Full Life Reflections

Striving for happiness, peace, and fulfillment in a chaotic world

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the intersection of connection, technology, and freedom. These thoughts dovetail nicely with many of the themes in Cal Newport’s book, Digital Minimalism, which I wrote about back in June when exploring the important issue of solitude. In today’s essay, I share some more of Newport’s ideas, along with what I’ve been pondering about my freedom theme for 2019 and how it relates to the ways – and how much – I communicate with the people in my life.

My Two Books are On Sale Now!

Books by Debbie Roes

But before I delve into those topics, I want to let you know that for a limited time, I have reduced the price of my two e-books. If you’re new to the blog, you may not know that I published two books back in 2014. These books encapsulate some of my best tips and strategies for smart shopping and wardrobe management gathered from the hundreds of posts on my former blog, Recovering Shopaholic. My books are available now for just $2.99 each. You can learn more about them via the links below, and you can also purchase them there if desired:

Please note that my books are only available in electronic format, but they may be read on any device using the free Kindle app. I have plans to publish additional books in the coming months and years, so stay tuned for news on that soon. Also, I still consider myself more of a “recovering shopaholic” than an “ex-shopaholic,” but the latter worked better for the subtitle of the first book and I kept it the same for the second book for the sake of consistency. I view recovery as a long-term process with ups and downs along the way, but I’ve learned a lot and I’m definitely in a much better place than I was before I started blogging. I know that I will continue to learn and grow – and I also learn so much from the readers who comment and email and share their own journeys. Thank you as always for your wonderful support of me and my writing!

How Technology Impacts Freedom

Now on to the main topic of this post, how technology impacts personal freedom. I’m 53 years old and I can remember a much different world than we’re in today in terms of technology. Looking back, I can recall having to sit at home when I was expecting a phone call and needing to park myself in front of the television whenever my favorite programs were airing. If I needed a bathroom break during one of my shows, I had to wait for a commercial and then hurry to make sure that I was back by my TV before the show started up again. I remember declining invitations to go out so that I could be home in case a guy I was interested in would call me. If I happened to miss his call, I wouldn’t even be aware that he rang me because this was back in the days before answering machines and caller ID.

Continue reading

I’m now more than a third of the way through the wardrobe “half project” that I launched in early May. The objective of this year-long challenge is to pare my wardrobe down to half of its original size, to only those items that I feel good in and look forward to wearing. The reason I embarked upon the half project is because my theme for 2019 is “freedom” and having too many clothes feels like a burden and weighs me down. Additionally, since I have become relatively minimalist in terms of all of my other possessions, my overly large wardrobe sticks out as a glaring exception to the way I want to live my life.

In today’s post, I’ll update you on how I have progressed with the challenge since my last update back in July. I’ll let you know what I have swapped out, what has been swapped in, what has been purged, and how I’ve done with the rules I established for the half project when it began. I also compare and contrast how the “ideal wardrobe” numbers I calculated in my last post line up with the initial half project calculations I made for my wardrobe categories.

wardrobe half project before and after

Moving from overabundance and chaos to a streamlined wardrobe through the “half project” challenge. 

Continue reading

As I mentioned in my last post, it would have been beneficial to determine my ideal wardrobe size before taking on the “half project,” even though that challenge is geared toward increasing awareness and paring things down. Deciding to work with just half of my wardrobe was somewhat of an arbitrary decision, as I may find that I need more – or fewer – than that number of items. My sense when starting the half project was that cutting my wardrobe in half would work well for my lifestyle needs while still offering me ample variety, but let’s put that theory to the test by doing some deeper analysis.

In today’s post, I’m going to revisit the wardrobe size question. I explored this issue multiple times on my Recovering Shopaholic blog, including in a December 2016 post titled “Normal-Sized Wardrobe Revisited.” At that time, I presented an exercise that calculates optimal wardrobe size based upon frequency of wear, climate, lifestyle, and clothing preferences. I consider those factors again today, but I also add some new thoughts and perspectives on the topic.

ideal wardrobe size

Ideal wardrobe size is a very individual thing, but you can find a ballpark estimate by doing a simple exercise. 

Continue reading

I have now passed the two month mark with my “half project,” so it’s time for another update (see my first update here). I don’t have as much to share this time around, but I will feature the swaps I’ve made and some thoughts about my summer wardrobe and potential purchases I may make during the coming months.

What I Swapped Out in July

I decided to swap out 12 items this month:

  • Pants: 3 (all cropped)
  • Cardigans: 3 (2 cropped, 1 long)
  • Jackets: 1 (long and tailored)
  • Sleeveless Tops: 3 (all short, for skirts)
  • Dresses: 2 (1 midi, 1 maxi)

These items are all shown in the photo below:

items swapped out - july19

I swapped out these 12 items in July, mostly items from my summer wardrobe. 

Most of these pieces are part of my summer wardrobe and I haven’t worn them since last fall. I took some time last week to try on all of my summer items to assess their fit and how I feel about them now. In doing so, I discovered that some things that I originally included in my active wardrobe are not working for me for various reasons. Here are my reasons for swapping out the 12 pieces above:

Continue reading

I’m currently reading Digital Minimalism, by Cal Newport. Even though I have only read a third of this book thus far, I highly recommend it. I have experienced a number of “aha moments” and powerful insights, some of which I may share here as I process them and apply them to my life. We’ll start with a concept that most of us probably don’t associate with technology, digital devices, or minimalism: the importance of solitude. After reading Newport’s thesis, it makes perfect sense to me how solitude relates to technology and it’s very much in line with my 2019 “freedom” theme and many of the other topics I write about on this blog.

importance of solitude

Solitude is very important for our well-being – and it doesn’t always look like this…

What is Solitude and Why Does It Matter?

As someone who spends at least half of my time alone, I would have thought that I experience more than enough solitude. If I go by the Merriam-Webster definition of solitude as “the state or situation of being alone,” this is true, but Newport presented an alternate definition that has serious implications in today’s digital economy. Newport defined solitude as

A subjective state in which your mind is free from the input of other minds.”

Given that we can easily be connected with others 24/7 with a quick finger swipe or mouse click, many of us are rarely free from the input of other minds. Even if we’re not texting regularly or spending hours on social media (the daily average is now 2 hours and 22 minutes!), easy access to podcasts, television, and radio often result in very little time spent engaging with our own thoughts.

Continue reading