Full Life Reflections

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

Although we’re now over two weeks into January, it’s still not too late to debrief last year and learn some valuable lessons to carry forward into 2018. In today’s post, I share some resources for how to do this, as well as provide a glimpse into my own yearly review process and what I learned from it.

How to Debrief Last Year

How to Close Out a Year on the Right Note

There are many rituals we can use to help us powerfully close out each year and gain knowledge for better navigating our path into the next year. Of course, there is nothing particularly magical about the year end and we can do these processes at any time. However, there is a sense of closure as we move from one calendar year to the next that makes the time around New Year’s a great time for us to take stock. Our birthdays are also meaningful times to take inventory and set goals, as I wrote about in 2010, 2013, and 2016.

If you’d like to take some time now to debrief 2017, below are some tips from my fellow bloggers on how to do so. These processes range from a handful of questions to consider to as many as fifty, and they also vary in terms of their scope and approach. I’m including a variety of options because we’re all different and what works well for one person may either be overkill or not enough for another. Also, feel free to pick and choose which questions you wish to answer. Just because someone has presented a long list of debrief questions for us, it doesn’t mean that we need to take them all on.

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Welcome to my new blog, “Full Life Reflections”! In this initial post, I will share what this blog is about and what you can expect to read here in the coming weeks and months.  Also, if you were previously a reader of my last blog, “Recovering Shopaholic,” I will let you know why I decided to start a new blog and how this one will be different from what you were used to from me. Regardless of whether we have crossed paths before, I hope you will find “Full Life Reflections” interesting, thought-provoking, and helpful.

Welcome to Full Life Reflections!

How Did “Full Life Reflections” Come About?

From 2013 through 2017, I wrote the blog “Recovering Shopaholic,” which focused on my journey to trade my full closet for a full life. I had struggled with compulsive shopping for over three decades and wanted to find a way to create balance in both my wardrobe and my shopping. The blog served as a means for me to explore the reasons for my maladaptive shopping behavior and ongoing wardrobe management issues, while correspondingly connecting with others with similar challenges.  It also fostered accountability as I worked to clean out my closet, adhere to a clothing budget, and discover a personal style that resonated for me at my current stage of life.

Over the four years that I wrote “Recovering Shopaholic,” I made a lot of progress in terms of my wardrobe, shopping, and style, yet I continued to struggle with the “full life” side of the equation. I found that dedicating so much time and attention toward my wardrobe had become counterproductive and had begun to stall my recovery process.  Accordingly, I decided to pause the blog in February 2017 and take some time to evaluate whether or not I wanted to continue blogging, as well as the shape any further writing I would do might take. I spent quite a few months mired in confusion in this regard but finally gained clarity that my next step would be this new blog, “Full Life Reflections.”

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So much has been going through my mind since I published my last post.  Crystallizing the thoughts I shared with you earlier this month was a breakthrough for me and has created an opening for new breakthroughs.  I believe that this is the year when things will finally fall more into place for me after years of feeling stuck in the mire of my anxiety and discontent.  Granted, I still feel stuck in many ways, but I see a light at the end of the tunnel, a clearing for a new and better reality.

Peaceful La Playa view

Seeing a Clearing for a New and Better Reality…

Today’s post is another one I’ve been intending to write since the beginning of the year, but I wasn’t able to slow down and take the time to pull it all together.  These more introspective essays don’t necessarily take longer to write than the ones with lots of photos and numbers, but they are more difficult for me to complete.  I need to have the internal clarity in order to be able to express myself in a way that makes sense.  My brain has felt like a big jumble for quite a while now with so much inner noise that it’s been hard for me to relax or sleep.

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Back in September, I attended the San Diego session of Courtney Carver’s “Tiny Wardrobe Tour.”  As I mentioned in my post the following day, knowing that I’d be attending this talk motivated me to create a hypothetical summer Project 333 capsule wardrobe (which I later decided to dress with for the month of October).  At that time, I promised to share some of the insights I gained from the Tiny Wardrobe Tour presentation, but I haven’t been able to do so until now…

project 333 tiny wardrobe tour

Courtney Carver’s “Tiny Wardrobe Tour” – September 2016, San Diego

A lot of thoughts came up for me during Courtney’s talk and I found myself on the verge of tears several times.  I started capturing my thoughts shortly after the event, but I was unable to finish the post for some reason. I came back to it a couple of times, but ended up leaving it unfinished again.  It wasn’t until this week that I was able to complete it to my satisfaction and share my musings here. Sometimes we need to sit with something for a while, and perhaps what’s happened in my life over the ensuing months has helped to crystalize the lessons in my mind.

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It’s been over three months since I gave an update on how I’m doing with my gray hair transition, so I thought this would be a good time for me to fill you in on the journey.  I’m now at just about the seven month mark and there have been some changes to my transition plan since I last reported on the process back in August.   I’m still planning to stay the course, but it definitely hasn’t been easy!  In today’s post, I’ll update you on recent new developments and share photos and thoughts on how my transition is progressing.

Since I’ve written quite a few posts about my gray hair transition, I created a new blog category to make it easy to access this content for those who are interested.  If you’re pondering the process – or are currently in it – and would like some tips and advice, be sure to check out my “Going Gray & Getting Out of Hair Prison Follow-Up” article, as it is chock full of suggestions from readers and useful links to gray hair transition resources.

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It’s been a while since I last shared my photos with you, so I’d like to highlight another one of my favorite places today. In the midst of all of the chaos and upset going on right now, this also seems like a good time to focus on what’s good and beautiful in the world.  The lovely scenery abundant to the area where I live is a wonderful example of this, as I’ve shown in previous photography posts.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I drove to Pacific Beach for a walk and to photograph the sunset.  It’s just a twenty minute drive from where we live, but it can feel like a world away.   We took quite a few photographs on that mild autumn evening, the best of which are featured below.

Pacific Beach

These kids were enjoying a beautiful October evening in Pacific Beach. 

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In my last post, I debriefed what I packed for my recent trip to Lake Tahoe and the San Francisco Bay Area.  I appreciate all of the great comments and packing suggestions I received on that post.  Some of you are seasoned packing pros who have gotten things down to a fine science!  I’ve found it helpful to take some time to review what I’ve taken on my trips and how it worked out (or didn’t) for me (you can read all of my posts on packing for travel here). I made some mistakes this last time, but I now have a better understanding of how to pack for travel during a “cusp season.” I feel confident that I will fare better with packing for my next similar trip.

I finally had a chance to review and edit all of the photos I took on my trip.  While I didn’t take as many as I did on my September 2015 Tahoe trip, there were still quite a few to look at from my time away.  I decided to share my favorite photos with all of you in today’s “photography interlude” (see previous editions here).   I also highlight some key information about the locations shown for those who are interested in learning more.

Incline Beach, Lake Tahoe

Incline Beach, Lake Tahoe

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As I wrote in my last post, this past Monday was my fiftieth birthday.  Many people have parties to mark this momentous occasion, and I was lucky enough to enjoy such a celebration with some dear friends during my recent trip to Texas.  I will also celebrate with family in a few weeks when I travel to Lake Tahoe. But when it came down to the actual day, I opted to spend it in a low-key way with my wonderful husband.

We actually extended our celebration to two days in that we ate lunch at my favorite restaurant on the last day of my 40’s and saw the new Star Trek movie (fast fact – the TV series premiered in 1966 , the year I was born!).

last day of my forties

Enjoying lunch at my favorite restaurant on the last day of my forties.

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As I write this, it’s just three days before my 50th birthday and this post will go live on the big day.  I can’t believe it’s almost here!  As it has gotten closer and I’ve had other things on my mind, I’ve become less stressed about moving into a new decade and more accepting of it.  As many people say, it’s only a number, plus it’s better than the alternative!

Birthday Reflections

It’s hard to think that I probably have less of my life in front of me than behind me and that perhaps my best days are in my past, but I’m trying to develop a more positive perspective on it.  I don’t know what the future holds and many people have told me that they are happier and even healthier in their later years.  Plus, as my husband says, on my 50th birthday I will be just one day older than the day before!  He loved turning 50 and it didn’t bother him at all, so maybe I need to follow his example.

I’ll share more thoughts about my birthday after it has passed, as well as what I want for myself in this new decade of my life.  But today I’d like to give you an update on how I’m doing with my theme for 2016, balance.   My last balance update was about two months ago, so I feel it’s time for another one, as these reviews help to keep my yearly theme top of mind (and hopefully remind you of your goals and where you are with them as well).  Rather than go through all of my balance goals one by one, I will instead share my wins from the past two months, as well as my challenges.

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It’s been two months since I last gave an update on how I’m doing with my gray hair transition, so I thought it’s high time that I chime in on how that project is going for me.   As a reminder and for those who are new to the blog, I colored my hair for the last time on April 20th.  I initially wrote about my issues with my hair back in May, at which time I had not yet made the commitment to transition to my natural color.  A price increase at my salon and a friend who had taken the plunge to go gray led me to consider my options and it wasn’t long before I put both feet firmly in the camp of baring my silver roots.

Gray hair transition

Gray hair can be beautiful!

The Decision

I decided to stop coloring my hair for several reasons.  For one, I was getting my roots touched up every four weeks and they really needed it after just two weeks. I was only happy with my hair color about half the time, and even then I didn’t love the way it looked.  It was expensive and time-consuming, plus I had become increasingly chemically sensitive and worried about the impact such frequent hair coloring was having on my health.  As time went on, there were more factors in favor of stopping the hair dyeing than there were on the side of continuing it.  It was primarily my vanity and sheer habit that were keeping it going for me.

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