Jen: You're listening to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast, episode number 115. I'm talking with Allie Casazza today all about intentional simplicity and being purposeful with your stuff. Stay tuned.
Intro: Welcome to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast, stories of vibrant women living happy lives. And now, your host, Jen Riday.
Jen: Welcome back to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast. I'm Dr. Jen Riday and I'm glad you're here. Guess what, my mom friends? I know you're not all moms, but just celebrate with us, it's almost summer vacation, and that means we have good news and bad news. The good news is we probably don't have to follow such a stringent schedule all day; I love that part. The bad news is, well, sometimes we have to keep the kids entertained. Sometimes it can feel overwhelming. But let's just celebrate the fact that we made it to the end of the school year (at least here in the US) and that we survived all that busy-busy-busy and go-go-go and. Now, I want to challenge you to use your summer to create more ballads; to spend more time on what's really important to you. Maybe that's having a new hobby, maybe that's reading books with your kids or setting up a tent in the backyard or maybe it's a journey of self-discovery. Whatever it is, I want you to set a goal to spend the next 10 weeks or 12 weeks or however much time you have left for your summer vacation to improve something about you; to have something you want to grow towards or move towards or a shift or a transformation you want to make. Summer should be more than just surviving the kids being home. I want you to thrive and grow and change and feel really good by what you can accomplish over the coming weeks. So to help you with that, I am throwing a brand-new free workshop online, it's called ‘Stop drowning and start living; 5 steps to find yourself, create balance, and love more’, all the things we want to experience during our summer vacation or really any time of the year. You grab your spot (it's all online) by going to jenriday.com/workshop
I'm going to be talking about how to say no to the inessentials so you’ll have more time to say yes to what matters, how to let go of that silly pattern of burnout and guilt that we get stuck in, a secret about how to become less reactive with your spouse and kids (this one is my favorite), some skills to master so that you can identify your purpose, and so much more. So make sure you grab your spot. Again, this is brand new, I'm really excited about it, and it's free. It's called ‘Stop drowning and start living; 5 steps to find yourself, create balance, and love more’. And that registration, again, is at jenriday.com/workshop. This is only available for a limited time in early June, so if you're listening, grab your seats; it's going to be amazing. And together, let's rock this summer. I want to hit September 1st or whenever Labor Day falls this year in the US and feel like, “Holy cow! I just rocked that summer. I got along better with the kids, I had time for myself, and I felt balanced like I was in control of my life and time a little bit.” And if that's what you want, you'll definitely want to be in this workshop coming next week. Again, grab your seat at jenriday.com/workshop; I would love to see you there.
Well, let's dive into all things Vibrant Happy Women podcast and we are talking about de-cluttering again. Last week I spoke with Tracy McCubbin about seeing through that mess and de-cluttering our lives, and we're going to continue on today talking with Allie Casazza about intentional simplicity. This is essentially about being purposely minimalistic; oh man, am I so excited! I love minimalism. It actually makes me almost giddy with excitement; I know, you can hear this. And I'm pretty sure that that's really weird, but if any of you out there like it as much as me, yay! Thanks for being a part of this. And if you don't love that kind of thing, just listen anyway, it will help you de-clutter your life and free up more time for what's really important. So let's go ahead and dive into this episode.
Allie Casazza married their junior high algebra partner and is mom to their 4 young kids. She's the founder and host of The Purpose Show and creator of Your Uncluttered Home, an online de-cluttering course that has earned her national attention for her philosophy of simple living. Welcome to Vibrant Happy Women, Allie.
Allie Thank you so much for having me. I'm really excited to be on here with you.
Jen: So we always start off with a quote, and I'm collecting so many good ones, but quote would you like to share with us today?
Allie Yeah. So there's something that I have on my desktop computer and I look at it almost every day, and it's… it says, “Simplicity is less stuff, less work, less expense, and this equals more money, more time, and more joy; so less equals more.” And I always just really appreciate how that kind of broke down that, you know, famous quote of, “Less is more,” kind of breaks down a little bit more detail and it just inspires me.
Jen: Well, that's good. So how do you apply that in your own life? Or maybe let's just launch right into your story of, you know, learning to be happier with less or finding more happiness with less; or more, I don't know which way to look at it. (Laughs)
Allie Yeah, for sure.
Allie Well, yeah, and I think it's less for the sake of having more of what matters instead of just like, “Less is more,” I think it's really about, “More of what though? Do you want more stuff and more on your plate and more on your calendar and more filling up your space? Or do you want less of those things so that you can have more time with your family and more energy to play with your kids and be available and to talk to friends and be with your husband?” So I think it's more of that. But, yeah, that… I mean, really, it just opens the door wide open for my story. And I think this is why that quote hits me so hard is, yeah, because I've been on the other side of that. I have been the mom; at that point in my life when everything started, I had like 3 kids under 3.
Allie And I was just incredibly overwhelmed, not just because my kids were all so close together, but because it was just a constant cleanup games. It was constantly cleaning up and fighting a losing battle of my stuff in my house and just not feeling like I had enough time to do everything, and so much so that I was actively missing out on joy in motherhood. I found myself like yelling and snapping at my kids and being really stressed out and battling depression; like, it just wasn't working. So, yeah, that's kind of what I realize, “I need to simplify or I can't do this well.”
Jen: So what was the first step to simplifying? I mean, we all feel overwhelmed, but I think what happens is we often look at it all and don't know where to start and don't know even what to do, so we do nothing and we run outside to play. (Laughs)
Allie Sure, yeah. No, I totally understand that. And, for me, I had reached a point where it was actually quite dramatic; it was really a lot. It wasn't just the normal like mom-overwhelm, mom-burdens that we all just kind of feel, you know, pretty much all the time just because what we're doing is heavy; it's a lot. We're raising babies and managing a household and a lot of us work, and it's just a lot. And I think that that's normal, but it was very heavy. I found myself waking up in the mornings and just like not being able to feel excited about what was in front of me. I just had a lot of like lacklusteredness (to create a new word) and I just… I don't know. I just… I wasn't present, I wasn't excited. I had these beautiful children that I wanted my whole life. I like love my husband; I met him so young, I always wanted to marry him. And yet, I was just really, really struggling to want to get up in the morning and do what I needed to do. And it was because I felt like I was fighting a losing battle. Every time I cleaned up, there was a giant mess behind me. The kids were pulling things out as I was cleaning another area and, you know, it was just seen as normal that that's just how it is. And basically, I decided, “This is not how it needs to be and I can find another way around this. I don't think that my house should be taking up so much of my time,” so much of my time that my… my kids are barely getting me at all.
And so the first thing that I did, personally, was I declared the toys; just because that was an area where it just felt really un-purposeful. It was just this big area with lots of bins full of toys, and the kids were just overwhelmed in there. Like they'd just walk in and kind of dump everything out and then come out 5 minutes later saying they're bored or hungry or whatever. And they weren't even… it wasn't fostering any play, it just was pointless and it was a mess that I always had to clean up. And it just was an annoying area of the house. And so I decided to go in there and just kind of ask myself like, “Look, nobody is doing this. I don't know what I'm supposed to do here. There's no articles about it, but I'm just going to go in and just get rid of anything that I don't feel is worth having.” And I guess now that I kind of like hindsight was analyzing what I was looking for, was anything that wasn't like encouraging good play; like imagination, constructive play, things like that, like just pointless toys or toys that took up a ton of space, I just got rid of all of it that night and then had it donated the next day.
Jen: Yeah. So those little plastic McDonald's toys that seemed to crop up from carnivals and prize boxes, probably not something you kept, am I right?
Allie Yeah, exactly. And it ended up being like dress-up clothes and books and Legos and, you know, my daughter's favorite baby doll. Like I didn't get rid of anything that they loved or wouldn't they'll be played with every single day, but I also didn't, you know, mess around and keep things that were just not lining up with a kind of childhood I wanted them to have. And I felt like, “If I could just get the toys under control, if there was less, if I could get it all in like one large bin instead of all these little tiny bins just filling this whole area of our house and scattered all around the rest of the house, then maybe they would play better and get along better, and maybe they would give me a little bit more time in my day,” and that's exactly what happened. So I started to carry it into the other areas of the house as well.
Jen: Oh man, that's awesome. And so did their play change with less stuff? What did you notice?
Allie Yes, absolutely. So now that I'm doing what I'm doing, I've seen it; science backs us up here and shows that exactly what happened for my kids. The kids just play a lot better with less. Kids don't do well with a lot of options. Like that's why if you're reading a book about raising a toddler, almost all of them will say something about, you know, give them 2 options like, “Do you want to put your sandals on or do you want to put your tennis shoes on?” not, you know, “Go get your shoes,” it's, you know, they need less options and more directness; and that's the same with their play. They just… they don't feel overwhelmed, they walk in, they have less options, and they can more easily go in and choose what they want to play with. So this cut down on sibling bickering, it cut down on the whining and coming out like, “Mom, I don't want to play, I'm bored.” They went in, they had all their favorite things right in front of them, as well as things that fostered imaginative and creative play. And those are the types of play that you can just get lost in.
Allie You know, you can just sit and play for a long time. So my daughter was 3 at the time and that's really young to expect a child to play on their own for very long, especially like the oldest child. My youngest will do that because he's got a bunch of siblings that are older than him. But she went in there and she played for over 2 hours that morning and her little brother was just kind of toggling behind her and falling around, and he was in there with her too while the baby slept. I had this peaceful morning for the first time in my life and I just couldn't believe… (like I could just cry thinking about it) I couldn't believe that just simplifying one area of my house brought such peace and such change.
Allie And I just thought to myself like, “What would happen if I did this with our laundry and the dishes and our meal planning and my schedule? Like what would happen if I just got rid of all the junk in my life and lived more intentionally?” So that's kind of where everything started.
Jen: Oh, that's so good. And I've been talking a lot about creating spaces that help us feel the way we want to feel. I would imagine your kids went into that de-cluttered space and finally felt peaceful and were happy to stay there because I think our brains are wired to be kind of alarmed when there's too much stuff that we have to process. So I love this.
Allie Yeah, I agree; I totally agree. Yeah.
Jen: So you did the toys, and then kind of walk us through what you did mix so we can follow your process.
Allie Yeah. So the next things I did, I kind of started to ask myself like, “Okay, what is taking up..?” like the toys was kind of the bane of my existence; you can see that area of the house from each entry point, and so it just looked just like a mess everywhere you looked.
Allie And I didn't like that. So then I… I started to think like, “All the other messes are pretty hidden. Like, unless you're going to go check out my closet my laundry room, you're not going to really see anything else. So what are the things that are kind of sucking my energy? Like maybe they're not physical visual messes right out in the open, but what's bothering me?” And that, for me, was laundry and dishes. So I want to say… this was 6 years ago, but I want to say that I did the kitchen next because that is kind of a main area of the house and you spend a lot of time in there.
Allie And I really don't like cooking so I was thinking like, “Maybe if I get my kitchen this way, I’ll like cooking better; I’ll like being in here better.” And so I ended up kind of just opening the cupboards, and when you have this mindset, you realize like, “What am I doing? Why do we have 4 sets of dishes for,” you know, at that time, “5 people; 2 of them don't really eat off normal plates they eat like off little-kid plates?”
Allie And so it's just it's silly how we kind of build… everybody kind of has that; those X multiple sets of dishes without even really thinking about it. So I went in I just said, “Okay.” I remember I was extraordinarily overwhelmed. My intent was different then than it is now; my intent was to get down to the bare bones and simplify… my husband was working over 90 hours a week to make ends meet. Like I was alone all the time; I needed help. So now, I have more dishes and I'm about to tell you and things are a little bit lighter, but at this point in time, I was just like… I was ruthless, man. So I went in there and I got rid of every single dish that we did not need for the amount of people in our family. So I had 3 kids dishes, 3 kids plates and bowls and cups, and then I had a set of 4 plates and bowls for adults, in case we had like another couple before dinner or something; that's it. Like, I got rid of everything.
Jen: Wow, you were brutal.
Allie Well, I had like one… yeah, I was. And I was just… oh man, that's just where I was; I was just so done. So now, you know, it really helps me to start that way, so if someone's listening in they're just like feeling that; I mean, it was really helpful, for me. But now, we have like a normal like larger set of dishes and then an extra set that I keep in a different cupboard for if, you know, we're hosting dinner or something.
Jen: Yeah, yeah.
Allie But that's kind of where I started. So I have, for sure, saw a huge return on that investment of my time in the amount of time I was spending washing dishes.
Jen: Oh, that's so good. And then you just kind of had to wash the one dish and then you're done!
Allie Yes! What I started to do was just, you know, at the end of a meal, we're done with the dishes, I wash the dishes and I set them in the drying rack next to my sink. And then the next meal, they're done and ready for us, instead of going through this cycle of like a dish for every meal for every person and then running it at the end of the day. And it sounds like more work sometimes, but it was not; it cut my time down so much.
Jen: Oh, I love it. So do you just apply it the question of, “What is the bare minimum here? and then you just do it totally cutthroat everywhere you went throughout your house?
Allie Yeah, really. I mean, that's what I would suggest if somebody's listening in super overwhelmed. If you're… like, I'm at a different season now; so my youngest is 3 and a half, my husband is hung from that terrible job and we run our business together full-time now. And things are just a lot lighter and easier and I don't really need to be so ruthless; I don't need to be so… you know, I enjoy having extra dishes to host family. And like now, we have a bigger we're hosting all the family stuff and it's a joy. It's worth the time for me; I don't mind. But there's a lot of things that I'm still like that with, like clothing, especially for my kids, just like, “Why do we need all these extra jeans? They're just going to end up pulling them out and wearing them and getting them dirty and then changing and getting more dirty and it's more laundry.” So being a ruthless editor of your home, I love that; that’s… Nate Berkus says it like that. And I love that because that's exactly what it is; you're being a careful, intentional and ruthless editor of what you're allowing to take up your time in your space. It's so important.
Jen: So going back to the clothing, tell us how it looks to be ruthless with your kids clothing. I need this nitty-gritty right here, baby, because that's bothering me. (Laughs)
Allie Sure, yeah. So, for me, I kind of go over the kids wardrobe like seasonally and just kind of give an overview of like, “Okay, how many pants do you have? How many shirts you have? What's got holes in it? What's not fitting anymore?” I'm just kind of like, “Shop for what needs to be shopped for, donate, throw away; whatever is needed,” and I just kind of keep an overview. And I can kind of eyeball it now so I don't really rely on numbers anymore. I just can kind of feel like, “Well, we just need a few extras,” I don't want to have to like… if I get sick, I don't want to know like, “Nobody has any clean clothes now because I didn't do the laundry for 2 days.” But originally, I did like 10 outfits per kid; so mixing and matching like a few pairs of pants, about 10 shirts and just kind of mixing and matching about 10 full outfits for them. And that is after a lot of trial and error and a lot of coaching other women in this. That is what I have found to be like the bare minimum sweet spot where, you don't have so little that you're totally screwed if you, you know, can't do the laundry for a little bit or something… you know, something goes on, or if you're traveling… like we travel a lot. And so when we travel with our kids, I wanted to know that I had enough outfits like for the trip without running out of clothes, even if you were going to be gone for a while.
Allie But you'll also have enough to like, you know, mix and match for dressing nicer for church and playing outside, and we had a lot of different options. And then, I always have like about 3 pairs of shoes for each of them.
Jen: Oh, okay. Three pairs of pants, maybe what, 7 shirts, 3 pairs of shoes, would you say?
Allie I always did like 10 shirts, like a different shirt for each outfit, and then just a few… yeah, I mean, just like a few different pairs of pants or shorts depending on the seasons. Because the bottoms… like think about it, it doesn't really.. you can kind of just mix.
Allie And match you don't need as many. But with the shirts, like you want… yeah; so, yeah.
Jen: What about undies and socks; 10, I suppose?
Allie Yeah. I'll be honest, for the boys, I just… like, they share a really big dresser, and so the top drawer is just like loaded with undies and socks and they just go through this. I don't run that really minimal there.
Allie If I notice they need some, I’ll buy some.
Allie But for my daughter, I just… you know, I just went to Target and got her like 2 packs of little like panties and that's enough.
Allie And, you know, if you grow out of them or they get holes in them, let me know. But I think it's easy to want to get really hung up on like the amounts of things, but really like, you can kind of feel it. Like, this… you can kind of go in there and like, “You know, I don't know if we need this many church shirts,” you know , “I don't think you need 12 of these. Let's get down to 4.”
Jen: Right. (Laughs)
Allie You can kind of feel it.
Jen: Yeah, you're right; you're right. And did you have to do laundry, you know, what… what did you do, once a week? How did you do the laundry part?
Allie I used to do it once a week then; yeah, I did. And, you know, what I found recently though is that my load is a little bit lighter; no pun intended.
Allie If I do like a small load of whatever every single morning. So I'll put in like a small load and sometimes linens, so like if the bed sheets need to be wash, I'll do like linens, and that's my load of laundry for the day because we don't need to wash our clothes every single day, and we wouldn't really have a full load. Sometimes I do just do the clothes we wore that day or the kids to boys baseball outfits. Like my kids are getting older, so as your kids get older, you find like… that yours more outfit changes. Like horse lessons has a different outfit than you wore to… you know, for school, and baseball games has uniform on top of your… so I definitely noticed that the loads grow, but I'll do about a load every morning. And if I skip a morning here and there, it's not a big deal. But I find that being pretty minimal with the amount of clothing that we have and then just kept keeping up with a small load every morning and then, you know, if we don't have a lot of clothes to wash, like I said, I'll throw my curtains in there as my daughter has dust allergies, so I have to keep those clean, or throw the bed sheets in there, maybe there's a throw pillow, they got juice spills one on (unclear) [19:16]. Just washing something every morning really helps me; it's like a quick rhythm in my day and it helps keep things afloat.
Jen: I couldn't agree more. I also wash a load of laundry every single day. And then I do it right in the beginning of the day; I switch the wet stuff to the dryer, I throw the dryer stuff in a basket. It's just a beautiful rotation and I never think about laundry. And I watch my friends who maybe do it once a week and they say, “Oh, I gotta go fold all this laundry, it looks like really hard to have a whole mountain of laundry to fold.” So I like your system.
Allie Mm-hmm. Yeah, I know; I don't like that way. I used to do things that way because I don't like the laundry; I mean, who really does?
Allie But I would rather do a little bit every day and not really ever think about it, than have a day dedicated to like folding all those…
Allie It's the folding that sucks.
Jen: Yes, it's true.
(Interview resumes) [22:40]
Jen: So you did the toys then the kitchen then the clothing, I mean, you've knocked out, at this point, all the big stuff in my mind. But where did you go after the clothing? You know, what are some other big areas that you felt like you had to tackle?
Allie Yeah. So I think everybody has something like this; I call it ‘the clutter crutch’ or ‘the clutter catch-all’. But I had our room, our bedroom, which is like the worst place to use this for, but I had found that we were using our bedroom to kind of throw stuff. Like whenever somebody would come over it was like, “Oh, shoot! We have to clean up! Throw stuff in the master bedroom because nobody really goes in there and it's upstairs, out of the way.” Our master bedroom is just this like clutter catch-all. Whenever we needed a speed clean, whenever I don’t really know where to put anything and I was too overwhelmed or busy or lazy to find a place where… I would kind of just shove it in there. And so our bedroom and our closet, we just kind of had a lot of randoms. And I think almost everybody has at least like a drawer like that; maybe you got an entire room. I've had clients you have entire floors of their house which is a clutter catch-all.
Jen: (Laughs). Yeah.
Allie And some people have just like a junk drawer or, you know, a room or something; a spare room. So I think it’s the sneakiest place because, if you have something like that where you know in the back of your mind, “I'm going to de-clutter,” you know, “I’m going to listen what Allie said. I'm going to de-clutter. But halfway through, if I hit something really hard or I don't know what to do with, I know that I can shove it in this drawer or this room.
Jen: (Laughs). Yeah.
Allie It's a crutch; it’s keeping you back. So I got rid of that in our room and then I hid the closets, which took me the longest, for sure. (Laughs)
Jen: Oh yeah. Well, what's your trick with your closet? Do you do like a capsule wardrobe or what's your trick for that?
Allie You know, I did do a capsule wardrobe for almost 2 years. And I think it's just, for me, for my personality, it kind of stole my joy, and that was the opposite of why I did it. So for my clothing, I don't do a capsule wardrobe; I just, like I said, I can kind of tell. Like, I have a t-shirt drawer; if I have too many t-shirts and they won't fit in the drawer, I need to get rid of some t-shirt.
Allie If I have too many jeans or shorts that don't fit in my pants drawer, I need to get rid of some stuff. So like… you know what I mean? I kind of go more by like, “What's the space that I have allotted to this item?” and if it doesn't fit anymore, I'm not going to get more space, I'm going to let go of some stuff…
Allie … instead of, “Okay, I have to have 20 pieces of clothing,” like it's just… it was a joy suck for me. I love getting new clothes and trying on different things and having different outfits and putting things together. It's something… I actually thought I would do that with my life when I was a girl; that I would do like clothes and fashion and stuff. I loved it! So I really like having the options, but, you know, you can keep it under the control. I don't have like a giant closet or anything, I just kind of like gauge, “This is where I put my clothes. If I can't fit it anymore, I gotta get rid of some stuff,” kind of like the one-in-one-out rule; just things like that. But now, what I meant about the closet taking the most of my time is more like the hallway closet, the upstairs storage, the Attic, like just those kind of hidden doors and spaces that…
Allie …are just… they come with houses the way they're built; like they're just there like, “Here, put your junk in here.”
Jen: Yes, yes.
Allie And… yeah, so those like just like memories, mementos, keepsakes, photo albums, baby clothes, bins of stuff that was given to me from my mom and my husband's mom, you know, grandma Betsy's hand-me-downs, things like that that were just big decisions waiting to be made, that was the hardest part. And so just to give some tips for anyone listening that's like, “Yeah, what do I do with that?” I think the biggest thing that I found was that, by keeping something that was attached to a memory, I'm not serving myself or the person that gave it to me or the memory, and I don't lose the memory by getting rid of that item. So I would take a picture of it if it was really special and I’d let go of the original; guilt free, just, “How is it serving anybody that I keep my grandmother's tea set in a box in the Attic full of dust?”
Allie It's not helping anybody.
Jen: Yes, totally true.
Allie You know, at least use the tea set or something; like do something with it. So…
Jen: I'm with you.
Allie It's kind of like, use it or lose it, you know, kind of thing.
Jen: Yep, it's true. Well, what about meal planning or paper clutter? Those are 2 big ones.
Allie Yeah, they are. So paper clutter, I feel like I've totally found my sweet spot. I love where we're at with paper clutter because there is a lot of it. And the older your kids get and the more involved they are and stuff, more paper comes in from those things and it's crazy. So in terms of the mail, my husband and I have been really intentional to go paperless everywhere we can. And we found that when we went paperless, we forgot to pay our bills.
Allie So we set reminders in our calendar and we know when everything is due. We give it… ourselves a few days to remember like, “Oh, hey pay this bill,” or just go automated whenever it will let you. Like some things won't let you be an automated payment. But go automated when you can; go paperless wherever you can. And then we also have a system like, if we're going to check the mail, it goes in this one spot in the house and it has to be gone through and decisions you made about it before we check the mail again. So I think it's more about getting in a system of dealing with incoming… I think that's why we avoid mail is that, it's decisions to be made, it's a bill to be paid, it's an alert like, “Hey, you're due for a dentist cleaning.” That's a decision you have to make, “Am I going to go to the dentist or am I going to skip it? If I'm going to go, I have to call and make the appoint… like it… you know, it's like it piles on top of itself and creates more work for you, but it's stressing you out more to just leave that pile there and never deal with it.
Allie So deal with it, check the mail, go through the mail, deal with it; just make it part of your nightly thing before you go to bed. And then I am a giant fan of Google Drive and there's an app called Scan It where you can take a picture of a document or any piece of paper at all that you want to keep and it will capture it and keep it in the same size as the document itself, so that if you ever have to reprint it out for some reason, it's not going to print like a screenshot or a weird photo, it's going to print like the document.
Allie And so I have my Google Drive… yeah. So I have my Google Drive organized by like, you know, tax information, kids, you know, home school stuff. And the only things that we keep physically in person are things that you legally have to, like our marriage license and birth certificates and things like that.
Jen: Oh, that's good. So is that how you scrapbook for your kids essentially; just take pictures of their art and put it in the Google Drive?
Allie Yeah, I do. So we have another folder in Google Drive, it's ‘Bella's artwork’, ‘Leeland's artwork'; one for each kid.
Jen: Ah, so smart!
Allie (unclear) [28:35]. I’m not like overly organized where it's like year by year anything, it's just kind of all in one spot. Yeah, we just saved the good ones, we take pictures of it and store it. And that way it's like they can literally look through almost everything they ever created without having the burden of the big, you know, set of boxes that mom gave to them when they moved out, you know; it's all digital.
Jen: Oh, that's brilliant. Okay, well, I'm feeling energized. I'm a de-clutterer at heart; I was born this way. What do you do though if you have a spouse who, like mine, gets really anxious about de-cluttering? He attaches more meaning to stuff than I do. (Laughs)
Allie Yeah. So actually my husband, Brian, he comes from a background that led to him being… I don't use the word hoarder lightly, I feel like people joke about it like, “I'm such a hoarder.” Like, no, he really was a hoarder.
Allie He had like… really, it was trash.
Allie Like he just had like odds and ends and he was like, you know, quote ‘keeping for a project on day’.
Jen: Yes, yes. (Laughs)
Allie And it's like, “Well, we've moved it to like 5 different houses so I feel like it's pointless.” So he really had a hard time. And when I started to figure this out for myself like 6 years ago, he started to really panic and it started to put a wedge between us; like it was a real problem. Because I felt like, “You don't care that I am figuring this out, that I found a solution. I've been like depressive and really struggling, and here I am finding the solution and I'm so happy, and all you care about is your junk,” like, you know, we started to really argue about it. And so I decided, “This is not worth my marriage, but I'm not going to give up this answer that I found. And I really think that if he understood the fullness of it, it would be different.” And so I just kind of had a heart-to-heart with him and just explained what this was doing for me, and he admitted that, he was feeling like panics that I would just get rid of his stuff when he was gone at work since he worked all the time, which… this is awkward; I totally was doing that.
Allie But I stopped; like he didn't like it. So we came to a compromise that was like, “Okay, look, you can have full reign of the garage. The garage can look like an episode of Hoarders, I don't care, it's all you; same with our master bedroom closet,” those are the 2 areas he had a hard time with. And I said, “When I'm de-cluttering, if I find something of yours, even if I think it's trash, I'll put it in one of those 2 places for you. And I won't get rid of anything that's yours, just let me simplify my role and the parts of the house that affect me.” And he was totally good with that. We went on that way for about 2 years and it was fine; it was totally good. I never… I didn't need to change, I was totally happy; my life totally changed. But after about 2 years, we had a specific move that cost us about 2000 extra dollars and 4 extra days in our old house because, I had packed everything up for myself and the kids in the entire house (8 months pregnant in one afternoon) and he had taken all that extra time to do his stuff in the garage and the closet.
Allie So he kind of realized like, “I'm like holding us back and costing us all this money, and I think I have issues for my childhoods that I need to deal with, so I'm on your side; like help me figure this out.” And now for hope, for those of you who have a husband who's like not on board with this, he is more minimal than I am; he is ruthless!
Allie He just… like we worked in the church nursery together and he was like cluttering the kids toys in the church nursery, I was like, “Those are not ours!” he was like, “Well, they're not purposeful,” it's hilarious.
Allie He was like totally on board now, he totally sees the merit. (Laughs)
Jen: Oh, that's beautiful. So ‘purposeful’; that's a good word. Oh, man, way to go!
Jen: That's something to celebrate. (Laughs). Okay, I'm going to…
Allie For sure.
Jen: I’m going to hold the vision that my husband will pick up on this. I don't know how or when, but he just recently learned and has been meditating a lot, so I know there's help if he could do that one thing. (Laughs)
Allie (unclear) [32:06], sure.
Jen: Well, so you have a freebie that you want to share with us today. Tell us about that.
Allie Yes. So the minimalism starter kit is… it's really full, it's really… it's not full in a way that's overwhelming, it's full of what matters. And I always send people there when they want to get started and they feel really overwhelmed because, ironically, I mean, this is going to help you not be overwhelmed, but it is overwhelming to start when you're already overwhelmed. So I broke it down into like, “What is the basic? Like what does each person, you know, mom, need to work through to get a handle on her or her house stuff and kind of like mentally work through to get kind of geared up to go at it?” And so I break it down into like, “What's your ‘why’? Why do you want to do this?” You have to have a strong foundation or you're not going to be able to get through the hard parts of de-cluttering like sentimental stuff and things like that. And really, just kind of revealing it to your own self what matters to you and why you want to do this and what's not working for you. Then it gets practical and like, “Where do you start? What… what do I de-clutter and when? And what kind of things can I for sure let go of?” and all that stuff.
Jen: Awesome. We will have a link for Allie's minimalism starter kit on our show notes page at jenriday.com/1 1 5. So, Allie, let's talk about a couple of your favorite things. You're really an action taker; I can tell. Tell us about your morning routine.
Allie Yes, I love my morning routine. So I usually get up in between 5:15 and 5:45; just kind of depends. Actually this morning, I got up at like 6:15 because I couldn't fall asleep last night and I just needed the extra few minutes. But I get up early and definitely before my kids. My kids are older now sometimes they wake up and they just know not to come downstairs until 7:30.
Allie They can do it everyone up there, I've got my time downstairs. And so I meditate for at least 10 minutes. Some days it is so hard to sit still for 10 minutes, and other times I need like 30; so it just depends. And I just sit in the quiet and just kind of show up for my day and just start off with some peace and focus. I read for about 20 to 30 minutes of whatever book. I'm a really big bookworm; I will always find a way to make time for reading. So I will sometimes read like a faith-based book or a self-help book or business-growth book; whenever current read I have, I'll read that. And I have my like quiet devotional time; like I’ll read my Bible, pray. I'll usually take a walk while I'm doing that. After reading my bible, I usually like take a prayer walk and just kind of get outside for a little bit because, in SoCal, even if it's 5:00 in the morning, it's not that cold. (Laughs)
Allie And yeah it's pretty much… yeah, I start my load of laundry after that, I get the kids breakfast, and it's a really intentional time for me to just decide that my life is worth showing up for and I want to wake up early and be ready for it and give myself the energy that I need as an introvert to have that quiet, focused time before the craziness of the day sets in.
Jen: Yeah, I love that; give yourself the energy that you need, mm-hmm, very intentional. Well, tell us some your favorite book.
Allie Ooh, that is a hard one. Well, I should say, I don't read fiction; I used to but I just… I don’t know, I haven't read fiction in years now. So all the books that I read like, they take me somewhere in my… like in growth terms. So I would say, currently, I'm reading ‘The Happiness Project’ by Gretchen Rubin, and it has definitely worked its way to my top 10 list. I also really, really enjoyed the book by Jen Sincero, ‘You Are a Badass’.
Allie Amazing read; love that book. I would say those 2; top 2 faves.
Jen: Yeah, those are both great.
Jen: What does it mean for you to be a vibrant happy woman? What's that formula for you?
Allie Honestly, I think it's having less home clutter, having less life clutter, plus intentionally living the rest… like, when you have less home clutter, you have less life clutter, whatever is left, what time and energy is left, intentionally living those, moments that's happiness, for me.
Jen: Hmm, intentionally living the time and moments that are left; ooh. Okay, let's have a challenge from you to our listeners and then we will say goodbye.
Allie Yeah. Okay, I would challenge everybody listening to find one area of your physical space, your home, your apartment, whatever, that is really bothering you. Like, every time you see it, it just kind of, in the back of your mind, even subconsciously, you just kind of like take a deep sigh because you just hate it, it's just cluttered and bothering you, make time, even if you don't do it right now, schedule a time in your calendar even to get rid of that; to clear it out, to just totally gut it. And just get in there and make piles, ‘keep’, ‘trash’, ‘donate’, that's it, period. No ‘Give this to Aunt Sally’ pile, no ‘Bring this to the next, you know, school PTA meetings, I think somebody over there will want it’ pile. Just ‘keep’, ‘trash’, ‘donate’, get ruthless with yourself, and I would just encourage you to make that appointment in your calendar and keep it and show up and get rid of some stuff, and just see how you feel from that one area.
Jen: Oh yeah. It's all about feeling the way you want to feel, instead of making your home a trophy case. (Laughs)
Allie Mm-hmm, exactly.
Jen: Well, this has been amazing. And where can people find you online if they want to learn more about what you do?
Allie I've set up my Home Page to kind of be a choose-your-own-adventure type of thing or if you need help with limiting technology for your kids, if you need help de-cluttering, if you need help with anything that I talked about, you can kind of find the path on my site that will take you there.
Jen: Perfect. Well, thank you so much for being on the show; it's been amazing and I love what you're doing in the world.
Allie Thank you. Thank you so much.
Jen: Okay, my friends, go de-clutter something because when we take action on these podcasts, it sticks with us so much longer and it helps us change our lives. Also, don't forget to grab your spot in the free workshop, my brand-new free workshop, ‘Stop drowning and start living; 5 steps to find yourself, create balance, and love more’; all the things we want to experience this summer. I'm doing in this only for early June. Grab your spot at jenriday.com/workshop and let's rock this summer together. Okay, really big news; big news. After you sign up for that workshop, get excited because, next week on the Vibrant Happy Women podcast is my interview with Gretchen Rubin, author of ‘The Happiness Project’, author of ‘The Four Tendencies’; and I've been referencing those. Let me just give you a hint that, learning about her 4 tendencies, (and those are upholder, obliger, rebel and questioner) has changed the game around here. It has changed my entire parenting, marriage, and life game; it's that big. Why? Well, because I have a family of questioners and rebels and that means, we don't have a ton of external motivation, we don't care a lot about social norms. So we're not motivated by praise and all these people think and we're amazing. So my kids don't really care what I want them to do, they just care what they want to do. My husband, same thing; he cares what he wants to do. So how do you finesse things and create more of that internal motivation for them that will benefit you and your entire family in the process? That is the trick of it all. You're going to love that episode, so mark your calendar for that next week. That will be episode 116. Before that, I'll be back later this week with a happy bit about de-cluttering and how that's looking in my life. I have some areas I'm doing well at, but I actually have some areas I'm doing really lousy at, and I'm going to tell you about that in that happy bit later this week. But, again, I will see you next week for that interview with Gretchen Rubin. I will see many of you, I hope, in the workshop ‘Stop drowning and start living: 5 steps to find yourself, create balance, and love more’. Grab your seat at jenriday.com/workshop. See you next time. Take care.
Outro: Thanks for listening to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast at www.jenriday.com.