Full Life Reflections

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

Happy New Year! Now that 2019 has begun, I’d like to take some time to reflect back on the past year with a few retrospective posts. This first one focuses specifically on this blog, Full Life Reflections. I started the blog – my fifth! – on January 7, 2019, so it’s now a year old. While I haven’t posted as often as I’d hoped, I did publish 33 essays in 2018 on a variety of topics, from life balance and fulfillment to wardrobe management and gray hair transition.

Today, I’ll share the most popular posts from 2018, as well as my personal favorites (I did this each year of Recovering Shopaholic, too, and you can find those posts here). I will also highlight the most clicked outgoing links by visitors to the blog.

best of 2018

The 12 Most Popular Posts

The 12 posts below received the most traffic out of all of the articles I published during 2018. As you can see, the most popular topics were wardrobe management and gray hair transition. That was a bit surprising to me, but I guess it shouldn’t be, as those subjects (well mostly the first one…) are what I’m generally known for.  I will continue to write about clothes and hair this year, as well as the other life topics I enjoy exploring. You can browse all of my articles by topic on the sidebar of every page on the site, and a full listing is available on the Article Archive.

Those who are new to Full Life Reflections will get a chance to check out the highlights of 2018, and longtime readers will have an opportunity to revisit posts they either missed the first time around or would like to explore again.  I plan to re-read many of these essays myself, as I need reinforcement on some of the topics! The posts are listed in order of the traffic received, with the first one being the most popular by far (clearly a lot of people are interested in gray hair transition these days!). Included is a brief synopsis of what each article is about, along with updates in some instances.

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Most of you became familiar with me through my writing on the subjects of shopping and wardrobe management on my former blog, Recovering Shopaholic. Although this blog doesn’t solely address these topics, they are still very much present in my mind, especially in recent months. While some people may think that what we wear is insignificant or frivolous, I would wholeheartedly disagree. I believe that personal style can have a large impact on how we feel about ourselves and how we interact with others. Likewise, how we feel about ourselves, our bodies, and our lives can significantly impact the way we dress and the things we buy. That is the focus of today’s post.

For a long time, I have envied those women who maintain minimalist wardrobes while also having a distinctive and resonant sense of personal style. I admire their decisiveness and clarity. They know what they like and what they feel good wearing. They generally have a commitment to simplicity and they value quality over quantity. This is how I want to be, but despite my continued exploration and work on myself and my wardrobe, I haven’t been able to make it happen. My wardrobe is still too large and I’m not always clear on what I like and the style statement I wish to express to the world.

Chaotic Mind, Chaotic Wardrobe

chaotic wardrobe

If your wardrobe is chaotic, perhaps it’s a reflection of a chaotic mind. 

What I didn’t realize until recently is that the chaotic nature of my wardrobe and shopping is strongly related to the chaotic nature of my mind. That should have been self-evident to me a long time ago, but for some reason it wasn’t. I kept thinking that if I explored the topic of wardrobe management for a long enough time, I would eventually “get it” and be able to cultivate the type of workable wardrobe that I envy in others. This hasn’t happened and in fact, I have struggled so much in the past two years that I sometimes feel as if I’m almost back at square one. I know that isn’t actually the case, but it sure feels like it at times. My closet still feels too full and there is still a lot of duplication in there. It’s extremely frustrating and leads me to feel like a fraud, especially since I wrote two books offering advice to others about wardrobe management and smart shopping. I intellectually know the right things to do, but I don’t always do them!

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In my last post, I began a two part series (or maybe more…) on depression and anxiety and what we can do to experience a greater level of happiness and peace in our lives. I’m grateful to all those who responded to that post, either directly on the blog or via email. I continue to ponder these issues and will offer my own tips and those of others in an upcoming post. However, since I’m not ready to go with that quite yet, I’m going to write about something else that I’ve been thinking about.

For almost two months now, I’ve been doing a modified version of the “30 for 30” remix challenge. My reason for doing this was to shift my focus from what’s “out there” in the stores and online to what is already in my closet. Since this is the time of year when there’s a “big sale” seemingly every other day, it’s difficult for us recovering shopaholics not to get caught up in a major case of FOMO. I also got a lot out of doing a similar challenge back in April/May (see my recap here), so I thought it would be helpful for me to do an encore.

essential wardrobe challenge

It can be helpful to challenge ourselves to dress with less for a period of time.

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This post has been in the works for a few weeks, but I have set it aside twice because what I was writing wasn’t adequately reflecting what I wanted to express. That’s part of the reason I went so long between debriefing my recent closet KonMari in late October and introducing my fall wardrobe challenge last week. I also haven’t had as much time to dedicate to the blog since I started my educational program in June, but I definitely don’t want to let it lapse as it’s still important to me. I like having an outlet to write about various topics and I enjoy interacting with readers and gaining new insights from what you share with me.

The reason I named this blog Full Life Reflections is because it’s an extension of what I was working towards with Recovering Shopaholic, which was to trade my full closet for a full life. Over the years of writing my previous blog and this one, I’ve learned that paring down a super-sized wardrobe is actually a lot easier than cultivating a full – and fulfilling – life. That’s not to say that the wardrobe part is easy because it’s not. I’m definitely still struggling with that, as my posts over the past few months show. Writing about my wardrobe foibles can be challenging and sometimes emotional as well, but today I want to write about something that’s much more sensitive and raw for me. I hope that what I share will be meaningful to some of you and will perhaps strike a chord in relation to the struggles you’re going through or have endured in the past.

happiness and peace

A big challenge in life is finding our own place of inner calm amidst the noise and chaos.

Clothes and Shopping Aren’t the Real Problem

A lot of my issues with clothes, shopping, and wardrobe management have been distractions from my deeper life challenges. I came to understand this more fully in my third and fourth years of writing Recovering Shopaholic, and I started dipping my toe into the water of other topics at that time. But most of my readers seemed to be more interested in my wardrobe musings, so I mostly stuck to that subject since I didn’t want to disappoint people. As time went on, however, I found that I wasn’t enjoying blogging as much, so I decided to take a break, which ended up lasting almost a full year.

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I hope my American readers enjoyed a happy Thanksgiving Day holiday yesterday. As I write this, it’s Black Friday and instead of battling the crowds in search of “amazing deals,” I’m at home writing a blog post. This is a much better use of my time and energy, especially in light of some of my recent posts about “closet churn,” wardrobe analysis, and clothing pare-downs.

Focusing More on What I Have

If it does not challenge you, it doesn't change you.

I decided that I needed to turn my focus away from what’s “out there” in all of the stores and online and toward what I have in my closet, so I’m doing another wardrobe challenge! If you’ve been reading for a while, you may remember that I did an “essential wardrobe” challenge back in April and May of this year.  My fall challenge is very similar to what I did earlier in the year, which is basically a hybrid of Project 333 and the “30 for 30 Remix,” with my own personal twist on things. Here’s a basic overview:

  • I will be dressing with 30-item capsules for both my “out and about” and at-home wardrobes for the months of November and December.
  • Instead of selecting my capsule items at the beginning of the challenge, I’m building them organically as I go, adding new pieces until I reach 30 items in each capsule.
  • Only clothing items are included in my capsules, but I’m also keeping track of my accessory pieces (shoes, jewelry, etc.) and how often I wear them.
  • I’m making a note of how often things are worn as well as keeping an outfit journal for my “out and about” ensembles, rating each outfit and jotting down what did and didn’t work and why.

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