J: You're listening to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast, episode number 45.
R: We are so busy trying to keep up with the day-to-day of life that we forget that, having a bigger purpose out there for ourselves is the thing that will drive us, and it makes all the other little sacrifices that we have to make worth it.
Intro: Welcome to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast, stories of vibrant women living happy lives. And now, your host, Jen Riday.
J: Well, hey there, welcome to Vibrant Happy Women. I'm Jen righty and I am so happy you're here; happy Monday. And I love that you listen every week, I love the comments I've received about the podcast and it makes me happy to know I'm making a difference in some of your lives by having these interviews with these amazing women; so thanks so much for listening every week. And as a thank you, I am giving you each a free guided meditation; yes, I love meditation, I do it often and it's my secret sauce that helps me to be more patient with my kids and more focused and more productive. There's something about going to that quiet and centered place each morning, and it's not just saying, “Ohm,” like the stereotypes suggest, but it's getting in touch with how I feel, knowing what might be bothering me and letting those thoughts go and coming back to a reset of positivity and groundedness every morning. And I find so many times as my kids might start to stress me out that I come back to that place and I remind myself, “Hey, remember how you felt this morning? This isn't it; reset,” and I… I do; I find it really helps. So, yeah, I created that guided meditation for you; it's 10 minutes long. You can knock it out before you go to work or start your day, you can do it before bed, and you can grab your copy at jenriday.com/meditate; jenriday.com/meditate. I hope you love it and I hope it makes a difference in your day.
Well, last week, I spoke with Cassie Piasecki, all about getting on and staying on the wheel of wellness. So many of us set health goals for our new year's resolutions, and about this time, we start to waver, we might fall off the wagon a little bit. If that's the case, be sure to go back and listen to that episode; it's at jenriday.com/44. Cassie shared some great tips about health and sleep and exercise, and I just loved everything she shared actually, so much so that I actually joined her wildlife nutrition program; I'll let, you know, how that goes. Well, today, I'll be talking with Ruth Soukup and she shares her story of being in a severe, severe depression for years and how she came out of that. And I love it because Ruth is now an author of several books, she's a popular blogger, and she's happy; she's pursuing her passions and living her purpose. And I love how she talks in this episode about finding something that excites you in doing that and how that makes all the difference in our happiness; and I find that to be true as well. I love this podcast, I love interviewing these women, and it excites me, it gives me a boost for my life and for each day. So let's go ahead and dive in and you can listen to Ruth's awesome, awesome advice.
Hey there, welcome to Vibrant Happy Women, I'm Dr. Jen Riday. And today, I'm talking with Ruth Soukup and she's a blogger, author, and entrepreneur, as well as the New York Times bestselling author of ‘Living Well, Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life’ and she's the founder of the Living Well Planner. Through her popular blog livingwellspendingless.com, she encourages more than a million monthly readers to follow their dreams and reach their goals, sharing easy to implement tips and strategies for saving time and money while focusing on the things that matter most. She lives in Washington State with her husband Chuck and 2 daughters, Maggie and Annie. Welcome, Ruth.
R: Thanks for having me, it's great to be here.
J: Yeah, it's great to have you. And we'll go ahead and jump right into your favorite quote. I can't wait to hear what you're going to share with us.
R: (Laughs). Well, I am a big Winston Churchill fan and so I actually have several favorite quotes from Winston Churchill, but my all-time favorite is, “Success is not final failure is not fatal, but it is only the courage to continue that matters.”
J: Okay, Winston Churchill; I love him. So how does that quote help you in your life?
R: You know, I feel like life is just a journey that we’re on and we have ups and downs, we have highs and lows, and it's just a good reminder to me that, when things go right, it doesn't mean that's the end and I can… I can be done, and when things are wrong, it's not the end of the world and it's just… you got to just keep moving and you got to keep going forward and not let those highs and lows get you one way or the other.
J: Yes. And speaking of lows, I mean, that's the perfect quote to lead right into talking about your low points. So tell us about a time in your life that was kind of a low and what you learned from that experience.
R: Well, when I was in my early 20s and I was a senior in college, I actually went through a really, really bad depression and ended up having to drop out of school and I was married at the time, ended up getting divorced, I attempted suicide at 5 times…
R: … the worst of which ended me in a coma on life support with about a 10% chance of ever waking up. And it was just a really, really dark time in my life. I ended up being hospitalized in and out of psychiatric hospitals for about 2 and a half years before I finally started to recover. So… and by at the end of it, you know, I found myself divorced, bankrupt, my friends and family had pretty much just given up all hope on me. You know, you can be friends and supportive of somebody for a while I think sometimes. When somebody's going through a depression and you try to be there for them and you try to be supportive, but when they don't come out of it when we think that they're supposed to come out of it…
R: … it's really hard to keep being supportive. And so, you know, and I don't… I don't blame anyone for giving up on me. I had completely lost hopes in myself at that point and, you know, it just went on for a really, really long time; way longer than… than I would ever wish for anyone. I mean, I wouldn't wish depression on anyone anyway, but it was really, really, low, low, low, low point in my life. And somehow made it out the other side, and that was 15 years ago now and it's been quite the journey ever since. (Laughs)
J: Well, so let's go a little deeper there. I know a lot of women struggle with depression and share a memory of when you started to feel that spark of hope that you were actually coming out of it. Can you think of one?
R: You know, it was really like a slow… a slow journey to being well again. I remember just getting to a point where I couldn't do it anymore; like, I couldn't do that… I needed to figure out how to live again. You know, I got… I was diagnosed with major depression and PTSD based on some childhood trauma and, you know, in therapy, spent a lot of time talking about all the bad stuff that has ever happened to you. And… and I don't know… you know, I know that there is a purpose for all of that (you got to get it out, I guess), but there was a point where I just realized, “I don't want to go there anymore. I don't want to dwell on the past.”
R: “And I need to figure out a way like, what has happened is what happened. Did it suck? Uh-huh, and I can make a choice. I can either choose to live my life and choose to create a new life for myself or I can spend the rest of my life depressed and broken and… and never accomplish anything.” And so I found a therapist and I remember calling her saying, “I just spent the last 2 and a half years talking about every bad thing that's ever happened to me, I don't want to talk about it anymore.”
R: “Now, I just need to know how to live.”
J: Oh nice.
R: Because I had no idea. I had no friends, was bankrupt, I had no job, you know, I just… and I did. I started seeing her 3 times a week and we would just talk about like the most mundane things, like how to go to the grocery store and not freak out.”
R: And it was really like a slow progression to wellness. I got a dog, I started going for walks on a regular every day. I got this super hyper dog…
R: … a chocolate lab.
J: Ah, yeah.
R: I can say that she saved me.
R: Because she was so hyper, I had no choice but to take her for long walk every single day.
R: And, you know, started to make new friends and I got a job. And I went back to school and finished my degree and just kind of slowly, slowly began to figure out how to live again. And it took a while, but it was that conscious moment of saying, “I'm not going to dwell on the past anymore.”
J: I love that, and I've heard that over and over again. You made that conscious choice to be happy and you didn't want to spend the rest of your life feeling broken; I love that. And so many women have explained how they've felt the same way, they've made that decision; so that's neat, I'm glad you could share that with us. Well, if you could offer some advice to any of our listeners who might be struggling with the same thing, what would you tell them?
R: You know, I think I would say that there is hope. I think that was the thing that, for me, especially when I was in that really dark place and you're in this like life of the depression and you're surrounded by other people who are depressed and in therapy and you never see anybody getting better. And I remember that I used to say that to the doctors and psychiatrists who are trying to help me like, “Why… why should I believe you that there is any hope? Because I don't see any hope. Everybody who leaves here ends up coming back, you know, they… their insurance runs up so they'll leave… get discharged and then they come right back.” And I love my story just in the sense that I'm one person that you can look at to go, “She was there, she was in that dark place and things got better for her,” that there is hope and believe that there is hope and there is light at the end of the tunnel and hold on to that hope, even if you can't see the light and you can't feel the hope for yourself, just like let me hold that for you.
J: Ooh, nice.
R: That's what I would say to anybody (unclear) [10:17] right.
J: Like you're holding the flashlight for them where they… when they don't know where to go; ah, I love that. Well, so tell us more about something that's exciting you today and perhaps a little more about your blog.
R: Sure. Well, my blog is called Living Well, Spending Less, and we there provide practical solutions for everyday whelmed. And it's all about figuring out how to spend less time on all the things that we have to do so that there's more time for reaching our goals and achieving our dreams. Because I think as women, we are so busy all the time. That's all I hear from my readers, that's all you hear from my friends, “Oh my gosh, I'm so busy, I'm so busy, I’m so busy,” and we're all about just spinning around in circles, trying to keep up with the day-to-day of life, taking care of our kids, handling our job, you know, we have things that were committed to with our communities. And it feels like sometimes like it's so full with all of these obligations that other people are clothing on to us that we forget there has to be something more there too; something that gets us excited to jump out of bed in the morning and creating those daily goals and creating those big dreams and going after those things that get us excited. And so that's really where my heart is, is just encouraging women to accept their goals for themselves and to figure out practical ways to handle all those other things that keep us so busy so that there's a little more margin for those things that really get us excited and pumped up.
J: So tie that in with your most recent book, ‘Living Well, Spending Less’, what we could learn from that book.
J: Well, ‘Living Well, Spending Less’ is kind of a… just a journey of where I have been on… in my personal life with money. You know, I started Living Well, Spending Less in 2010, and it's a little bit of a misnomer because people assume that because I write a blog called Living Well, Spending Less that I’m sort of money saving expert. And I break that mystique in the very first page of the book because I am not a money saving expert, I am a money spending expert. And the reason that I started my blog in the first place was, not because I had all the answers, but really because I didn't have any of the answers. My husband and I were fighting a lot about money and I was spending too much and he… we got into a one big giant fight one day and realized we were kind of an event like a make-it-or-break-it point in our marriage. And I agreed to go on a budget and I needed something to do that wasn't going to Target. (Laughs)
R: And so I started blogging instead. And I just started talking about this struggle of trying to figure out how to you live the life that I wanted and not spend so much money doing it. And, you know, it was amazing because I think so many people could relate to that struggle. And a lot of times, as women and just as people, as humans, we don't need somebody to preach at us and tell us all the things we're doing wrong and how other people are doing it better, but to realize that there are other people out there who have struggled just like we do and maybe have like arrived at some solutions along the way and those solution, if… like, “Here's what helped me; this might help you too.” And coming along beside people I think is where I approached my blog and my business from. It's not… like not coming at it like I am some big expert on save you money, I am mot; I am the opposite of that. But I have learned through writing this blog and through creating accountability in my life that… how some strategies that have definitely helped along the way.
J: Nice. And so you started the blog and it grew quickly and then you wrote several books, right?
R: Yes, I've written 5 books.
J: Oh, wow; 1 a year, huh, since 2010? (Laughs)
R: Since 2010; I’ve been busy. I'm taking a year off though. (Laughs)
J: Ah, good for you. Well, so you said you share those strategies, share 3 strategies with our listeners that might help them; 3 of your favorites.
R: Well, you know, I'm really focused right now on creating big goals and daring to think big, because I think that that's one of the things that is lacking for so many people. You know, we… we are so busy trying to keep up with the day-to-day of life that we forget that having a bigger purpose out there for ourselves is the thing that will drive us. And it makes all the other little sacrifices that we have to make worth it and it helps give so much clarity to life. So I really like to encourage people to spend some time thinking about, “What would you want to do in your… your life if there was nothing standing in your way?” If you didn't have all of the obligations that you have right now, if you could just say, “I could do anything”. Like, give yourself permission to dream for 20 minutes or half an hour about all of the possibilities and then write those things down and… and start thinking, “Yeah, you know what? I could maybe do this.” I like to encourage people to make a dream or to set goals that are so big they dare you a little bit, because I think it's when you feel that little tingle of an excitement inside of yourself like, “Oh my gosh, I can't believe I just said that. I can't believe I just admitted that to myself that I really want to do that.”
J: Ah, yeah.
R: But that's where you start to like feel that passion and feel that fire inside. And then from there, once you've given yourself permission to think big and dream big, I really like to encourage people to plan small from there.
R: So instead of starting with the day-to-day, starting with the big… with the little things that you have to do every day, starting with your daily plan, start with your grand vision and then break it down into a plan for… a goal for the year, and then break that down on into your goals for the month, and then break back to down into your goals for the week, and then your goals of the day. And doing that makes you realize what's really important; because the reality for all of us is that there are only 24 hours a day. We can only do so much and none of us can do everything. And so if you start with your big things and make those the first things on your list, rather than the last things on your list, you'll accomplish more and find more fulfillment in life.
J: Yes, I love that; and focusing on the passion so you can feel that inner excitement and fire like you mentioned. Would you say that creating your blog kind of was part of your way out of the depression pit that you were in because you had something that gave you that excitement and fire and drive?
R: Well, not originally.
R: My depression would… I think I started to come out of it in 2003, 2004, and I didn't start my blog until 2010. But my original goal was to go to the Law School, and not just to Law School, planning to do with a dual degree program. So I went back to get my degree so that I could enroll in a dual degree program to get at my MBA and my law degree. It was going to be a 4-year program and I got accepted to Washington University in St. Louis.
R: Which is top… a top 20 school for both the Law School and business school, and that was a huge boulder for me and it scared me a little bit.
R: And that did really start to excite me and get me passionate about it. And I got in, but what I found when I got there is that at I hated Law School.
R: I absolutely despised every single bit of it.
R: You know, and I am a super creative ‘think outside the box’ kind of person, and Law Schooll is a very, “You do things… you follow our rules.” It's very rule oriented and I could not… just, it changed my entire personality. And my husband who, at the time, we weren't married yet, but he went with me to St. Louis, and after about 8 months of Law School, we went for a walk one day and I was talking about how unhappy I was and how much I hated it, and he looked at me and he said, “You know, you don't have to do this, right, you can quit if you want to.” And I… like that was like a revelation for me.
J: Ooh, yah.
R: Because I am not a quitter, I would have stuck it out till the bitter end. And I probably would have made myself crazy again just trying to finish this thing that I had started because I have wanted it so bad. And I looked at… and we had just bought a house like 3 weeks earlier, that house like he was going to fix up for us to live in for the next 4 years lower or 3 years while we were there in St. Louis, and I looked at him and I… I couldn't believe that he was saying that. I mean, I ended up going in to the Dean of Students the very next day and I withdrew.
J: Oh, wow.
R: I quit. And she looked at me and she said, “You know what? Normally, I would try to talk somebody out of this, but I… this is the happiest I have seen you look all semester.”
J: (Laughs) That’s funny.
R: “And I think you’re doing the right thing.”
J: Aww, that’s good.
R: She said she's never told like… when somebody like just said, “Go ahead, quit.”
R: And because, you know, I'm sure that they have times where students want to quit all the time.
R: But it was… and then at that point, you know, went through a period of just not knowing what the heck I was going to do, but I did know that that was one of those moments where it was okay; like, that failure in my life. And I think that failure has actually taught me so much about myself because I realized like, failing was not the end of the world. I thought dropping out of Law School would have been the end of the world, but it wasn't. You know, instead allowed me eventually, not right away… I mean, it took several more years for me to really find what my passion is; which is what I'm doing now.
R: But I would have never been doing what I'm doing now if I were to finish Law School. I would be some miserably unhappy corporate lawyer/business person and not doing what my true passion was. And so I look back at that moment and that turning point in my life and go, “I am so glad that I failed.”
J: Yeah. Well, so you mentioned finding your passion, and I know so many people I've talked to, so many women are like, “How do I know what my passion i? How do I know what I was born to do?” So was there a moment when that clicked for you?
R: You know, I think that it from just trying new things. After I dropped out of Law School, I just tried lots of different things.
J: Oh yeah.
R: I worked in business for a while, I did property management, I ran a day spa for a couple of years. And I was a mom and I was… you know, I had a couple of kids in there.
R: It just sort of started to evolve naturally.
R: But I have found, since then, it's sometimes the process of trial and error and the process of just putting yourself out there and trying new things that allows you to find what you just really love and what you're really passionate about. I don't think you necessarily need to know from the get-go what's going to be your thing, and I think it's okay to realize if something things not your passion is and you hate it that you can try something else…
R: … that nothing is set in stone and it's okay to keep trying until you find that thing I did that… suits you your sweet spot.
J: Yeah, so putting yourself out there and looking at quote ‘failure’ as part of the learning process; hmm ,I love that. Well, so Ruth let's talk about a few of your favorite things, and let's start with your favorite habit that contributes to your success.
R: Definitely, my favorite habit is getting up early. I am a morning person and I get up at the… before the crack of dawn every single day. I'm usually up around 3:30 or 4:00 every morning.
R: And then I get so much done in the morning. I am a morning person; the earlier I get up, the more I get done. This morning, I was up at 2:00.
J: Wow! What time did you head to bed?
R: Normally, I had to better around 8:00, 8:30. I don't normally get up at 2:00, I actually woke up; and then, once I'm awake, I can't get back to sleep.
J: Oh, okay.
R: So then I just got that up and it started working; but that's not a normal thing. But normally, I go to bed around 8.
J: (Laughs). I heard from someone who was writing a book once (and so you've written several), she actually would go to bed at 8:00, get up at 12:00, and work until 4:00 and then go back to bed because she, like you, was really productive during those crazy early morning hours. So… (Laughs)
R: Crazy hours. Yeah, and cannot… like, once I'm up for the day, I can't go back to sleep.
R: But I could definitely go to bed early. Sometimes, this is really a 7:30… (Laughs)
R: … when my kids go to bed.
J: You are disciplined; that's amazing. Well, so what's a favorite easy meal that you like to eat fairly often?
R: Favorite easy meal. Well, I love breakfast for dinner, a big fan of that, and freezer meals. And on my blog, Living Well, Spending Less, we actually have tons of freezer meals. We do a plan, we have in fact 10 different plans called ‘10 meals in an hour’, and so you can assemble just kind of easy freezer meals in an hour on Saturday morning. And then they're almost all crock-pot friendly, so you just take them straight from the crock-pot, put them… or straight from the freezer, put them in the crock-pot and you're good to go.
J: Hmm, that sounds amazing. Ten in an hour, I can't even imagine; that's awesome. And a favorite kitchen gadget.
R: (Laughs). I love my cheese slicer; I do. (Laughs)
J: Mm, you like cheese, huh?
R: I love cheese; can't get enough cheese. I could eat cheese all day long. (Laughs)
J: Mm, what's your favorite kind of cheese?
J: Gouda! I love that too. Costco has a very good smoked Gouda that we love. (Laughs)
R: Yeah. We do… we do the Costco Gouda for sure, and…
J: Yummy. (Laughs)
J: And a favorite book.
R: Oh my goodness, I have so many favorite books, I don't even know where to start with that. But ‘The Power of Habit’ by Charles Duhigg is one of my favorite and his new book, ‘Smarter Faster Better’, I think… (unclear) [23:30] I always get those 3 words. Those words, but I'm not sure if that's the right order.
R: That… I really, really enjoyed that one as well. ‘Good to Great’ by Jim Collins is a business book that I read every single year.
R: Sometimes twice a year.
J: Wow. So you seem like a really efficient person as far as time goes.
J: So everyone, better read these books if you want to have an efficient 2017. So ‘The Power of Habit’, ‘Smarter Faster Better’, and ‘Good to Great’; okay, I'll be reading those.
J: Good advice.
R: Yeah, and I've created my own planner so (Laughs)… and one of our core values for a company is that we live what we teach. So I definitely do try to live out the time management techniques that we teach on the blog and through the banner. But one resource we… we wouldn't have that your readers or listeners might want to check out is we’ve got a ‘crushing it’ mini course going on right now, it's completely free to join. You can go to livingwellspendingless.com/crushingit and sign up for it. It’s a 4-part video mini course that they all get sent straight to your email, but it talks a lot about what I talked about today about thinking big, planning small, and then crushing your goals, and it just gives you some really, really practical tips for how to do that.
J: And that's a free email course; they just get emails with ideas?
J: Oh neat; that's great.
J: The… the ‘crushing it’ mini course at Living Well, Spending Less, and then that planner, what's that called again? Because I have a good friend, Tracy, who loves planners so I have to tell her about it.
R: Yeah. So the planner is called the living well planner.
R: And it really focuses on goal setting and there is a monthly budget and every month because we're Living Well, Spending Less so we're all about living well and spending less. And it really helps you kind of narrow down… get your intention for the year, but then narrow your focus down month by month in order to get things done.
J: Oh, that's perfect. And our listeners can find links to those books and everything else we've talked about by going to jenriday.com/45; such good advice. And then finally, what is the best advice you've ever received?
R: The best advice I've ever received. You know, I think that the best advice I've ever received is one time, I was feeling really kind of like I was just not qualified to be doing what I'm doing, not qualified to be talking about living well and spending less, not qualified to be just sort of in the space that I'm in. And one of my mentors said, “You know, everybody feels that way and we're all just making it up as you go along. So the best thing that you can do is just keep plugging away and keep making it up as you go along and just do the best you can.” And that has stuck with me so much because I think sometimes we look at everyone else and they think everybody else has it all figured out and we're the ones who are just like faking it. But the reality is that everybody’s faking it all the time. So just keep doing…
R: … the best you can and you'll be fine. (Laughs)
J: Right. Oh, that's so good, everyone is faking it all the time, I'm sure (Laughs); I believe that.
J: Well, Ruth if you had to create a 3 to 5 part formula of things that make you happiest, what would you include in that list?
R: Well, my kids and my husband, for sure, would be right there, and just being able to do the work that I do and the work that I'm so passionate about. Being able to get up and early in the morning and work at something that I love, that I'm good at, and that actually like helps people along the way it makes a difference in people's lives; like, I really can't think of anything better than that.
J: Mm, family and a career that you love; I love that.
J: Before we say goodbye, I would love for you to give our listeners a parting challenge; anything you want to challenge them to try this coming week?
R: Well, I challenge you to take the ‘crushing it’ mini course. I think it is a game changer and it is already… we've already had almost 20,000 people go through it and feedback we've been receiving for some people it's pretty amazing. So if you really want to do something to impact your life in a really big way, especially going it into the new year, take it ‘crushing it’ mini course; not that big of a commitment. It's 4 videos, but it's definitely life-changing.
J: Okay, thank you so much. And I've really enjoyed having you on the show. I will have a link for that mini course at jenriday.com/45. Thank you so much, Ruth, it's been a fun time.
R: Thanks so much for having me, it was great to be here.
J: Well, thank you so much for joining us today. And be sure to join me again next week, same time, same place, when I talk with Emily Cummins all about lacing up your warrior boots and becoming your authentic self. You know that phrase ‘warrior boots’ means Emily is amazing; and she is. So be sure to join me next week, and I'll see you also on Thursday with another happy bit, and until then, make it a great week. Take care.
Outro: Thanks for listening to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast at www.jenriday.com.