We’re now over halfway through the year (what just may be the strangest year many of us have experienced!), so I think it’s time for me to check in on my 2020 theme. In my last post of 2019, I announced that my word for this year would be “enough,” and I shared some thoughts about changes I’d like to make in my life related to this theme. Since then, I’ve touched upon “enough” in some of the wardrobe-related posts that I’ve done this year, as well as in the first essay that I published after the coronavirus pandemic took hold this past spring.
Because of the chaos going on in the world, I haven’t kept my yearly theme “top of mind” as much as I usually do. Of course, that’s understandable, as most of our lives have been turned upside down in various and unforeseen ways over the past five months. However, this theme is still important to me, so I’d like to take some time now to reflect upon the shifts I’ve made thus far related to “enough.”
Today’s post focuses on the more physical and tangible manifestations of enough – or “not enough” – in my life. I’ll address the psychological and self-esteem issues (the “Am I enough?” component that I wrote about in my initial essay) in a follow-on post at a later time, when I’ll also highlight additional changes I’d like to make before we head into 2021 (which will hopefully go much more smoothly than this year has gone!).
Enough in the Closet? A Wardrobe Check-in
I started my late December musings on “enough” by writing about my wardrobe. I indicated that a “pipe dream” I had when I started Recovering Shopaholic in 2013 was to eventually curate a workable wardrobe of around 100 items. At the time, I had no idea if, when, or how I would ever reach such a goal, but I put it out there nonetheless. Despite extensive wardrobe exploration and taking on a number of closet challenges, I have yet to reach that benchmark and continue to maintain a higher “closet set point.” While I’d still like to reach the 100 item mark at some point, my current goal is to have my out-and-about wardrobe fall into the 118-137 item range, including shoes (see the second half of this post for how I came up with those numbers).
Getting to my desired wardrobe size is still a work in progress, but amid the pandemic, there are very few out-and-about occasions to dress for (and I didn’t have many before that!). Therefore, I’m now aiming to have the bulk of my wardrobe be suitable for wearing at home since that’s where I spend most of my time. I also mentioned back in December that I want:
“a wardrobe that meets my needs without a lot of bloat or duplication.”
I’m not against duplication if I actually wear the items in question on a regular basis. However, since my going out occasions are increasingly infrequent, I definitely want to avoid buying similar pieces for that purpose so that I can avoid “splitting my wears.” The pieces that I can wear at home are seeing a lot of wear, but dressier items are mostly just taking up space in my closet at the moment. As always, we should be buying for our actual lives rather than for previous, wished-for, or fantasy situations. Sadly, “going out clothes” feel like they’re for fantasy situations at the moment because we don’t know when – or even if – life will return to the way it was before March 2020.
When the pandemic first hit, I didn’t do much shopping at all, but in recent months I’ve made some targeted purchases. I’ve been working on improving my at-home wardrobe options, as well as the items that I wear for the mostly casual occasions when I leave my house. I’ve embraced athleisure even more than before and I’m doing my best to have all of my pieces and outfits fit into my newly defined style guideposts of dramatic, polished, and elegant. It can be a tall order to hit all three guideposts when it comes to ultra-casual pieces, but I’ve found that color, pattern, texture, and fit all play a large role in terms of how much items resonate with my desired style statement. I also need to make sure that the pieces I wear are in good shape, as excessively worn or pilled garments don’t look polished. Because I’ve been wearing my at-home items so much lately, I’m glad that I’ve been able to replace some of them.
I still feel that I have too many clothes, but they better represent the way I live my actual life now. At this point, I can’t think of any area of my wardrobe in which I don’t have enough pieces. Before my recent purchases, I would have said that I needed more casual pants and t-shirts, but I’ve been able to fill in those gaps through the many great online sales that have been offered over the past few months. Now my biggest challenge is to remember that I do have enough and don’t need to continue purchasing more items. I have to be aware that more isn’t necessary better and can actually be overwhelming.
Enough in the Home
I mentioned in my late December post that I wanted to dial back home improvement in 2020 after prioritizing this endeavor during the past two years. It was natural for my husband and I to focus a lot on home improvement after we first purchased our condo in June 2018, but it got a bit out of hand for a while. Fortunately, we completed all of our key projects by the end of 2019, with the exception of one. We wanted to install a home air conditioning and heating system before this summer and I’m pleased to say that we did so just prior to the California shut-down in March. While this summer hasn’t been nearly as hot as the two previous ones (one positive thing to say about 2020!), we’ve been grateful to be able to turn on our A/C and quickly cool our home when necessary. That project has been highly beneficial to us, especially since we’re both spending most of our time at home these days.
I do sometimes think about additional improvements I’d like to make to our house, including redoing the bathrooms in my desired color palette of gray, blue, and white (believe it or not, I don’t favor black, cobalt, and burgundy for my home like I do with my clothing). However, I realize that such changes aren’t necessary and can be pushed out a year or more, or even indefinitely. I don’t see us making any significant changes to our home this year, and any shifts that we do make will be minor in nature.
Given the uncertain times that we’re in, it’s better to err on the side of frugality, as we don’t know what our finances will look like if the virus sticks around into 2021. I continue to feel happy and comfortable in my home, and I appreciate it now more than ever. My home is my sanctuary and I feel safe here. Other than my evening walks and a few weekly errands, here is where I stay. My home is not only good enough, it’s wonderful and I’m very grateful for it.
“Enough” vs. “Not Enough” in My Life
When I first wrote about my enough theme, I didn’t address every single area of my life. My thought was that I would write subsequent posts to address things like relationships, hobbies, information, and other categories of my life experience. But then the pandemic set in and everything kind of went awry. I hope to write more about some of these topics in the coming months, but for now, I want to check in on where “enough” and “not enough” are showing up for me.
Starting on a High Note with “Enough”…
Let’s begin on a positive note and look at enough. What areas of my life are sufficiently fulfilling and what am I most grateful for?
My Husband and Cats
As always, I’m extremely grateful for the three wonderful beings with whom I share my day-to-day life. My amazing husband continues to be my rock and a source of love, support, stability, companionship, and laughter on a daily basis. While he used to travel quite a bit for work and spend a lot of time away from home, he’s with me most of the time now. He works in an “essential business,” so he does still go into an office a few times per week, but it’s usually only for part of the day. Some couples do better with a lot of time apart, but we’re happy being around each other much of the time. Of course, we’re often doing our own thing in our separate home offices, but we usually eat all of our meals together and we sometimes take short walks during the day just to get some air and sunshine.
My two adorable feline companions, Coco and Sprite, are home with us all of the time and they add a lot of love and joy to our days. Coco is older and more mellow, while Sprite is a younger and more animated clown. They make me laugh and smile, and if I’m ever feeling stressed or sad, spending a few moments petting their soft fur and cuddling with them never fails to make me smile. I’m very grateful to have them here with me, and I think they’re happy to have both my husband and me at home most of the time now. For Coco, it means more treats (she’s a bit mercenary like that), and for Sprite, it means there’s someone to respond to his frequent quests for attention.
Improving Family Relationships
One of my “20 for 2020” goals (which I updated and modified in May) was to improve my relationships with my family, and I definitely feel like I’ve made some good progress there. I think that when there’s a lot of uncertainty in the world, many people get more in touch with what’s most important. For the majority of us, our relationships are at the top of that list. While I may never be super close to many of my family members, mostly because we’re so different, I do feel like the connections have been deepened since the pandemic began. We’ve checked in with each other more often, including doing a series of family Zoom calls. Those have fallen by the wayside lately, but we’re still texting each other on a more regular basis, which I appreciate. I don’t know when I’ll be able to see most of my family members in person again, but we did get to see my father and stepmother last weekend when they were in town. I was glad to see that they are both doing well and staying safe.
A big area of “enough” for me relates to physical exercise. Although walking together has been a favorite pastime for my husband and me for years, it has become a daily activity during the past five months (can you believe it’s been five months since this all began?!). At first, we were very limited in where we could walk, as most of the beaches and parks had been closed to try to stem the spread of the virus. Fortunately, almost all of those areas are open again and are typically very sparsely visited after sunset, so we’re able to safely and happily enjoy them in the evening. I’ve been accumulating more daily steps on my Fitbit than ever before, and the evening walks are a highlight of my days.
Baking and Cooking
Like many other people, I’ve also been doing a lot of baking since the pandemic began. I’ve long been an avid baker, but “stress baking” has helped me to manage my anxiety. For me, it’s like a form of meditation, as I’m very “in the moment” when I’m making one of my baking creations. I probably would have baked a lot more than I did if I had more people to share the items with or more freezer space in which to store the excess (because my husband and I don’t eat that much of it on any given day!).
I have long surpassed my goal of trying 25 new recipes this year, but the majority of the recipes that I’ve tried have been for desserts and snacks. As I mentioned in my May “20 for 2020” update, I want to try out more meal-related recipes. I’d still like to beef up the amount of non-basic cooking that I do. We almost always eat healthfully, but we generally stick to the same handful of meals that we’ve been enjoying for a while. I’ve recently tried a few new meal options that were delicious, but I’d like to explore some more in the coming months. When I do my next “20 for 2020” update, I’ll share some of my favorite recipes that are available online (many of the recipes I’ve tried are in cookbooks, but I’ll also share links to those books for readers who are interested).
Another goal I had for the year was to watch at least fifty movies. I was hoping that more of those movies would be enjoyed on a big screen, but theaters in my area have been closed since mid-March and I don’t see them opening for a while still. Fortunately, there’s a seemingly endless array of movie choices to watch at home and my husband and I have gotten in a nice rhythm of watching a movie every weekend. We alternate who gets to select the film we’re watching, but the other person always has “veto power” so we can avoid watching anything that’s too far out of our individual wheelhouses.
We’ve mostly been watching older films from twenty years ago or more. Some of the choices are movies that I’ve seen before, but I’ve found that if it’s been more than ten or fifteen years, it’s almost like I’m watching it for the first time again, as I forget most of the pertinent details. If it were up to me, we’d probably watch two or more movies per week, but we’ve also been playing games (we bought the new Trivial Pursuit 40th Anniversary Ruby Edition), watching television series (we finished up “Friends” and are now watching “Curb Your Enthusiasm”), and of course going on our walks.
What Feels Like “Not Enough”?
I try to stay in a place of gratitude as much as possible and appreciate all that is good and right in my life. After all, there is a lot to celebrate, as I shared above. However, I won’t sugar coat the fact that the recent months have been challenging. There are a number of areas of my life in which I’ve been feeling a strong sense of “not enough.” Most of these feelings can’t really be avoided, as they are by-products of the pandemic, so it’s probably just a situation of waiting out the current difficult times. The following are three key areas of my life that I’d like to see shift in the coming months:
I don’t have a lot of local friends with whom I spend time, but I usually met up with people two or three times per month for coffee, a meal, a walk, shopping, or some other activity. Now I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen a friend in person since March. Yes, there have been some Zoom meetings and phone calls, but it’s just not the same. I miss actually sitting across a table from someone and looking them in the eye while we talked about our lives and common areas of interest. I’ve gotten together with two friends for socially distanced meet-ups on several occasions, which helped to stem my feelings of isolation, but I definitely miss seeing people more often and being able to do the simple types of activities that I used to take for granted.
I also miss interacting with my online friends. I haven’t been on Facebook much at all since the pandemic started (I will be writing more about that soon), mostly because of my anxiety and the fact that I knew that platform would likely be highly polarized and contentious. I miss interacting with many of my online friends (mostly in one very active Facebook group), but I have had a lot of mixed feelings about returning to a place where I don’t feel good, in large part because I always felt like I couldn’t keep up. I’ve kept in touch with some group members individually, but I always find it difficult to keep on top of a lot of different interpersonal contacts. I always feel like I fall short and disappoint people. I also had one online friend with whom I was regularly interacting until about a month ago when we had a falling out. I miss my connection with her, but I’m not sure we can reconcile our differences enough to reconnect or if it can be fulfilling to me given the limitations of that relationship. So I’m feeling a loss of both in-person and online connections, such that I’m feeling a definite “not enough” when it comes to friendship.
Getting Out and About
I also miss doing a lot of the activities that I used to do, whether it be alone or with my husband or a friend. I mentioned going to the movies above, but I also miss going out to eat and even running errands. I still do the latter two things on occasion, but it feels a lot different than it used to. Having to wear a mask takes away from the carefree attitude that I used to feel when going to a restaurant or to the mall. I’ve visited the mall a couple of times, but it was mostly to do returns (since online returns have been taking six weeks or more lately) and I didn’t look around much. Many stores aren’t even open and those that are have shorter hours and different policies in place. Just like with grocery stores, shoppers often have to wait outside for a while before entering to ensure that social distancing is taking place.
I never used to mind running errands because it got me out of the house and I enjoyed being outside and among other people. I don’t feel that way anymore and I try to avoid doing errands whenever possible, which has resulted in my purchasing a lot of items online. I don’t order groceries online because it’s too challenging with my very specific needs and tastes, but I don’t go to the grocery store nearly as often as I used to. I previously visited two or three different establishments to find what I needed, but now I either make do without certain things or buy in larger quantities to try to avoid running out. The surreal feeling of shopping in a mask and feeling nervous about being exposed to the virus turned what used to be neutral or innocuous activities into anxiety-ridden events.
A lot of people aren’t abiding by the social distancing and mask guidelines in outdoor environments where I live, so I’m hesitant to go to the beach or park areas during daylight hours. My desire to avoid the crowds outdoors and in stores has me feeling even more like a “vampire” than usual. Most of my out of the house time now is at night, with the exception of short walks on my street here and there and a few scheduled appointments. I truly miss the lighthearted feeling that I used to experience when being out and about and I feel like I’m grieving my previous life. I’m sure many of you can relate, but I just don’t feel like I get out and about enough anymore, and when I do, it’s just not fun. I realize that I’m fortunate in that I don’t have to work in a high-risk environment or wear a mask all day long, but I still feel sad that life has changed so much in just a few short months.
Variety of Activities
There isn’t as much to do anymore. I mentioned not seeing friends enough and not getting out and about all that frequently, but there’s also a lack of leisure activities that are viable options nowadays. I’m not taking my usual summer trip to Lake Tahoe to see my family this year, and my husband and I haven’t been taking long drives or doing day trips like we’d planned on doing. Not only do we want to limit our exposure to the virus, we also don’t know what we’d find open if we opted to do a day of exploring. We’re mostly staying at home with the exception of walks, errands, and occasional outdoor restaurant meals. Our gym opened up again (now much of the equipment has been moved outdoors due to new restrictions), but we decided to put our memberships on hold to minimize risk and because we didn’t want to have to work out while wearing a mask. We paused our memberships until the end of September, but I’m now thinking that I’ll need to extend that for at least another month or two.
Some Final Thoughts
So it’s a mixed bag in terms of my “enough” theme for the year. I feel blessed in many respects, but I’m also feeling a lack in some areas that I used to take for granted. I miss seeing people’s faces. I know the masks are necessary, but they can be so off-putting and even somewhat traumatizing to see day after day. I miss seeing people smiling and greeting each other happily, rather than being afraid that everyone we see may potentially infect us with a deadly pathogen. I hate the contentiousness of today’s political climate. I hate that everything seems so polarized and that stating one’s feelings and opinions may lead one to be shunned or even “canceled.” I miss when the political was mostly left to politicians and election season rather than permeating almost all areas of life.
I’m about to turn 54 years old and I feel like I’ve lost my last remaining bit of innocence. I don’t want to be jaded, but I feel like that’s how I’m becoming. I don’t want to fear my fellow citizens or worry that they will fear or judge me. I want to go back to a time when people seemed to like each other and accept each other even if their viewpoints differed and even if they chose not to express certain viewpoints at all. Yes, there have always been “bad people,” viruses, and problems in the world, but this time is unlike anything I have experienced in my lifetime.
I feel like I have diverged a bit from my “enough” theme, but I actually feel that all of this fits in somehow. I’m not sure how to reconcile it all and this post is already quite lengthy, so I’m going to wrap it up now. I plan to check in more on my “enough” theme again soon, both in terms of my self-esteem challenges and some of the other themes that I touched upon today.
If you have any thoughts or insights about the topics I’ve raised here, feel free to weigh in. Also, if you just want to share how you’re doing related to your own personal 2020 theme or just in general, I welcome your input. This is a challenging time for so many of us. Hopefully, before too long, we’ll be able to look back and celebrate how much we’ve grown and learned, even as we mourn both small and large losses. In my best times, I have faith that our societies (I know many of you are from other countries besides the U.S.) will emerge from these dark times and be better for it. I really hope that will be the case. Blessings and love to all of you. Stay strong and know that you’re enough! I will do my best to do the same.