
    Your readers will understand right? To take the pressure off why don’t you consider just inviting people to send in their stories and see how that goes. I am inspired by many things I read here lately and I am being helped No work for you at all and you can read them too. Babs has a good idea there. Take care.

    • Thanks for posting your first comment, Craig. I’m glad you are inspired by my blog. I always welcome people sharing their stories here. I have a series called “Stories of Recovery” that is just that: https://recoveringshopaholic.com/category/stories-of-recovery/ There hasn’t been a post in that series for a while, probably because I haven’t asked for submission, but if anyone is reading this comment and wants to share (it CAN be anonymous if desired), please contact me. When I do my next post (probably later in the week – probably photos or some highlights from the Facebook group), I will remind readers that I welcome their stories. I agree that it would be great to have a few of those during my modified break. We will hopefully get part two of the “shopping on eBay” series, too.

  3. I definitely hope to meet up with you! I’m just now trying to arrange a more regular work schedule after missing out on several outings with out of town friends this week due to an unexpected schedule change. I actually came away with a valuable life lesson in it all – Ask For What You Want. If I’d requested those days off instead of just assuming I’d have them, I wouldn’t be stuck behind my register while they are off at Sand Harbor and Angora Lake and the Reno Rib Cook Off.

    I understand the need to take ‘me’ time. I feel totally okay with bi-weekly blog posts as of late. Maybe if work calmed down some, I’d settle in at a weekly post rate, but as it is I do it when I can and don’t when I can’t. And I don’t stress about it either way. It’s like sharing outfit photos . . . I need to be doing it for me. If I begin to find I’m doing it for ‘them’, I need to take a step back.

    • I hope we get to meet up, too, Mo! I’m really looking forward to it and hope it can happen during this upcoming visit. How great that you turned your recent disappointment into a valuable life lesson. Yes, we DO need to ask for what we want. I’m often horrible about that and then I get upset and hurt when things don’t go as I plan. Far better to just ask for things. Sure, people may say no, but we will feel better for having made the request. As for blogging, I know I appreciate your posts when you’re able to make them, even if it’s infrequent. Life happens and most bloggers have a lot of other things going on in their lives. You’re right that we need to be doing it for ourselves, especially if we aren’t making a living off of our bloggers (some bloggers do, but they are more the exception than the rule). It needs to be something we enjoy doing. I still enjoy doing the blog, but I’m also happy that I’m taking a few steps back this month. I need to do it for me…

  4. Debbie I am worried about you. I have MS and I can identify with much you have written about. Did you say you also have MS? You don’t owe so much detail of what you are going through. Must be exhausting to feel you must explain in so much detail A cheery Off For A Vacation Break will do and only dearest friends need to know. Sometimes we give too much. Be well soon,my dear.

    • Thank you so much for your concern, Anna. No, I do not have MS. You may be thinking of Courtney Carver of “Be More with Less” and “Project 333.” I have a laundry list of health issues which haven’t added up to a comprehensive disease or disorder – yet. I’m still getting tests run, but it’s entirely possible that my symptoms may not be related to each other. However, they sure do make my life miserable sometimes… We have to do the best with what we’re presented with in life. Yes, we sometimes give too much and I am definitely guilty of that. I really appreciate your kind wishes. I wish you all the best, too, with your health and in general.

    • Thank you, Mette. You may be right! By the way, I read and love all of your posts. I’m sorry I haven’t been able to comment much lately, but I remain a loyal reader and friend.

  5. Enjoy your break Debbie, put yourself first and switch off.
    There is so much valuable content in your archives, we’ll have plenty to read whilst you’re resting.

    • Thank you so much, Saltbox. Yes, I have a lot of content in my archives. I often think I need to re-read many of my old posts myself. Maybe I will put my feet up and do just that one of these days…

  6. The facebook group is just what I have been looking for – someplace where people can explore together any aspect of what clothing/shopping means to them from a very conscious place. That it has taken off so quickly is a reflection of and tribute to your own sharing of your journey and how you have touched so many people. Great idea to change focus for awhile and allow yourself this period of freedom. Wonderful that you and Mo might get together. Wishing you every good thing and blessing going forward.

    • I’m so glad you are enjoying the Facebook group, Vildy. I agree with what you wrote about it and I am humbled that such an amazing group of woman has come together because of me and my little blog that I initially believed very few people would even read. I appreciate your kind words and wishes. Fingers crossed that Mo’s busy schedule will have a gap in it for me to meet up with her. It is always great to meet in person the friends I’ve made through blogging.

  7. Debbie, take care of yourself. Time away to think and to enjoy your family sounds wonderful! You’ve been brave, sharing your struggles with us and I admire and respect your work. I will look forward to reading them again when you return. Oh, and Happy belated birthday!!

    • Thank you so much for your kind words and wishes, Betsy. I am very much looking forward to taking some downtime, seeing family, and catching up on everything. I already feel a bit more relaxed…

  8. Debbie, just discovered your blog and read through all your archives so will miss you whilst you’re on your break, but you deserve it! You are so brave and honest – hope you enjoy the time out and that you manage to prioritise yourself. Hope to connect with you on the Facebook group.

    • Welcome, soupdragon. I’m impressed that you have read through all of my archives. There’s a lot there! Thank you for your kind words. I will definitely be in the Facebook group. I don’t participate there as much as some of the other members, but I do check in at least daily and I very much enjoy the wonderful input and insights there.

  9. Debbie, you should focus on caring for your self for a while. It’s often struck me that running the blog, while so helpful for others, must be very hard for you and in some ways counterproductive, because if you really wish to develop other interests and move on with your life, you are always called back to the topics of shopping/over shopping, etc, so that you can never just put them out of your mind.
    Many many thanks for the blog, especially for taking such trouble to answer every single comment in detail. I wish you all the best, especially in terms of improving health. It would be lovely if you checked in with a mini post very now and then, and a round up at the end of the year would be something to look forward to…but don’t feel pressured to do this.
    Thanks again, and all the best, Alice

    • Alice, you’re right that sometimes the blog can be counterproductive to my aims. I think I just need to approach things differently, which is part of what I will be considering during this modified break. I thank you for your kind wishes for my health. I will definitely do some posts during September and I will be back in October with regular posts. They may look a bit different, but I’m not closing up shop here.

  10. Debbie, as the co-creator of our company’s various websites and e-commerce, I am very familiar with how long it takes to make things happen online. Its not instantaneous as everyone likes to believe. And then you have maintenance. Once you suggested I start a blog, and I never did because I don’t have the time to devote to it. I know what it takes! That’s why I have always enjoyed this blog as a place for me to learn and share my views on subjects dear to my heart. I think it will be good for you to take a break from it and catch up on YOU. I was thinking the very same thing about myself today.

    Sometimes I get depressed and think my life is too full of responsibilities and consequently I am viewed as a bore. This was triggered the other day when a good friend hurt my feelings by extending an invitation to dinner, but then following the invite up with a sarcastic, “I know you aren’t a very spontaneous person, but I thought I’d ask anyway.” This really cut me to the quick–especially as it came from someone who knows me well.

    I don’t like being viewed as lacking in spontaneity, but as grownups you have to “choose your battles”. My current “battle” is the evening caregiving my disabled of mother, who as a diabetic, must be given dinner at a specific time or her blood sugar will drop low enough for her to faint. (The first time this happened when I became her caregiver, I just about freaked out!) My dinner friend either doesn’t understand about diabetics (or she doesn’t want to), instead choosing to criticize that I am “being manipulated”by my mother, when in fact I’m working with her very real health problem. I have learned to plan my evening around preparing Mom’s dinner at a certain time in view of this, but unlike what my friend believes, this responsibility does not prevent me from going out–its just a matter of timing–and has nothing to do with spontaneity. In fact had my friend given me a mere 30 minutes of flexibility on the timing, I could have happily gone out with her!

    What I’m saying is that everyone has their own set of responsibilities to themselves and others, and we should honor people’s responsibilities if we are to be considered true friends. If you need to take a break, then do so. Everyone deserves a vacation. Even Bridgett Raes has “Gone Fishing” until after Labor Day! Have fun!

    • Thanks for understanding, Deby. I think a lot of people think it’s easy to just slap something on the Internet, but that is definitely not true, especially if one is concerned with quality. Yes, a few guest posters have commented about how long it took them to put their post together and it even dissuaded at least one (and maybe two, from what you said) from starting her own blog. I really don’t know how some people do it, especially those bloggers with full-time jobs who post regularly. But I’m trying not to compare myself to others, as they usually just makes me feel bad…

      I’m sorry your friend was not very understanding and inflexible. I admire that you care so well for your mother and are still able to have a social life outside of that as well. One would think that friends would be more compassionate and work around your schedule a bit more. Hopefully, most of your friends do.

      You’re right that even Bridgette Raes took a blogging break and she’s about as hard-working as they come! I miss reading her blog, but I know she will be back. I have revisited a few of her older articles and enjoyed that very much.

  11. I find this incredibly useful for time and project mangement. It’s “Getting Things Done” by David Allen. This is the entire book.

    Click to access Getting_Things_Done_-_The_Art_Of_Stress-Free_Productivity.pdf

    Here’s the TED talk

    This blog has a series on the book in abdridged form. I found it more useful than the book itself. The first comment of this post has the link to all the fourteen posts.


    • Thanks so much for these links, nutrivore. I have heard of this book before, but haven’t read it. I look forward to checking out the Ted Talk and blog series soon, and how great that you found the whole book online. I have downloaded it and if the information feels like a good fit for me, I will read it. I’ve struggled with time-management for what seems like my whole life, but I know I’m not alone in that. I beat myself up too much about it for sure. I know I will never be perfectly productive, but it would be great if I could make some improvements.

  12. Hi Debbie,

    I just want to acknowledge for/with you how incredibly hard it is to learn to navigate life with a limiting illness, especially in a society which fuels the feeling that productivity and accomplishments (and good health!) are the most important and should be valued above all else. This is actually not the case, just the narrative around us that is hard to step out of because we have been surrounded by it all our lives. One can’t exactly expect to “problem-solve” one’s way out of chronic health issues, rather one can slowly learn coping and managing skills and techniques and experience times of improvement and better quality of life.

    If it helps, I would like to offer you a bit of my perspective when it comes to persistent health issues. Firstly, it’s perfectly ok to be where you actually are and start from there. Sure, there is grief, despair, anger, and frustration, but there can also be a deep acceptance that you are where you are, it’s ok, it doesn’t make you a failure as a person or less than anyone else, it’s not your fault and you don’t need to berate or blame yourself for how it is (shopping et al). And wherever you are, you start from there and that is just fine.

    Secondly, everything counts. Not just “obvious” things like paying bills/writing emails/setting up online communities ;). Like, every little thing, without ranking them against each other. Stepping out of bed, rolling over and going back to sleep, brushing your teeth, the one dish you put in the dishwasher, taking a deep breath, staring off into space, going to an appointment, NOT going to an appointment, writing a blog post, NOT writing a blog post, keeping the project, dropping the project, ignoring the project, buying the shirt, not buying the shirt, returning the shirt, not returning the shirt, just thinking about returning the shirt, wearing the shirt. Does this make sense? It’s all part of your journey, it all matters and exists without a judgement needed. Try to practice giving yourself credit for every little thing you can possibly think of and no demerits for anything, great or small.

    I love the accountability/liwi posts because they are interesting. I love your style and getting to see your journey. BUT, and I really really mean this, write them (or don’t write them) in the primary context of what’s best for you. Write them but don’t publish. Publish but don’t allow comments. Allow comments but don’t respond to any. Stick with just and end-of-year wrap up. Change the detail level. Change the name from “accountability” to “fun with numbers”. Drop the whole thing for the rest of the year if you need/want to. You are not obligated to this blog, or yourself even, to hold to these projects and “planned commitments”. You are figuring out and learning what’s healthiest for you right now, and nothing is off the table. I can tell you from experience, and it has been a long and painful road, that your projects and planned commitments and perceived obligations to others (to the blog, to your family, to your friend who is in a bad way, and even to yourself) are not required to be prioritized over your own health and wellbeing. At least, that is what I have learned, and it has been a such hard lesson. I would love it to be a little easier for you and that is my hope by sharing all this.

    Debbie, I know this is kind of a long comment and I hope it makes sense and isn’t too overwhelming. Although we have some similarities, we are also different, and what works for one might not work for another. I appreciate you, whether times seem good or bad – they are really just the times of your life. I accept them and thank you for sharing them. I mainly wanted to offer a perspective of unconditional support and validation outside the box of our sometimes health-sacrificing, productivity-fixated culture. So I guess in summary (this is as much for me as for you! 🙂 – Start where you are, Everything counts, Nothing is off the table. All the best during your break. And feel perfectly free to reply or not reply to this comment – both are just fine and both count 😉

    • Thank you Claire. Your words are wise and kind and it is what we all need to hear. Thank you for taking the time to write and share this lovely comment.

    • Claire, I appreciate your comment more than I can probably adequately express. I am literally in tears after reading it because I feel like you totally “get” me and what I’m struggling with. Thank you so much. It was all amazing and touched me deeply, but these are some of the parts that resonated with me the most:

      “One can’t exactly expect to “problem-solve” one’s way out of chronic health issues, rather one can slowly learn coping and managing skills and techniques and experience times of improvement and better quality of life.”

      – SO right on… This is exactly what I’ve been trying to do, problem-solve my way out of chronic health issues. And it hasn’t been working and I’ve only ended up feeling bad about myself as a result. I kept hoping my health issues weren’t chronic, but they have been going on for years and getting worse, so I need to accept it and learn those coping and managing skills and techniques you mentioned.

      “…it doesn’t make you a failure as a person or less than anyone else, it’s not your fault and you don’t need to berate or blame yourself for how it is (shopping et al).”

      I DO consider myself a failure often and I berate myself on a regular basis for not having achieved enough in my life, for not being able to get enough accomplished, and a whole host of other things…

      “You are not obligated to this blog, or yourself even, to hold to these projects and “planned commitments”. You are figuring out and learning what’s healthiest for you right now, and nothing is off the table. ”

      I often feel obligated to everything and need to remind myself of how many choices I have in almost everything in my life. I like how you wrote that nothing is off the table. I was actually thinking just this the other day, as I saw it in someone else who is a mirror to me. This person always goes on and on about how busy she is, but every single thing she does is something she has CHOSEN to do. None of her commitments is an obligation. The same is true for me, and realizing that can free me up to make the best choices for me.

      You’re right that this culture can be very health-sacrificing and productivity-fixated. That has been to my detriment and I have seen it adversely affect a lot of other people, too. My husband made an observation about me recently that on my “bad days,” I am grateful for every little thing and I’m a lot more kind and accepting toward myself. Yet on my “good days,” I start to beat myself up again and start thinking I should be able to do more than I do. I get into “driver” mode, but I can never stay there for longer than a day or two because then I get knocked flat by my health issues yet again. I need balance. I need to be in the place where everything counts like you said. Thank you for the reminders that I am enough and I am doing the best I can given a very difficult situation. I really do feel blessed that I can impact people all around the world as a result of the wonders of technology. It helps me to feel less alone and more valuable, but the truth is that I already was valuable from the get go. Blessings to you…

      • Hi, Debbie. I am another long time reader, first time commenter. Something you said in reply to Claire struck me as similar to an experience I’ve had with my sister who has aspergers disorder, and from about the time she was in her early twenties hasn’t been able to work or attend school, or even sometimes do household chores she “ought” to because she was otherwise doing “nothing”, and it really hurt her esteem. One thing I have said to her because I feel this SO strongly, it that it is of totally no importance to me what her “productivity” level is, she has equal value to anyone else on earth because she is herself.

        I want to say the same thing to you – what you’re able to “accomplish” is totally secondary to the fact you seem like such a sweet, intelligent and thoughtful person. You can’t be a failure in that case. Period. 🙂

        I also think you are working very hard whether it seems like it or not. Having a chronic illness is like having a 24/7 job. No one should compare the “productivity” of someone who suffers from one negatively against someone who doesn’t.

        Anyway, I wish you the best, and I hope you enjoy your break. 🙂

      • Thank you so much for this comment, Caer. I really appreciate what you had to say and it resonated strongly with me. I especially liked the part about having value because we are ourselves, as well as this:

        “I also think you are working very hard whether it seems like it or not. Having a chronic illness is like having a 24/7 job. No one should compare the “productivity” of someone who suffers from one negatively against someone who doesn’t.”

        Thank you so much for your kind words and wishes!

    • late to this thread but agree one thousand percent with Claire and sending healing wishes your way Debbie–do whatever is best for you.

  13. Debbie, often after meeting demanding writing deadlines, or speaking at conferences, or any time I need to weave more peace and simplicity into my life, and have time to breath, I take a break from the public world to rest and renew my spirit.

    Writing and publishing and being in the public light is hard work, and the careful responses you write to reader comments is kind and generous, yet it is also exhausting. I’m delighted to hear you are planning to take a break in September. And I sincerely hope that you will begin to give yourself vacations from blogging more frequently. You can post one of your lovely ocean photos and tell readers you have “Gone Fishing.”

    Wishing you rest, renewal, and joy.

    • Thank you so much, Terra. Your comments to me are always so loving and understanding. I know that you understand that writing and blogging is hard work, often harder than most people realize. I definitely need to weave more peace and simplicity into my life. I enjoy writing this blog and interacting with readers, but sometimes I have more to give than other times. I think the break will help me and I may make it easier to take breaks in the future when it feels right for me to do so. The world won’t end and most readers will still stick around. I appreciate your kind wishes.

  14. Wishing you the best during your break and in years to come. You have been courageously candid throughout your blog and you have helped a lot of people, but clearly the time has come to help yourself. Although I will look forward to those posts that you choose to write I truly hope you are able to find some time for yourself to just breathe! Best wishes to you!

    • I really appreciate your kind words and wishes, N. Yes, it is time for me to do more to help myself. I have been trying to do so all along, but I have a tendency to put others ahead of myself so much that I lose sight of my own needs. I like the idea of just breathing. I don’t know how often I’ve ever allowed myself to do that…

  15. I do hope you have a nourishing break. You absolutely give so much of yourself through this blog, I can only hope you give yourself the care and nurture you have given us. I would be in despair at times without your writing, imagining I was a little nuts/alone in my self-made problem. You deserve the best Debbie, your generous spirit needs to be a little selfish. I wish to share a couple of youtube and podcast links as a break for anyone from the reading. LOVE this 10 min Youtube from Hello Cathy https://youtu.be/jwv7YQmZxs8
    I play it when I feel the urge to shop online and it deters me!
    I also enjoy Midway Simplicity on YouTube.
    A wonderful podcast is Slow Home by Brooke McAlary I find her voice soothing.
    A fun podcast is Happier with Gretchen Rubin and her sister.
    All the best. I am currently enjoying your 2nd book so I have that til you return!

    • Thank you for your wishes and for the wonderful resources, Shelley. I have seen the Hello Cathy link, as another reader linked to it in a comment awhile back. I think I may have even included it in one of my useful links posts. I look forward to checking out your other resources and I may even include them in a future links round-up. I love listening to podcasts when I’m getting ready in the morning. I may as well learn something while I’m primping, right? I’m so glad you are enjoying my book! And it is always nice to hear that my writing helps readers to feel less alone in their struggles. It does the same thing for me, as I’ve been able to connect with all of you!

  16. I think that a break from the internet is a good thing from time to time: we get so invested in our virtual life that sometimes we forget that the internet is not the main stage of our life! That’s not to say that the web is ‘evil’ or something, just that it can suck someone’s attention and energies like nothing, which can be good (this blog is the proof, such quality content!), but also tiring (responding to trolls or people that mistake openness with a permission to judge us endlessly and without restraints).
    When I felt that the internet became too time/attention/energies-consuming, I simply took some time for me and didn’t go online/on certain sites: it helped remind me that while the online world is an awesome opportunity for communicating, it’s not representative of the main part of my life, which counts so many things (friends, family, hobbies, free-time, studies, work, etc.) that really, the internet is not the hugest part of it.
    All this to say, enjoy your break Debbie, have a nice time and enjoy your hobbies/family/travels, we’ll be here, still reading and commenting! ^^

    • I totally agree, Maria, that a break from the Internet can be a positive thing. A lot of simplicity bloggers recommend taking a “digital sabbatical” at least one day per week, and I was doing that for a while. While the online world can be wonderful and I appreciate it greatly, it’s important to balance it with “real world” life like you said. I haven’t been doing that for quite some time and I feel pretty unbalanced now. I believe I can achieve the balance I need and taking a step or two back will help me in that pursuit. Thank you for your kind wishes!

  17. Hi Debbie,

    Another first time commenter here. I think taking time off is a wonderful idea! It’s obvious that you put a lot of thought, time, effort and energy into your posts. They are so detailed and comprehensive! Rest is good and you deserve it. I look forward to seeing more of your photographs – they are, well not peaceful, exactly, more like peace-giving – like a mini-vacation, or breath in deeply, breathe out, slowly, and release. If that makes any sense. Perhaps that is one of your gifts – peace giving. No wonder you feel drained! Time for rest and feeding, and especially water (like a horse after a long run (hope that’s not insulting!)) Anyway, I hope your vacation will be even more enjoyable and restorative than you anticipate!

    • Welcome, Native New Englander, and thanks for your comment. I’m glad you appreciate my post and are looking forward to seeing more of my photographs. I plan to post some next week and probably at least a few times during my “modified break.” I don’t mind the horse comparison at all 🙂 I appreciate your kind wishes.

  18. Hi Debbie, I get so much out of reading every single one of your posts. And I do that because of who you are and your writing style. Your main topics – clothing and a full life – are interesting to me, but even if you evolve the focus of the blog over time and write about other things, your writing will still be enjoyable and inspirational to read as it’s your ‘voice’. I’m interested in whatever you have to say.

    Fantastic that you’re taking a breather and catching up on other important things. Your creativity and spirit will be nourished by this … and these things are arguably more important (and foundational) to productivity anyway. And I thoroughly agree with Claire’s comment – it ALL counts. With much love, Kim.

    • Your comment meant a lot to me, Kim. Thank you. It’s nice to know that people appreciate my writing and would be interested in reading what I have to say about topics beyond the main focus of this blog. I definitely want to explore alternate subjects moving forward, as my journey is expanding to other areas of my life more. Thanks for your wishes about my break. I hope my creativity and spirit will be nourished by it. That’s my intention!

  19. Just cruising through my blogs tonight. Earlier I read one of the fashion blogs with the french name ,there are two of them and I.m unable to come up with the correct spelling….anyway, her name is Susan (also Pseu in French?) To my surprise, she has a nearly adult son who was brain-damaged during the birth process. She and her husband have cared for him all of his life, at home, and are now faced with the prospect of institutional living for him because he’s getting too big to physically handle for them. They also implied in a subtle way’ that he will have to live someday without them, etc. My heart was breaking for them while I read her post. And she has to work. Full time. Special needs children have lots of extra expenses.
    So, it was hard to come here next and read this pity party of self indulgence.

    • Annie, your statement about the “pity party of self indulgence” was incredibly disrespectful to Debbie and her experiences and completely uncalled for. If you really find reading Debbie’s blog so disagreeable, I’m sure there are plenty of other blogs that you would enjoy better and you can remove this one from your feed.

    • Well said, Margaret. We do not know the details of Debbie’s health issues, as she says very little about them (the opposite of self-indulgent!), but long time readers are aware that she has been dealing with them for many years. What we do know is that she is an amazingly kind and gracious person, who takes enormous trouble to write long and in-depth posts on a regular basis, and to answer in detail every single comment that is posted. This amount of care is very rare in a world of superficial and ‘bite sized’ blogs, and it provides a wealth of support to many. The comment was trite and thoughtless.

    • Annie, your comment is also trite and thoughtless. How you feel is your business. However, what you have said is very personal to me, and I am offended. It you do not like what you are reading here, please leave. I am the mother of a son who received brain damage following the diagnosis of a brain tumor in early childhood. I raised my son for many, many years while dealing with, and accepting, a host of deeply serious, life challenging and life changing, health problems he and we were forced to endure. Over the past 25 years I have had the opportunity to meet, interact with and become close friends with scores of other parents walking a journey similar to my own and similar to the “story you read about the parents and boy you read about in a blog.” And to this day I am still involved deeply in this community of people whose lives have been altered. Early on I made the decision to live as normally as possible, and to place great focus on all of the things in our lives that are good. And I have people like you to thank for helping me understand that I do not want to ever speak or behave as you have. Yes, some of us do indeed need to live with extremely sad and challenging medical circumstances. Yet I won’t place myself and our medical circumstances on a pedestal, or place anyone who is dealing with something they find difficult on pedestal. I want to live my life with compassion and kindness, and be surrounded with people who can show kindness and have compassion for others, without judging, as you have. Education is crucial because those of us who dwell within the world of brain damage meet too many people like you who view us and our lives as a “pity party of self indulgence.”

      If you are interested in learning how to show compassion, and not pity, for families living with brain damage, please contact me privately. I have lived the life, and have worked professionally within this field, and can lead you to excellence resources. –Terra Trevor

      • I think Annie’s comment about the “pity party” was directed at me, not at you and other mothers of brain damaged children. I think it was her intention to make me feel bad because I don’t have “real problems” like the blogger she mentioned. I don’t doubt for a second and would never insinuate that there aren’t many people in the world whose lives are more difficult than mine. Of course there are, probably millions in fact. But it’s not a contest and I was not looking for pity from anyone. The bottom line is that this blog is something I choose to do. While I make some income from my book sales and affiliate links, it’s not a lot and the blog is mostly a hobby and labor of love more than a job at this point. It is my prerogative to take some downtime from it if that’s what I wish to do and I really shouldn’t have to explain or apologize to anyone. However, because I value and appreciate my readers, I decided to write this post to let people in on my thought process. If some people want to think I’m self-indulgent, so be it. No matter who we are, not everyone is going to like us and agree with our decisions and choices in life. I don’t need everyone to like me and I would prefer that those who feel such harsh things about me leave and read other blogs instead rather than writing hateful comments here.

        I have always valued you as a reader and friend and I admire your strength and fortitude in what you went through with your son. I think that almost everyone feels compassion for those who struggle in that way, including Annie, but I appreciate your sharing more of your story with us here. Blessings to you and your family.

      • Debbie thank you for your kindness and wanting to smooth over Annie’s comment. I know exactly what she meant, and that it wasn’t intended to insult me or other parents of brain damaged children, or anyone living with a serious medical condition, and I know that Annie had good intentions by pointing out that after she read about a family with serious problems and sorrow– the conversation and comments on this blog felt shallow to her. I understand this line of thinking. Of course we recognize this family she read about is dealing with deep stress, medical problems and sorrow, and we have compassion for them. However, for Annie to then come here and compare and make a judgement call of whose illness and problems are more severe and more deserving of support, is unacceptable. If someone is hurting we need to offer compassion, not point out that it could be far worse and that they are not hurting enough to deserve support.

        I have women friends who are dealing with extremely serious family medical problems who read this blog. They come here to read Debbie’s writing, which is a form of memoir, deeply personal, and for the kind and candid reader comments and conversation. Oftentimes you will find that those who have dealt with “serious life altering problems” are some of the most compassionate people in the world, and they do not judge others.

    • Annie, seriously, how is your comment even remotely useful? It didn’t show your concern for parents who deal with their children who’ve got brain damage, it didn’t show any sort of compassion for other people’s problems as a whole: it just showed your incredible lack of empathy. Using the sorrowful experience of a mother to put down another person’s experience: where is the good in here? Because all I see is the intent of making someone feel bad about themselves, like you’re some sort of ‘woes vigilante’, and seriously, how sad is that? We’re humans, we hurt and we heal, for different reasons, it’s not a contest, it’s not a marathon; and like Tierra confirmed, you’re not helping anyone here, just yourself to your dose of satisfaction post-snark, a la Gomi-style; how lonely and sad is that?
      And that’s why I think that a break from the internet is good, when the trolls/snarkers start flooding in, it gets tiring pretty fast, it’s like they can’t express themselves and their differing opinions without being rude and judgemental!

  20. I hope you have a good break and that the rest helps your health and general wellbeing! Remember you have already helped a lot of people no matter what you do or don’t do with the blog in the future!

    • Thank you so much, Murphy! I really appreciate your kind wishes and what you said about my helping people. It has always been my hope and wish that I could do so…

  21. Annie & Gloria N, I think passing judgement on others is wrong. Everyone has different problems and/or health issues throughout their lifetime.

    It upsets me to hear nasty remarks/bitter comments on this blog which serve no purpose.

    Debbie is a very thoughtful person and has devoted a large quantity of time to helping others through this blog which I personally find very inspiring and has helped me vastly. We all need a break from time to time and Debbie shouldn’t have to justify as to why she is taking a break.

    Debbie, sending you belated birthday wishes. I hope you have a relaxing break and you are feeling better soon X

    • Thank you so much for your very nice words, Sharon, and for the belated birthday wishes. I really appreciate the nice things you wrote about me and my blog. I hate to see the nasty remarks and bitter comments, too, not just on this blog but on other blogs I read and on forums. They really don’t help anything. Constructive criticism is fine and anyone who has been reading her for a while knows that I do get quite a bit of there. But usually it comes from a caring and helpful place. As I’ve written before, I have been very fortunate with my readers and they types of comments that come in on my posts. I remain grateful that I’ve very rarely had to delete comments or moderate readers.

  22. Hi Debbie, I think you are right to take a break, in fact I would suggest 2 weeks away from home rather than one, maybe you could break the journey back at a couple of locations. In my experience a change of physical circumstances and lifestyle can really help to break old patterns, or at least give you fresh perspective ideas and energy. I have just come back from 10 days travelling in Europe where I simply couldn’t be bothered thinking about, tracking or looking at clothes. Now I’m back I am tempted to spend too much time on them again, so am considering taking a complete break and substituting some other activities. Whatever you decide to do – do what is best for you, at this moment in your life. Focus on making the most of now, enjoying the little things, and break the planning and control habits and go with the flow.

    • I would love to take two weeks away, Lynn, but for now a week will have to do. Perhaps I will be able to take another trip later in the year. You are so right that time away can shift our perspectives and energy. Sometimes even a day trip can help with that. I’m glad you trip to Europe gave you a much-needed break from thinking about clothes. I wish you the best of luck with your focus on other activities. Thank you so much for your suggestions and kind wishes.

  23. Debbie: Please take care of yourself FIRST. Your readers care about you. Having the ideal “recovered” wardrobe isn’t much “fun” if you don’t feel well enough to wear and enjoy your clothes. Taking a breather is a good idea. Lining up some guest posts is an excellent idea.

    • Thank you so much, Dottie. You are so right about needing to feel good to enjoy our clothes. I would love to get some guest posters during my “modified break.” You are welcome to do another guest post anytime. Your previous posts are some of the most read articles on my blog and I know they are helping a lot of people!

  24. Glad you are taking some time for yourself. I’m loving the Facebook group and the community there.

    Also, whoohoo! to a mobile-format. I read blogs (and Facebook) almost exclusively on my phone 🙂

    • Thanks, Barb. I’m glad you love the Facebook group. I do, too! I hope that becoming mobile-friendly on the blog will be easier than I think. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while.

  25. Debbie–There will always be poor people who need to put others down to feel better about themselves. We all have some of this, but most of us don’t let it rule our actions and words. As I have written a few other times, I do not even have a shopping problem, but I admire your style, your kindness in your responses to everyone, and your clear writing. The analysis of any behavioral excess is so interesting, and you make it seem common sense to understand. I love design, psychology, and kindness. Your blog is my favorite. I hope you take all the time you need to regroup, be well, and carry on from there. You have love from all corners; remember that!

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