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.
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.
When I came back, my passion centered mostly on the full life side of the equation, which led me to start this blog. I was excited to write about a wider range of topics, but I still feel like I’m struggling to set the right tone with my writing. While I always want to be open and honest here, I also feel the need for self-protection after dealing with some critics and trolls on my previous blog. It’s not easy to share my thoughts with the Internet at large and to be as raw and revealing as I often used to be. It’s scary to be vulnerable, especially when one is a deeply sensitive person like I am. Above all, I want to be helpful with what I publish, so I’m trying to strike an appropriate balance with what I write and what I reveal about myself.
I haven’t written much about my struggles with depression and anxiety, but I want to do so now. These issues aren’t nearly as easy to write about as my clothes, but they impact my life to a much larger degree and have for as long as I can remember. Just as I’ve written about my gray hair transition with the hope that I might help others to better cope with that journey, I also hope that sharing about this battle may be of service to some readers.
Today’s post is the first part of a two-part series. This first part is more descriptive in nature, while the second part will be more solution-focused. I’ve discovered some simple (but not always easy…) lifestyle practices that have helped me to maintain my sanity and increase my feelings of serenity, so I will share those things with you in my next post. I will also include some other resources that you might find beneficial.
Striving for Happiness, Peace, and Fulfillment
The tagline for this blog is “Striving for happiness, peace, and fulfillment… in a chaotic world.” With so much chaos around us each and every day, how can we find “the eye of the storm,” that place where we don’t feel like the walls are closing in on us? If you struggle with anxiety like I do, you know how challenging it can be to breathe deeply and focus in on what matters most when everyone and everything seems to be going at the speed of light. Some people navigate the chaotic waters better than others and I applaud their resilience, but I have always been more of a sensitive soul who becomes overwhelmed quite easily.
The truth is that I still don’t have a full life, but I’m continuing to work on it and I feel like I’m now on a better path than I was even a few weeks ago. For me, it’s starting with acceptance and self-awareness. I’m tired of comparing myself to others, to those who seem to be able to juggle a hundred balls in the air without breaking a sweat. I am not those people. I am me and I am learning to accept my nature and my limitations. I know I will be far happier if I look within and work with the realities of who I am instead of continually judging myself for my failings and everything that I’m not.
I have been trying so hard to answer the big questions that I’ve lost sight of the fact that it’s the little things that make up the bulk of our days and make or break our happiness. I’ve berated myself for not having a five-year plan or a good answer to the ever-present question, “What do you do?” I’ve belabored these issues ad nauseum while neglecting to care for my well-being and my spirit. I let my to-do list be my master rather than a tool to guide my activities. I became more of a human doing than a human being, and I have suffered as a result. I worried so much about what other people thought of me and about living up to their expectations that I failed to give much consideration to what I wanted my life to look like. This all contributed to my depression.
People who haven’t dealt with depression themselves often have misconceptions about what this condition looks like. They envision a person who barely eats, doesn’t bathe, and spends much of their day in bed. Yes, depression can look like that, but there are many other manifestations. In my case, depression makes it difficult for me to get motivated and get things done. Time often seems to pass by unnoticed and a day can end with my feeling baffled as to where the hours went. The smallest tasks require what feels like a Herculean effort. This isn’t every day, as there are many ups and downs, but it’s the case more often than not.
Just a few weeks ago, I felt like I was almost at my breaking point. I was experiencing a flare-up of most of my health symptoms, and a few new ones had cropped up just to add insult to injury. I wasn’t happy, I wasn’t fulfilled, and I certainly wasn’t feeling peaceful. Something had to give and something had to change. That something was my attitude and my perspective.
A New Look at “Essential”
My word/theme for 2018 is “essential.” I have pondered a lot of aspects of this word thus far, including information, technology, productivity, connection, and wardrobe (see additional posts on these topics on my archive page). All of those explorations have been helpful for me and I hope for you as well. I plan to re-read all of my posts about “essential” before the year ends and I will definitely do a recap before revealing my 2019 theme to you. However, there is another aspect of “essential” that I feel is most important of all, which is:
“What are my essentials for experiencing happiness and peace?”
“What will prevent me from falling into the abyss of depression and the treacherous terrain of intense anxiety?”
That will be the focus of part two of this series and I would love to get your insights on these questions. I’d love to hear about what helps you to experience more happiness, peace, and fulfillment on a daily basis. What helps you to stay sane in the midst of all of the chaos around you? If you have thoughts on this topic, I invite you to share them here for inclusion in part two. If you have things to say but would prefer to be more private, you’re welcome to email me as well (click here to do so). I welcome your feedback however you want to send it to me.