Finding Balance in the Closet and All Areas of Life

For the past two years and at various points in the past, I have chosen a word or theme to guide my focus over the course of the year.   For 2014, I actually selected two words, simplicity and joy, but I felt that diluted my focus a bit, so I returned to one single word, deliberate, to guide me during 2015.   I’ve opted to continue the practice of choosing a word for the year for 2016.  This post will be centered around sharing that word, why I have selected it, and how I see my theme unfolding in the coming months.

2016 word of the year

Have you selected a word or theme for 2016?

2015 Word Debrief

But before I delve into my 2016 word, I want to do a bit of debriefing on my 2015 theme.   A few weeks ago, I wrote about how I wanted to be more deliberate in the home stretch of 2015.   In that post, I mentioned that I would give an update when I shared my 2016 theme, so here goes.  Sadly, I continue to struggle with staying up too late, although I had a few nights when I was better at getting to bed earlier.   Staying up until the wee hours of the night tends to create a sort of “domino effect” in that I end up getting up later and everything else gets pushed back. Thus, I didn’t succeed in starting on my tasks for the day by 10:30 a.m. most days, either.

What I did do better at, though, was setting one to three key intentions for each day, and I’m going to continue to do that this year as well.   Having key intentions not only brings more focus into my days, it also allows me to experience a greater sense of accomplishment through seeing that I am getting important things done.

My Theme for 2016

While I am moving on to a new theme for 2016, deliberate will continue to come into play, as being intentional about what I’m doing will be important for my new focus, which is balance.  I didn’t need to ponder which word to select for this year much at all.  I instinctively knew that balance was exactly the right word to guide me in the coming year.  The only other word I even considered was “peace,” but after a bit of thought, I realized that if I can cultivate balance for myself, peace will inevitably follow.

life balance

I have selected “balance” as my word / theme for 2016.  

During 2015, my life became very unbalanced.  I stayed up far too late, consumed an excessive amount of information, spent way too much time on Facebook, and devoted too great a percentage of my time to other people’s problems besides my own.   I didn’t get enough sleep, fell behind on things that were important to me, got too stressed out, and my health declined considerably.  I don’t know how much different my health would be now had I been more in balance over the past year, but it definitely wouldn’t have hurt.   Stress can certainly negatively impact our health and I know that has been the case for me.  It’s beyond time for me to turn all of these negative habits and patterns around!

Balance in My Wardrobe

There are areas of imbalance in my wardrobe and with my shopping, too, but I’m not struggling nearly as much in those areas as in other facets of my life.   However, I do need to place a greater level of focus on my at-home wardrobe and dedicate a larger proportion of my clothing dollars to that closet category.  If I were to create a pie chart of my life activities and a second pie chart of my wardrobe components, I would quickly see that my closet is out of balance along with the rest of my life.  I spend the bulk of my time at home, so I need to spend a much larger chunk of my clothing budget on that section of my wardrobe.

Balance will also manifest through my wearing the clothes I love most and letting go of those pieces that no longer serve me.  I did a lot of this through my “Love it, Wear it” wardrobe challenge (LIWI), which I will debrief shortly.  Instead of pushing myself to wear pieces that I didn’t really love, I allowed myself to just wear what I felt most drawn to. This led to the gradual creation of a closet that better serves my needs and a greater proportion of outfits that I feel good about.   I will continue this focus in 2016 even though I won’t specifically be doing LIWI in terms of creating a “working closet” and doing monthly updates. I’m already doing this by asking myself what I most want to wear when I stand in front of my closet each day, and building an outfit around the selected piece.

Information Overload

I have written a few times about the impact of information overload on my life, including in this dedicated post, but I have yet to adequately address it.   Although I shifted away from having physical magazine subscriptions and have drastically pared down my book collection, I continue to consume far too much information on a regular basis.   Case in point, I subscribe to 51 blogs in my feed reader, am a member of 46 Facebook groups (most of which I don’t spend any time in, but still)!   I also typically have thirty or more tabs open in my browser and spent several hours this week alone cleaning them out.   My email in-box is almost always full and I’ve been quite delinquent in responding to messages as of late.

I rarely read books anymore because I’m so busy reading blog posts, articles, and Facebook threads!   I would like to get back to reading books more often and tone down the other types of reading I do. I love blogs; after all, I am a blogger myself. But it really is all about balance.  I don’t need to read so many blogs and I don’t need to read every single post written by the blogs I follow.   A lot of it comes back to FOMO.  I get so afraid that I will miss out on potentially life-changing information that I won’t unsubscribe from blogs or leave Facebook groups.   But I really must, as it’s all too much!

Out of Balance Friendships

As I’ve mentioned previously, most of my interaction with other people occurs online.  While I value my online connections, this is out of balance. I would like to have more face-to-face interaction with people.   It doesn’t have to be equal; it just needs to feel more balanced.  Even just one face-to-face interaction per week (beyond my husband, who I am grateful to see every day) would probably be enough for me. After all, I am an introvert. A little goes a long way for us.   Of course, I need to meet more people in order to make this happen and that feels difficult given my health challenges, but even some steps in the right direction would help to bring more balance to my connections.

I’ve also struggled with lack of balance within some of my friendships. I’m a person who likes to give and wants to help others, which has led me to attract people who are needy and more prone to taking.  I’m not very good at setting boundaries with friends, particularly some of the sick people I’ve met in my Facebook groups.   If they message me when they’re in a health crisis, which is most of the time for some of them, it’s very hard not to chat with them.  It’s also challenging for me to end conversations when someone is in a very bad way.  I’m far too likely to sacrifice my own needs for others, and that has contributed to my relationships being out of balance.  This needs to change and I need to start honoring myself and my limits more.

And Then There’s Health…

I am definitely out of balance when it comes to my body and health.  Although some of it is out of my control (yet I am trying my best to find answers and solutions), there are areas in which I can make changes. The greatest change that I’m empowered to make involves my sleep.  I very rarely get more than six hours of sleep per night and that’s catching up with me in that I feel tired most of the time and have trouble concentrating on anything.  I feel exhausted in the afternoons and early evenings, but get a “second wind” late at night.  I go to bed too late and suffer from insomnia.  Thus, I usually don’t fall asleep until after 2 a.m.   I sleep in to some degree, but I generally can’t stay in bed past 8 or maybe 9.

I have read that our bodies do the bulk of their repair work and regeneration while we are sleeping. So if I’m typically getting only five or six hours of sleep per night, my cells are probably not repairing themselves as well as they could be.  My lack of sleep could be contributing to my health challenges or at least standing in the way of my getting well.   I also feel stressed out and overwhelmed much of the time even though I don’t really have a stressful life when compared to most people.   This is likely due to adrenal fatigue, which I will have to continue to work to overcome, but some stress management activities could be helpful for me, including meditation, journaling, and being in nature (like my regular walks by the water, which help a lot).

I have a healthy diet and I am using both conventional and alternative modalities to try to overcome my various health conditions.   I do as much exercise as I can and try to do something that brings me joy every day.   But I could certainly improve upon both my sleep and stress management activities.   This could go a long way toward getting my health more in balance.

The Bottom Line

So I gave a basic overview of how my life is currently out of balance and alluded to some ways in which I’m hoping to turn it around.   I feel I’ve already started to make some subtle shifts just since taking on “balance” as my word for 2016. But here are some specific changes that I would like to make this year:

  1. Cut back on the number of blogs I read. I would like to decrease the number by at least a third and maybe as much as half. I can always swap out some blogs or add a few back if I miss them.  But 51 blogs is just too many to keep up with on a regular basis.
  2. Decrease my Facebook group membership. I had no idea until today how many Facebook groups I belonged to.   Even though some of those groups are either defunct or have very low activity, it’s still out of hand.   I would like to leave at least half of them and just keep the ones that I feel add value to my life.
  3. Decrease my overall time on Facebook. Although I love the online friends with whom I interact on Facebook, I often spend so much time there that it’s impinging upon other things I need and want to do.   I don’t have a specific time limit in mind right now, but I’m going to track my Facebook activities and aim to cut back to a more reasonable level (TBD after I see how much time I am spending there now).
  4. Read at least one book per month. I used to love reading books and I’d like to get back into it. I have a number of books that I would like to read, either in physical or digital form.   I would also like to complete all of the exercises in “To Buy or Not to Buy” and at least one other personal development book.   If I cut back on blogs, Facebook groups, and overall Facebook time, that should free me up enough so that I can read more books this year.
  5. Aim for one face-to-face interaction per week. This can be getting together with a friend one on one or attending a class or group meeting. Yes, there may be times when I’ll need to cancel these things due to my health issues, but I have to at least try.   I can’t wait until my health is a lot better to even attempt to be social in the real world.  After all, I don’t even know when or if that will happen. I need to do my best now to interact with other people in person.  I almost always enjoy it when I do, so I have to make it more of a priority despite my fears and limitations.
  6. Go to bed earlier and get more sleep! I have never really needed a full eight hours of sleep, but I could definitely benefit from seven hours.  I used to go to bed more like midnight or 12:30 and I’d like to get back to that and wake up around 7:30 rather than between eight and nine.  Sometimes I stay up too late because I’m trying to finish something, but my overall productivity has decreased significantly because I’m so sleep-deprived. Even writing this blog post is taking me what seems like forever because I can’t really think straight at all.
  7. Place my shopping focus on my at-home wardrobe this year. For far too long, I have shopped for “out and about” clothes and let my at-home wardrobe take a back seat.   But that’s just silly because I spend the bulk of my time at home.   I need to put my clothing dollars to their best use by spending them on what I need most and wear regularly.   Of course, some items have crossover potential in that they can be worn both at home and out, but I also need some nicer dedicated lounge wear items and workout clothes.   I want to feel attractive, comfortable, and stylish in everything I wear, not just when I am going out somewhere.

Conclusion

I’m sure other goals and actions will arise as the year progresses, but the above are a good start.  I will include updates on these intentions in my accountability updates, which I may move to quarterly instead of monthly this year.   No matter how often I do accountability updates on the blog, my “full life” actions need to be included, as they are actually more important than the clothes I buy and how much money I spend.

I believe that “balance” was the perfect word for me to select for 2016 and I feel encouraged that it will help to take my life in a more positive direction.  Of course, I’ll have to continue to be deliberate (my 2015 word) in what I do this year in order to create more balance in my life.   These two words really go hand in hand and I feel that I selected them in the proper order, too.   I’m ready to let go of the imbalance and overwhelm in my life and replace those things with balance and peace.  It starts now…

Some Resources and Your Thoughts?

If you’d like to select a word for this year and need some guidance, here are a few resources for you:

Now it’s your turn to chime in.   Have you selected a word for 2016?  If so, what is it and why did you choose it?   I’d also love for you to share your word for 2015 and how it helped to shape your life last year.   As always, you’re welcome to ask me questions or offer feedback on what I have written in this post.

Have a wonderful weekend!  I will be back soon with some more 2015 wrap-up posts, including my year-end accountability update, a look at my wardrobe “benchwarmers” and “all-stars,” and a debrief on my “Love it, Wear it” closet challenge (LIWI).

38 thoughts on “Finding Balance in the Closet and All Areas of Life

  1. I think you have chosen the perfect word for yourself this year. I could not imagine having that many blogs and Facebook groups to keep up with. And I would be a bear in the morning with not enough sleep. Self care is definately in order. I think you are finding balance in your wardrobe so I don’t think too much tweaking is needed there. I hope you find the balance in your life to make yourself truly happy. You are already on the right track with your photography. I have decided that my word for the year is simplify. I have discovered too many choices and decisions are overwhelming me. With all the thinking and choices I have to make at work I think some time on autopilot with things that are easy will help. Thinking less complex cooking, wardrobe, skincare, routines. Reducing the amount of things I have will certainly help. Thank you for all your hard work on this blog. Your blog and our Facebook group has made such a difference in my life. Big hugs and my biggest wish is you can find the balance you crave.

    • Thanks for your comment, Di. You’re right that self-care is in order for me! If I can find balance in my wardrobe, I can find it in my life, too, and that’s what this year is all about. Simplify sounds like a great word for you! I chose simplicity and joy for my words in 2014 and they served me well. I get overwhelmed by too many choices and decisions, too. I think that focusing on “simplify” this year will be good for you. I’m so glad my blog and Facebook group have made a difference for you and I thank you for the virtual hugs and good wishes!

  2. First of all, Congratulations! Two years ago, would you have guessed that your wardrobe would be one minor point in your goals for the year? Way to go, it seems like you are moving into the place where your wardrobe no longer consumes a lot of time and energy, which is freeing you up to now address other areas of your life. That’s a cause for celebration!
    On the sleep issue, I read something this year about getting off of screens an hour before trying to go to sleep, because screens can add to insomnia. I’m wondering if you could create an evening routine that you start at 11 or 11:30 where you have a cup of tea and read a book. It might help send cues to your body that it’s time to rest. I know that it may involve a fall in productivity at first, but if you start with going to bed earlier, eventually the getting up earlier and being less foggy will follow, and hopefully some health benefits as well.

    • Thank you, Heather! No, I would NOT have guessed that my wardrobe would be a minor point in my goals, as I used to be SO consumed by it. I agree that this is cause for celebration! I have heard that, too, about not being on a computer right before bedtime. I like the idea of an evening ritual. It would take some real discipline for me to do that, but my health is worth it. I definitely need to improve my sleep this year, and since I want to read more books, I could accomplish both goals at once. I guess e-books don’t count, though. And here I thought I was doing a good minimalist thing by switching to e-books…

      • I think it depends on what type of e-reader you have. I have a regular kindle (well, a paperwhite, but I turn the light part down) because I read that it wasn’t as stimulating at night as computer and tablet screens.

      • Good point, Heather. I have an old iPad, so it may be more stimulating. I will see if I can turn the light down. If so, that could help, but I also have some actual books that I can read, too.

  3. Debbie, your thoughtful/mindful approach to living your best life is always inspiring to me. You’ve touched on several things I also struggle with, and can attest that reducing my blog reading, limiting FB groups, etc. has been helpful in my return to proactive reading for pleasure (rather than reactive reading when something new gets posted!). I’ve been reading Gretchen’s Rubin’s latest book about habit formation, and she lists these habits as foundations for positive change: Here’s a quick except:

    Foundation habits keep us from getting too physically taxed or mentally frazzled, and then, because we have more energy and self-control, we follow our healthy habits more easily.
    From my observation, the four Foundation habits are:
    getting enough sleep
    getting some exercise
    creating external order
    managing eating and drinking

    The Strategy of Foundation holds that when you’re trying to change some habits, think about strengthening your Foundation.

    It sounds as if you’ve already started on all of these, but I too have found that when I return to the basics, other things seem to fall into place better. I wish you all the best and look forward to hearing about your progress!

    • I really appreciate your comment, Sybil! You raised a great point about proactive vs. reactive reading. I try to remove all notifications for this reason and be deliberate about visiting Facebook and my blog feed reader. That helps, but I need to cut down on the “clutter” in those places, too. I think I could like to read Gretchen Rubin’s habit book, as it sounds very interesting based on what you posted her. I am good at the foundational habits of exercise and eating/drinking, but I need more sleep and external order (and would also like to learn more of what she means by external order). Thank you for your kind wishes. I will definitely do updates here on how I’m doing with my “balance” goal for the year.

  4. Hi Debbie. I think you did a great job in becoming more Deliberate in 2015, even if you fell short of your own expectations in one area or another. We can be our own worst critics of course! My word for 2015 was Evolve. Heading into the year I knew I would have changes forced upon me and I wanted to make sure I stayed tuned in as much as possible. I knew I would most likely suffer through the death of my spouse during the year, but of course I did not know when or how the year would unfold or evolve before or after that point. Now I know and I do feel the word helped me hold it together during time of crisis.
    My word for 2016 is Aware. In general I want to approach each day with awe and wonder, consciously avoid or try to change things which don’t contribute to my well-being and be perceptive and open to new opportunities, particularly in two areas of healthcare advocacy and awareness.
    Thank you again for your blog and for sharing your journey with all of us. Onward to Balance!

    • I appreciate your kind words about my blog and my 2015 goals, Holly. It wasn’t totally clear from your comment whether you have lost your spouse, but if you have, my deepest condolences. I think Evolve was a great word for you last year and I’m glad it helped you to hold it together. Aware is an excellent word for 2016 and I love the way you described it! I think we could all benefit from approaching each day with awe and wonder, as well as the other things you mentioned. Best wishes with your focus for this year!

      • I guess I could have been more clear in my post. My husband died the end of October, 2015. Thanks for your condolences.

  5. Debbie, You are inspiring in your commitment to improving your life through careful analysis and self-analysis. Do you know how helpful that is for your readers? Extremely helpful! Thank you. 🙂

    My word for 2016 is “Value.” I’m going to have to write that down and tape it up in several places as my husband’s health is precarious and when a crisis arises it tends to wipe my memory clean of whatever I was doing pre-crisis.

    “Value” stands for valuing myself. I need to work on retirement plans and accounts. That has been pushed aside for years and I need to value myself enough to attend to that.

    “Value” also stands for what I want in my life in terms of possessions (existing and future). I’d like to continue to sort through the things I own and keep only the items that I value. If I purchase an item I’d like to value myself enough to purchase something of value that will last for years.

    I need to work on building relationships that have “Value.” Like yourself I tend to be a giver in relationships and learned some hard lessons last year. As another introvert with health problems I am trying to find my way into balanced relationships where I am “valued.”

    • I’m so glad my posts are helpful to you, Diane! I love your word for 2016 and I appreciate you sharing what it means to you. I’m sorry to hear that your husband’s health is precarious. I can imagine that’s very hard for you and makes it difficult for you to keep to your focus. It’s a good idea for all of us to keep our words for the year / goals top of mind, but especially important in your situation. Your last point about value in relationships was particularly poignant for me. I think it’s great that you are going to work on “value” this year and I wish you the very best of luck.

  6. Balance, as shown in the image, is static. In real life, you need to adjust to the changing forces that impact your life. I think balance can be described as though you achieve it, when in reality, balance is dynamic. Recognizing that balance IS dynamic gives you the freedom to adjust, as needed, to events, and still feel like you are meeting the goal. Hopefully that makes sense. It took me a long time to recognize the difference.
    My word for the year is “hope”. Each challenge I encounter I try to find what could be a positive detail that I gain from it. It is easy to find the fears in the unknowns, finding the hope is harder. Trying to remember to be grateful for what I DO have, and not getting caught up in fear and worries about what I don’t have, or might not keep.

    • Valerie, there is no “like” button here so I have to write a reply to show I really like what you said about balance and hope. My initial selection was Priority but I have been thinking about the word Humor instead. The humor is not just about joke or fun. It is more of a perspective to not taking oneself too seriously. When you take yourself seriously you are living at the mercy of the world around you. Yes life is still hard, but real tragedy is rare. If we can see though the small problems with a sense of humber, we are free of them.

    • You seem to be a very wise woman, Valerie. I love what you had to say about balance and I think it was important for me to read as I set off toward my balance goal this year. Yes, balance is definitely dynamic and we DO need to adjust as we go along. I really like “hope” as a word for the year, too, as well as what you wrote about it.

      Menghan, “humor” is a great word for the year and I don’t think I’ve heard of anyone selecting that one before. It is SO important that we don’t take ourselves too seriously and so true that we can free ourselves from life’s small challenges by seeing them with humor.

      I wish you both the best of luck with your themes for 2016!

  7. I am having trouble picking one word for 2016, there are so many things I want to focus on. But I guess the one that unites a lot of them is Win: win over my impulsivity and my rationalizations. I started keeping a daily journal, wrote up my 2016 detailed budget in a spreadsheet and am committed to being honest with myself. I even made a list of the few purchases I plan to make this year and am telling myself if it’s not on the list, it doesn’t get bought. It’s not a no-buy year, but I will make it a low-buy year. I’m going to continue with my attrition project for gradually getting rid of apparel and books and focus on my exercise goals. It would be nice to get to a place where material things take up very little space in my consciousness.

    • Some years I have trouble picking a word, too, Tara, but this year it just came to me. Win is a good word for you based on what you wrote. It seems like you are off to a good start, too. Good job with starting the journal, creating a budget, and listing your planned purchases for the year. You are setting yourself up for success with these actions. I would love to get to a place where material things take up very little space in my consciousness, too. I believe we can both get there and it may happen sooner than we think!

    • Great word, Lori! Best wishes with it! I’m glad you like my blog and I will do my best to be kind to myself. That’s a tough one for me, but I’m working on it…

  8. Debbie, it sounds like you are feeling overwhelmed and want to keep only the things that matter to you. Allowing the other activities that fill your time and do not matter to fall away. Or maybe you are wanting or feel obligated to keep a full load and attempt to balance it all? I am a person who needs open spaces both mentally and physically, and after too many days or weeks of extreme business due to a rapid schedule of my own creation, or from other circumstances beyond my control, it takes a while for me to be able to relax and slow down and return to my preferred slower rhythm. So for me living a balanced life means to give myself space and uncluttered time regularly as much as possible, so that when something unexpected, my work demands, or when someone needs my help and attention I am as rested as possible and can rise to meet the occasion. But I never attempt to race full force, yet if I am not careful it can happen. The way I know it is time to stop and take a long breather is “those moments when all I want to do kick back on the couch and close my eyes but feel that demands (both imagined and real life demands) make it impossible.” This is my signal that I am out of balance and need to rest myself fully and slowly work back to center.

    Wishing you many periods of calm in the midst of the storms, today and always.

    • I definitely want to keep only the things that matter to me, Terra. I think I need empty spaces mentally and physically, too, and sometimes I don’t give them to myself. I fill too much of my time in ways that aren’t deliberate such that I don’t have the energy I need for the important tasks a lot of the time. That needs to change. What you wrote about wanting to kick back on the couch is how I feel a lot of the time lately, so that’s why “balance” is a perfect word for me this year. I love what you wish for me and I wish that for you, too!

  9. I hear you about reading books. Let me share my strategy.

    I had been tracking my sleep with an app called “Sleep Cycle.” It’s a great app with a nice alarm and it did a good job of track my total sleep and my overall hours of sleep BUT you had to leave the phone (with the app) on your bed at night.
    A few months ago, after about a year and a half of tracking, I quit using it. I now leave my phone and electronics in the kitchen when I go to bed. I have worked my way through several books on my reading list since then. If I have that phone nearby it trumps anything else I have to read. I didn’t need to catch up on the latest the New York Times had to say at 11:30 pm, nor did I need to check my email or my facebook, but I did.

    • The Sleep Cycle app sounds interesting, Ginger, but I can see how leaving my phone by my bed at night could be problematic. What you’re doing sounds great and like a good way to get to sleep earlier AND read more books. I spend too much time on my computer and especially on Facebook. I’m already working to cut down just over the past week. I’m still not reading books, but I feel a bit less out of balance already.

  10. Suggestion: set an alarm for whatever time in the evening is the time you want to start your wind-down-go-to-sleep routine. This can be a new kind of “snooze” alarm. Sometimes I just need to be reminded that it is actually time to go to bed!

    • Good idea, Liz! I need to decide what time that is. Sometimes I set a timer to go off when I should get ready for bed, but I ignore it. Not so good! Of course, discipline is required with these things, but your idea seems like it could be quite helpful. I think I just need to rearrange my days a bit.

  11. You are spunky, Miss Debbie. Keep on going the way you have been.
    I sleep better when I exercise earlier in the day and eat my bigger meal at lunchtime. I eat nothing after my light supper. I am lazy, so if I brush and floss immediately after eating, I will not want to eat again and repeat the task! Anyway, I have that done, my face washed and so forth early so I can close my eyes and not worry about getting up and doing that routine.
    Only fiction books before bed: no TV,no PC,no news on the radio, even.

    • Seems like you have an excellent routine going, Helen. I usually exercise earlier and eat more in the middle of the day, too. When I get read for bed earlier, it always serves me well, too, but I just have to push myself to do it. Good idea to only read fiction books before bed, but you have to be disciplined about putting them down. I remember reading fiction that was so good that I found myself still reading at 3:00 a.m!

  12. Debbie: Balance is a great word to use as a touchstone for the year, and your focus on health, friendships, reducing “noise” and mental clutter is great. Creating experiences vs acquisition is a key component of a happy life. I am somewhat amused by the discussions on “at-home” wardrobe and so on. I have, with the exception of a few clothing items, one wardrobe that I can dress up or down. I dress for the day when I get up. I do change for a dressy night out or for exercising (swimming and yoga – so I have one swimsuit, one summer and one winter set of yoga clothes) and for such activities as spring cleaning, painting, gardening, etc. (the same set of clothing for all of these activities — I do laundry frequently because I have a small wardrobe.) This simplified approach to clothing has worked for me for many, many years. Also quite some time ago, I opted out of magazines, blogs, e-mail alerts, text alerts, and such annoying intrusions. I subscribe to a service that cherry picks magazine and news stories around a few themes so I have just one magazine subscription — The Atlantic — for intellectual stimulation. I know I am “an old fogey” compared to many people but I seek serenity in life — not a deluge of worthless information, followers, and other detritus of modern life.

    Best wishes for a healthy and prosperous New Year.

    • I think seeking serenity in life is good for people of all ages, Dottie. It is really something I deeply crave at this point. I used to love all of the stimulation, tons of choices, busyness, etc., but not so much anymore. I like the idea of a news service that cherry picks magazines and news stories around a few themes. If you would be willing to share your source, that would be great. I think that we often worry so much about missing out, but we create worse problems through that worry. I know I have… Thank you for the kind wishes. I wish the same for you!

  13. I find that getting up very early, and taking some exercise (walks, yoga), are the best ways to ensure I fall asleep easily. I’ve also come to love the very early hours of the day, and use that as my quiet thinking and planning time. If I start to plan or analyse things late at night then I will end up tossing and turning!
    My phrase for the year is ‘walk tall’ both because there are a few difficult challenges ahead, plus I’ve noticed my shoulders are hunching a lot, so need to work on my posture.
    Many thanks for the blog, and I look forward to your posts this year.
    Alice

    • Good for you for being an early riser, Alice. I struggle so much with getting up early, but I know it would serve me well to at least shift things somewhat. I stay up far too late! I like the theme of “walk tall” and how it is both literal and figurative for you. Best wishes on improving your posture and facing the difficult challenges in your life. I’m glad you like my blog and I appreciate your thanks!

  14. Hey Debbie, enjoyed reading this and some of the great follow-up comments (especially Terra’s and Valerie’s). I love balance and moderation in my own life, and wish you a lot of success with that this year.
    It can be challenging being a night owl – i’m one and married to a lark. We like turning in together at night, so I think finally after all these years he’s rubbed off on me a bit even if I do end up staying up to read a book in bed.
    I’ve never been drawn to picking a word of the year, but we have a tremendous amount of (good) change going on right now and your essay made me think the word “Embrace” could be in order as a theme for the year – as in embrace the newness and change.

    I think one key is figuring out what would work with your own rhythms/tendencies/intuitions in particular rather than against them. You might like gretchen rubin’s habit book for that reason – she gives a “menu” of habit change strategies and makes the point that successful habits are very individual –
    http://gretchenrubin.com/happiness_project/2016/01/dont-fall-for-the-common-habits-myth-that-stops-people-from-making-successful-change/

    And she tells herself to “Be Gretchen.” (be you, basically) I like the way the two ideas dovetail.

    • I’m glad you liked this post and the comments, Claire. I really liked the comments, too, including yours. How great that you have been able to become more of a “lark.” I have had my moments, too, but lately I am in full night owl mode. I love that are choosing “embrace” as your 2016 theme and I’m happy you have a lot of good changes going on in your life! I wish you all the best in embracing the newness and change! I agree that we need to figure out our rhythms/tendencies/intuitions. I think I would like Gretchen Rubin’s habit book and I think I should read it. A few others have mentioned it to me, too. Thanks for forwarding that blog post. I may need to subscribe to her blog, but I need to let go of some others first!

      • I hear you Debbie, sounds like some “triage” and paring down you reading list is in order first! I’m sure you will get back around to the things that matter. I actually don’t subscribe to any blogs, I just keep a short list (including yours) on my private blog that shows only new posts. Sometimes i get to things, sometimes I don’t. I find I seek out the ones that really matter and help me, and also that my favorites tend to reference the best content in others, if that makes sense, so it’s sort of “self-curating” in a way. I could just never handle long reading lists and once something’s out of sight and mind to me, it’s easier to move along and not get AS distracted (I still get distracted, ha).
        I also really feel for you if your night owl tendencies are taking over lately. Not sure if this is true for you, but I’ve noticed it can happen to me when I am particularly stressed/anxious/overwhelmed. And it’s hard to fight it, I mean nearly impossible sometimes until some of the underlying things that are driving it ease off. I really hope you find your way through soon and get some relief!

      • Sounds like you have a good strategy for blogs, Claire. I am doing something similar for magazines now through an app called Texture (used to be called Next Issue). I find that I don’t read magazines all that much anymore or have a bunch of angst about them now. With the blogs, I use Feedly, so I have to open that app to see the posts. I do see all of them, but I am getting better at deleting those that don’t compel me. Even so, I need to pare down the list, as backlogs build up too fast the way it’s going.

        Yes, I become more of a night owl when I am feeling stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed, which pretty much describes my state of mind for months now. I am working on the underlying issues and am making some progress, so hopefully I will be less of a night owl soon (although I will never be a lark).

  15. Hey, Debbie! I have been a reader of your blog for more than 2 years, but this is my first comment. I simply would like to thank you for everything you are sharing here. You are a strong, very courageous person, and I am sure that you have already helped more people than you probably know.
    Like you, I like most your posts in which you write so honestly about your life. I like you very much. I also loved your pictures of earlier days. To me, they make clear that it has always been you: It is your creativity and sensitivity, your kindness, and, despite all the struggles, your radiance and joy, which make you unique. Your clothes are very nice, and you are looking lovely in them, but people see YOU, which is even better. 🙂
    I just needed to say a big Thank You for all your excellent work on the blog! During the past years I have learned a lot from it (strangely, about myself, hehe), and I was relieved to see that I was not alone in this. That maybe no-one ever is. But it takes a lot of courage to open up.
    My word for 2016 might be not a word, but a sentence: ‘It’s OK!’. I will try to remember it every time when again thinking that I did not do enough. I might need to repeat it to myself on a daily basis. I’d also share my sentence with you:
    Debbie, it’s OK to take care of yourself the same way you take care of others! You have already done a whole lot for people and made a big difference. I am honored to know you. Thank you, and have a healthy, balanced :), and happy 2016!
    All the best from Germany, CristiLu
    P.S. This is a great article on the topic of self-love, but unfortunately it’s in German: http://www.sueddeutsche.de/leben/fehlende-selbstliebe-viele-menschen-spueren-sich-kaum-1.2792847.

    • I am very touched by your kind words, CristiLu. Thank you so much for reaching out to let me know that my blog has been meaningful to you. We are definitely no alone in our struggles, but I’m happy that my blog has helped to increase awareness of compulsive shopping and to bring those of us who are challenged in this way together. I like your theme for 2016, “It’s OK!” I think it’s a good idea to repeat this to yourself on a daily basis. I know I need to focus more on taking care of myself and that’s a big part of why I have selected “balance” as my word for 2016. I realize that if I am too depleted, I won’t have anything to give to others and I don’t want that. I appreciate your sharing the article. I won’t be able to read it, but I know there are others who will, as I have readers from all around the world. Best wishes to you in 2016!

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