#386: Dealing with Clutter in the Hardest Time of Your Life

#386: Dealing with Clutter in the Hardest Time of Your Life

Have you ever made progress on your decluttering journey only to stop when something unexpected and unwelcome happens? Maybe you have a loved one going through hard times and you want to help, but don’t know where to begin. This week, Kathi chats with Niki Hardy, author of Breathe Again: How to Live Well When Life Falls Apart, about what to do in difficult seasons.

In this episode, you’ll learn tons of practical wisdom about what you can do in hard times, whether you or someone you love is directly affected. You’ll hear about how to:

  • Ask for and accept help from others when you need it.
  • Offer help in a way that blesses those in hard times.
  • How taking care of your future self is crucial in tough seasons.

If you’re curious about the Enneagram after hearing Niki mention it, click here.

You can order your own copy of Niki’s book Breathe Again: How to Live Well When Life Falls Apart on Amazon today.

Giveaway

As a bonus for two lucky listeners, we are giving away two copies of Niki’s book, Breathe Again: How to Live Well When Life Falls Apart! Enter below by commenting and letting us know:

When you have been in a situation where you needed help, what is something that someone has done for you that offered practical, timely help in that situation?

 

We would love to stay connected.

To share your thoughts:

Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.

Subscribe on iTunes or subscribe to our newsletter now.

Transcript

Read along with the podcast!

Clutter Free Academy Podcast #386

Dealing with Clutter at in the Hardest Time of your Life

<<intro music>>

Kathi – Well hey, friends! Welcome to Clutter Free Academy, where our goal is to help you take small, doable steps to live every day with less clutter and more life.  You know, one of the things I hear so much in Clutter Free Academy, our Facebook group, and from you, individually, or when I go speak is, “Decluttering was going so well until…” and whatever that ‘until’ is. Whether it was a physical illness, it was the death of somebody you cared deeply about, a change in your life that was unwelcome and unexpected. Things were going well until. Today on the podcast I want to talk about the ‘until’. Today, doing that, we have Nicki Hardy. She is the author of this beautiful book Breath Again: How to Live Well when Life Falls Apart. Niki, thank you so much for being on Clutter Free Academy.

Niki – Thank you for having me. It’s a joy to be here.

Kathi – I love that, even in just our brief time talking before we got onto the podcast, “Okay, this could be really heavy.” You are light and wonderful, so you are the perfect person to talk about this with. I know your book isn’t overtly about clutter, but can you tell us a little bit about what happened in your life? Then I’ve got some questions about the stuff in your life and some of the processes you had to reevaluate in your story.

Niki – Yes, of course. I love the way you say, “Everything was going right until…” I think for some of us, it’s one big moment and for others it’s a slow unravelling. I think I had three big ‘until’ moments. I lost my mom to cancer, and hers was aggressive; lung cancer. Then just six years later my sister had the same thing and unfortunately she passed away at just 43 after just 14 months. Then six weeks after losing Jo, I was diagnosed. It was three consecutive side-swipes by life. Mine wasn’t lung cancer like there’s. Mine was rectal cancer. I can only just say that out loud and on-air, ‘cause it’s not the sexiest of cancers. It doesn’t come with a pretty pink bow or a cuddly teddy bear.

Kathi – How many walks are there for rectal cancer?

Niki – There are more than you’d think. It’s the number 2 cancer killer in the country.

Kathi – It is? Okay, Niki, I had no idea. Zero idea. People don’t talk about it.

Niki – Yeah, people say you’re never too young. I don’t think people do. It’s silent because, if you’re like me, you have absolutely no symptoms. It comes out of the blue, and often when you do find out about it, it’s too late. So, I would say to anyone, “You’re never too young to love your bum.” Go and get that lovely colonoscopy.

Kathi – Most famously, at least that I know, Farrah Fawcett Majors was the one that had rectal cancer and sadly, passed away from it. So, you’re never too young to love your bum. You know what? There needs to be a bumper sticker. Okay, so, can I tell you, I’m one of those people who have put it off? After my last podcast today, I’ll be calling to make the appointment. Thank you for that.

Niki – I’m so glad.

Kathi – Thank you for that nudge. Thank you for that kick in the rear that I so desperately needed. Sorry, that’ll be the last rear joke of the podcast. How does one function? Okay, first of all, losing your mom. I’ve lost my dad and it was expected. It was known. It still took my breath away, and can I just say grief is the sneakiest emotion of them all? There’s that. You lost your mom. Then, not in the natural order of things, you lose your sister. So, two deaths of women who were too young to be gone. Then a diagnosis for you. What was the biggest impact of that diagnosis? How did that change your life that people would have noticed?

Niki – Well, noticeably, I’m a Brit with a stiff and perfectly waxed upper lip and I can keep calm and carry on with the best of them. So, on the one hand, I just kept going. I was determined to survive. My faith, my grit, and my stiff upper lip were going to get me through this. At the same time, I was falling apart. So, my friends who have read my book have said, “I had no idea you were feeling like this.” And I replied, “Nor did I until I wrote it down afterwards.” It had a huge impact on my faith. It had huge impact on our kids, who, as far as they were concerned, cancer meant you were going to die and die quickly.

Kathi – Yes.

Niki – How we told those; how we interacted with our church and how honest we were. All those kinds of things. On Clutter Free Academy, we talk about clutter, but it was as if my life had shattered, and I was surrounded by rubble, not clutter. I had medical paraphernalia everywhere, but I also had emotional/spiritual/physical rubble.

Kathi – There’s a dimension that is added to your life. It’s not just you don’t feel well. Like you said, the medical paperwork is another full time job. I have, fortunately, been very healthy throughout most of my life, but the couple of times we’ve encountered surgeries or something like that, it’s another job to be able to stay on top of that. Then, like you said, the medical paraphernalia; having to incorporate that into and already busy home? I can’t even imagine. So, I know you’re going to be on a lot of podcasts and a lot of places talking the deep, spiritual stuff about this, but here are my questions for you, as they relate to clutter. I think clutter is a physical manifestation of our overwhelm. When you see somebody’s house is out of control, or you see that their kids are showing up to school and they don’t look like they’re out of a Macy’s ad. When those things happen, I want to know what do you do as the person who is in the midst of it? I’d love a couple of practical steps. Then, I would also love to know, if you are my friend and you’ve got that stiff upper lip, how do I engage in order to help? Let’s start with you. I’m sure you did things wrong, but if you could go back and teach your sick self what to do, what would you tell her?

Niki – I think the first thing would be to accept help. That is so hard because it means accepting we need help. We’re in a culture that’s a ‘make it happen captain’ culture. We celebrate people who have made it on their own. So saying, “Help!” sounds like we’re uttering this four letter word. So, admitting we need help is, not only an emotional step, but it also requires us to allow people into our mess. Emotionally and practically as well. To allow somebody to come and fold your laundry requires they are going to handle your undies and see that your laundry room is a bomb site.  Even if they want to do the washing up or take the dog for a walk, they’re going to see that all that stuff is in a mess. So, it requires a level of letting people in, which requires letting our boundaries or our walls down a little bit. I kept mine up for far too long to keep it all together.

Kathi – Letting people in requires a certain amount of letting go of control. That’s very scary when you’re already in a situation where you’re not in control.

Niki – Exactly. I talk about, in the book, about choosing ‘brave’. I think, asking for help, asking for somebody to come and drive you somewhere, or take your kids to practice is a really brave choice. We think bravery is something that’s huge and comes with the genes we’re born with, or not born with, but it’s actually a choice. It doesn’t need to be big, but it does need to be intentional. It can mean getting out of bed when depression hits hard. That’s the kind of brave choice, and I think allowing people in is a brave choice.

Kathi – So, what kind of people do you let in? Because there are safe people and there are not so safe people. I have never been in the position you have, of being so physically compromised, so I want to know: What are the hallmarks of the people that you should let in, and the others who you say, “You know what? A gift card would be great.”?

Niki – I think that’s so true. There are safe people and there’s safe things you can tell more people. Like, I was quite happy sharing, for the most part, prayer requests. People would share when we needed meals or rides for kids. Those are very safe things to talk about. Letting people into the feeling that ‘when I got cancer, the whole world got cancer’ and every argument with my husband meant that our marriage was one the rocks, and every time my teenagers were snarky, it meant that they weren’t handling my cancer and they were doing drugs. Those require a certain closeness of people. I found that the people who were safest in that, were the people that were willing to not try and fix it. Who were willing to say, “Yes, this sucks. I am so sorry.”

Kathi – “This is so hard. I’m so sorry.” I love that. Okay, here’s what I would love. I would love for you to be able to tell me. Say, my friend has just been diagnosed and I’m scared. One, I don’t need her to fix my scared. I need to deal with that on my own, but what are the tangible things that I can do? The offers I can make? And how do I go about making those offers in a way that will be supportive to her? All I want to do is help, but I don’t want to overstep my bounds. I don’t want to be a downer. What are some physical, tangible things that I can do for her to help her out?

Niki – It’s a great question. I think it’s so important to talk about these, because being on the receiving end of it, I’ve had people do wonderful things and people say terrible things. I think that acknowledging that it’s really hard and you’re really sorry that they’re going through this. I think, asking, specifically, what you can do to help, but also acknowledging that they might not know.

Kathi – That’s my concern.

Niki – I think saying something like, “I really want to help. What specific things can I do? I’m thinking I could…x, y, or zed. Let me know if that would help.” Then saying something freeing, like, “No need to text me back today.” Or “How are you doing today?” Because it might be different to yesterday or five minutes ago. Then, I think one of the best things we can do is, when somebody is struggling, sit with them in the pain. When they’re doing well, do well with them. Not necessarily talk about the last surgery or the last chemo or whatever. When they’re doing well, celebrate with them.

Kathi – I love this. I love the offer of, okay, I’m just going to be British here for a second, “x, y, and zed”. That makes me so happy I can’t even stand it. It signals the level of your willingness to help. “Can I bring you a meal?” “Can I take your kids to soccer practice?” Or, “Can I go sit with you while you’re in chemotherapy?” “I have friends who have a vacation home, so when you’re past this, let me know when you have a weekend and we’ll get that settled.” Whatever it is, it signals. I know when I’ve been in hard situations, I haven’t wanted to ask for too big a favor. That says, “Hey! We are willing! My husband is willing to come and do the yard.” Or whatever your gifts are. Whatever your talents are, to be able to go in. I love that what you’re doing is signaling people. You said that your journey through all these griefs has changed how you viewed clutter and staying organized. Can you tell me a little bit about it? It doesn’t have to be radical, but I’d love to know how that changed for you.

Niki – I think that one of the key things is that when my surroundings are in a mess, it adds to the overwhelm. It adds to the emotional turmoil if there’s external turmoil. So, I’m very fortunate that I have a very organized, and a very tidy husband.

Kathi – God bless him.

Niki – God bless him. So, that was a huge help, but we had to do things like, I moved into a room we had downstairs so that he wouldn’t be disturbed. So, trying to keep medical paraphernalia out of the way so that it wasn’t top of mind the whole time. The way I view clutter now, is that it is an additional stress in my life that I don’t actually need. I’m a big fan of Greg McCowan who wrote Essentialism.

Kathi – Yes!

Niki – I’m a seven on the enneagram and I’m just go go go, fun fun fun. So, I often don’t finish tasks and put things away at the time. That has changed, because I think I will want that away. The future me will need that to be away. So, that has really helped.

Kathi – I love that. We have a concept around here about taking care of your future self. We always assume our future self is going to have more energy, more time, more desire. When you have gone through something like you have Niki, that fantasy is dispelled. There isn’t, necessarily, a block of time where you’re just going to say, “You know what? I really feel like organizing all my office supplies today.” There isn’t going to be extra money, necessarily. There’s not going to be, necessarily, extra energy. So, if I can do it now. I’m not doing it because I want to be the Martha Stewart of homes. I’m doing this because I want to take care of my future self who has a cold; who has a friend who needs me to watch their kids. I want to take care of that future self so she can do what God has called her to do.

Niki – Exactly. I’ve learned that if I do it now, it takes half the time it would if I did it in the future. It’s a way of loving myself. One thing I’m terrible at is resting and sitting and reading a book when it’s not five minutes before I turn the light out. Those are the things I’m trying to incorporate so that I can live well when life falls apart, and when it’s good.

Kathi – When you say it’s half the effort to do it now as it is to do it later, it’s so true. We add the shame to it of “Why did I leave this out?” There’s an emotional component. When you put something down, your whole family says, “Oh, good. This is where we put things down now.” We don’t need any of that.  Niki, I know your book is filled with wisdom and emotional health, but thank you for getting practical with us. I really appreciate the tactical ways to support yourself through a crisis and to support others. Thank you so much for that.

Niki – Oh, you’re welcome. One of the reasons I wrote the book was because there were so many books out there that were motivating and inspiring and encouraging, but I would read them and go, “But how do I do this? How do I just trust God when life has fallen apart? What do I do with my anger? How do I practice gratitude? What does that look like when you’re just angry?” So, the book is deeply practical because we need to be able to touch it and feel it and see it in action.

Kathi – And make it happen. This is so good. Guys, we have a couple copies of this to give away, so here’s what I’d love in the podcast notes. I would love to comment for me and tell me, when you have been in a situation where you’ve needed help, what is something that someone has done for you that has offered practical, timely help in that situation? Niki, I so appreciate your time and your willingness to come on Clutter Free Academy. Thanks for being here.

Niki – It’s been a joy. Thank you for having me.

Kathi – And friends, thanks for joining us. You’ve been listening to Clutter Free Academy. I’m Kathi Lipp. Now, go create the clutter free life you were always intended to live.

 

 

<<music>>

 

*see show notes in podcast post above for any mentioned items

Meet Our Guest

Niki Hardy

Niki Hardy

Niki Hardy is a Brit in the USA, a rectal (yes, rectal) cancer survivor, pastor’s wife, tea drinker and teller of terrible jokes. As a speaker and the author of Breathe Again: How to Live Well When Life Falls Apart, she’s all about meeting you when life’s not fair and helping you embrace the reality that with God, life doesn’t have to be pain-free to be full, then go live it.

Learn more at nikihardy.com

#385: How to Love Being Home

#385: How to Love Being Home

Do you long for a cozy home that feels like your happy place? This week, Kathi chats with Liz Marie Galvan, designer and author of the best-selling book, Cozy White Cottage: 100 Ways to Love the Feeling of Being Home. Kathi and Liz discuss how to begin creating the cozy, beautiful home you’ve always wanted.

In this episode, you’ll learn the connection between decluttering and creating a home you love. You’ll also hear how:

  • Decluttering allows the “cute” and “cozy” to shine in your home
  • You can appreciate decor ideas, yet leave them at the store
  • To get a better sense of your personal style

If you want to learn more about cultivating a home you love, you can order a copy of Liz’s book Cozy White Cottage on Amazon.

Giveaway

Two lucky listeners will have the chance to win a copy of Liz’s book, Cozy White Cottage: 100 Ways to Love the Feeling of Being Home!

Let us know in the comments what is one thing in your home that you love, use, and would buy again because it is totally “you”? Bonus points for including a picture!

Kathi’s purple chair

We would love to stay connected.

To share your thoughts:

Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.

Subscribe on iTunes or subscribe to our newsletter now.

Transcript

Read along with the podcast!

Clutter Free Academy Podcast #385

<<intro music>>

Kathi – Hey, friends! Welcome to Clutter Free Academy, where our goal is help you take small, doable steps to help you live every day with less clutter and more life. Today we are landing squarely in the More Life category. I know you. You want to have a beautiful house. Clutter can get in the way, but you know what? Even when you’re in the midst of decluttering, you can start leaning in to the house you want to have. Today we have got the guest who is going to help you do this. This is Liz Marie Galvan and she is a brand new friend. She is the author of a number one bestseller in interior design. Congratulations Liz! This is awesome. Cozy White Cottage: 100 ways to Love the Feeling of Being Home. Liz, welcome to Clutter Free Academy. I should ask, is it Liz? Or Liz Marie?

Liz – It’s either one. I always know if someone knows me from the blog, they call me Liz Marie, but we’re friends now, so you can call me Liz.

Kathi – Liz! I love it. Welcome to Clutter Free Academy. I’m so excited for this interview with you, because I look at the cover of your book, and I think, “I could be friends with her.” It has everything I love. It’s amazing.

Liz – Thank you!

Kathi – So, you and I talked a little bit before we got on, and I know my audience. They want to have that cozy feeling. They long for that in their heart. So, they’ll buy the things, they’ll do the things, but often times people who deal with clutter don’t love the feeling of being at home.  I love that that is what your goal is in this book: The feeling of being home. Why is that so important to you?

Liz – Honestly, we have been through a lot, my husband and I. We have gone through deployments. He was in the military. We’ve gone through a really long infertility journey. We’ve lost nine babies. 

Kathi – Oh, Liz!

Liz – Yeah, we’ve been through a lot of things, and through that, I realized that having a cozy home, somewhere to come at the end of the day, or when we’re going through something hard, or something good, is so important to your mental health.  Just to have that security around you. Going through all that I learned that, and that’s why I wanted to write the book and share that. 

Kathi – One key thing you said there, you’ve been through a lot of tough things, but you also said, “And when life is going well.” This summer, I had so many good things happen in my life. So, it was time to finally take a break and I didn’t want to leave my house. I’m like, “Why am I so strung out?” There were so many good things that happened in a row, I didn’t take any time to rest. I had to double down at home. 

Liz – Yes. I think for us, too. We have a son now, Copeland, and just knowing we have a home that, hopefully, he longs to come to at the end of the day, and that he’s comfortable in, wants to come home and share about his day. It’s just really important, even in the good times.

Kathi – I would love a couple of inside tips right now. I want to know a couple of easy ways. I know, with being from a past of clutter, it was so easy to get overwhelmed so quickly, so I want to know what are your easiest and favorite ways to improve your home and the feelings you have when you come in there. I need simple. Just boss me around. Go for it, Liz.

Liz – I love that. A big chapter in our book is about decluttering. I love being on this podcast and I love your passion for that as well. Honestly, the first step to making any space cozy is the decluttering, which in the book we talk about reusing items, but a major part of it is reducing items. Getting rid of things that we don’t love or find useful. I talk about, maybe we don’t have a huge budget to redo our homes right now, but reducing some of our items can add to our budget. By selling on Facebook Marketplace and getting rid of them to family and friends and things like that.  When we’re starting with a blank slate, it’s so much easier to make your space cozy, rather than try to make it cozy around all the clutter. So we hit on that a lot in the book.

Kathi – The word ‘cute’ is contained in the word ‘clutter’. You can find all those letters and it’s so true. I think what happens is, we’re at the store, we find something we love, we bring it home, but instead of showcasing it, it just adds to the pile. So the ‘cute’ gets absorbed into the ‘clutter’. One of the things I’ve discovered is, when I scale back, I often don’t want to put a lot back into the room. I love the blank walls. I love the space that it has. I love that you hit on two of our principles. If you love it, and you use it, it gets to stay. The third one is, would you buy it again? I love that you hit on two out of three there. Here’s my question: How do you use the things you already have? How do you develop and eye to know what to keep and what to get rid of? 

Liz – In our home, it took me a long time to develop that. I feel like I was keeping things around because I thought they were cute. I really had to assess. If I was shoving it in a cupboard or a closet, or if I wasn’t getting joy from it or actually using it in a room, or if I found myself moving the items from room to room, but it never felt right? I was just, “It’s time to get rid of this.” That’s become a really good habit for me now. I find myself going into stores where I used to think I needed to get all the cute things, because if I left it there, I wouldn’t have the cute thing.Now it’s like, “Where am I going to put that?”, “How am I going to use that?” and really just fine tuning those skills over time. It takes time but it does come natural once you start doing that.

Kathi – I think there’s something really interesting that I’ve never thought about until you were just talking about it. You used to go into store and want to buy all the things. People don’t know, we’re on video right now, and you have corn husks behind you in this cute galvanized bucket. It’s adorable. Here’s the thing. I love that, but I also know that doesn’t fit with my life. So, can I just appreciate it in Liz’s house and not have to bring all the things home?

Liz – Yes. You fine tune that skill as well. I think, in this world of social media, where we’re scrolling and people are saying, “Swipe up! Swipe up to buy these items.” I think we need to fine tune these skills even more. Things are more in our face now. I completely agree with you on that.

Kathi – The thing that makes me crazy are these surprise boxes. They just send you a bunch of random stuff. They have them for homes now, and it’s like, “Now you have to incorporate this rando stuff.” No no no! That’s letting somebody else decide what your tastes should be. You should be able to walk into a house and say, “Oh, I know this is Liz’s house.” Or “I know this is Tonya’s house.” I love that. Okay, how do we start to develop and understand our own style? I think that’s a big question for a lot of people. Because we love all the things, but we have to understand what our style is.

Liz – Yes. I think it’s because I’m in this world of home décor every day, so I appreciate all different styles. I think, really digging deep into yourself and asking yourself what you love in your home. I love color in people’s homes. I love that. But in our own home, I just found myself, shoving those items away that were brightly colored. I like my eyes and my mind to be at ease with neutrals when we’re home. Both my husband and I enjoy that, so I really had to dig deep and realize what was bringing me joy. It wasn’t the bright green pillow, though I loved it in Tonya’s house, I didn’t need to enjoy it in our home. I think that just really being honest with yourself. I think that’s something that’s really hard to do sometimes. We love it, but why do we love that? Asking yourself these, not hard questions, but being honest with yourself can be hard. 

Kathi – I think they can be hard questions for a lot of us, especially for those of us who tend towards clutter, because we look for our identity in items sometimes. I think that’s a good and a bad thing. A home is an expression of who we are and when we know ourselves better, we can say, “No, I appreciate that in Liz’s home, and I can look at it there.” I’m guessing you wouldn’t have my fabulous purple chair in your home.

Liz – I wouldn’t, but I love it in your home. I was just thinking that.

Kathi – I’m looking at your grey pumpkin and I’m like, “That is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.” That is so much of it, is to not want it, but still be able to appreciate it. It’s a curated sense of style. We talk about curation all the time here.  Liz, I love this. I’m in love with your book. What’s your dog’s name? The cover model? 

<<dog barks>>

Liz – Well, she actually just said her name. That is hilarious. That’s so funny. That’s Miss Winnifred, aka Winnie. 

Kathi – She was born to be a star, wasn’t she?

Liz – She really was, yes. Born for it.

Kathi – You guys, the book is Cozy White Cottage: 100 Ways to Love the Feeling of Being Home. Liz, we are giving away two copies of this book on the podcast, and two copies on Facebook. Here is the question I want our listeners to answer. Here’s the thing, I’m going to give you two ways to enter. If you put a picture of this: What is the thing in your home that most defines you; that you love; that you use; that you would buy again, because it’s totally you? I’m going to put up a picture of my purple chair with the turquoise pillow, because that is about as Kathi as a piece of furniture could get. I’m going to ask you this, Liz. What is the thing in your home that makes you feel like the most you? If you wouldn’t mind, I’d love for you to send us a picture of it. 

Liz – Yes, totally. When you said your chairs, I’m thinking of the most ‘me’ thing in our home, is that all our furniture is slip covered in drop-cloths, which is so funny. I think a big, cozy, slip-covered chair with a big, over-sized pillow on it is probably the most me.

Kathi – That’s what screams, “Liz!”  I love it. I love it even more, because as you have your son and he grows up and does the things that sons do, you can just take that puppy off, bleach it and put it back on. It’s a beautiful thing. 

Liz – Yes, I was just in our front living room, sitting on our slip-covered sofa with a friend, and it’s just kind of gross today. It’s muddy here. There are puppy prints all over it, but it doesn’t stress me out because I can clean it.  That’s why I love it.

Kathi – It doesn’t just fit your style, it fits your life. Which is a beautiful thing.

Liz – Yes. We live on a very muddy farm, so it definitely fits our life.

Kathi – I love it. Liz, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. Cozy White Cottage: 100 Ways to Love the Feeling of Being Home. Thank you so much for being on Clutter Free Academy. 

Liz – Of course. Thank you for having me.

Kathi – And friends, thank you for listening. You’re the most important part of this podcast, and I’m so grateful you joined us today. You’ve been listening to Clutter Free Academy. I’m Kathi Lipp. Now, go create the clutter free life you were always intended to live. 

<<music>>

*see show notes in podcast post above for any mentioned items

Meet Our Guest

Liz Marie Galvan

Liz Marie Galvan

Liz Marie Galvan is a blogger, interior designer, former military wife, and co-owner of the vintage home décor boutique The Found Cottage. She is passionate about sharing her life, interests, and interior design ideas on her blog, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest pages daily. Liz and her veteran husband, Jose, live on an 1800s farmhouse in Michigan with their son, Copeland Beau, as well as dogs, cats, sheep, and rams. 

Find design inspiration and DIY ideas at LizMarieBlog.com.

#383: Hot Mess to Totally Blessed with Comedian Kerri Pomarolli

#383: Hot Mess to Totally Blessed with Comedian Kerri Pomarolli

If you are overwhelmed trying to make life Pinterest-perfect, you are in good company! This week, Kathi chats with comedian and self-proclaimed Hot Mess for Jesus, Kerri Pomarolli. Kathi and Kerri discuss what it means to find grace right where you are today, in the midst of a messy, busy life.

In this episode, you’ll laugh along with Kathi and Kerri as you learn:

  • What it means to be a Proverbs 32 woman, AKA a Hot Mess for Jesus.
  • How to figure out what level of decluttering works for you
  • Who are the people you need to have around you in your life

For Kathi’s family stuffing recipe, click here.

To hear Sebastian Maniscalco’s bit about company coming over, click here (warning: some language is inappropriate for children).

Order your copy of Kerri’s book, Confessions of a Proverbs 32 Woman: How I Went From Messed Up to Blessed Up Without Changing a Single Thing from Amazon today.

 

Giveaway

As a special treat, Harvest House has generously offered our readers the chance to win five copies of Kerri’s new book, Confessions of a Proverbs 32 Woman: How I Went from Messed Up to Blessed Up Without Changing a Single Thing.

One grand-prize winner will also win:
Kerri’s devotional book, She Rises Late and Her Kids Make Her Breakfast
Assorted Tea
Nutella 2pack
Snack Box

Click here to enter today!

 

We would love to stay connected.

To share your thoughts:

Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.

Subscribe on iTunes or subscribe to our newsletter now.

Meet Our Guest

Kerri Pomarolli

Kerri Pomarolli

Comedian Kerri Pomarolli discovered her call to stand-up after trading in her pursuit of a star on the Walk of Fame for faith. From movies and television to stand-up comedy, she tours extensively and is one of the most sought-after comedians in both Christian and secular venues. An accomplished writer and author, she is known as “Hollywood’s Favorite God Girl.” She lives with her daughters in Los Angeles.

You can learn more at Proverbs32woman.com

#382: How to Hold Onto Hope – For My Friends Who Are Suffering

#382: How to Hold Onto Hope – For My Friends Who Are Suffering

When you hear the word “relentless,” does it have a positive or negative connotation for you? Some of us hear it and think of persevering, continuing no matter what is in our way. Others of us think of wave after wave of challenges in our lives.

In this week’s episode, Kathi sits down with Michele Cushatt, one of her besties and author of Relentless: The Unshakeable Presence of a God Who Never Leaves, to discuss how to hold onto hope when life feels relentless in its difficulties.

Kathi and Michele give real-life examples of ways life can feel relentless and how we try to cope with that chaos. In this episode, you’ll also hear:

  • Two unhelpful extremes that we try to “fix” chaos in our lives and two helpful ways to cope.
  • How we can find an anchor outside ourselves and our circumstances to keep us from being tossed about.
  • How relentless challenges and God’s relentless presence can coexist.

If you want to go deeper in learning about how to hold on to hope, check out Michele Cushatt’s book Relentless: The Unshakeable Presence of a God Who Never Leaves, available on Amazon.

Giveaway

As a special treat we are giving away a copy of Michele’s book, Relentless, to two lucky listeners. If you’d like to enter to win a copy, comment below and let us know:

What situation are you going through where you need to be reminded of God’s unshakeable presence?

 

We would love to stay connected.

To share your thoughts:

Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.

Subscribe on iTunes or subscribe to our newsletter now.

Transcript of Clutter Free Academy Podcast #382

Read along with the podcast!

Clutter Free Academy Podcast #382

Holding On to Hope

<<intro music>>

Kathi – Well, hey friends. Welcome to Clutter Free Academy, where our heart is to help you become clutter free in every area of your life. Today I have one of my best friends, and the author of the new book, Relentless: The Unshakeable Presence of a God Who Never Leaves. Michele, welcome back to Clutter Free Academy.

Michele – Thank you! I love that I get to be with your Clutter Free peeps! I also love, and I’m going to sound like a junior high girl, that I’m one of your best friends.

Kathi – You are! I’m sorry if I’ve never said that.

Michele – I know! A girl likes to hear that.

Kathi – You know what? it is nice to be confirmed. You’re like, “I like them. Do they like me?” 

Michele – Maybe it’s because I have a twelve and thirteen year old girl right now, so I get to hear stories like, “She’s my best friend. Well, she’s not my best friend anymore. She used to be my best friend, but she’s not now.” 

Kathi – There’s not a million dollars you could give me to go back to that nonsense.

Michele – Oh my Gosh! This is my everyday reality, and I’m like, “Oh, for the love!” So, when you said best friend, I’m like, “Hah! I can go to my girls tonight and say, ‘I have a best friend!’”

Kathi – I love it. It makes me super-happy. I know! We’ll get BFF bracelets. 

Michele – Maybe a necklace, you know? ‘Cause that’s not cheesy at all. 

Kathi – No. Not cheesy at all.

Michele – You have half of it and I have the other half.

Kathi – There we go. There will be interlocking hearts. There we go.

Michele – Maybe we can put our photo on the back, just to take it up a notch.

Kathi – There we go. And we’ll sign each other’s yearbooks first. I’ll give you a whole page.

Michele – A whole page? I’ll use permanent ink.

Kathi – Permanent puffy ink. Okay, so I want to talk to you about your title, Relentless. I think, for a lot of people, Relentless has a great connotation. If you’re a runner, you’re that kind of person, Relentless. You’re persistent. Constant. Continual. Those are some great words. Can I tell you what Relentless means to me?  It’s like the relentless tide of stuff coming into my house. The relentless whine of my children. The relentless pounding of noise in my life. So, I think it’s really interesting. This is one of those words, depending on who’s saying it and what their intention is, can be such a compliment or a curse.

Michele – Exactly, and that was intentional. It was intentional to be a play on words. The whole heart behind it is, many times, it feels like our circumstances are relentless. It’s just one thing after another. You wake up optimistic, and before nine AM rolls around, fifty things have gone wrong, and you’re like, “Oh my Gosh!” It’s like the buzzing mosquito in your ear that’s relentless. You can just never seem to get ahead of the vehicle.

Kathi – You and I were taking of-air, ‘cause we haven’t talked in a while, which is crazy for best friends.

Michele – Good thing I have the necklace.

Kathi – That’s right. And the puffy paint! The thing is, I was telling you, I’ve had a really good year, but there has been one thing after another. Nothing has been catastrophic, but it gets to a point, and it’s too much. 

Michele – It’s too much.

Kathi – Just recently, I’ve really come to this place of understanding. Overwhelm is a couple of things. It’s loneliness. It’s feeling like you’re alone in this situation. Clutter, often times, we don’t feel like we can rely on other people, so it’s all up to us. It’s that feeling of loneliness. This relentlessness of it comes every day. There’s no place to take a breath. So, when you talk about a relentless God, I know what you mean by that, but I want to talk more about when you feel like life is relentless. How do you get through the day? I happen to know for a fact that clutter is not your thing. It’s not your issue. But God’s given you enough other issues.

Michele – I was going to say: I have plenty of other issues. Clutter just happens to not be one of them. 

Kathi – Which is okay, ‘cause we can still like her, friends, because she has a lot of compassion and mercy for those of us who struggle. 

Michele – I have kids that are hoarders, so I do have that aspect of constantly fighting it in my kids’ bedrooms. 

Kathi – You guys think she’s being cute when she says that her kids are hoarders.

Michele – No, they really are.

Kathi – They’re little magpies. They like little versions of me. There’s something shiny and they have to own it, even if it’s a gum wrapper.

Michele – A gum wrapper, restaurant menus, napkins with a picture on it. That comes from their history of early childhood trauma and abuse. When I say they’re hoarders, they really are. We have to go in and clean things out, because it’s bad.

Kathi – I feel like when life is relentless, humans tend to go to one of two extremes. They either give up, because they just feel like the chaos is so out of control, why even bother? Or, they go to the other extreme, where they try to control everything and get frustrated when life doesn’t go according to plan. So, which one are you?

Michele – Oh, hands down, the control. I would love to say that I’m one that concedes, gives up and lets the chaos take over my life, but I try to convince myself that if I just exert a little bit more control, everything will come under my dominion.

Kathi – How’s that working for you?

Michele – It’s not working so well. I’m pretty exhausted.

Kathi – So, I’m more of the “Hey, I’m just going to let go and let God.” I’ll say ridiculous things like that.

Michele – Is that how it’s done?

Kathi – I’ll say ridiculousness like that. But even in my abdication, I still want to have control. I still want to know that things are going to go according to plan. So, when we’re in that space, where life is just coming at us, and I’m not just talking about clutter, I’m talking about all the things. Those family dynamics. You talk a lot about that in Relentless, where you don’t get to have a lot of control over how the other people in your home, in your life, behave. So, what do you do in those situations, Michele?

Michele – Are you asking me on a good day, or a bad day?

Kathi – I want to hear both. Let’s talk about the bad day first. 

Michele – Yeah, the bad day, because it’s so spiritual and mature. On the bad day, when this happens, I just lose it. When I’m just trying so hard to keep all the balls spinning, and keep everything in order, and then the people in my life, it feels like, they’re working to oppose it. They’re doing the exact opposite. For example, I follow behind my son, and have him pick up his stuff, and all he does is pick it up and drop it at another place in the house, right? You do this a hundred times before you eventually lose your cool and yell, “Oh my Gosh! Just put it away!” So, that’s on the bad days. I just keep upping my game, right? I just get louder, and more controlling, and more obnoxious and more of a bull in a china shop, trying to exert that control. On the good days, I realize that I have to find an anchor within the chaos. In terms of a boat on a lake in a storm. It’s going to be rocked everywhere. You can try with all your might to row your way through it, but you really have no control over the waves. The key to a boat in the storm is, you have to have an anchor. You have to have a dock to tie yourself to. It has to be external to yourself. 

Kathi – Okay, so talk about that. It has to be external to yourself. So, it’s not just grit your teeth and bear it.

Michele – That doesn’t work. It works for a time, I should say. I’m a very determined, persistent, persevering person, so gritting your teeth does work for a time, but sooner or later, and this is what I talk about in Relentless, your circumstance, your reality, is going to be beyond your ability to bootstrap through.

Kathi – When you’re dealing with pain, which you’ve dealt with a lot of physical pain over the past several years, when you’re dealing with relational pain, the gritting your teeth and bearing it, just trying to ride it out. You can do that for a time. It doesn’t matter what the pain is. The pain of a house in chaos. The pain of a relationship. You can do it for a certain amount of time and then you’re going to have to find something outside of yourself. So, if we’re the people who are used to bootstrapping it, what is our first step? Whether it’s clutter, ‘cause I know so many of you, as we’ve always talked about, is a physical manifestation for what’s going on inside of your heart. Some people work on the heart first. Some people work on the clutter first. There’s no right way. Both of them need to happen. But for that person who’s like, “I’m just overwhelmed and I just can’t do it anymore.” What is that first step in finding that outside anchor?

Michele – The first step is to simply acknowledge the emotion. What is going on? Too many times we act very reactively to what’s happening, but we never really stop to check in ourselves and say, “What is it, exactly, that I’m feeling right now?” Whether I’m buying a bunch of stuff, or controlling my environment, both of those are ways to numb the emotion that’s happening. So, what we need to do is check in with ourselves and say, “Why did I just go buy fifty Rubbermaid tubs? What’s the reason for that?” Or, for me, “Why did you just spend hours cleaning and picking up, and doing these obsessive compulsive kinds of activities?” I’m trying to distract myself from something. I’m trying to numb, so that first step is simply to stop and check in with yourself and say, “What’s the dominant emotion here? What am I feeling that’s causing me to do this desperate kind of behavior?”

Kathi – I love it. So, I love the acknowledging part. I think, for so many of us, we feel like, “This is just my reality. I can’t change it.” What I love in your book, is you talk about believing that God is present, even when there’s pain. I don’t want to minimalize the pain that so many of our listeners are going through. The pain of feeling out of control and disorganized. But you went through such tremendous physical pain, how did you anchor yourself to believe that God was there?

Michele – Well, it’s been a long journey. That’s part of the book. I really doubted it. I really doubted God’s nearness. When you feel pain, when you’re living in chaos, whether it’s clutter of physical suffering, whatever it may be, we equate the reality of our pain and chaos with the absence of God. “Since I’m experiencing pain and difficulties and trials, God must have abandoned me.” Or worse, “He’s not real at all.” They can’t co-exist. That’s a pretty natural human response to any kind of challenge or difficulty. So, you have to acknowledge it, but then you have to remind yourself of truth. This again, truth has to be external to our emotions. When everything’s chaos, it’s pretty loud. Chaos is a very loud thing, whether it’s physical chaos, or emotional chaos, or spiritual chaos, it screams pretty loud. So, somehow we have to come up with truth that can pierce that noise. So, for me, eventually, I had to sit down, and write some clarity of what God says is true about His presence. So, I could butt that truth up against the lies I was believing, that God must have abandoned me. So, it’s as simple, for me, as writing some of those verses down on a notecard, and carrying them around with me. Some of those notecards, I’ve been carrying for about seven years. 

Kathi – Wow. Guys, first of all, I want you to get this book. I really do. I don’t normally say that just so directly. Relentless: The Unshakeable Presence of a God Who Never Leaves. I’m going to have it in the notes. There’s probably a friend, too, that needs to go through this with you, with a gentle guide. We’re going to be giving a couple of copies away. I would love for my listeners to get vulnerable and put in the comments, just what is the situation you’re going through. You can just say, “It’s personal.” That’s fine. Maybe it’s the overwhelm of stuff in your house. Maybe it’s overwhelming circumstances.  Maybe it’s overwhelming relationships. If you are looking for a way to be reminded that there is a God who doesn’t leave; who doesn’t abandon, even when you feel alone. I’m going to really encourage you to pick up Relentless: The Unshakeable Presence of a God Who Never Leaves. Michele, thanks so much for being on Clutter Free Academy.

Michele – Thank you, my friend. I love your peeps, so thanks for having me here.

Kathi – My peeps are pretty awesome. They really are. And friends, you awesome people, thanks for listening. You’ve been here at Clutter Free Academy. I’m Kathi Lipp. Now, go create the clutter free life you were always intended to live.

<<music>>

*see show notes in podcast post above for any mentioned items

 

Meet Our Guest

Michele Cushatt

Michele Cushatt

As an experienced communicator, Michele Cushatt speaks internationally to a wide variety of audiences including Women of Faith, Life Today TV, Compassion International, Ziglar Family, Family Life Blended, and Focus on the Family.

A three-time head and neck cancer survivor and parent of “children from hard places,” Michele is a (reluctant) expert of trauma, pain and the deep human need for authentic connection. She and her husband, Troy, share a blended family of six children, including biological children, stepchildren, and foster-adopt children. They live in Denver, Colorado.

Learn more at michelecushatt.com/

#379: Clutter Free Basics: What is Space Boxing?

#379: Clutter Free Basics: What is Space Boxing?

If you get overwhelmed at the thought of decluttering an entire room, this week’s episode is just what you need! Kathi and Tonya Kubo, founder of the Clutter Free Academy Facebook Group, discuss the first of three Clutter Free basics: space boxing. This technique makes decluttering go faster, feel more doable and more satisfying.

In this episode, you’ll learn what space boxing is and hear real-life examples of how to use this tool in your home. You’ll also hear how space boxing:

  • Helps you to stay focused when decluttering
  • Empowers your kids to declutter their space
  • Leads to greater function and a sense of peace in your home.

Don’t miss next week’s second episode of Clutter Free Basics! Subscribe to have Kathi’s podcasts delivered to you every week.

Kathi’s book, Clutter Free Home: Making Room for Your Life will be released next February. You can learn more and pre-order your copy on Amazon today.

To learn more about MOMcon, click here.

 

We would love to stay connected.

To share your thoughts:

Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.

Subscribe on iTunes or subscribe to our newsletter now.

Transcript of Clutter Free Academy Podcast #379

Read along with the podcast!

Clutter Free Academy Podcast # 379

What is Space Boxing?

<<intro music>>

Kathi – Well, hey friends! Welcome to Clutter Free Academy, where our goal is to help you take small, do-able steps to live every day with less clutter and more life. Today, with me, is the founder of Clutter Free Academy on Facebook. You laugh every time I say that. Why is that?

Tonya – Because you’re the founder. You’re the one that called me and was like, “Hey, Tonya. I have this idea.” And I said, “Oh, okay.” And you just let me play. 

Kathi – Yeah, but you actually did it. So, I just pop in there, dust on some clutter magic. It’s Tonya Kubo. You all know this. Now, Tonya, can I share with you what I think the most depressing sentence in the entire world is? 

Tonya – Sure. I was in too good of a mood, anyway. Depress me.

Kathi – “I am going to declutter my kitchen today.” Or, “I’m going to gut my kitchen.” Or, “I’m going to organize my kitchen.” Any variation of that statement makes me want to curl up in a ball, rock back and forth and weep openly.

Tonya – Okay, so as the Clutter Free Queen, you have to explain that. I know our listeners. I love our listeners, but they all think that you wake up in the morning going, “I have nothing on the calendar. I am going to go declutter my entire first floor.”

Kathi – You know what people actually think? People think that I have no clutter. They think that Roger and I live in a sterile box. We never bring anything into our house. Let me dispel some myths. I spent the better part of a week gutting a closet. Back a few months ago, was our first time renting out our San Jose house on Airbnb. I feel like the house was really well organized, decluttered, beautiful. 

Tonya – I’ve been there. It was nice.

Kathi – Thank you. The last two days before we got out of Dodge, though, was a lot of throwing things into closets and locking the doors. Just the reality of the situation. Guys, I will never be that naturally clutter free person. I feel a little bit like the people who are in a twelve step program, like Alcoholics Anonymous, and I’m not equating clutter with that. I’m not. At first, clutter is like minute by minute battle. Then it’s an hour by hour battle. Then it’s a day by day battle. Then, the thought of bringing clutter into my house becomes naturally easier for me to resist. There’s always a resistance there. I went to MOMCon, the MOPS big convention, and I said, “I should go through all the stuff and throw out anything I don’t want.” Then I’m like, “Ugh. It’ll just be easier to do it when I get home.” It’s like, “NO. No it will not be easier.” Everything you bring into your house is a bigger decision at that point. It’s just too much. I want to talk, today, about Clutter Free Basic Principles. If you’re just getting started with Clutter Free, here are some basics that it would be so helpful for you to know. Tonya and I want to give you, not just the how, but the why. So, the first thing we’re going to talk about is Space Boxing, which sounds very futuristic and very cool.

Tonya – Or violent. Depending on how you go.

Kathi – That’s right. Aliens in a ring. Tonya, I’m going to ask you. Can you give us what the basics of Space Boxing are? 

Tonya – You pick a space and you don’t leave it during your clutter session. Let’s be clear, I’m not saying you don’t leave it for five days. Right? But you pick one designated area and you have everything you need with you to sort the stuff in that area, so that, you’re not like me and you’re not like, “Oh! This goes in this other room.” Then, when you’re in that other room, putting that thing away, suddenly, you’re like, “Oh, hey! I should declutter this right here.” 

Kathi – It’s the Give-a-Mouse-a-Cookie syndrome. It really is. It’s so easy to get distracted. You’re like, “Okay, I need to get this space done. I need to get this area done.” Then you’re off in another room and you’re like, “How did I get here? How did I even get here to do all the things?” 

Tonya – The worst of it is, you end up feeling like you spent all day and not seeing any results.

Kathi – That’s so true. That is such a key point. When people say that they just declutter and declutter and declutter, and it doesn’t look like it’s making any difference, it’s because it’s not concentrated decluttering. It’s decluttering what has happened today. The surfaces, or something like that. But that’s all going to come back, because you have families and kids. There’s a certain amount of clutter that is in everyday life. Let’s talk about the Boxing Principle. So, I really believe, if you’re just getting started, one of your best tools is a roll of blue painter’s tape. What I want you to do with the tape, and this is especially helpful for kids, if you go tell your child to go clean their room, that is the adult equivalent of saying, “I’m going to spend today cleaning my kitchen.” I feel like kids do not have brains to be able to clean a huge section, so I feel like blue painter’s tape is really good in a couple of situations. One, if you get distracted easily. I know that a lot of my clutter people get distracted very easily. The other thing is with children. To say, “I want you to declutter this area.” You mark off the area and you help them declutter. Or, you say, “I want you to declutter this book shelf, or this drawer.” So, what we’re doing is, we’re saying, “This is a finite space.” In the next couple of episodes, we’re going to talk about the other two tools in order to really declutter. So, we’ve got the Space Boxing, the Time Boxing, and the Three Bag System. But, for today, I want you to think about, as you go through your rooms, and in my new book, The Clutter Free Home, each day, you are assigned to a different room. It’s not that I want you to declutter that room on that day. I want you to pick a space in that room. So, Tonya, if today was your kitchen day, what space in your kitchen would you declutter. 

Tonya – I would declutter the cabinet underneath my hutch.

Kathi – Okay, fifteen minutes. How much do you think you can get done?

Tonya – I could finish the whole thing in fifteen minutes, because that’s where I keep my baking ware. So, you can imagine, when you’re putting away dishes quickly, that’s the spot that gets all out of control. All I have to do is go in there and really just nest everything. What I like to do when I’m doing that kind of decluttering is, just check your pans. If there’s a pan that has seen better days, it’s time to let that pan go.

Kathi – If you’d be embarrassed to lend it to somebody.

Tonya – Yeah, I have a couple of those. You know it’s bad if I can visualize them, right now. 

Kathi – Exactly. We just threw out a cookie sheet for that exact reason. So, for me, it would be my storage containers. What I have come to finally understand is you cannot organize, whether it’s your Tupperware, SnapWare, Pyrex, whatever it is. You can’t organize it in the cupboard. I have to pull everything out every couple of weeks and just go through it. For some reason, lids multiply in there. I’m not quite sure how that happens. What I’ve come to understand is, just throw it away. Throw it away. They are never going to get reunited. It’s just not going to happen. I’ll never forget wondering where all my silverware went, and then one day, looking in the garbage and there was a paper plate with a fork. Not a plastic fork, a real fork. What?! I think my kids just, every once in a while, lost their minds. Or, they just thought, “It’s just easier to throw it away than putting in the sink.” I hope that’s not it. They don’t still do that, so that’s really good. So, if you were going to do your living room today, Tonya. I want to give some examples. What would you do in your living room?

Tonya – My living room is easy. So, we have an ottoman. It’s a cube with a lid and you shove stuff in it.

Kathi – A storage ottoman.

Tonya – A storage ottoman. See? There is words. I would go through those, because I’m sure there are random Lego pieces in there, and all sorts of crazy stuff.

Kathi – Right. This is a really good point. One of the things I want you to do, after you declutter that area, or that ottoman. I have fallen in love with my label maker again. I am in a deep relationship with my label maker.

Tonya – Does Roger know?

Kathi – Roger does know and supports this little affair that I’m having. The reason that things get cluttered is because your space doesn’t have a purpose. To be able to say, “This is the drawer that we put the hot pads in.”, “This is the drawer we put the dishtowels in.” That means that the scissors don’t go in there. That means that the taco seasoning does not go in there. It gives it a purpose. Every space in your house is crying out for a purpose. So, once you declutter, you’ve marked it off. You’ve said, “I am going to do this one drawer, or this one ottoman, or this one shelf.” You’re doing to declutter it for fifteen minutes (and we’re going to talk about Time Boxing in our next thing) and then, once it’s down to its purpose, label it so that when somebody says, “Where do the dishtowels go?” Now, nobody has asked that question in the entire time I’ve lived here, because nobody’s put a dishtowel away except for me, but, “Where are the scissors?” They’re in the scissor drawer. Let me show you where the scissor drawer is, so when you’re done with them, you can put them back. Not to be pedantic, but to say, “When we put things away, we can actually find them again.” How has space boxing helped you to not be overwhelmed?

Tonya – So, like I said before, I was the queen of the Give-A-Mouse-A-Cookie syndrome. I remember my legs would hurt at the end of a decluttering session. It was all the walking back and forth. Just losing my place. I think the best part of Space Boxing is getting into a zone. Let’s take a drawer example, ’cause that’s where I started in my clutter free journey is just one kitchen drawer. I take out that drawer, and I’m like, “Okay!” I have my questions I ask. I start with, “What has to stay here?” because that’s what was just emotionally easier for me to know what I needed to get rid of. So, I start with “What has to stay here?” and I get that stuff aside. And then, as I’m going through, and making decisions of “Does this go in another room?”, “Does this go in the trash?” Every time I make a trash decision, it’s easier for me to make the next trash decision. I find that the emotional link is strongest the first few times I have to make that choice. If I have to leave that space and go somewhere else and come back, it’s like I’m starting over. Suddenly, I have a larger emotional drain on me, over this silly little drawer. So, if I can just stay put, I’m faster. I’m less exhausted, and, again, (this is something you taught me a million years ago) at the very least, my whole house can look like a hurricane just came through it, but I can open up that drawer and go, “Look at this! Look at my work!”

Kathi – The emotional pay off for having one space function how it should? When you have function, you have form. I want my drawer to function, but I also want it to be beautiful. That doesn’t mean I fold my towels into origami, it means that what is in there is supposed to be in there and there’s not a bunch of nonsense. So, when you have function, you have form. There is such a sense of peace when you go and open that drawer and it’s what it is supposed to be. Okay, so in the book The Clutter Free Home, what we ask you to do is spend 15 minutes in six different spaces, each week. Then you get a day off. Once a week, you deep declutter for an hour. So, for an hour, you’re going to need to pick more than one drawer, more than likely. It could be a closet or something like that. When you do that, make sure stick to that one area and you get it where it’s supposed to be. That’s when the payoff comes. Here’s the beautiful thing, Tonya, that I love. I have a drawer that’s scissors and rulers and things like that, so I know what goes in there, but once I’ve done that drawer, when I find scissors throughout the house, it’s so awesome to know, “I know where those go!” For some reason, we’ve had batteries, probably because we changed out so many things in our house when we remodeled, I’m finding batteries everywhere. But now, there is only one place for the batteries. It’s not the twelve different places. I think one of the things we do is, “Well, I was looking for the batteries to go with the fire alarm, so I’m going to put the batteries in a drawer nearest to the fire alarm.” That is a recipe for disaster. You need your batteries to all be in one place, so you know what batteries you have and you can find them. That is the beauty of space boxing. It makes me so happy I can’t even stand it.  Tonya, thanks so much for being on with me in Clutter Free Academy. 

Tonya – Thanks for having me.

Kathi – Tonya has so much wisdom by being in the group so much. She knows the struggles of the people there. That’s why I’m so grateful to have her on. Friends, I am grateful to have you. I learn as much from you as you ever do from me. I love that you are part of Clutter Free Academy. I’m Kathi Lipp. I’ve been here with Tonya Kubo. Now, go create the clutter free life you were always intended to live.

<<music>>

*see show notes in podcast post above for any mentioned items

Meet Our Guest

Tonya Kubo

Tonya Kubo

Tonya Kubo is the illustrious, fearless leader of Kathi Lipp’s Clutter Free Academy Facebook group. A speaker and writer, Tonya makes her home in the heart of California with her husband, Brian, their two spirited daughters and one very tolerant cat. Visit her at www.tonyakubo.com or  www.GreatMoms.org

#378: Clutter and Money with Ron Deal of FamilyLife

#378: Clutter and Money with Ron Deal of FamilyLife

Have you ever noticed that money is a tender spot in a lot of relationships? Maybe it even causes tension for you. In this week’s podcast, Kathi chats with very special guest Ron Deal of FamilyLife about ways to successfully resolve some of the conflicts related to spending and have a stronger, more unified family.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Some key questions to ask when strong emotions come up related to money
  • Contributing factors that make merging finances particularly difficult for blended families
  • How a togetherness agreement can help you build a strong foundation financially and relationally

If you would like more information about how to merge finances well, check out Ron’s book, The Smart Stepfamily Guide to Financial Planning. You can order it on AMAZON now.

In case you missed the verse reference, Ron quoted Hebrews 13:5: “Keep your life free from the love of money and be content with what you have for He has said ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.'”

Giveaway

As a special treat we are giving away some copies of Ron’s book, The Smart Stepfamily Guide to Financial Planning: Money Management Before and After You Blend a Family! Enter below by commenting and letting us know:

What would it look like to start spending money with intention instead of emotion in your family? What impact would that have on your relationships?

 

 

We would love to stay connected.

To share your thoughts:

Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.

Subscribe on iTunes or subscribe to our newsletter now.

Transcript for Clutter Free Academy #378

Read along with the podcast!

Clutter Free Academy Podcast # 378

Clutter and Money with Ron Deal of Family Life

<<intro music>>

Kathi – Well, hey friends! Welcome to Clutter Free Academy, where goal is to help you take small, do-able steps to live every day with less clutter and more life. You know, around here, we talk a lot about the devastation of clutter, and the emotional impact. We talk about that almost on a weekly basis. We spend a lot less time on the financial consequences to us and our family. I’ve done something about that. I’ve got us an expert in here. I want to introduce you guys to the director of FamilyLife Blended and the author of the new book The Smart Step-Family Guide to Financial Planning: Money Management Before and After You Blend a Family.  Ron Deal, welcome to Clutter Free Academy.

Ron – Thank you, Kathi. It’s so good to be with you.

Kathi – You and I just recently had a little chat about some of the principles about step-family and clutter. It’s so interesting, because so many of the clutter principles are true for step-families and original families. Also, there are some big differences, and I think it’s the same thing with money, as well. Everybody is stressed about money. Here’s my first question: When it comes to blended families, what is most stressful? Is it the exes? Is it discipline of kids? Or is it money? I want to know your opinion. I have an opinion on this, but I would love to hear what you think.

Ron – Okay, well, first of all, yes. You were on my podcast recently, FamilyLife Blended, is the podcast that we do specifically around blended families. Thank you for doing that. I think the answer to your question is: YES. There are things above the surface and things below the surface in our lives, right? You say so eloquently, above the surface is clutter, but below the surface is, “Why are you keeping it? What’s your fear? What’s your pain? What’s the concern? What’s the guilt?” The same thing happens to blended families around money; around relationships. Is it just about the former spouse, or is it about the pain that connects you to that former spouse? Is it about the pain you continue to see in your children’s eyes as a result of a broken relationship? Is it about the heartache, difficulty, or the guilt that you feel over you ending the previous relationship? All of those things below the surface are really, at the end of the day, driving what’s above the surface.

Kathi – It’s so interesting, isn’t it, how entangled all those different things are? I remember the first year we were doing Christmas as a blended family. My husband’s ex called and said, “Well, I need to know what you’re getting the kids for Christmas, so we can avoid getting them the same thing.” It wasn’t until years later, to figure out, “Oh, no no no, that’s a form of control. Why am I resisting this so much? Because I don’t like to be controlled.” It was money issues. It was control issues. It was kid and entitlement issues. All of that. So much of that is the common thread of money. I know that in an intact family, you’re dealing with some of those things, but it just feels like it gets folded out into a million different directions when it’s a blended family. 

Ron – Exactly. I’m thinking of a couple, for example, that I had a conversation with one day, and they were trying to figure out how many pots of money to have in their marriage. He had his kids and his money before they got married and she had hers. There’s a one-pot system, “We all put it in one pot.” There’s a two-pot system, “Yours and mine.” Three-pot, “Yours, mine, ours, but what about our investments?” Well, the conversation went like this. “Ron. We’re married now. We should all have one pot, but my wife is unwilling to put her money into one pot with me. I don’t like that.” So, we start chasing what’s underneath that. What’s that about? And the message to him was, “I must not be very important. She doesn’t value our us-ness; our one-ness the way I want her to; the way I do. So, I’m feeling fragile. I’m feeling vulnerable in this relationship.” Well, to some, that’s never good, but to someone like him, who had already been vulnerable in a previous relationship? He knows what can happen when it all falls apart. Now he has a super-high sensitivity to what this means for his family. It’s not just about money. It is about money, but it is also about everything underneath the money.

Kathi – Money brings out an anxiety and an insecurity. It’s all around that. When I think about clutter, I think, “What you’re buying is clutter. What I’m buying is necessary.” That’s how many people view it. I think that many of us, whether we’re in a marriage, or divorced, or single, or whatever, we’ve seen those past mistakes. We have evidence of those past mistakes all around us. So, here’s my question: When you begin to combine families, and you start to see all the stuff… It’s shocking when you start to bring those families together, and you’re like, “Oh my goodness. I didn’t know we had eight potato mashers.” You start to see some of the patterns. How do we start to have healthy conversations about recovering from those past clutter and financial mistakes?

Ron – One of the things to ask yourself is, when you notice, in yourself, or in your partner, “Wow! Whenever this subject comes up, so does anger, so does heavy emotions, so does a sense of desperation in me.” You’ve got to pause at that moment in time and ask yourself, “What’s going on with me? What is underneath all this?” It’s no longer about stuff. It’s about what it means to me and the implications it has to our family-ness, on our relationships, on our blending process. So, pausing at that point in time and going inside yourself and saying, “Lord, help me. Give me some insight into what this is about.” Throughout scripture, whenever God speaks to us about money, He always attaches a “for I am with you” because of that insecurity thing you were talking about a little while ago. Really, we think that money is what’s going to bring us stability in life, and it’s the calming piece of life, but God’s always saying, “No no no. That’s my job. I am with you. I am the one that provides. You’re going to be okay because of My presence in your life.” It we don’t go inside and ask ourselves, “What’s going on with me?” then we’ll just keep getting angry, and not have any reason or understanding why. 

Kathi – This is so good, Ron. I had never made the correlation between the verses about money, and God being with you. I feel like, except for if someone attacks my parenting, questioning how I spend money is my quickest line between peace and anxiety. Zero to sixty so much faster than anything else in my life. God knew, from the beginning of time, that we were going to struggle with money and stuff. The verses about “What are we investing in? What are we putting our time in? What are we putting our money in?” are just throughout the entire Word. So, to see the correlation, to say, “God knew this was going to be anxiety-producing. God knew that this was going to be a soft spot. Not just in marriages, but in parent-child relationships, in ex relationships, in all of those things.” This gives me such a different approach, Ron. I’m thinking in my own life. Roger and I have something we’ve set up. We call it “Money & Munchies Mondays”. We have to trick ourselves into doing finances. We have to give ourselves a reward. So, we order food in, we sit down, but I’m going to be honest, I had not thought about praying before talking about finances. When God says, “I am with you!” I need to invite him into that conversation. 

Ron – Absolutely. Hebrews 13:5 says it really well. “Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for He has said, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” In other words, the reason we clutter our lives with stuff; the reason we use our money to buy other things; the reason we rely on money for security is kind of the same thing. The clutter, and the buying, and the purchasing, and the reason we work so hard in Blended Families, for example, to make our relationship work, is at the end of the day, we’re feeling like, “I can provide all of this for myself. I can be self-sufficient. The money empowers me to have what I want and it gets rid of my anxiety. It gets rid of my concern, or my fear, or my pain.” No, it really doesn’t. It’s a quick fix. It lasts as long as a Snickers. You’re going to get hungry again. What really lasts is leaning into God’s presence in our lives. I’m not saying we don’t have legitimate concerns about money. There’s good questions to ask, and wise decisions to make, absolutely. All of that above-the-surface stuff has to happen, too. But if we don’t go below the surface, and ask ourselves, “Why am I leaning in to this so much? What if I leaned in to God and His presence in my life a little more? How can I change my heart and my attitude about my money; about what I spend; about our relationship?

Kathi – Here’s what I think happened with me and Roger. Both of us will admit, we are not financial geniuses. We’re very fortunate. Roger has a Silicon Valley income, but we also have a Silicon Valley mortgage.

Ron – They cancel each other out.

Kathi – I think part of us were like, “We are spending so much time, and energy, and resources just keeping this family from killing each other. Money was just another stress that we could avoid for a while. So, how do we build in wisdom when it comes to money? There is going to be stuff coming into your house. There are purchases that need to be made. As a couple, we probably have a history of coming to those decisions in different ways. How do we build together, as a couple, in wisdom, so maybe money isn’t something we’re really excited about, but it’s not tearing a hole in our marriage every time we sit down to talk about it?

Ron – It starts with values. We’ve already moved in that direction. What I want to add there, is: “What does that thing mean? This purchase; this object; this decision, what does it mean to us in terms of our over-all life?” If I can be honest, a lot of times I buy things because it’s going to make me feel good. Or, I buy something because I think it’ll make me look good to others. What I’m really chasing here is other people’s approval of me. “Wow. So, maybe I don’t need that dress; that outfit; that suit; that whatever just to win other people’s approval. That seems like I’m worshiping the approval of men, not so much God’s approval.” So, my values need a course correction.

Kathi – Let me ask you: Do you think blended families work harder to look okay to the rest of the world? I feel like that’s what we did for a while.

Ron – I do think there is a pressure there, especially within the church community. That’s where we do so much of our work. Helping churches understand how they can be helpful. They don’t realize how much pressure they put on blended families to be like everyone else. It’s not intentional, but it happens. I do think there’s another dynamic in blended families around money, and that’s “I feel guilty around what’s happened in my kids’ lives; what I can’t change; what I can’t make right and somehow this is the quick fix that helps them feel better, and that helps me feel better.” 

Kathi – Here’s the other thing: When I married Roger, I went from two kids to four. That, financially, was a hard thing. The world is not built for families of six. When you want to go rent a car; when you go get a hotel room. It’s not just college times four, it’s shoes times four. It’s soccer times four. It’s all of those things.

Ron – And parents are diluting their money, too. You have another household you have to spend money on, child-support. Sometimes it’s coming in. Sometimes it’s going out. There are a number of factors that do add pressures to blended families that first families don’t experience. 

Kathi – Most of the people who are listening, we would love to have been those people who sat down before we got married and said, “Let’s have an honest conversation about money,” but 95% of us didn’t do that. We thought that once we got married and we love each other, everything will work out. I admit to being that couple. I love that we’ve outlined some of these things that we feel. It’s a lot like clutter, the fear, guilt, and shame. Fear, “What if I’m not doing a good job parenting?” Guilt for past mistakes we’ve made. Shame about not being that ideal family that many in the church still judge as a second-tier family. I love your idea of getting on the same page with your goals and what are your values. Do you suggest physically sitting down and writing those out? How’s the way to communicate those inside of a family?

Ron – So, the book actually guides people in creating what we call a Togetherness Agreement. The Smart Step-Family Guide to Financial Planning is, you start by sitting down and creating this Togetherness Agreement. Totally the opposite of what a pre-nup is all about. A pre-nup is all about “What happens if it all comes apart?” The Togetherness Agreement is all about “How are we going to bring it together? Not only our money issues, or matters, but our relationships.” So, it’s all tied together. We try to walk people through this process of looking at the different elements, the different pieces. How do you plan for the now? How do you plan for the future? Children? How do you care for one another? I got to tell you, I’m not a financial planner (I teamed up with two guys that do this kind of thing on a regular basis) I’m a marriage and family educator and therapist. So, I’m always looking at the relational components, but I learned a ton` doing the research for this book, around the different financial tools that are available out there, that I didn’t know anything about, that I think the average blended family couple knows nothing about as well. There are tools to help you plan your estate, to care for your kids, to care for your step-children, care for your spouse. What if you die and your spouse marries again? If you don’t provide, in writing, some of your assets can end up going, not just going with your former spouse, but their new spouse’s kids. 

Kathi – I’ve seen that happen.

Ron – You can prevent all that. That’s the beautiful thing. It does take some time. It takes some effort. Sometimes people will go beyond the book and decide to consult with a financial planner who can actually make something legal; who can put it in official document form. All of that is really helpful, because at the end of the day, you have more confidence in how you love one another. You have more stability, in the sense of, “Yes, we have taken steps to provide, should the worst thing happen. The kids are provided for. We don’t have to live with this sense of, ‘oh, this will all work out’.” The laws in America, because of how they’re written around parent-child relationships, tend to work against step-families, in court. If you ever have a state-thing go to court, it tends to work against what you really want to have happen. But, if you put it in writing, it’s all cared for. Confidence goes up. Stability comes together.

Kathi – If feels like everybody is on the same page. 

Ron – Which is the relational confidence peace you want.

Kathi – Ron, I love this so much. I think that, for any of us that have complicated family situations, the tools that are provided in this book are excellent. I’m really going to encourage you, whether you’re a blended family, or you know a blended family. Trust me. If you’re not sure whether this is an issue in your friend’s blended family? I promise you, it is. To give somebody the resources is so amazing. We’ve got a couple of books to give away. I’m really excited. So guys, here’s what I want to hear from you. I want to hear from you, in the comments on the podcast page, what would it look like to start spending money with intention, instead of emotion, in your family? What impact would that have on your relationships? Okay, you guys, I’m so excited about this book. The Smart Step-Family Guide to Financial Planning: Money Management Before and After You Blend A Family.  Ron, thank you so much for being on Clutter Free Academy.

Ron – Thanks, Kathi. It’s an honor to be with you.

Kathi – And friends, thank you for joining us. You make this my favorite part of our ministry, being able to talk with you on Clutter Free Academy.  Please join us next week. I’m Kathi Lipp. Now, go create the Clutter Free life you were always intended to live.

<<music>>

*see show notes in podcast post above for any mentioned items

Meet Our Guest

Ron Deal

Ron Deal

Ron Deal is husband to Nan (since 1986) and proud father of Braden, Connor, and Brennan. Everything else is just details.

Ron L. Deal is a bestselling author, licensed marriage & family therapist, podcaster, and popular conference speaker who conducts “laugh and learn” marriage and family seminars and professional training around the country. He specializes in both marriage enrichment and stepfamily education. Frequently featured in the national media, Ron is a leading national expert and the most widely read and viewed author on blended families in the country. He serves as President of Smart Stepfamilies™ and Director of FamilyLife Blended®, a division of FamilyLife®.

Learn more at www.familylife.com.