Still a Shopaholic?

I have been writing this blog for almost 3.5 years now (here’s my very first post, from January 2, 2013).  When I started, I thought it was perhaps a one-year endeavor or maybe two years at the most.  I believed that through setting goals and rules and writing about my motivations and behavior, I would overcome my compulsive shopping problem in relatively short order.  I never expected to attract as many readers as I have or continue the blog for as long as I have.  But the readers came (for which I’m very thankful) and it hasn’t been as easy for me to recover as I thought it would be.

shopaholic behavior

This was a typical scene for me before I started this blog…

Earlier this year, I published two posts on the topic of recovery, both my own and in general:

I also shared insights from my private Facebook group on the causes of members’ shopaholic behavior.  These are all great posts that I’m quite proud of, but I’d like to further the discussion today and get more personal about the state of my recovery.

Some Thoughts on Recovery

As I’ve mentioned before, I feel that recovery exists on a continuum.  We are usually not either a full-blown shopaholic or completely recovered.  Most of the time, we’re somewhere in between these two extremes.  I firmly believe that recovery is not a linear process and that relapses are common along the way.  When we experience setbacks, all is not lost if we are able to forgive ourselves, learn from our mistakes, and recommit to recovery and our goals and rules.  Growth is not possible without some pain and discomfort along the way.  This applies to all types of self-improvement, including recovery from compulsive or addictive behavior.

Back when I was in Toastmasters, we used to evaluate each other’s speeches by means of a technique called “the sandwich method.”  We would begin by giving the speaker some praise, follow that with specific constructive criticism on what they could improve, and end on a high note with encouragement for the future.   Since I have a tendency to be very hard on myself, I’m going to use that method in this post.

The Positives

When I look back at my progress over the past few years, I have a lot to be proud of myself for:

  1. I have been able to stick to my clothing budget for three years in a row now. I was not able to do so for at least ten years prior to that, so this is quite an accomplishment.
  2. I’ve pared down my wardrobe and jewelry collections considerably since I started the blog. My “out and about” wardrobe is less than half the size it was in January 2013 and my shoe and jewelry collections are only about a third of the size they were when I started the blog.
  3. I have refined my style and am now much happier with the way I dress. My outfit journal, my work with Bridgette Raes, and my Facebook group have all been instrumental in this regard.
  4. I have developed a few new hobbies beyond shopping, including photography (see some of my photos in my “photography interlude” posts).
  5. I’m much more deliberate in how I shop and how I dress. My purchasing track record has vastly improved (see my latest purchase update here) and I’m doing a lot better at buying things for my actual lifestyle instead of a past, imagined, or wished for life.
  6. My wardrobe is far more workable than it was previously. I love a much higher percentage of my clothes and I’m wearing the items in my closet a lot more than I used to (my “Love It, Wear It Challenge helped a lot with this). My percentage of “benchwarmers” has gone from half my wardrobe in 2012 to roughly 15% in 2015.   While I’d love to see that number go down even further, I’m happy to be wearing most of my clothes more regularly.

I am proud of all of the changes I’ve been able to accomplish since I started this blog.   I definitely feel that blogging through my journey has helped me to enact and sustain positive changes and I’m grateful to all of you for your support.   I don’t think I would be as far along as I am had I not started “Recovering Shopaholic.”

What’s Not So Good…

Although I’m happy to have accomplished all that I outlined above, I still feel that I have a long way to go.  Here are the things I’m not too proud of and still need to change:

  1. I’m still buying too many items overall. I set a goal of buying just 36 “out and about” garments this year and have already purchased close to 30 such pieces.  At this point, it’s going to be challenging for me to meet my target, but it’s still doable. I get frustrated at myself for buying too many items early in the year and wish that I would have spaced things out better.
  2. I still place too much emphasis on my “out and about” wardrobe and not enough focus on my at-home / workout wear. The reason I set the above goal is that I spend the majority of my time at home, plus I also go on a lot of walks and to the gym a couple of times per week.  I need to better allocate my clothing dollars and attention toward my real lifestyle needs, but “out and about” clothes are more fun to shop for.  I have improved my at-home wardrobe since I wrote this post, but I was hoping my progress would have been better at this point.
  3. I still shop for emotional reasons and use shopping as a means of escaping from difficult issues in my life. I’ve been dealing with some tough personal difficulties as of late and have once again turned to shopping as a means of coping. I haven’t done any serious damage, but I wish I could find more productive ways of managing my stress.   Shopping won’t fix the things that are wrong with our lives; it only leads to more problems in the form of financial and relationship difficulties, guilt and shame, and overly crowded closets.  I know this, yet I can’t seem to fully overcome my tendency to turn to shopping as a coping mechanism.
  4. I continue to place too much focus on my wardrobe at the expense of other critical areas in my life.  This shows up even in terms of the posts I do on this blog. For example, I mentioned earlier in the year that I was going to revisit Dr. April Benson’s book, “To Buy or Not to Buy,” but I have yet to do this. It’s easier for me to dedicate time and attention toward trying to perfect my wardrobe and hone my style than it is to delve into scarier and more difficult areas.  Of course, my wardrobe and style are important, but they are far from the most broken aspects of my life.
  5. I still have too many clothes for my lifestyle and wardrobe goals. If I really want to wear everything in my closet 5-8 times per year (or more), as is my goal, I need to have fewer clothes than I do now. It’s a matter of simple math, plus there’s really no good reason for me to have as many dressier pieces as I do. Even looking at how often I’ve worn my new 2016 purchases (see my last update on that here), I can clearly see that the at-home and casual out and about items are worn far more often.   I could get by with far less given my current lifestyle and I need to keep that in mind both when I shop and when I review my closet.
  6. While my closet is a lot less full than it was in 2013, I have not yet traded my full closet for a full life. The tagline of this blog is “Trade your full closet for a full life.”  This is what I set out to do when I launched “Recovering Shopaholic” 3.5 years ago, but I’ve really only accomplished half of this mission.  My life is still quite small and I have very few social connections and outlets. While I’ve cultivated an amazing online community that I’m very proud of, my face-to-face interactions are close to non-existent and I spend most of my time either alone or with my husband.  I don’t have much of a career to speak of, either. Although I know I’ve made a difference with this blog, I would like to do more, plus I would like to make more of an income (the blog is mostly a volunteer endeavor).  Yes, my health gets in the way of these things, but I know I could be doing more than I am to at least have a social life and be less of a hermit.
  7. My life remains out of balance in many ways. I selected “balance” as my theme for the year, as I started 2016 feeling extremely unbalanced in terms of how I spend my time related to my priorities. I also felt “behind the 8-ball” in regards to my goals and my to-do list.  I made a good start on regaining balance, but I have lost steam in recent months despite my good intentions. I will do a whole post on this topic soon but in short, I continue to stay up too late, spend too much time on Facebook, and not enough time on walks, taking photos, journaling, and decreasing my backlogs.  I continue to feel that I’m not getting enough done related to the projects and tasks that matter most to me.

Still a Shopaholic?

So, am I still a shopaholic?  I have to admit that the answer to that question is yes.   It’s not so out of control that it completely debilitates my life like in 2012 and earlier years, but it’s still a problem.   Shopping has been like my “security blanket” for so long that it’s hard to give it up, and paradoxically this blog has made it more difficult in some ways to do so.

Writing about my wardrobe, shopping, and style on a regular basis has at least to some degree kept me locked into the obsession and overly focused on these issues when I really need to be working on other areas of my life.  Because my bandwidth is limited as a result of my health challenges, I’m not able to do nearly as much as I’d like.  Part of my balance goal for this year is to allocate appropriate proportions of my time to all of the things that matter most to me.  That’s why I have pulled back on my posts here some weeks, as well as written about alternate topics (like this one) and included guest posts on subjects I feel will be of value to you.

Ending on a High Note

I have to admit that I’m disappointed in myself for all of the issues I highlighted in the “what’s not so good” section.  I keep making some of the same mistakes that I’ve made over and over again and that’s very frustrating to me. It’s also hard to admit my failings to the world by means of this blog, and I sometimes cringe when I hit “publish” because I worry about the negative comments I may receive.  But no matter what anyone else says to me, it won’t be as harsh as my inner self dialogue generally is.  I can be my own worst enemy sometimes, as I’m sure is also true for many of you.

I want to end on a high note here, in the spirit of the “sandwich method” and because I like to keep these posts as positive and uplifting as possible.   The good news is that I’m still alive and remain committed to my recovery.  I fully believe that I will put compulsive shopping in my past, even if it takes longer than I expected and hoped it would.  I also believe that I will achieve the life balance I so greatly crave, as well as a fuller life.  But in order to make these things happen, I may have to think outside the box and do things that make me uncomfortable.  I may have to value my needs and well-being above the fears of what others think of me and I may need to risk letting other people down, including the readers of this blog.

The good news is that even if my posts here are sometimes less regular or focused on alternative topics besides wardrobe management, shopping, and personal style, I still have a vast archive of posts for you to explore. You can check out some of my articles for the first time or re-read your favorites (also see my “Start Here” page), as well as the insightful comments of fellow readers.

Your Thoughts?

Now it’s time for you to chime in:

  • Do you feel you’re still a shopaholic (if you ever were one to begin with)? Why or why not?
  • What positive changes have you made this year (or in recent years) in terms of your shopping behavior, wardrobe, style, or life overall?
  • In what ways do you feel you’ve fallen short and continue to struggle?
  • What changes do you hope to make in the coming months in order to end the year on a high note?

I invite you to share your thoughts on these topics, as well as what I had to say above (but please remember, I’m already harder on myself than any of you could possibly be).   Thank you for reading and for your support.  I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

46 thoughts on “Still a Shopaholic?

  1. 15% benchwarmers! Great progress. I was looking at some of your old posts and I must say that your more recent outfit posts really show the evolution in your style. I feel as though you even look more comfortable in your more stylish clothes these days.

    I don’t think I’ve ever been a shopaholic per se, but I relate to the feelings to loneliness and imbalance that you often speak of in this blog. Unlike you, I don’t use shopping as a release for negative emotions; I tend to store them until I explode, which I feel is even worse. I ended up getting cognitive behavioral counseling and read books like “Feeling Good Together,” both of which helped me tremendously to deal with my issues, and I haven’t had a relapse since. But shopping might have been a good alternative, who knows.

    In the last year, I would say that the whole Marie Kondo craze and capsule wardrobes and now this blog has really helped me tremendously with my wardrobe and even other parts of my life. Several KonMari session have reduced my possessions to only the ones that really add value to my life. My new capsule wardrobes have vastly improved my style, without bloating my closet. This blog has helped me see that my struggles with my style and space issues are not unique, which has been very reassuring. I noticed that I’m starting to be more selective with people that I allow in my life as well. My need to be “helpful” has led to relationships and friendships where I’m basically used, so I’m starting to design a life that works for me, just like I designed my capsule wardrobes and KonMari spaces!

    As far as areas where I’ve fallen short, definitely relationships and balance. While my relationships are much better than they were because I’m starting to “design” them by setting boundaries for who I am and what I want in my life, I definitely have a ways to go. I’ve relied heavily on my CBT counseling and the books they recommended to sort of KonMari this area of my life. Also, I spend a lot of time at work, but I’m trying to build a new career so I’m taking that into consideration. I am developing good relationships at work and I feel those count too.

    To end the year on a high note, for now, I’m not sure what road to take. I am now very good at slimming my wardrobe and possessions so I will keep doing that. I will also work on establishing who I am and what I want in life so I can confidently start building relationships that will be better for me. I will also try to practice appreciation meditation to appreciate what I have now, so that I am ready to accept what comes to me in the future.

    • Yes, my style has definitely evolved, Jane. I actually cringe when I look at some of my older outfits, but I’m sure that’s true for a lot of people. I think that if you don’t use shopping as a means of dealing with negative emotions, that’s a good thing and you shouldn’t start! Cognitive behavioral counseling is a far better solution. KonMari is wonderful and I need to do more of it around my home – am working on my files now.

      I can identify with what you wrote about wanting to be helpful and ending up being used. That is pretty much the story of my life, which is part of why I’ve been such a “hermit” lately. I didn’t think of using KonMari for relationships, but why not really? I remember reading an article with Marie Kondo in which she mentioned that a client had “KonMari’ed” her husband – LOL! Sounds like you are on a positive track and have a good plan for the rest of the year. Best wishes to you!

  2. I thank you for your honesty since it is so hard for many of us. You are doing well and should be proud.

    You mention that out and about clothes are funner to shop for but you need less. Have you considered rethinking what is home vs. out and about? I work a corporate job and frankly most of your out clothes are my home/errand clothes. I used to wear junky clothes at home or on weekends but realized a few years ago that I should like what I wear regardless of where I am. It was a liberating change to feel ok wearing “good” jeans at home with a cashmere sweater but since I did it I feel good about my clothes most of the time and now buy less (although I will never not be a shopaholic, at least I spend less and have a cohesive wardrobe).

    • I have definitely been refining my views of what constitute “at-home” clothes, Catherine, and have been wearing more of what used to be out and about tops when I’m at home. I have to stick to comfortable knits on my bottom half because of nerve and joint issues, but I may wear more of my summer skirts and dresses at home when it warms up, as they don’t see enough wear if I only wear them when I go out. I’m happier to be wearing my clothes more often, but I still have too much in the “dressier” category (which I know is a relative term). There are some things I’ll probably never wear at home and those are the types of clothes I need to buy far less of. I’m making progress there, but still need to “check” myself!

  3. I have been a big thrift store shopper as well as sewing lots of simple things for myself. The thrift store shopping dated back to times when money was tight but became something of a habit, I still go sometimes but am fussier about what I take home. I am trying to be more selective in my other shopping too, just a few pieces carefully chosen, better quality and more thought through. One thing that has helped somewhat is having a busy work schedule in the week and other things on at the weekend so there’s not so much time to go shopping. Then when I do get to go I try to be more targeted.

    • Seems like you’re doing well, Ruthie. I envy your ability to make your own clothes. Perhaps I will have to learn someday… That’s great that you’re being a lot more selective about what you buy, both in secondhand and retail situations. That’s true for me, too, and it has made a big difference. It can be more challenging with thrift buys because we may be more inclined to “settle” because the price is low. But even if something costs only a few dollars or pounds, that money is still wasted if we don’t end up wearing it! Keep up the great work!

  4. I think you are doing great but what you think about yourself matters more than what anyone else thinks. Have you ever considered going and talking to a school as a speaker? I think that you would draw quite a crowd.

    I will have to say that taking a class and working as a tutor part-time keeps me busy and lets me focus on something else besides shopping. The tutoring really helps me fight my tendencies to be a hermit. Writing tutors are in demand. Tutoring doesn’t pay much at the community college but the hours are very flexible.

    As to your questions –
    I have always been obsessed with clothing. When I started working my first well-paying job, I was definitely a shopaholic. I would buy anything. When I had kids and went back to work, my work wardrobe became much more functional. I had five pairs of pants, ten blouses, and five cardigans. For fall/winter, I had shades of gray and small black and white prints. For the spring/summer, I had shades of cream and camel. It was all from Talbots since their petites line fit me well. It was a very classic style.

    I like my school/work wardrobe to be a little more creative so I have been playing more with prints and proportions. I still love looking at clothes. I love to look at pictures of the runway shows. Something about fashion inspires me. I did cancel all of my fashion magazines because I did not want to be influenced by what was trendy.

    I do have a list of a handful of items that I am searching for on Ebay. If I find one of those items, I am allowed to buy it.

    I bought a pair of NYDJ billie bootcut in stretch denim for school a few months ago and wear them all the time on the weekend. I bought another pair in a lighter shade on sale at Nordstrom Rack online a few weeks ago. These have become my at-home pants.
    For leggings and tops, I highly recommend Athleta. They are expensive but fit me very well and the tees and tops wear like iron. I recently bought a Breathe long sleeve tee from Gap and liked it so much that I bought two more. This tee has become my weekend uniform.

    The only changes I can see in the coming months is to slow down my purchasing for school/work unless I can wear the items on the weekend. (I will be transferring to another school in a year or so and might want to wear different things.)

    I like looking at other people’s clothes as much as looking at my own. Even when I was small, my older sisters would take me shopping to tell them what looked good.

    I remember reading a book about cyclical change a few years ago so I looked around and found the book if anyone wants to read it. It is called “Changing for Good: A Revolutionary Six-Stage Program for Overcoming Bad Habits and Moving Your Life Positively Forward ” and used copies are available on Amazon very cheaply. I think the study was originally on smokers but I found it to be very interesting.

    I also recently read “The Cool Factor: A Guide to Achieving Effortless Style, with Secrets from the Women Who Have It.” The book mainly centered on denim but talked about leather leggings too. I find that if I am reading one of my fashion books, that sparks my creativity.

    I also have found that painting is a good creative outlet for me. I almost have the outside of my house done and have been working on the bedrooms.

    • Good ideas about speaking at schools and tutoring, Maggie. I used to do some speaking for businesses I had and in Toastmasters, so that’s something I’m comfortable with. I hadn’t thought about tutoring, but it sounds like it’s working very well for you, which is great! Thanks for the book recommendations! They both sound like things I would be interested in, so I added them to my list on Amazon.

      I like Athleta and Gap for casual clothes, too, and definitely need to pick up some more pants, especially cropped ones for warm weather. I tend to buy more tops and toppers and ignore my need for pants until I am pretty much desperate for them! This is something I need to work on, too.

      Your capsule wardrobe sounds great! I always admire those who are able to dress well with fewer items. I’m getting there, but still have a relatively large wardrobe (but FAR less than I used to for sure – I had 3 or 4 times this much going back 5 or more years). Best wishes with your upcoming school and work purchases and with transferring to a new school!

  5. “Writing about my wardrobe, shopping, and style on a regular basis has at least to some degree kept me locked into the obsession and overly focused on these issues when I really need to be working on other areas of my life. ”
    Reading this right now is such a coincidence. I was just thinking last week that I feel bad for you. When I want to stop the shopping cycle I can choose to back away and fill my time with other things but for you with the blog responsibility it’s not really feasible. You have this calendar obligation (plus ‘keeping up’ with your Facebook group) to come back and write here so it sucks your time and energy away from other pursuits. I am sure someone else can reframe this to find the positive. Maybe avoid your personal closet for a while entirely in both thinking and writing? Anyhoo you are still my favorite blog, you have helped me so much in an area that is so intimate (and for me embarrassing), when there is no-one in my ‘real life’ that can guide me in this arena. I am grateful I found you.

    • Thank you so much for this comment, Shelley. I can tell that you get it. As much as I love the blog and the Facebook group, the addition of the latter has led to my spending too much time on these topics and I’ve noticed that it’s not good for me. I have been feeling the need to pull back and have more balance. Sometimes doing one post per week instead of two (or writing a post or two about another topic, like I did about the hair issues) or avoiding Facebook for a day or two is all I need to feel more balanced. I have to keep checking in with myself and honor my needs, but it’s not always easy to know what they are! I’m very happy this blog has been helpful to you and others. I’m grateful to have been able to fill a need that so many of us have to talk about these intimate (and yes, embarrassing – for me, too!) topics.

  6. I wonder if part of the issue is in the disjunction between the tagline of your blog–Trading Full Closet for Full Life–and the reality of your blog–Cutting Down on Closet/Shopping AND REFINING STYLE and a fuller life. Refining your style keeps the focus on shopping as someone above mentioned.

    I think you HAVE refined your style; you look great in pictures and have many, many flattering pieces.

    Just to add to the compliments–you are an excellent writer. And I admire the fact that you haven’t monetized your blog; most style blogs encourage clicking and buying since the stores give them a percentage of the purchase.

    • This is a very good point, frugalscholar. I think it was hard for me to know at the outset what this blog would really be about. I have been making it up as I’ve gone along and writing about what I felt passionate about or most “called” to write. I think that sometimes I WANT the blog to be about topics other than what it has been able, but I follow my inner guide about it. I wonder what a better tagline might be… If you (or anyone else reading) have any alternate suggestions, I’d love to get them.

      I really appreciate your compliments on my style, wardrobe, and writing. Yes, a lot of style bloggers have done a lot to monetize their blogs, but this has always been a different type of blog. While I would like to earn an income from all the time I spend, I haven’t been willing to compromise my integrity to do so. I do get a lot of solicitations for ads and sponsored posts, but I turn them down because it wouldn’t be right given what this blog is about. I think that monetization can be done responsibly, but it’s a delicate balance. I see some bloggers who do it well, but other blogs seem to turn into one big ad and that’s usually when I stop reading them. I would sooner stop blogging than become like that.

      • I always loved your original tagline… but I can see this point too… what about working in your theme word, like idk, “Finding BALANCE in Your Closet, Your Style and Your LIFE”… or, “Finding Balance in your Closet, your Style and your SELF”…

      • Thank you, Claire! These are some good ideas and I will consider them. I’m not sure if I will change the tagline or shift what I’m writing about more. It will be one or the other – or possibly both!

  7. I’ve followed this blog for a while now, and would not feel let down if you reduced the frequency of posts and took some time out. It’s easy to see that writing on such a regular basis, especially posting photos of your own clothes, is bound to heighten your tendency to be self critical, etc., and lead to more purchases. I’m sure I would rush out and buy loads in a complete panic if I knew I was going to post photos of myself on the internet!

    You write very well, and I’d welcome posts on other topics, e.g. as a beginner photographer myself I would love to more about how you approach taking photographs, and any tips you might have. Teaching classes or tutoring in writing is an excellent idea, and if you do try this it would be good to hear about how it works out. A shopping/wardrobe post now and again would of course be good, but only when you really feel like it.

    I’ve done reasonably well so far this year, although I have bought more than I had intended it’s not a huge overspend. However I’ve been extremely busy at work, so suspect that this is not real progress – as soon as there is a lull (and sometimes even when there isn’t) I revert to old habits. So still work in progress!


    • Thank you for your support and kind words, Alice! Yes, blogging can sometimes increase my self-consciousness and critical nature, so that’s something I need to watch out for. At times, I either don’t do certain posts or postpone them in order to have more balance in that regard. I have never put myself out there as a style expert and the posts with photos of my clothes and outfits are to give examples of the concepts I’m discussing rather than tips for what others should do. I like writing the other types of posts as well as the ones on shopping, wardrobe, and style, but don’t want to dilute the focus of the blog too much. I hope I’m balancing it well and not turning any readers off!

      I’m glad you’re doing well this year even if you have bought more than you originally wanted to. It sounds like you’re having ups and downs with shopping just like I am. I really think that’s natural as we work to recover. Even if you’re super busy at work, I think you should still give yourself credit for the times when you shop less, especially since it’s incredibly easy to jump online and do a lot of damage in a very short period of time!

  8. Dearest Debbie, I so understand your quest for balance.

    As painful as it was for me to leave Facebook, the balance that that decision brought me in living my life offline has been well worth the initial shock. The guilt and the shame of letting down others has faded a little and I’m now in such a good and happy place.

    I take time to smell the flowers these days and my home and garden have never been in such good shape! Date nights have been resurrected and I no longer sit on my iPad all day and evening. My first thoughts on waking are ‘what shall I do today?’ instead of ‘I wonder what everyone else is doing today?’

    I want balance for you too Debbie so I welcome your commitment to blog less about shopping and to do things that are more fulfilling away from here. Balancing commitments is just as hard as finding balance for oneself.

    Your archives are full of inspiring links and helpful guides so allow yourself the luxury of a summer break. GO fishing, take pictures, listen to podcasts – I’ve just discovered Tonya Leigh – read books for fun and reconnect with your wants instead of your shoulds!

    Above all, take time out and be well.
    With love
    T x

    • I nearly forgot! The need to shop has all but disappeared now I’m not talking about it all the time. For me it’s a bit like stopping smoking, at some stage you have to stop talking about it and just do it! The more I fill up my life the less room there is to shop.

    • Tracey, it’s so good to hear from you and to learn that you’re doing so well! I miss interacting with you more regularly, but I honor your decision to do what’s right for you. I feel that we have a lot in common and that you understand my current dilemma. It’s so hard to put our own needs first, especially when we fear we will disappoint others. I’ve been trying to cut down on both blogging and Facebook to better take care of other things in my life. The guilt is there, but I have to put it aside even if it’s hard. Balance is my word for the year for a good reason!

      I’m very happy to hear that you are no longer feeling compelled to shop and are filling your life with a lot of other things. You are such a great person and it makes me happy to hear that you are doing so well. Thank you for encouraging me to do what’s right for myself! The things you suggested sound great. I will check into Tonya Leigh. I love podcasts! Take care and love to you, too!

  9. Debbie, Thank you for being you!!!! It has been a couple of years since I communicated with you about our migraines. I love reading your blogs. You write so well and you really care about sharing what works and does not work for you. I also complement you on not monetizing your work. Society tells us money is our value scale. I disagree. There is a lot to be said for just taking from this world what we need. I am “trying” to become a person who can live with “enough” in every way, not just my wardrobe. I used to never work for anything less than the most money I could make. Now I get to volunteer and I love it. With regard to the full/balanced life, I found great peace from It is a unique personality and clothes typing system. I am now accepting that I am a soft, subtle woman. My secondary type personality is the rich, dynamic woman which I think explains well why I have always thought of myself as an extrovert trying to get out of an introvert’s body. Anyway, I am learning why I don’t socialize more and how to value my uniqueness. I would bet you fit perfectly as the type 4 bold, striking woman in this profiling system. You already choose all the colors of that type. Enter DYT type 4 into your browser if you are curious. Coping with life in ways other than shopping? Have you ever heard of Byron Katie’s The Work? I am learning how to work out my issues using her free worksheet and her youtube videos.

    • I appreciate your kind words, Cheryl. I hope your migraines are better now. Mine are still bad, but I keep trying to find answers… I’ve struggled with feeling like what I do isn’t valuable because I don’t earn much money. The way I was raised and the values of society have ingrained it into me that job titles and salaries are how our worth is measured. This is something I wrestle with all the time… I’m glad you are in a better place around working and are enjoying volunteering.

      I am familiar with Dressing Your Truth and did their program a few years back. Yes, I am indeed a Type 4. What’s interesting is that I rebelled against some of the recommendations at first and continued to wear some of the colors and styles of other types. But I’ve noticed that I have naturally gravitated toward the Type 4 recommendations over time without intending to! Being a Type 4 is also reflected in my preferences for my hair and why I love the straight sleek controlled look rather than my natural wavy and bigger texture. Perhaps I should revisit the course now that I’m writing all of this!

      I am somewhat familiar with Byron Katie’s work, but I don’t know a lot about it. Thanks for that recommendation. I will check out the worksheet and videos soon. Best wishes to you!

      • My migraines got worse also and I had to retire from my office job last year (sigh). I love your photos and tried that as a hobby for a while, but it was not right for me. I need to move my body more than just my walking and so I got trained as a yoga teacher. I love the gentleness and I am able to come out of my shell a lot more when I teach classes. Most of my classes right now are volunteer. It is a lot of work planning classes, but I love it. I feel my work is highly valued even though I am giving my service away.

      • I’m so sorry you had to retire from your office job because of migraines, Cheryl. I empathize, as there is no way I could work in an office now due to my health issues. I’m glad you found yoga, though, and are enjoying it. A very close friend of mine who have fibromyalgia and back problems teaches yoga and uses it to help people manage pain. Feeling like your work is highly valued is so important. I’m happy for you and wish you all the best with this new career path!

  10. Debbie,
    1. You look great now – your style and the way you put things together is terrific!
    2. Wish I could find 30 items of clothing that I looked good in…I look and look and end up with about 1 new piece a month but it is not through want of trying!
    3. Have asked about your health before. If it is a general malaise a comprehensive blood test is called for. If it is migraines, my daughter is now on a government Botox program (Australia) of about 30 injections every 6 months. For migraine treatment, you have to keep seeing specialists until something works. I feel your health is your number one issue and you need to get into probably a large teaching hospital for appointments with excellent specialists. Getting appointments can mean waiting for months but it is worth it to make progress on your health. Meanwhile, does anything make you feel better?
    4. I have made friends in political party activities, exercise class, sewing classes (just took it up and love it. I spent my life in a senior corporate career but now I love sewing…) I meet two old friends for lunch in the city each month. I think it is easier to get to know people over time so seeing them regularly helps when you join something.
    You are a terrific person, just too self-critical!
    All the best,

    • Thanks for your compliments, Michaela! I like how you spun things in your second observation. I don’t have trouble finding things to buy. My problem is more in terms of discernment on what I SHOULD buy! I’m sorry you have difficulty finding clothes. I do with some pieces, especially bottoms, but I really need to focus there more often, as it makes a big difference when I take the time. I hope your luck with shopping improves.

      I have had many, many health tests and am still working with multiple medical professionals to try to get well. I have a lot of migraines but have not yet tried Botox. It’s not easy to get insurance approval for it in the US, but I may go that route if I can, at least to try it out. I hope your daughter is doing a lot better with her migraines now.

      It’s good that you have been able to make friends through your various activities. I need to get out more to meet people, I know that. I spend too much time online for sure, even though my online friends are wonderful. I used to go to Toastmasters (speaking club) and had a lot of friends there and was also in some networking groups when I had locally based businesses. I may do something like that again soon.

  11. I think I will always fight natural tendencies to shop because it’s just so much fun. But I have been doing better lately at telling myself no and shopping much less than usual. Being retired and having no paycheck has finally sunk in I think. Plus I am so grateful and happy not to have to work any more, I don’t want to spoil that by overshopping.

    I see your point about the focus on the blog is making you constantly focus on shopping and wardrobe thoughts. Perhaps posting once a week and rotating to other topics would help, or maybe it’s time to stop entirely. It’s worth thinking about. The most important thing is what is best for you, not what your readers think.

    • Yes, shopping is fun and it’s hard to fight our desires to do it, Tara. But your point about being grateful not to have to work is a good one. If I shop too much, it puts undue stress on my poor husband, who is still working, so that’s not a good thing. I never used to consider how the blog impacted my desire to shop, but that has been on my mind more lately. With the addition of the Facebook group (even though it’s a great group), the proportion of time I spend on these topics has increased and it feels like too much sometimes. I have been feeling the need to pull back. At some point, I will stop the blog, but I’m not sure when. But you’re right in that I need to do what’s best for me. I appreciate your support! Hope you’re enjoying your time in Canada.

  12. Debbie, you are a wonderful person. I think you’ve achieved so much. A friend is a member of an AA connected group (he’s in a group for people affected by alcoholism) and its transformed him. He said when he joined it was the first time he didn’t feel alone. The 12 step programmes work on a deep level, not just on the addiction which is the symtom of the deeper problem. I don’t know if they have shopping groups but anyone can attend an open AA meeting.

    • I have had friends who have told me similar things about 12 step groups, Melanie. I have been to them a bit in the past (for eating disorders), but I never stuck with it long enough to feel a real sense of community. There isn’t a “shopaholics anonymous” per se, but Debtors Anonymous is similar. In fact, I had a guest post about that here earlier in the year: I used to think it wouldn’t be right for me because I’m not in debt (now – I definitely was in the past!), but it could be worth checking it out, both for me and others who may be reading this. Thanks for your suggestion and your kind words!

  13. Hi Debbie. Awesome blog post. I am very grateful that you continue to write this kind of post as it provides a unique connection in my life that is missing. I have struggled with compulsive shopping & perfection issues my entire adult life with nobody to discuss this with. Whilst I am grateful for the help & support I receive, I do worry about the effect it has on you, and I feel you can be too self critical in your desire to be open. To answer your questions I have made good progress with shopping deliberately and I am very happy with my wardrobe. However the last few months have been difficult emotionally and my coping mechanism has been to default back to compulsive shopping behaviour. I’ve not purchased a great deal but I have spent 2 months endlessly searching for the perfect blush tote. I’ve bought & returned numerous items before finally settling on 2 bags that have slight shade differentiation to suit existing outfits. I know that I am transferring the anxiety about real life situation that I have no control over to something fixable like the perfect bag. This insight is possible due to you & your blog. Previously I would have been endlessly critical of my behaviour, but I’m choosing to be forgiving instead.

    • Your comment both touched me and resonated with me, Sharon. I’m very happy this blog has been helpful to you and helped you to feel less alone. I’m sorry you have been going through difficult times lately. I have, too, and it has led me to shop more often, too. Yes, it’s easier to focus on shopping than on the things in our lives that we can’t control. Even when we know that’s what we’re doing, it can be hard to overcome it. I definitely have a tendency to be self-critical and I think I can go overboard with this on the blog because of negative comments I’ve received in the past. I think I try to cut them off at the pass by saying what I think they might say. It’s not easy to blog about these things and it can take a toll on me sometimes. I never used to realize that, but I do now. I’m trying to balance it as best as I can… I’m glad you’re doing better with shopping deliberately and are happier with your wardrobe. Sending you positive wishes for the rest of your life.

  14. One more thing…you know how much I love to chat! Not one of your lovely readers has responded with a ‘how dare you not post regularly’ We’re all saying ‘do what’s right for you’.

    So…. Listen, even to what’s not being said…..and then do what’s right for you with our blessing.

    • Yes, I’ve been impressed by that. I feel blessed to have so many people who care about me and my well-being. The same was true for you when you left the group. People missed you, but they honored your need to do what’s right for you. I feel guilty because it’s my group and my blog, but both are still there as resources even if I’m not doing as much with either as before. I’m proud of the good I’ve put out into the world and happy about the wonderful women it has connected me to, including you!

  15. “I may have to put my needs and well-being over the fears of what others think of me and I may need to risk letting other people down, including the readers of this blog.”

    Yes! I hope this can become a more decided, “I put my needs and well-being over the fears of what others think of me and I risk letting other people down, including the readers of this blog.” I so want this for you!

    I meant to comment on an earlier post that of course I’d miss reading the accountability posts (deleted my FB account a few years ago) – BUT, I was hoping that changing it up was a step towards taking care of yourself first. Any content that you change up or do/don’t put out that supports this goal is fantastic. As interesting as I find your clothing-related posts and analyses, I am much more interested in how you as a person are doing and that all the aspects of YOUR blog support YOU.

    • Thanks for giving me a gentle nudge, Claire. You’re right that I need to make that statement more definitive. It has been on my mind a lot lately, actually. I think that inching up toward 50 is making me think about a lot of things. I still plan to do clothing-related posts and analyses, but just not as often because those are the posts that take me the most time to write. In the interest of balance, I have pulled back on them a bit, plus I have felt called to write about other things, too. I really appreciate your support and I know that you understand what I’m going through. It can be hard for me to balance everything, including my own needs and my desire to help others, but that’s all the more reason why balance is my word and focus for 2016!

  16. Wow, and “amen”. Realize how much you are a loving part of so many lives.

    In sharing your truth bravely, you resonate with the rest of us who come back again and again to hear you “voice” the issues we struggle with — whether it’s about clothes and shopping; horrible addictive eating habits (my stress response); or any other action that seems to drag us into our (mostly) private hells.

    When you were excited and anxious is a positive way about photography, we understood how daring it was on many levels — getting out of the house, paying attention and focusing on the expansive beauty around you, taking risks to let us see through your eyes.

    Maybe a fun and wacky experiment you could try just hit me:

    Perhaps you can decide, when you pick something new in a store or online, EXACTLY where, when, and with whom you will make it part of your life. Call someone right then and there to make a lunch date. Or, write in your calendar the date and time of a class you want to check out, a Toastmaster or other meeting you want to attend, etc.

    I started sewing recently, and hooked up with a marvelous person to work with me a couple of times a month. It gave me a deadline, made a new friend, and I was so excited the first time I actually wore something I’d finished (to show her at a lunch date). Most of what I’ve worked on is alterations. I know what I want, and have been slowly learning what works, what doesn’t, and to enjoy the lemonade I’ve made out of my “learning projects”.

    If you try something to connect your theme of learning and honoring your own boundaries, and have a good or … not quite … time, I’m sure we’d all empathize and enjoy it.

    Keep striving to figure out what’s right for you on the continuum. We’ll be here and cheer you on.

    • I appreciate your comment and support, Michele. I am so happy that my posts have resonated with a lot of people. I had no idea if what I had to say would even be found at first, so it’s been nice to have a wide community of readers. Good idea about deciding on an event for new clothes right away. It’s all too easy to buy things that seem good but then they sit in our closets. It’s wonderful that you have started sewing! I can imagine the pride you must feel when you get to wear your own creations. I have thought of taking up that hobby and still may one day. Yes, I will definitely keep working on what’s right for me on the continuum and I will share what I discover. Thank you for your encouragement.

  17. Debbie, you have once again captured what so many of us feel and put it into graceful and honest words. Let me echo others – you are a gifted writer, all the more so because of your open and honest self-reflection. Like Tracey, I too had to step away from the computer and pursue a more full life; I can’t imagine how much more difficult that might be for you – one who invests so much of herself in this blog and the FB group. But your first obligation is to yourself – those of us who love and admire you only want what’s best for YOU.

    “Trade your full closet for a full life” – I that believe captures what you deeply desire. You have done so much excellent work here, and the results speak for themselves – you seem comfortable with your closet and your style now (as you should be!). You have helped countless others (like me) recognize how fears and emotions drive compulsive shopping. You have become a talented photographer. Maybe commit to – and schedule – more time to pursuing your full life now and explore what happens with that…… Reduce your posting schedule. Let the FB group move along without you for a week or two. Spend that newly found time attending a lecture, or join a writing workshop. Perhaps find a volunteer opportunity that would introduce you to more people and provide an outlet for your AHS (Acute Helping Syndrome – I was diagnosed myself years ago :))

    I have enjoyed walking on this journey with you; when I read this post, it’s all I can do not to hop on a plane & come wrap my arms around you and say “You are loved!”

    • I appreciate your kind and wise words, Sybil. I think I need to follow in the footsteps of you and Tracey and spend less time online and more time in the “real world.” That may mean posting less often and it will definitely mean spending less time on Facebook. You’re so right that my first obligation is to myself. I haven’t heard the term Acute Helping Syndrome (AHS), but it definitely applies to me. I’m touched that you felt like hopping on a plane to hug me, but even though you’re far away, I still feel the love. Thank you!

  18. Debbie,
    You’re about to turn 50. I’m two years ahead of you.
    Batten down the hatches, Captain. You may have some rough sailing ahead.

    • I’ve had some rough sailing already, so I hope it’s not going to get a lot worse… I often struggle more BEFORE the milestone birthdays than afterwards, but I will admit that this has been the most difficult one yet. But I also feel like I’m growing more, which is a good thing!

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