Full Life Reflections

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

Happy New Year! I hope that 2020 is off to a great start for all of you. Before I dive into new posts and topics for this year, I’d like to take some time to reflect upon what happened with Full Life Reflections in 2019. I think it’s beneficial to periodically take a step back to celebrate our accomplishments and progress, and the beginning of a new year can be a perfect time to do that. I’ve done this type of retrospective for each year of my blogging journey since 2013 (except for 2017, when I was mostly inactive) and I’ve found it to be a valuable exercise, so here goes…

best of 2019

During 2019, I published 22 essays on this blog, which was quite a bit less than the previous year (I published 33 essays in 2018) and not nearly as much as I ultimately wanted. However, given the fact that it was a challenging year for me in many respects, I’m glad that I was still able to post about twice per month on average. As was the case for 2018, my posts were on a variety of topics, including life balance, freedom (my 2019 theme), peace, happiness, and wardrobe management. Today, I’ll share the most popular posts from 2019, as well as my personal favorites. I’ll also highlight the outgoing links that were clicked on most often by visitors to the blog.

This retrospective post will give new readers of Full Life Reflections a chance to check out some highlights from 2019, while longtime readers will have an opportunity to revisit posts they either missed the first time around or would like to explore again. As a reminder, you can browse all of my essays by topic via the “Browse by Category” links on the sidebar of the site, and a full article listing is available in the Article Archive.

In case you want to check out my previous “best of” collections, here are the links:

The 7 Most Popular Posts

The seven posts below received the most traffic out of all of the articles I published during 2019. As you can see, my wardrobe management posts continue to be very popular with readers. When I started Full Life Reflections, my intention was to dramatically reduce my posts about wardrobe-related topics, but I’ve found that I continue to enjoy writing about that subject and I still have a lot to say about it. In fact, nine of my 2019 posts (41% – close to half!) centered on the theme of wardrobe management.

The top posts are listed below in order of the traffic received for the past year (January 15, 2019 to January 15, 2020), with the first one being the most popular by far (gray hair transition continues to be a very popular topic!). Included is a brief synopsis of what each article is about, along with updates in some instances.

  1. Gray Hair Transition – Changing the Narrative (and More Tips on the Process) (February 20) – As is abundantly clear in my most popular post on the site, my gray hair transition process was fraught with a lot of difficulties and challenges. The worst of these was a “toner” that didn’t wash out in September 2017, when I had already been growing out my hair for well over a year. Since I had to basically start my transition over at that point, I decided to shift my “start date” from April 2016 to September 2017 in order to minimize my upset about how long things were taking. In this post, I also share what I learned about myself during the process, as well as some additional tips for those who are considering the journey to their natural gray hair. Since it’s such a popular topic, I will likely write more about gray hair issues in the future, but I haven’t had a whole lot to say about it in recent months.
  2. Thoughts as the Decade Fades (October 23) – With just over two months left in the decade, I reflected on six things I did NOT want to carry forward with me into 2020 and beyond, as well as some important facets of my life that I wanted to continue to embrace. I chose to leave behind uncomfortable clothes, unnecessary tracking, unnecessary guilt, symptoms controlling my life, the opinions of others, and obsessive worry and rumination. While I can’t report 100% success in banishing all of these things from my life, taking a stand about what I don’t want has been helpful. I’m prioritizing comfortable clothing more and have cut back a lot on the things I track. The other issues are more challenging, but I’m committed to positive change. I’m sure I will be writing about some of the aforementioned topics as the year progresses.
  3. Could You Pare Down Your Wardrobe to Half Its Size? (May 9) – While I’ve done well in paring down my wardrobe in the past, I found that it had become too large yet again last spring, such that it was overwhelming to me. In order to turn things around, I created a new challenge that I termed the “half project,” which centered on reducing the size of my wardrobe by half over the course of a year. As the year progressed, however, I ended up feeling like I had created too many rules for myself, and the “swap” aspect of the challenge was particularly unwieldy. So in November, I simplified the challenge rules to focus on what I most need to change, including limiting out-and-about purchases and returning items that haven’t been worn within one month. Despite shifting the rules, I still intend to achieve the original goal of the “half project,” and I will be doing another update on the challenge soon.
  4. Revisiting the Wardrobe Size Question (August 30) – In this post, I shared the results of my revisiting the “ideal wardrobe size exercise” that I originally did back in December 2016 on Recovering Shopaholic. This exercise calculates how large an individual’s wardrobe should be based upon how often she wants to wear her clothes, climate considerations, regular activities, and garment type preferences. Since I live in a temperate climate, I found that I only need two seasons worth of clothing (for summer and “not summer”). My calculations revealed a target “out and about” wardrobe size of 118 items, including clothing and shoes. This number is somewhat smaller than my initial “half project” benchmark of 137 (this post contrasts the two figures), but I think somewhere in that range will work very well for me – and I aim to get and stay there this year!
  5. I Have Enough and I AM Enough (December 31) – I was surprised that my last post of the year has already received so many hits, but it was shared in a link round-up on a very popular blog, so I guess that brought a lot of attention to it. In this post, I reveal my word for 2020, “enough,” why I have selected that word, and what I’m hoping to shift in my life over the course of the next year. I mentioned wanting to feel like I have enough in terms of my closet and my home, as well as addressing the low self-esteem which permeates all aspects of my existence. I sincerely hope that this is the year when I will stop worrying so much about what other people think and start practicing more self-acceptance and self-compassion. Setting powerful intentions around “enough” was my first step toward making this happen!
  6. My Wardrobe “Half Project” – July Update (July 15) – This was my second update on the “half project” wardrobe challenge that I started in May. I revealed which items I had swapped out and why, as well as which items had joined my “working wardrobe” and the reasons behind those substitutions. I also wrote about the “strategic shopping” I wanted to do for the remainder of the year. As it turned out, I didn’t end up buying most of the items I laid out as priorities. My priorities have actually changed since that time, as my overall wardrobe and style goals have shifted. I will be sharing my 2020 style focus in a post shortly, which will be centered on a few key words and a color that I’d like to keep top of mind this year.
  7. Fall Capsule Wardrobe Challenge Recap and Wardrobe Goals for 2019 (January 31) – For the last two months of 2018, I took on a wardrobe challenge that was kind of a hybrid of Project 333 and the “30 for 30 Remix.” I created 30-item capsules as I went along for both my “out and about” and at-home wardrobes (adding items to each capsule as I wore them) and then got dressed using only those items for the remainder of the year. In this post, I shared the contents of those capsules, analyzed each capsule’s components, and broke down the key lessons I learned along the way. As I reflect back upon these lessons today, I realize that I’m still dealing with many of the same challenges, including sub-standard bottom pieces and too many similar items. I made a lot of progress with my summer wardrobe last year, but my cool weather bottoms capsule needs a refresh for sure. I plan to make far fewer purchases this year and really focus on comfortable and flattering bottom pieces. I know this won’t be easy, but I think it will make a huge difference in terms of my wardrobe satisfaction.

My Favorite 2019 Posts

While some of the most popular articles on the blog are also among my favorites (numbers 1, 2, and 5), there are other posts that I feel especially proud to have written. These personal favorite posts are listed in order from the oldest to the most recent. As with the most popular 2019 posts above, I include a brief summary of the essay, as well as why it’s one of my favorites and updates where applicable.

  1. Essentials for Happiness and Peace, Part Two (March 26) – I came up with nine practices to help me address my long-standing depression and anxiety: introspection, creative expression, sunlight, nature, daily pleasurable activities, routine, in-person connection, adequate downtime and sleep, and grace. I have found each of these practices to be beneficial, but I haven’t been successful at regularly integrating all of them into my daily life. I think I need to just focus on one thing at a time because it’s difficult to incorporate nine practices into my life on a regular basis. I’m feeling most challenged about sunlight, routine, and sleep at the moment, so I’m going to focus more on those things this year.
  2. Essentials for Happiness and Peace, Part Three (April 9) – In response to the post above, I received a lot of helpful tips from readers (both in comments and via email) on what helps them to cultivate increased happiness and peace in their lives. So I decided to consolidate all of these suggestions into a follow-up post to better assist readers. These suggestions include practicing acceptance, identifying and living in accordance with values, setting very simple productivity goals, and taking advantage of various therapeutic modalities (i.e. Internal Family Systems, Emotional Freedom Technique – EFT, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). I view the combination of this post and the one above as an excellent “toolkit” of options for helping those of us who struggle with depression and anxiety.
  3. 2019 “Freedom” Theme – June Update (June 4) – At almost halfway through the year, I found it beneficial to reflect upon the ways in which I had increased the feeling and experience of freedom in my life. It was refreshing to see that I had already made a lot of progress in just a few short months! I also outlined the ways in which I wanted to continue to transform during the remainder of the year related to time management, relationships, technology, food, body image, wardrobe, and worrying. Since my yearly themes are very important to me and help to shape my life in significant ways, this detailed and introspective mid-year post was one of my favorites from 2019.
  4. The Importance of Solitude (June 28) – I think this may be one of my favorite posts of all time, as it reflects upon a very important topic that I wasn’t aware of until last year when I read Cal Newport’s seminal book, Digital Minimalism. In today’s digital age, we are continually bombarded with information and distractions such that we are rarely free from the input of other minds. Because of this lack of what Newport termed “solitude,” many of us are missing out on the cultivation of new ideas, a deep understanding of ourselves, and true closeness to others. I recap a lot of Newport’s key ideas and suggestions regarding solitude, including the ways in which we can reclaim solitude. I probably still don’t experience an optimal level of solitude, as I continue to listen to a lot of podcasts, so I’m going to recommit today to carving out more time for solitude in my day-to-day life.
  5. On Connection, Technology, and Freedom (October 9) – In this post, I shared some additional themes from Digital Minimalism, specifically around the distinction between connection and conversation and how social media interactions cannot take the place of face-to-face (or even telephonic) I can remember the world before social media and I honestly believe it was a better place in many respects. I know I may sound like a luddite by saying that, but Cal Newport agrees with me (and he’s quite a bit younger than I am…). Although Newport doesn’t suggest that we eschew social media and text messaging altogether, he does make a few radical suggestions, including stopping Facebook likes and consolidating all texting to “bulk” sessions. The important thing as per Newport is that we get back to having real conversations with the people in our lives again, which I am wholeheartedly in favor of – and like with almost everything else, I say aim for quality over quantity!
  6. The “Just One Thing” Approach (December 6) – I struggle a lot with time management and continually feeling like I never get enough done, which is why I really resonated with a tip I learned about in a video from The Minimal Mom. This suggestion involves asking ourselves each day what one item on our to-do list would make us feel most accomplished if we were only able to do a single thing that day. This gives us a singular focus to the day and allows us to feel as if our day is a success once we have completed that one key item. I have been using this approach for the past month and it’s made a big difference for me. I still need to do a better job of doing my “one thing” earlier in the day sometimes, but I definitely feel more productive when I identify a priority task and complete it.
  7. Wrapping Up My 2019 “Freedom” Theme (December 20) –As with the mid-year “freedom” update I wrote about above, this year-end wrap-up was one of my favorite posts because it revealed how much progress I had made toward increasing the level of freedom in my life. I found that I made great strides with decreasing the number of items on my to-do list, being more at peace with less contact with the people in my life (because I get overwhelmed by feeling like I need to be “on” all the time), having eating be less fraught, and feeling less overwhelmed by my wardrobe (stopping tracking helped a lot). It was nice to celebrate my freedom wins for the year before moving on to my 2020 theme (“enough”) and to see that I made more progress than I thought. I closed out this post by sharing the two key areas related to freedom where I still feel quite challenged: time management and being overly concerned with the opinions of others. I want to continue to address these two facets of my life this year, as I feel that they are adversely impacting my happiness as well as my freedom. Stay tuned for more of my reflections on these important life topics.

Most Popular Links in 2019

Below are the most popular outgoing links from Full Life Reflections in 2019.  It’s always interesting to see what readers have clicked on most often over the past year, and I thought you might enjoy seeing this information as well. Not too surprisingly, a lot of these links pertain to gray hair transition and style information, as those topics continue to be very popular on this site.

  1. All About Porosity – Ouidad
  2. Gray Hair Braid Hairstyle – Pinterest (long gray braid hairstyle I’m aiming for)
  3. I Bleached Half of My Hair Off!” – YouTube Video
  4. Katie Goes Platinum (gray hair blog)
  5. Madison Reed Root Touch Up (what I used to cover my gray roots when I first started my transition)
  6. Gray Friendly Salon Directory – Katie Goes Platinum
  7. Gray Hair Transition / Beauty YouTube Channels and Videos:
  8. Jewelry Organizer Stackers – Container Store
  9. Inside Out Style Blog – “Not Going Grey Gracefully” series – starting HERE, and “How to Tell if Your Hair Colour is Wrong”)
  10. Dressing Your Truth Quiz (and also the 4 energy types comparison chart)
  11. Self-Compassion – Dr. Kristin Neff
  12. KonMari, Trash, Guilt, and Denial” – Reddit
  13. One Reason You Might Have Too Much of the Same Thing in Your Closet” – Bridgette Raes

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed this retrospective on the second year of Full Life Reflections. Hopefully you were able to revisit a favorite article or read another one for the first time. It was fun for me to see what was popular with readers and to look back upon what I wrote last year. I plan to go back and re-read some of my articles and I will likely revisit at least a few of the above topics sometime in 2020.

As always, I welcome your thoughts on what I’ve shared. Feel free to comment on anything that’s included in today’s post or about whatever’s on your mind. I’m also open to topic suggestions for future posts. Hopefully, I will publish more essays in 2020 than in 2019, 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 2020 and I will be back soon with another post.

6 thoughts on “The Best of Full Life Reflections 2019

  1. Katrina says:

    Ooh, I love the year-end recap. There’s always so much to re-read and think over again. Considering the amount of effort you put into each post and the information in each one, I think 22 in one year is a huge accomplishment. You certainly brought up a lot of interesting points last year. I remember being shocked that I hadn’t ever considered the *digital* aspect of solitude before.

    Did you ever imagine, when you were going through the awful months of the gray hair transition, how much people would respond to your story? It is wonderful that you shared and continue to share about this and other struggles that seem to be universal. I was just thinking the other day, now that gray hair is really quite mainstream and models with thick, shiny, long gray hair can be found in every medium and advertising for almost any kind of product, I feel quite dissatisfied with my own mousy gray and very thin hair. Ha! So I’m not immune to the power of images after all! Oh well, work in progress. 🙂

    I will be rereading a number of your 2019 essays and looking forward to your next one, whenever it may be.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m so glad you like these types of posts, Katrina, and I hope others do, too. Thank you for your kind words about my posts. Yes, I do put a lot of time and effort into each one and I appreciate your acknowledging that. Regarding solitude, I didn’t realize that we could be physically alone but still suffer from solitude deprivation, but that was certainly the case for me when I first learned about the concept. With the amount of digital “noise” that permeates our modern world, it’s very hard to get enough solitude, but I’m glad to have brought that concept to readers and I hope that we can all experience more solitude in 2020.

      To answer your question, no, I really didn’t think my gray hair transition story would receive such a large response, but the fact that it has makes me all the more glad that I decided to share what I went through. I hope that I have helped to save other women from some of the difficulties I went through. I hear you about the dissatisfaction with gray hair that’s not exactly Instagram-worthy. I have had to deal with disappointment myself that my gray hair isn’t the type of steely silver that I see online (which very well may be enhanced by filters and/or gray dye/toners in some cases anyway). I don’t know that anyone is fully immune to the power of images, but we’re all just doing our best to accept ourselves as we are. Work in progress for sure!

  2. Judith says:

    I just want to express my appreciation that you have continued to post on your website. I followed you from your last website and enjoy all your content. Happy New Year!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thank you very much for this comment, Judith. I’m glad you are continuing to enjoy my content. All the best to you in 2020!

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