Full Life Reflections

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

This is the first blog post I’m writing in my new home. My husband and I moved two and a half weeks ago to a condo we purchased about fifteen minutes away from where we were previously renting an apartment. The past month has been a whirlwind… Not only is moving stressful and labor-intensive, but the move exacerbated some of my health issues, which was disappointing because the hope was that I might do better in this new environment. That may still end up being the case, but there are some challenges that we need to address in our new home that we didn’t anticipate before moving.  I also started a new educational program two weeks ago (more on that below) that is occupying a lot of my time and energy.

The above basically explains why I haven’t written a new post for so long. This blog is still important to me, but in the spirit of my word for the year – essential, I’ve had to take a few steps back and focus on what was most important since I didn’t have the bandwidth to do everything I wanted to do. I’ve thought of a few post ideas in the past several weeks, but none of them felt quite right. I may write about those things in the future, but I’m also trying to figure out how to make my posts less time-intensive. I definitely want to have everything I post be of high quality and meaningful to readers. That doesn’t mean they need to be lengthy, but old habits die hard! I hope to resume more regular posting as things settle down and I adjust to a new rhythm with my life.

Taking on a New Challenge

your life, your choice

In regards to the new educational program, I am pursuing certification as a health coach through the Kresser Institute. I feel this is a good fit for me given my passion for health and wellness, my educational background in psychology and life coaching, and my own health struggles. I wrestled with my decision to sign up for the program for months. I felt it calling to me, but I had a lot of doubts, mostly because I’ve made a lot of bad decisions in many areas of my life, particularly in the realm of career.

I’ve had a lot of different jobs over the years and my career path has included many twists and turns.  I have two college degrees (BA in Clinical Psychology and MA in Counseling Psychology) and a life coaching certification, have run three businesses (life coaching, web design, and wardrobe consulting), have done varied contract work in numerous fields, and this is my fifth blog. My businesses never took off the way I wanted them to, I haven’t liked most of the jobs I’ve held, and I’ve never found my true passion or “dream job.” Since I chose not to have children, I’ve felt even more pressure to forge a career that would serve as a large slice of my personal identity. That has never happened, though not for a lack of trying.

I wondered if it might be too late for me to delve into a new career. After all, I’m almost 52, plus I’m not exactly in peak health at this point, not by a long shot. But I found myself floundering and struggling with a lack of purpose in my life. I wanted to have something that would make me excited about the future, the proverbial reason to get up in the morning. Although I enjoy blogging, the prospect of having it be my career seemed daunting, especially given the types of topics I enjoy writing about. Keeping blogging as more of a hobby feels like the right thing for me at this point in my life and probably forever. I enjoy connecting with readers and churning out content that I’m proud of, but it’s nice not to feel the pressure to post at a super regular interval or to try to make an income from this pursuit.

Living in “Limbo Land”

I feel like I’ve been putting my life on hold for a very long time. I’ve been waiting until I got my health back, but I’ve come to realize that such an outcome may never come to pass. Of course, I hope that I will regain enough health and vitality to enjoy my life more, but it’s been years now that I’ve been battling multiple symptoms, with new ones cropping up on a regular basis, so I have to be realistic. I’m grateful that I don’t feel extremely horrible all the time. Some days are better than others and there are usually decent parts of each day. I’m reminded of a refrigerator magnet that my mom gave me last year. It says,

Every day may not be good, but there is good in every day.”

That’s true… I try my best to take comfort in the happy moments I experience every day. When I stop to reflect upon them, they are more numerous than I usually believe. The best years of my life may be behind me (although I hope that’s not the case), but I’m not dead yet and I still have a lot to give. Although I feared that I’d be the oldest person in my new program, there are quite a few other students in their fifties, and there’s also a small cohort of students in the over-60 range. Like me, they all realize that they still have a lot to offer and they are open to learning about a growing field centered on helping others.

While my health issues are complex and not easy to solve, that’s not the case for everyone. Many people know what to do to improve their health and their lives, but they struggle to do it and need information, support, encouragement, and accountability in order to enact powerful change. Those are the types of things a health coach can help people with, either individually or in conjunction with doctors and other health practitioners.

One great thing about the program I’m in is that it’s 100% online and a lot of it is self-paced. I can do more on the days when I’m feeling better and take a step back on my more difficult days. Likewise, when I’m actually certified as a health coach in a year’s time, there are various options for how I can work with people. My hope is that I will be up to working part-time in a clinic or corporate wellness program and have a small private practice on the side, but we’ll see how it goes.

Balance, Priorities, and Comparison

The program has been challenging so far and coupled with my move, health appointments, and other activities, I’m struggling to keep up. But I know it’s just a matter of my finding a rhythm for doing the classwork, reading, and practice sessions. I’ve also found it difficult to keep up with some of the things I was doing before and I’m not sure how that will all shake out. I’ve written previously about my issues with social media and my need to moderate my use of those platforms. I’ve recently cut even further back on my Facebook time and in fact haven’t even visited that site in close to two weeks now. I don’t want to cut it out to such a large degree, but I’ve had to consider what’s essential each day and connecting online has had to take a backseat, just like this blog has during the move and the start of my new program.

I often marvel at how much other people are able to accomplish each day and week. I compare myself and find myself lacking in that I can’t keep up with that type of schedule and to-do list. I know that I’m doing myself a disservice with such comparisons, however. We all have different bandwidth levels and varying comfort levels with activities and commitments. I need to conserve my energy and not take too much on, as I tire easily and don’t feel well much of the time.

I need to do what’s right and best for me, just like we all must do. One of The Four Agreements is “Always Do Your Best” and part of the understanding of that agreement is that one’s best will vary among people and over time for a given individual. Some days I’m able to do a lot and other days just getting out of bed and doing a few things is a triumph. I have to give myself credit each day that I do my best regardless of how many items I cross off my to-do list.

Lessons from this Post

Although I began this post not really knowing what I would say and how meaningful it might be to readers, I think I have found my way to a few lessons I would like to summarize before I close out my writing for today. Interestingly, my stream of consciousness contained more insights than I originally thought it would, so here they are:

Don’t put your life on hold for a future outcome that may never occur.

Years have gone by while I’ve been waiting to “get better,” and many more years may elapse while I’m holding out for a state of wellness that has been eluding me. I may not be able to do everything I’d like to do, but I can do more than I previously believed was possible. After all, I still marvel at the fact that I wrote two books and published over 400 blog posts on Recovering Shopaholic. Those things happened while I was dealing with multiple health problems, and I believe I have made a difference through my writing. It didn’t happen overnight, but it did evolve a little bit at a time. If there’s something you’d like to do “someday,” perhaps consider how you might make it – or some alternate version of it – happen today. Even short bursts of effort, such as fifteen minutes a day, add up over time!

If you think you’re too old, you’re probably wrong.

What age is too old to learn a new skill, go back to school, or start a new career?  I remember a friend shared with me that she was teaching her 93-year-old mother Adobe Illustrator. It was a fun activity they were able to enjoy together and it helped to keep the mother’s mind sharp and added fulfillment to her life. Some people balk at retirement because they don’t want to just “sit around in a rocking chair,” but it doesn’t have to be that way at all. Another friend told me that she’s a lot busier in retirement than she was when she was working. She’s now taking on projects and challenges she didn’t have time for previously. I thought I was too old to go back to school or pursue a new career, but I’m glad I took the plunge to sign up for the program I’m in. I’m happy I listened to the voice inside that knew I could make a difference in a new way rather than the voice that told me I was too old to do it.

Don’t allow “analysis paralysis” to prevent you from moving forward in life

I analyzed and over-analyzed whether or not to sign up for the health coach training program. I was interested in it when it was first announced in its planning stages (over a year ago) and I attended all of the informational webinars in recent months, yet I waited until the day before the enrollment deadline to sign up. Instead of trusting my feelings and my gut, I agonized over fearing I would make the wrong decision. Yes, it’s good to investigate our options and weigh the pros and cons, but oftentimes our analysis gets in the way of our making decisions and taking steps to change our lives. Doors close on us while we’re thinking and overthinking about what we should do. Sometimes it’s helpful to set a time limit on how long you will investigate the options, especially if you have a tendency to ruminate. Try to find a happy medium when it comes to doing research and weighing decisions.

Don’t compare yourself to others

It’s often been said that comparison is the thief of joy. That’s definitely been true for me, as I always seem to find a way to compare myself to others and end up with the short end of the stick. I continually make myself wrong and that feels terrible. As illustrated very clearly in this five-minute video, comparing ourselves to others is a sure recipe for unhappiness. The most fair and productive comparisons to make are internal ones that look at how we have grown and changed.

Your Thoughts?

I would love to get your input on the topics I’ve discussed in this post. I’m also open to suggestions for future topics you’d like me to write about, as well as any questions you have for me. Some of my best posts have been inspired by comments and questions from readers, and I always enjoy the discussions that take place in the comments sections of my blog posts. Thank you for reading and I wish you all a wonderful weekend!

17 thoughts on “Don’t Put Your Life on Hold

  1. Rosa MARINO says:

    Thank you Debbie for another insightful post. Congratulations on your new educational endeavour!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thank you very much, Rosa!

  2. Di Collins says:

    I’m so happy you are following your dream. It is never too late. At your age my Mum earnt a degree. I think most of us are guilty to some degree of putting out life on hold until …. But we are cheating ourselves out of precious time. And we need to stop comparing our lives to others as we are all so individual and have different challenges in life. Can’t wait to see how this all works out for you. Big hugs.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      You are so right in what you wrote, Di! How wonderful that your mum got a degree in her 50’s! I always love reading about people who are achieve goals later in life. I appreciate your encouragement and kind words.

  3. Gail H. says:

    Debbie–You are so empathetic and conscientious that I know you will succeed in this area. Just remember that if all you ever did was your blog, you have touched lives and meant a great deal to your readers. I for one have so enjoyed reading your words.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thank you so much for what you wrote, Gail. I always love reading that my words have touched people’s lives. Sometimes we lose sight of the fact that we don’t have to do something grandiose in order to make a difference. I’m glad I have made a difference for you!

  4. Michaela K says:

    Congratulations on your new educational pursuit! It sounds perfect for you. I took up a new pursuit last year in my mid-forties after putting it off for some time because of fears that “life” would prevent me from devoting myself as fully as I would like. As expected, my progress hasn’t always been what I’d hoped, but that’s okay. My only regret the time I wasted focusing on the obstacles on my path rather than working my way round them. I hope you’ll keep us updated on your progress.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thank you, Michaela, and congrats on taking up a new pursuit in your mid-forties and overcoming your fears. I think we often think our progress will be more than it actually is, but the important thing is that we’re not letting fear and procrastination stop us. I often regret the wasted time, too, and I didn’t want to let that happen again this time, so I made the leap. The program is intensive and a lot of work, but I’m enjoying it and I’m glad I decided to do it. I’m glad you took on your challenge, too.

  5. Claire says:

    oh wow, that’s exciting (albeit stressful) about the move into your new condo! i know there could be quite an adjustment period before seeing the improvements you seek – it took me at least a year in our current home to start getting those benefits, i hope it’s not quite so long for you guys! and i hope your course progresses well and you are able to get what you want out of it. you’ve had so much going on, it’s amazing the posts appeared as regular as they have. hang in there and stay easy on yourself, xo

    1. Gail H. says:

      You are so right. We are in our 70s and had to move twice in the past three and a half years. It is fine, now, and we are adjusted, but the older we get the harder it is to physically and emotionally do this. Moving is one of the most stressful life changes, Debbie; of course that brings stress on our physical weaknesses. It will get calmer, and you will heal and feel even better than before you had to deal with the moving. Good wishes!

    2. Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for the encouragement and the reality check, Claire. I know it can take a while to settle into a new home and get things the way we want and need them to be. There are more changes to make here than we thought there would be, but it will eventually get done. I’m glad to be moving forward with that and my course after feeling stagnant for a long time. I do hope to be able to post here at least semi-regularly, but you’re right that I need to be easy on myself and not try to do too much. We can only ever do our best, as I mentioned in this post!

      Gail, you’re right about how stressful moving is and I imagine it’s harder in one’s 70’s. I appreciate the encouragement and good wishes!

  6. Jane says:

    I’m glad I checked your blog. i have been busy too, guess it’s an epidemic hehehe.

    First off, congrats on your condo move. Boy, moving is hard, so that’s quite an accomplishment especially for someone who has environmental sensitivities.

    Second, I think it’s great that you’re taking up this new educational program. I’m doing the same thing, mostly because I seem to get antsy if I am not occupying myself with someone, kinda useless otherwise. I’m studying to get another certification for work. Don’t need it, but…why not.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for your comment, Jane. Yes, being busy seems to be an epidemic these days! The move has been challenging, but we’re gradually making changes and I know it will all work out. Congrats to you for taking on a new educational program, too. Sounds like you’re a lifelong learner as well. Best wishes with the new certification. Why not is right!

  7. Jane says:

    You know, I just watched that Prager U video (thanks for posting cool links, as always) and it really resonated with me. I have often been told that I’m too critical of myself. Frankly, I think I’m critical of not only myself, but I’m sure I’m pretty critical of everyone else too, though I do try not to be. I would personally love to know if anyone else has successfully “changed the script” and learned how to be happy with themselves and turned off that inner critic.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m glad you liked the Prager U video, Jane. It’s one of my favorites and I’ve watched it multiple times. I think a lot of people who are critical of others are even more critical of themselves. That’s definitely true for me! I would love to know how others have “changed the script,” too! I’m so tired of my inner critic getting the best of me, but I haven’t been able to stop it yet. I think this is a subject I will address on the blog soon, so hopefully those who have had more success than we have with overcoming self-criticism will chime in and offer us some words of wisdom.

  8. Ginger says:

    I’m amazed you wrote a blog post and started new coursework whilst moving. I’m going to commit the sin of comparing myself to others and say that I could not even think about summing up the energy to do that!

    Just remember, treachery and age will beat youth and inexperience every time. You’re not too old.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Ginger. Yes, it was bad timing that my course started at almost exactly the same time as my move occurred! I’m glad things are settling down more now and I have more time to do other things, like write blog posts. I felt bad going so long without posting, but sometimes life gets in the way. I love what you wrote in your last two sentences. I will keep that in mind!

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