Happy New Year, everyone! I hope that 2018 is off to a good start for all of you. It’s been over ten months since I pressed the pause button on this blog last February. At that time, I didn’t know when or if I would be back to blogging, but I promised to keep you posted on my decisions in that regard. Yes, it has taken me a long time to provide an update, but I didn’t decide on what I would be doing until quite recently.
I recently decided the path I will take regarding blogging…
I actually didn’t expect to stay away for this many months, but the time went by quickly, as it is wont to do. As the months went by, I found myself missing blogging, but I felt confused as to whether or not I should resume writing “Recovering Shopaholic.” I definitely missed the connection with readers, as well as the self-expression and sense of purpose that blogging provided, but I no longer wanted to dedicate so much time and attention to writing about my wardrobe and shopping experiences. Although I still have issues in both areas and am still a recovering shopaholic as opposed to a recovered one, somewhere along the line writing about my journey with such openness and exacting details had become counterproductive for me. I found that focusing so acutely on the specifics of my wardrobe, purchases, and outfits kept me locked into the obsession and compulsion with clothes that I had struggled with for so many years.
2018 UPDATE: Please note that as of January 2018, I’m back to blogging! You can read more about it in this post, but I invite you to visit my new blog, Full Life Reflections, where I write about the journey towards happiness, peace, and fulfillment in today’s chaotic world. My new blog basically picks up where this one left off on the “full life” side of the equation… Hope to see you there!
I’m grateful for the wonderful comments and emails I received on my last two posts, “Recapping Balance and Striving for Peace” and “The End Game of Project 333 and Capsule Wardrobes” (NOTE: both of these posts have been moved over to my new blog). I’m always happy when my writing resonates with readers and I appreciate those who took the time to let me know that what I wrote was meaningful to them. I’m actually quite proud of these two essays, as well as much of the content I’ve published in the past four years.
The Value of the “Power Pause”
I’ve often written about the “power pause” (a term borrowed from Jill Chivers of “Shop Your Wardrobe”) as a helpful technique for cutting down on mindless shopping and compulsive buying. So many of us feel utterly convinced in the moment that we have to have a particular item of clothing, but if we push ourselves to wait for a couple of days – or even a few hours – that need often dissipates. I use this technique as much as possible, even if it means leaving items in my online shopping cart overnight or having to backtrack to a brick-and-mortar store the next day to buy something. More often than not, I don’t end up purchasing the item in question because the passage of time shows me that it’s just not critical to my wardrobe or my life. I simply don’t need it as much as I thought I did, if at all. The power pause has saved me a lot of money I might have spent on items I didn’t really need or even want. It’s also saved me countless hours spent on making returns, as well as deep feelings of guilt regarding the sheer waste of it all.
Today’s post kicks off a series of at least two installments on the topics of weight, body image, shopping, and personal style. These subjects have been at the top of my mind lately, as I’ve experienced some weight fluctuations resulting from health challenges and hormonal changes. This has been going on for months now, but sometimes things feel too emotionally raw for me to post about. However, since I realize that I’m not alone in these struggles, I’ve broached the subject in my private Facebook group and will do so here as well.
How does your body image affect your shopping and style?
As someone with a long history of eating disorders (which I wrote about here) and negative body image (I even used to have a blog about that topic – you can now find those posts HERE), it’s very challenging for me to deal with what I’ve been going through lately. What makes it even more problematic is that I don’t really understand the reasons for my body shifts or what to do about them (I’m not overeating and I continue to exercise regularly). It’s often difficult for me to get dressed and I sometimes don’t feel good about how I look at all. I experienced similar issues in the early days of the blog, which I wrote about in this April 2013 post. Interestingly, I could basically write the same words again today, except I also have the specter of turning 50 hanging over my head (just over a month now…).
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.
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.
I was recently interviewed for a television segment that will air next week (see the end of this post for more information) and I was asked about how far along I am in my recovery from compulsive shopping. After pondering for a moment, I said that I am approximately 75% recovered at this point and will always have to be vigilant of my shopping behavior and the underlying feelings. In today’s post, I reflect upon the growth I’ve achieved thus far, where I am today in my recovery, and how I see the future unfolding.
The Starting Point
I started this blog in January 2013. At that time, I had a closet stuffed full of clothes that I rarely or never wore, a wardrobe that lacked cohesion, little comprehension of my personal style aesthetic, virtually no control over my shopping behavior, and a completely unbalanced life. Shopping was my main hobby and I shopped as a way of dealing with all types of feelings and life situations, both positive and negative.
Many bloggers are taking time off this week and next to enjoy time with their families and friends for Christmas and New Year’s. Since I’m not traveling and don’t have any elaborate holiday plans, I will continue with my regular posting schedule. I was going to share a “photography interlude” (see previous versions here) today, but I decided to veer off a bit and go with a holiday theme.
A Christmas Retrospective
In today’s post, I share some of my Christmas photos from years past, from my wee years through to my 40’s. As I mentioned in my last post, I used to be a big fan of holiday theme wear, as you will see in many of the images below. These days, I no longer have any Christmas sweaters, but I used to wear holiday garb every single day from Thanksgiving through New Year’s, along with lots of Christmas jewelry, Santa hats, and the like. I was definitely what you might call very “spirited.”
Part of my style evolution has involved moving away from the cutesy and whimsical and embodying a more sophisticated, classic, and minimalist style. My idea of holiday dressing now may include wearing red or green or perhaps a bit of sparkle and shine, but overt shows of Christmas spirit no longer grace my body. But the photographic evidence remains and in the holiday spirit, I share it with you today. I include brief descriptions under each photo, but many of them are pretty self-explanatory and may make you laugh or smile.
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.
Beautiful Lake Tahoe, where I will visit during September (my dad’s photo).