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.

  1. Gray Hair Transition – Don’t Do What I Did! (April 20) – This was a difficult post for me to write and publish, as it involved my sharing the many mistakes I’ve made on my journey to gray hair, as well as some very unflattering photos. But I did it to help others avoid my foibles and I’m glad I did, especially since it has received a tremendous amount of traffic. From the comments and emails the post has generated, I know I did the right thing in opening up about my mistakes and what I’ve learned from them. I take comfort in knowing that I have helped other women to avoid the difficult issues I’ve faced through this challenging – and slow – process.
  2. Answering the “Gray Hair Tag” Questions (October 6) – This was my most recent post about my gray hair transition, in which I responded to the “gray hair tag” questions that were going around YouTube at the time. I offered additional thoughts and advice on going gray and shared some helpful resources for those who are pondering stopping color and want to learn more. At the end of the post, I included a few photos from the summer that show my hair progress. For those who are curious, my transition is not yet finished, as cutting the rest of the color off would have left my hair too short and unmanageable. I wanted to be done by the end of 2018, but I decided that it was the “lesser of two evils” to just keep growing and cutting off the ends while maintaining a style I’m comfortable with.
  3. Lessons from my Late 2018 Closet KonMari (October 26) – KonMari posts have long been popular on my blogs (did you know that Marie Kondo has a new Netflix show? I haven’t watched it yet but plan to soon…). There was a lot of transition in my wardrobe last year as a result of body changes (hello, menopause…) and some emotion-fueled bad purchases. In this post, I highlight the analysis process I used to gain clarity about my reasons for letting wardrobe pieces go. It was illuminating for me to pinpoint these specific issues so that hopefully I can minimize buying mistakes moving forward.
  4. Musings on Wardrobe Size and “Closet Churn” (September 1) – This post explored the “elephant in the room” for many of us when it comes to paring down our wardrobes: “closet churn.” My musings were more about exploring the issue than solving it, as I continue to struggle in this regard. However, since I believe that awareness is critical and that the truth can set us free, I feel it was a valuable step to take. I will continue to write about closet churn this year, as I work to cut down on this frustrating problem.
  5. Working Toward an Essential Wardrobe – An April Challenge (April 6) – I enjoy periodically taking on wardrobe challenges, as they increase my awareness about what is and isn’t working with my closet. Last spring, I created a new wardrobe experiment that was sort of a hybrid of Project 333 and the “30 for 30 Remix” combined with some rules of my own. This post introduced the challenge and how it had already benefitted me in its early days.
  6. Spring “Essential Wardrobe” Challenge Recap (May 18) – When the aforementioned challenge was over, I did a recap of what was worn most often, what I missed from my closet, and what I learned in the process. Since I also took a trip midway through the challenge, I had to work with my capsules when packing, so I noted what did and didn’t work there. I closed with some additional thoughts on how I wanted to shift my wardrobe in the coming months. As you know, I did another wardrobe challenge at the end of 2018 (see the announcement post here and some interim insights here), and I will be doing a recap of that one shortly.
  7. Welcome to Full Life Reflections! (January 7) – This was the very first post on this blog and it ended an almost yearlong blogging hiatus. I explained why I chose to start a new blog and shared the new blog’s focus and how it would differ from Recovering Shopaholic. Hindsight is always 20/20 and at this point, I’m not sure that I actually needed to start a whole new blog, but it felt like the right thing to do at the time. I think I lost a big part of my audience with the hiatus and the switch, but I also seemed to have lost all of my trolls and critics, so there is definitely a silver lining!
  8. Essentials for Happiness and Peace, Part One (November 30) – This was the third version of a post I had a lot of trouble writing. I have been sharing myself and my life online for a long time, but it’s still difficult for me to open up about some topics, including my long struggle with depression and anxiety. This partially explains why part two hasn’t been published yet, but the holidays and some other things have also gotten in the way. I haven’t forgotten, though, and I will share the second part soon (and there may even be a part three).
  9. Applying the “Goldilocks Principle” to Your Wardrobe (September 19) – In this follow-up to a life-focused post with a similar title, I looked at how we can apply a “just right” philosophy to our closets. I first defined my idea of a “just right” wardrobe and then suggested four exercises that can potentially help us reach that end goal. Now that I’m looking back at this post, I realize that I need to revisit these exercises, which will most likely result in follow-on articles in the coming months.
  10. Body Image Rehab: My Past Blog, Continued Challenges, and Advice from Friends (March 16) – Back in 2010-2011, I wrote a blog called Body Image Rehab, which focused on my journey to heal my negative body image. In this post, I link to the posts from that blog, which I have migrated to the body image category Since I continue to struggle with body image challenges, I asked some of my online friends for their advice on how to make positive changes in that regard. Some of their wonderful answers are included in this post and a follow-on one in April. It’s time for me to re-read all of these words of wisdom!
  11. Shopping Check-In and Revisiting Sales Strategies (July 11) – On the eve of the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale (NAS), I shared some tips for successfully navigating sales shopping. Since sales are pretty much a constant these days, it’s good to keep some of these strategies in mind. In regards to NAS, I have basically decided I’m not going to shop it anymore other than for basics like bras and sleepwear. My reasons for not shopping that sale back in 2013 very much still apply and I need to heed my own words of wisdom from over 5 years ago!
  12. Don’t Put Your Life on Hold! (June 28) – I wrote this post shortly after my husband and I had moved into our new home and I had started a yearlong education program. I had just taken two big leaps in life after having lived in “limbo land” for a long time, and I shared my thoughts and fears about these changes. I also highlighted a few lessons I learned both from putting my life on hold and moving more into action. We have now been in our new home for seven months and are well settled in, although we’re still doing quite a few home improvement projects. As for the educational program, I have learned a lot of wonderful things, but at this point I’m unclear on where I will be (and want to be…) at the end of it all. I’m taking it day by day and hoping that clarity will come in time.

A Few of My Favorite Posts

While some of the most popular articles on the blog are also among my favorites (numbers 1, 4, 8, 9, and 12), there are also some other posts that I feel especially proud to have written. My reasons for selecting my favorites vary, and I will share those motives along with the links below. The posts are listed in order from the oldest to the most recent.

  1. Lessons from a Power Failure (February 10) – I like this post because it was about how I made lemons into lemonade on a day when my power was out for many hours. Rather than panicking as I usually would about all of the tasks that I wouldn’t get done, I surrendered into calm and enjoyed the day. This helped me to connect more fully with two of my most cherished values, peace and freedom. It’s an ongoing challenge for me to relax into being rather than obsess about doing. I think that’s an issue for many of us in today’s fast-paced society, but I’m ready for a powerful shift! Sometimes the inconvenient events of us lives can be excellent teachers…
  2. What is a Full Life? – Revisited (March 2) – Back in June 2013, I wrote a post on Recovering Shopaholic pondering what a full life means to me. Almost five years later, I recapped some of those thoughts and also summarized an article from The Week that postulated that there are four different types of happy lives we can lead. At the time, I resonated most with the fourth type – the Full Life. I still do, but I now believe that it’s more likely that we will cycle among these various types of happy lives and that’s okay. Kind of like eating a healthy diet, I feel that what we do over time is more important than what happens on any given day.
  3. The Things that Isolate Us (March 24) – In this post, I wrote about a topic that is all too common these days, emotional isolation. Emotional closeness eludes so many of us even in this age of extreme connectivity, smart phones, and social media. We’re in touch with other people all the time, but we don’t often deeply communicate with anyone. Much of the reason for this is the fear of being vulnerable, which is a topic explored extensively by Brene Brown in her writings (and something I definitely struggle with). I summarize some of Brown’s findings and link to a few of her short videos on vulnerability and shame.
  4. When Connection Becomes Too Much of a Good Thing (May 31) – As an extreme introvert, I need a lot of time alone and have to “recharge” after being around other people. What I didn’t realize until recently is that this need to recharge also applies to online interaction. Social media can be both a blessing and a curse and it’s something that is a big challenge for me. In this post, I ask if there can be a happy medium to connection (especially online connection). I still don’t know the answer to that, at least for myself. For years, I spent a lot of time on Facebook even though it caused me anxiety, but I have recently pulled way back because my struggle with depression and anxiety has intensified. I still feel guilty about this even though I’m doing it to take care of myself. I suspect I will be writing a follow-on post about this topic soon…
  5. Are You a Moderator or an Abstainer? (June 8) – Gretchen Rubin introduced the concept of moderators vs. abstainers in her book, Better Than Before, and I summarized her thoughts in this post. I also pondered whether we are always either a moderator or an abstainer and if I’m really a moderator, as I have long believed myself to be. I close with a few tips Rubin offers on either limiting our consumption or giving something up for a time or altogether. One of those tips is that even Moderators can benefit from short periods of abstinence. A friend of mine takes a month off from shopping at least twice a year and I think I need to do the same thing myself.
  6. Applying the “Goldilocks Principle” to Your Life (August 21) – During a time period when my life felt very out of balance, I explored the concept of “just right” in regards to how we spend our time and how much energy we devote to the various areas of our lives. I introduced three simple exercises we can do to increase our awareness about what may be too much, too little, or just the right amount of attention to given pursuits: the “plate exercise,” the plus minus equals exercise, and the “wheel of life.” Since it’s still early in the year, this can be a good time to either do these exercises for the first time or revisit them (although anytime can be the right time for self-discovery). I’m going to do so myself to help me get 2019 off to a happy and healthy start.
  7. On Wardrobe, Shopping, and Happiness (December 28) – My most recent post was one of my favorites of the year. It is often my most emotionally raw essays that become my most cherished, as it isn’t easy for me to write them and it takes courage to push the publish button. I wrote about the role that anxiety and poor body image play in my shopping – or shall I say, my overshopping. I understand that shopping will never be the answer to “I don’t feel good about my body, my appearance, or my life.” However, I still struggle to keep my shopping under control despite intellectually knowing the right ways to approach buying clothes and associated items. We don’t always do better when we know better, but knowing better is always a good start. Look for more posts on this topic this year…

Most Popular Links from 2018

Below are the most popular outgoing links from Full Life Reflections in 2018.  I thought you might find it interesting to see what your fellow readers have clicked on most often over the past year. In addition to the specific articles/information I’m including below, a lot of visitors left this site to go to YouTube (this video and this channel were the most clicked) and Recovering Shopaholic (in addition to the home page, this article and the KonMari category were most popular).

  1. All About Porosity – Ouidad
  2. Gray Hair Braid Hairstyle – Pinterest (linked by me as a style I’m aiming for)
  3. Katie Goes Platinum (gray hair blog)
  4. Inside Out Style Blog (especially her “Not Going Grey Gracefully Posts,” starting HERE)
  5. My Book Page on Amazon.com
  6. The 30 for 30 Remix Challenge – Kendie Everyday
  7. Madison Reed Root Touch Up (what I used to cover my gray roots when I first started my transition)
  8. Be More With Less (especially the Project 333 page)
  9. VIA Character Strengths Survey
  10. Huffington Post (especially this article about stopping hair color and this one about stopping dieting)
  11. Act Mindfully (including this values worksheet and this one – both PDFs)
  12. Myers-Briggs: Are You Extroverted or Introverted? (quick 10-question quiz)

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed this retrospective of the first year of Full Life Reflections. Hopefully you were either able to revisit a favorite article or read a popular one or one of my personal favorites for the first time. It was fun for me to see what was popular with readers and to look back at what I wrote last year. I plan to go back and read some of the articles myself. In fact, I think I should re-read all of them and make notes about what I want to follow up on and changes I would like to make based on where I am in my life now.

As always, I welcome your thoughts on what I’ve shared. Feel free to comment on any of the topics in today’s post or about anything that’s on your mind. I’m also open to topic suggestions for future posts. I have quite a few ideas for what I’d like to write about, but it’s always more about taking the time to publish a post than it is about lack of writing material. Hopefully, I will publish more essays in 2019 than in 2018, but as with my ultimate goal for my wardrobe, I want it to be more about quality than quantity! Wishing you all the best in 2019 and I will be back soon with another recap post.

9 thoughts on “The Best of Full Life Reflections 2018

  1. Katrina B says:

    Wow, 33 essays is quite an accomplishment, considering how much work goes into them both from the analytical and the emotional sides.

    It’s interesting that you have a blog about “Full Life” yet so many readers focus on wardrobe and gray hair. We keep coming back to subjects related to our appearance. I see this in my own life all the time. I *say* that I’m more interested in having peace and harmony in my life than in how I look, yet my actions show that I’m more interested in looking at fashion and hairstyles than actually working to create harmony.

    I think I missed the first part of the year and it took me a while to go back and read everything but the most interesting post for me was the Moderator vs. Abstainer one. I always considered myself an uncontrollable glutton who could not allow myself to eat/buy/do certain things. After I read your article I reframed it and now I think of myself as an abstainer. It seems like a healthier belief.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Katrina. Yes, a lot of work goes into my posts and I would rather publish fewer of them than sacrifice on the thoughtfulness and consideration that is important to me. Interesting what you wrote about our desires versus our actions and how we spend our time and energy. I think that it can be easier and less confronting to ponder and work on our appearances than on certain other aspects of our lives. I know that for me, I often don’t know what to do to improve some life areas, but I’m more familiar and aware of how to approach my wardrobe or the way I look. This is true of my blog posts, too. Sometimes the wardrobe ones take longer than the posts on other topics, especially if I’m compiling photos and statistics, but the non-wardrobe posts take more of my energy. That’s part of why I like to have a mix here. I also feel more excited to write about various topics at different times, so I kind of “follow the energy.”

      I’m glad you liked the Moderator vs. Abstainer post. That concept has been powerful for me, too, and I like the way you reframed your belief about yourself. I think that knowing whether one is a Moderator or Abstainer can be extremely helpful (and as I mentioned, we can be Moderators about some things and Abstainers about others). Yes, thinking one is an Abstainer is a much healthier belief than viewing oneself as an uncontrollable glutton!

  2. Katrina B says:

    Also in case I haven’t mentioned it recently I really enjoy your writing. I often go back to re-read some of your earlier articles. I like this recap and I will probably go back yet again to re-read many of the ones you’ve listed here.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      It means a lot to me to get this type of feedback, Katrina. I’m very happy that you like my writing and often go back to re-read my articles. I always did the recaps on “Recovering Shopaholic,” so I thought it would be good to do them here, too. I enjoy putting them together, as it gives me a chance to revisit what I’ve written about over the course of the year.

  3. Judith says:

    I used to follow your prior site and am glad I came across this last year. I read and enjoy all your content even if I am not much of a commenter. Take care and Happy New Year.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for taking the time to leave this comment, Judith. It’s okay to read and not comment and I know there are many such readers out there! But I do appreciate your letting me know that you enjoy my content. Happy New Year to you, too!

  4. jenn says:

    You do a great job on your posts, Debbie. Very well written, informative, and inspirational. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and your experiences!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thank you so much, Jenn! I’m happy to have you as a reader and I appreciate your insightful comments, too.

  5. yettie says:

    I just returned to blogging after what is effectively a 3 year hiatus and I’m so glad I found you in this new place. I was a regular follower of Recovering Shopaholic until I fell off the grid. I also started a new blog – my 7th – this year and I’m so happy to be back in the groove.

    Just wanted you to know I’m here, wish you a happy new year and look forward to reading your blog this year 🙂

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