#621 Unlocking the Secrets of Successful Gardening with AI

#621 Unlocking the Secrets of Successful Gardening with AI

621 – Unlocking the Secrets of Successful Gardening with AI

Have ever struggled to turn your dream garden into a reality? What if we told you that there’s a new secret weapon that can help you achieve gardening success like never before? That’s right, we’re talking about the incredible power of AI!

Join Kathi and her partner in life and gardening Roger Lipp on this episode as they dive into the world of AI-assisted gardening. They’ll share all the prompts and tips that transformed their gardening game, and you’ll walk away feeling empowered and inspired to create your own oasis of abundance. Listen in as Kathi and Roger guide you through using AI to:

  • Plan the spacing and layout of your garden
  • Determine what plants are best for your growing zone
  • Research companion plants for a healthy garden ecosystem

As promised, here’s the Garden Prompt that Kathi and Roger use to direct AI to plan their dream garden:

“I’m trying to create a planting/gardening activity calendar for our home in the 7b zone of 95684 for our 16×48 foot harden and our 8×8 greenhouse and various potted plants on our patios. Can you create a monthly calendar and make some suggestions about the best fruits and vegetables to grow – along with planting instructions?”

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The Accidental Homesteader: What I’ve Learned About Chickens, Compost, and Creating Home

Homesteading [hohm-sted-ing]
1. an act or instance of establishing a homestead.
2. the act of loving where you live so much that you actively ignore the fact that your house is trying to kill you on a regular basis.

For Kathi Lipp and her husband, Roger, buying a house in one of the most remote parts of Northern California was never part of the plan; many of life’s biggest, most rewarding adventures rarely are.

Kathi shares the hard-won wisdom she’s gained on her homestead journey to help you accomplish more at home, gain fresh perspective, and give yourself grace in the process. Here’s a handful of the lessons Kathi shares:

  • Prepare before the need arises
  • Everything is always in process, including us
  • Your best household solution is time and patience
  • You don’t have to do everything the hard way
  • Be open to new and better ways of doing things
  • A lot of small changes make a huge difference.
    Highly practical, humorous, and inspirational, The Accidental Homesteader will encourage you to live with more peace, joy, and contentment.

Order your copy of The Accidental Homesteader: What I’ve Learned About Chickens, Compost, and Creating Home here.

Links Mentioned:

Clutter Free Resources:

What is something you struggle with when it comes to plants in general? What questions could you ask AI about those plant problems?

Share them in the comments!

Let’s stay connected

To share your thoughts:

  • Leave a note in the comment section below.
  • 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 


Roger Lipp

Roger is a productivity and quality engineer for a Fortune 50 company.

Roger helps teams reach their full productivity potential by teaching them the practical and simple steps to reach their goals. Roger and his wife, author Kathi Lipp, teach communicators how to share their message through social media and email marketing.

He and Kathi coauthored Happy Habits for Every Couple with Harvest House Publishers.

Tonya Kubo Picture
Kathi (00:00.198)
Well, hey friends, welcome to Clutter -Free Academy where our goal is to help you live every day with less clutter and more life. And let’s talk about more life because if there was ever a metaphor for life, it would be the garden. And we’re gonna talk about.

Gardening an AI and you may think how do those two things to go together? Well Roger and I are gonna rock your world Roger. Welcome back to the podcast So we got into playing around with AI It at the beginning of 2023 you may have been doing things before that but you and I as a couple that’s when we started and I started doing little things and I got so excited and then I’m like

Roger (00:32.879)
Thank you, good to be here.

Roger (00:55.151)
We actually, we challenged ourselves to do something with AI every day when it first came out. And we didn’t even know what that meant. We just said, hey, we’re just going to use this every day. Yeah.

Kathi (00:55.238)
We were planning a… Go ahead. Yeah. Yeah.

We want to learn. We want to be smart. And boy howdy. And so what I would say, one of our most successful AI endeavors early on for sure was planning our greenhouse and our garden with AI. And so you measured the greenhouse, you measured the garden.

Roger (01:10.639)
I’m sorry.

Roger (01:26.447)
Yeah. Yes.

Kathi (01:33.542)
We came up with a list of things we wanted to grow in the garden and in the greenhouse and we fed all that information into AI and we doggy. So I want to talk, go ahead.

Roger (01:51.887)
It, yeah, yeah, I think it was, you know, the first time out we understood our growing zone and we knew how much square footage we had and we knew whether it was outside or in a greenhouse and we wanted to know spacing and just some basic things that we had some questions on.

Kathi (02:21.542)
Mm -hmm, yeah. And we were novice gardeners before we moved up here. You had never really gardened before. I had done some gardening, but not super successfully because squirrels.

Roger (02:38.031)
Well, yes, that’s our example, right? We had a beautiful tomato plant in our back patio in San Jose. It was gorgeous. And then nature took over. And yeah, the one beautiful tomato that we grew ended up with a squirrel on the side of the fence. Yeah.

Kathi (02:51.782)


Kathi (03:01.926)
and the squirrel did it right in front of me and took a bite and threw it away. And I am not a yeller. I yelled at that squirrel. I yelled at that squirrel. But we have since learned how to use AI to help us be better, smarter gardeners, right? And so let me just talk about some of the things that…

Roger (03:05.839)

Roger (03:21.519)

Kathi (03:26.47)
We figured out and how we kind of put this all together now roger how big is our greenhouse? How big is our garden? and we now have orchard too. So like we’ve got it all going on

Roger (03:37.807)
Yeah, we do have it all going on. I’m sorry. I don’t have the exact numbers. Our greenhouse is, you know, about eight by eight. And the garden, the outside garden is 20 by 60. 20 feet by 60 feet. We got some space. Yeah.

Kathi (03:43.846)
Give us a rest.

Kathi (03:54.246)
Yeah, so we’ve got some space and we needed some plans. So here are, so let’s talk about, if you haven’t listened to our discussion of meal planning and AI, that’s gonna give you a lot of background to help you with this. But we’re gonna talk about some prompts. And can you just give us the one minute explanation of what a prompt is when it comes to AI? And why do we use cloth?

Roger (04:19.919)
Sure. So let me start with Claude. Claude, that’s C -L -A -U -D -E dot A -I. We’ve switched over to that. You may have heard of ChatGPT. Claude isn’t quite so well known out in the wild. You may have heard of ChatGPT. That’s a great one as well. That’s at chat .openai .com. And both of these are free. They both also have a paid account. We use a paid account.

Kathi (04:23.398)

Roger (04:49.551)
because it gives us better access and access to all the latest stuff. A prompt for any of these tools, you can think of it as just a way of initiating a conversation with the AI. So you can think of it similarly as you would with doing a Google search. So if you type into Google, you know, whatever you’re looking for,

In a way, you’re prompting Google now to go out and do that internet search for you. Similarly with Claude, except in Claude’s case, you’re going to give it more of a sentence or a paragraph. You’re going to have a conversation with it. We like to think of Claude as an assistant. So however you might talk with an assistant, you could type that in as if you were interacting over text message with an assistant and

Claude can look up that stuff and pull it all together for you. And just like with an assistant, you can go back and say, well, OK, that wasn’t quite what I was looking for. I need something a little more like this. And Claude will update things and respond accordingly.

Kathi (05:51.174)
Yeah, it’s

Kathi (06:03.622)
Beautiful. I love it so much. And so we will share some of these prompts with you to help you as you’re thinking through your garden and all of that and get you to the next spot. But also, look at this as a blueprint for other things you want to do. Maybe it’s a woodworking project. Maybe it’s a craft project or something like that. AI can help you with those things as well. So.

One of the most important things to know is your climate and hardiness zones. So if you give it, Claude, your zip code, it can tell you what your USDA hardiness zone is. Now we live in a very weird place. So I gave it longitude and latitude because, yes, because our zone is not really our zone. It’s.

Roger (06:49.903)
I was wondering how you got around that. Yeah.

Roger (07:01.807)
Our zip code, yes, we have very dramatic microclimate change just from a couple of hundred feet, you know, because we’re on the side of a mountain. So as you go up the mountain, the zones change rapidly.

Kathi (07:02.15)
We live in microclimates.

Kathi (07:12.71)

Kathi (07:16.966)
Yeah, and another really important question is what are the average first and last frost dates in your location? So yeah, so super, super important. So that’s climate and hardiness. Two, space and layout. I have a good, yeah.

Roger (07:26.127)
Super important. Yeah.

Roger (07:34.832)
So we should probably give, okay, so what is that prompt? We’ll include them in the show notes, right? But you’re actually typing in what is the USDA hardiness zone for zip code XYZ, yep.

Kathi (07:41.382)

Kathi (07:48.582)
Your zip code, yeah. Yes, you’re asking as if you were asking an expert that question. I think that’s the best way to do it or an assistant, depending on what you’re doing. So number two, space and layout. This is where we started with our AI gardening adventure. I have a garden plot that is 20 by 60. Can you suggest a layout? Now, what we said was, and here are the plants we would…

what first we started off with what plants grow best in this in our area, can you suggest how many plants of each and so we were able to do seed starters and things like that. Here’s another prompt you okay yeah.

Roger (08:33.871)
Now that was, I mean, that’s no small feat right there because that involves some math and knowing the spacing of the plants. So that is super valuable because each plant has its own spacing requirements. Some things can be really close together and other things have to be very far apart. So being able to ask, okay, how many cucumber plants should I have if I also have tomatoes and zucchini and pumpkins? Because.

Kathi (08:37.702)

Kathi (08:43.302)
Mm -hmm. my goodness. Yes.

Kathi (08:53.67)

Kathi (08:58.214)

Kathi (09:02.15)
Right. Yeah, we’re gonna try again this year, yes. Here’s another beautiful thing about space and layout. My garden gets full sun in the morning and partial shade in the afternoon. What plants would work well in this situation? What incredibly valuable information to have. Yeah, so go ahead.

Roger (09:02.831)
we’re gonna have pumpkins.

Roger (09:24.431)
And if you’re doing along those same lines, if you’re doing an outdoor in -ground garden like we’re trying, you also can give it soil conditions. We have very acidic soil. Now we try to combat that, but the soil out here is naturally acidic because of all the pine trees.

Kathi (09:41.254)
Mm -hmm.

Kathi (09:53.334)
is it the pine trees? Yeah. Okay, okay, that makes a lot of sense. We’re going to take a quick break. And when we come back, we’re going to give you a few more we’re going to rapid fire some prompts for you. So we we will take a quick break, listen to our wonderful sponsors and come right back.

Roger (09:54.575)
Yeah, they add a lot of acid to the soil.

Kathi (10:23.654)
Okay, guys, we are back and we’re gonna give you a few more prompts that have been especially helpful for us in this whole gardening situation. Okay, so plant selection, I love this. I wanna grow tomato, basil, and lettuce. What are the growing requirements? So it’s gonna tell you, you know, what kind of soil does it need? Is it a container plant? Is it the…

it’s going to give you everything you need. Or it may say it’s not going to work in your space. So you know, buy your lettuce at the store. These are all good. This is all good information to have. What are some easy to grow vegetables for beginner gardeners? So it’s going to give you a list and you say, okay, would these work in my conditions? And you know, this is great. If especially if you don’t have gardeners around you, you know,

It’s always best to get that information from somebody who’s been gardening for 40 years. But if you don’t have that person in your life, and we kind of don’t up here, this has been a great substitution. Wouldn’t you say, Raj? Yeah.

Roger (11:31.639)
yeah. Yeah, and getting back to the chat concept, you know, if you started your conversation with Claude about trying to figure out your growing zone, and then you went in, in that same conversation, you said, great, here’s the size of my garden. And now in that same conversation, you ask, what are some good starter plants? It…

Kathi (11:36.294)
Mm -hmm. Yeah.

Roger (11:56.943)
will remember that entire conversation and give you starter plants for your zone that would work well in that garden space. So this is one of the beautiful things about this kind of conversation. It really is like talking with an assistant or an expert. And it’s just sort of keeping track of everything that you’ve said in that conversation and pulling it all together for you.

Kathi (12:21.766)
Brilliant, brilliant. Okay, couple of other interesting categories, companion planting. What are some good companion plants for tomatoes? So that is, you know, you wanna grow tomatoes, but you wanna have other things near it that are going to, that are good to grow together. Plants like friends.

Roger (12:42.799)
A lot of it is, yeah, yeah, and a lot of it has to do with pest control as well. So, you know, this plant repels the pest that would be a problem for this other plant, therefore they should grow kind of close together. So a lot of subtleties in planting a garden that we have no idea about as we’re starting, or even intermediate.

Kathi (12:48.134)
Mm -hmm.

Kathi (13:05.222)
Yeah. Well, and you know, you could even say, hey, when planning the layout of my garden, keep in mind companion planting, my zone, these are the things I’d like to grow. Like put all those conditions in and then this genius brain is going to take all that information and give you to optimize all your conditions and what you want to accomplish.

Succession planting. How can I plan for successes, hard harvests of lettuce throughout the season? Like it may say in spring, you’re going to start with this kind and then you know, fall, you’re going to transition to this. What are some vegetables with different maturity dates that I can plan for a longer harvest? And we do this as well. We know which ones we’re going to plant in February, you know, start in February in the house. Go ahead, Roger.

Roger (14:00.879)
Yeah, I think this year we’re we’re paying attention. This is kind of the growing edge for us this year is to get this down because otherwise your garden is kind of one and done and when you know that that tomato plant is is done, it’s it’s kind of done. But if you can think about things from a longer. Period of time, well OK, what does work in the fall and how can I get that little plant started?

at the right time. Maybe it’s in a in the greenhouse or we even turned our upstairs, my office upstairs, one of our spare bedrooms into a growing nursery for the for the plants. We had light stretched across between two beds that we have in the room and it was pretty interesting. But you know that that’s just a way of trying to figure out how to have.

Kathi (14:46.278)
Room. Yeah.

Roger (15:00.911)
plants for longer period of time, how to have more vegetables for a longer period of time. So AI can definitely help lay that out and create a plan for you.

Kathi (15:06.438)

Kathi (15:13.734)
I love it. Roger, as we finish up here, and we’ve got more prompts, we’re going to put those all in the show notes, so you’re definitely going to want to check those out. Why would you encourage somebody to try gardening with AI?

Roger (15:31.151)
So we’ve used some of the specific tools for this as well that are purpose built for gardening. And you can draw your garden space and gardening apps. Yeah. And they’re good. They’re good. So there may be an instance where that is the preferred thing that you would want to do. But here,

Kathi (15:43.046)
Gardening apps those kind of thing. Yeah

Roger (15:56.495)
With AI, it’s a general purpose tool. We’re recording sessions about cooking with AI. We’ll have others going on as well. It’s a general purpose tool that can help you in so many different areas of your life as an assistant, as an expert, as just something to bounce ideas off of, to enhance your own creativity. It helps in so many ways. And it’s available.

Kathi (16:05.19)

Roger (16:25.775)
for free if you want, or as we’ve done, you can pay 20 bucks a month. It’s such an amazing tool to help in so many different areas. So I think that’s why I would encourage folks to give this a try. If gardening is something that you’re interested in and you’ve had trouble getting started, or you have specific problems that you’re trying to overcome in your garden, maybe you’re an intermediate or even an advanced gardener, AI has a place there as well. So I think it can help.

Kathi (16:56.07)
Yeah, guys, I would really encourage you, you know, to use this in every aspect of your life, because when you get better with AI cooking, you’re going to get better with AI gardening and AI, you know, chores, you know, meal planning, all the there’s so many aspects of this can help with. Roger, thanks for being here.

Roger (16:57.135)
Because it’s helped us.

Roger (17:16.911)
my pleasure.

Kathi (17:18.342)
Friends, thank you for being here. You’ve been listening to Clutterfree Academy. I’m Cathy Lip. Now, go create the Clutterfree life you’ve always wanted to live.

#620 The Ministry of Presence: Supporting Loved Ones Through Depression

#620 The Ministry of Presence: Supporting Loved Ones Through Depression

620 – The Ministry of Presence: Supporting Loved Ones Through Depression

Hey friends, today’s episode is a powerful and important one. But be advised, it’s also a sensitive subject. Kathi Lipp will be diving deep into the topic of depression and suicidality with her dear friend and author Chris Morris.

You’ll hear how Chris hit his lowest point and the transformative experiences that followed. He opens up about the pivotal moments that set him on a path of healing and the vital role his wife and community played in that journey. Whether you’ve personally battled depression or suicidal thoughts, or you’ve walked alongside a loved one facing these challenges, Chris’ story and insights offer hope and practical wisdom, such as:

  •  How to come alongside someone struggling with their mental health
  • The importance of finding the right therapist, and it might not be the first one you find!
  • The importance of communicating effectively and clearly that they are needed and loved

This episode will move you, challenge you, and ultimately inspire you to show up for those you love who might be struggling in ways you can’t fully understand. So grab a cozy spot, and let’s dive into this powerful conversation together.

Interested in more of Chris Morris’s story?
Click this link. Resilient and Redeemed: Lessons About Suicidality and Depression from the Psych Ward
And sign up for his newsletter at chrismorriswrites.com

Click here to be notified when the next episode of Clutter Free Academy is released.

Also, stay up to date and sign up here to receive our newsletter.

The Accidental Homesteader: What I’ve Learned About Chickens, Compost, and Creating Home

Homesteading [hohm-sted-ing]
1. an act or instance of establishing a homestead.
2. the act of loving where you live so much that you actively ignore the fact that your house is trying to kill you on a regular basis.

For Kathi Lipp and her husband, Roger, buying a house in one of the most remote parts of Northern California was never part of the plan; many of life’s biggest, most rewarding adventures rarely are.

Kathi shares the hard-won wisdom she’s gained on her homestead journey to help you accomplish more at home, gain fresh perspective, and give yourself grace in the process. Here’s a handful of the lessons Kathi shares:

  • Prepare before the need arises
  • Everything is always in process, including us
  • Your best household solution is time and patience
  • You don’t have to do everything the hard way
  • Be open to new and better ways of doing things
  • A lot of small changes make a huge difference.
    Highly practical, humorous, and inspirational, The Accidental Homesteader will encourage you to live with more peace, joy, and contentment.

Order your copy of The Accidental Homesteader: What I’ve Learned About Chickens, Compost, and Creating Home here.

How has Chris’s vulnerability in sharing his story impacted your own understanding and perspective on mental health challenges?

Share them the comments!

Let’s stay connected

To share your thoughts:

  • Leave a note in the comment section below.
  • 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 


Chris Morris

Chris Morris is a certified mental health coach dedicated to promoting understanding of mental health issues within the church. Because of a lifelong struggle with depression and suicidality, Chris became committed to breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health and encouraging others to seek after holistic health.

As a writer and speaker, Chris has shared his personal story and insights with audiences across the country, inspiring many individuals to take control of their own health, break free from poor theological teaching placed upon them, and seek the support they need. He has published several books on mental health, the most recent being Resilient and Redeemed. His work has been featured in a number of media outlets, including CrossWalk, The Mighty, and Fathom Magazine.

Visit him at chrismorriswrites.com

Follow Chris on social media: Facebook @chrismorriswrites and Instagram @chrismorriswrites 

Tonya Kubo Picture

Hey friends, welcome to Clutterfree Academy. Today I am having a beautiful and important conversation with my friend Chris Morris, resilient and redeemed. We’re gonna be talking about some pretty tough topics about depression and suicidality.

Friends, if those are triggering for you, you may want to skip this episode or you may wanna listen to it with a friend or a family member who’s safe. And if you’ve got little kids in the car, cause I know a lot of you listen to this podcast when you’re on your way or back from school, you may wanna listen to this at another time. Or if you just need to skip this episode altogether, hey, we will be back next week talking about your clutter. But I just wanted to give you a heads up. It’s a great conversation, but I also know I want you to feel safe and I want you to know what’s coming up. So please listen to my conversation with Chris Morris.


Kathi (00:00.861)
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. And guys, I am very excited to dig deep into this episode. I am here with one of my good friends and savior in some ways, because he also does our taxes and keeps me out of jail. So I am deeply appreciative. It’s Chris Morris. Chris, welcome to the podcast.

Chris Morris (00:39.886)
Thanks for watching!

Chris Morris (00:45.986)
Thank you so much for having me, Kathi.

Kathi (00:48.113)
Oh, Chris, I have been looking forward to this. We’ve had this on the books for a while because you are an expert. I would say, I don’t know if you would call yourself a reluctant expert, but we’re talking about mental health today and some of the aspects of that go with Clutter. But could you just tell us a little bit about your journey into becoming, to writing on the subject to sharing about this and opening up your own story.

Chris Morris (01:20.91)
Sure, I guess the first thing I’d say is that I am maybe not an expert in the way that you could consider it on the one hand, because I am not a psychiatrist, I’m not a social worker and I’m not a pastor, but I am an expert because I’ve been dealing with depression and suicidality for the last 30 years. So reluctance is a great term to add, because I certainly wouldn’t wish that on anyone, including myself.

Kathi (01:30.465)
Right? Yeah.

Kathi (01:38.434)

Kathi (01:44.781)
Right. Yes. And yeah.

Chris Morris (01:47.606)
But I started writing about it because I realized that a lot of people, myself included at times, have gotten stuck specifically in our faith and in the ability to make forward momentum. And over the last four or five years, I’ve figured some of those things out for myself. I can’t promise that what I figured out is will work for everyone, but I’m in a much better mental space than I’ve been in a long time.

Kathi (02:11.696)

Kathi (02:15.841)
Well, and I feel like this podcast, yes, we talk specifically about clutter, but so much of what we talk about is hope, hope for change, hope for living in new and different ways. And I feel like the last four years of your life have been a huge reflection of that because you and I have been working together. And when I say you and I, you mostly work with Roger because the money part is scary to me and I don’t avoid it. Well, okay, I don’t embrace it.

But I am very grateful because you’ve helped Roger and I really figure out the money aspect of not just our business, but our home, all those kind of things. And you’re an incredibly talented person. But you’ve gone through some really big struggles in the time that I’ve known you and also have experienced some tremendous healing.

Chris Morris (03:13.138)
I have so probably the low point of my life in 2020. I know 2020 was rough for everyone, but it was terrible. For me, I actually had a suicide attempt. And I landed in a psych ward for about a week. Part of that time that I was there, I was angry that my suicide attempt didn’t work. And it’s sort of in a weird

twisted way it became one more thing that I was not good at. Oh great Chris you can’t even kill yourself properly. Which is really wicked frankly and pretty close to demonic.

Kathi (03:51.045)
It’s, yeah, right. It’s a very, very dark way, but.

I think, you know, so many of us, if we cannot relate to that particular portion of your story, we have had people that we love. We have had people that we’ve worked with or gone to school with. You know, suicide touched my life very early in that somebody I worked with when I was 16 took his own life.

And yeah, you know, and it, I think about the people who were close to him and the, yeah, I think about how much it affected me and, you know, we just knew each other. And so I think about, I think about not only you, Chris, but also your wife and your family and the people who love you like I do and how…

Chris Morris (04:22.542)
I’m sorry.

Kathi (04:51.325)
how heartbreaking that is. What I wanna do in this episode, and I’m so grateful that you are so honest and so raw about your story. I wanna talk to our listeners about if you are,

if you love somebody, if somebody in your family is in these spaces, how can we best come alongside? And one of the reasons I wanted to talk to you about this is the clutter where it is an issue for a lot of people, but for people who are struggling with their mental health.

this can also be a catalyst and a symptom. It can keep people down and it can be a real struggle. And so what I wanted to ask you about is, I know you have a wife who desperately loves you. I know you have a lot of people who care about you. And I wonder how can we come alongside somebody who is struggling so much in this area?

Chris Morris (06:08.142)
That’s a really important question. I’m glad you’re talking about this. Thank you for asking it. The biggest thing that my wife and I have learned through this process is just being radically honest. So, you know, even in marriages, we can get into that space. How was your day? Oh, it was fine. And we’re not answering very transparently.

Kathi (06:13.135)

Chris Morris (06:36.95)
You know, so sometimes it’s as simple as, well, you said it was fine. Are you sure? And then with my wife, yeah. I was very stubborn personally and my mistaken belief that I had my life put together pretty well when I really didn’t. So it took my wife.

Kathi (06:42.569)
Mm-hmm. Mm. But one more question. Yeah.

Kathi (06:57.873)
Okay, so what did that look like? What did that look like for you, that you felt like your life was together, but finding out it wasn’t?

Chris Morris (07:08.414)
Um, what it looked like for me in the context of where we’re going is asking that one more question didn’t accomplish anything. Like my wife would have to get almost aggressive with me. Like, Chris, you’ve not been yourself. And you seem really down. I know that you struggle with depression. Are you struggling with it right now? And that was Yeah, that was very hard for her.

Kathi (07:19.782)
Oh wow.

Kathi (07:32.548)
So being super direct.

Chris Morris (07:37.514)
She’s a middle child, so that means she doesn’t like conflict. And I’m an only child, which means I’m always right.

Kathi (07:41.815)

Kathi (07:47.292)
Oh, don’t you love how God knits these relationships together, right?

Chris Morris (07:51.634)
Yeah. So so it ended up I would love to tell you that they were all super happy conversations, but some of them were sort of aggressive. They were you know, we got in some arguments over it, where I was telling her I’m really okay. And she’s like, you’re really not. And she’d always she’d always source it or center it in her love for me. Over and over. She’d say, Chris, I want the best for you. And you’re not living your best right now.

Kathi (08:11.413)

Kathi (08:17.061)
So is that what you needed to hear? That you were deeply loved and she wanted more for you?

Chris Morris (08:26.43)
Yes. Yeah, there’s this there is at least for me or there was it’s less so now this intense fear that if I let people into the darkness that’s within my soul, they’re going to go, Oh, I don’t want any of that. So the best one of the best things my wife did was say, I’m committed to you no matter what. And I think there’s more for you.

Kathi (08:51.981)
Right, right. Mm-hmm.

Chris Morris (08:55.222)
But you have to, you have to want it. Let me help you want it.

Kathi (08:59.863)
Yeah. Were you seeing somebody at this point? Were you in therapy? What was the situation? Did you have somebody that you could be completely honest with?

Chris Morris (09:15.074)
Um, on and off, I’ll be honest with you, Kathi. I had a couple really, really bad experiences with counselors where they were actually adding to my trauma rather than helping me process. So in the, the darkest times, part of my problem was that I wasn’t seeking professional help.

Kathi (09:18.721)

Chris Morris (09:39.902)
and my reasoning somewhat made sense. I had someone who told me that my Christianity was a crutch and I was gonna be depressed as long as I continued to believe in God.

Kathi (09:50.094)

Chris Morris (09:51.742)
Right. So I looked at that and went, well, I don’t need that. And that’s not a wrong statement, but, but I did need counseling.

Kathi (09:56.957)
Right. No, it’s not a wrong statement. But two things, yeah, two things can be true at the same time. That was a wrong statement, but you still needed help. But that was not the help you needed, yeah. I find, yeah.

Chris Morris (10:05.951)

Chris Morris (10:09.79)
Yes, exactly. Right. So part of this too, look like my wife saying, I think you need to get into counseling again. Well, you remember the last time that happened? Yes, I do. But I still think you need to get into counseling again.

Kathi (10:20.599)

Kathi (10:26.829)
Yeah, and what I’ve learned is the first counselor isn’t always the right counselor. That sometimes it’s the second and third, but that has to be really hard when you are struggling so deeply to be persistent in that. I mean, you must have needed your wife’s support even more at that point. I don’t know. How did you, were you able to find somebody or is that still an ongoing struggle for you?

Chris Morris (10:34.485)

Chris Morris (10:57.934)
So after my suicide attempt, there were some things that happened in the psych ward that maybe we’ll get to, maybe we won’t. But there were some shifts that happened in the deepest part of my soul when I was in the psych ward. And I recognized that everything my wife had been saying to me about needing to find support and needing to produce change in my life and needing to have healthy habits.

Kathi (11:05.016)

Chris Morris (11:25.278)
All of those things did indeed have to happen or I was gonna end up in the same place again.

Kathi (11:30.805)
Right, right. And I will say, I, you know, just for my own mental health journey, I’ve done some online therapy. And one of the best things that I heard was, you know, you can, you know, you can be matched with somebody. And I wasn’t necessarily matched with a Christian. But it was somebody who

Kathi (12:00.719)
and believed that my faith was an important part of who I was.

And so that was a beautiful statement to me. I found the right counselor because I’ve been struggling with some situational depression and needed to see somebody for a few months and to have that option and be told, no, we honor who you are, including your faith was huge for me. We need to go to a commercial. I wanna come back.

Chris Morris (12:10.08)

Kathi (12:36.197)
And I want to ask you, Chris, about

How do you ask for the help that you need when you’re in that, or can you? And so I wanna explore that topic with you because some of us are coming alongside somebody, but some of us are the ones who are suffering. And I wanna ask you, you know, where, how did you get to the point where you could ask or maybe you didn’t? So I wanna go into more of your story there. We’re gonna take a quick break and we’ll be right back.

Guys, we’re here with author Chris Morris. His book is resilient and redeemed. Chris, can you give me the subtitle to your book?

Chris Morris (13:21.902)
Sure, it is lessons about suicidality and depression from the psych ward.

Kathi (13:28.421)
Yeah, okay. So you talked a little bit about that some things fundamentally changed for you while you were in the psych ward. You know, were you able to ask for help? Or was the suicide attempt? Was that the ask? I don’t know. I’m probably asking the wrong questions here, but I would love to hear your answer.

Chris Morris (13:53.362)
I don’t think you’re asking the wrong questions. I mean, how do you dive into, so how was the suicide attempt? That’s not an easy question. But that, cause that sort of sounds like how was the stake, but.

Kathi (13:59.089)
Yeah, how is-

Kathi (14:04.673)
Right, and I only left because you’re here and you’re with us and you’re you know You’re reaching out your hand back out to people who they are struggling and there are so many families who are dealing with this situation right now So how did you get the help you need? Did it have to come to it had to come to the psych ward? Didn’t it for you?

Chris Morris (14:27.942)
It really did. I was very stubborn and convinced that I was handling things okay. And the circumstances behind my suicide attempt and what happened when I was in the psych ward sort of laid the foundation for a different direction for me. Let me explain what I mean by that.

Kathi (14:46.983)

Chris Morris (14:48.138)
We immediately before my suicide attempt, we were as a family downstairs, having a good time watching some television show. And I had this random thought pop into my head that said, things are never going to get better. You should just go take those pills right now. And I didn’t process that. I was sort of so stunned that it came that I just sort of went with it. And I went upstairs, grabbed a bunch of pills.

and tried to kill myself by suicide. And, you know, I needed, when I came into a better place, I realized I need to make sure that the next time that thought pops into my head, because it’s gonna come again, I need to be prepared to manage that better. And what that looked like for me was needing to have

transparent relationships with three or four people who I know will be able to, at a moment’s notice, sort of drop everything and help me reframe things. I have that now in my life. Finding a counselor, I have that now in my life. And then the thing that shifted for me in the in the psych ward was a spiritual reorientation. I’m going to tell you a quick story here.

Kathi (15:53.713)

Kathi (16:11.353)
Yeah, please, yes.

Chris Morris (16:13.822)
So I was sitting in the psych ward watching a cinematic masterpiece, something like Rambo 17. Yes, yes, life changing stuff. And I felt this quickening in my spirit, like God wanted to say something to me. I didn’t know exactly what he might want to say to post-suicidal psych ward Chris. But anyway, couldn’t say it well.

Kathi (16:21.285)
Something with deep meaning to you. Yes, go ahead. Right.

Chris Morris (16:39.562)
while sliced along was blowing up the world. So I went into my room, and I sat down and I just waited. And I heard the Holy Spirit whisper to me almost like an audible voice. It wasn’t but almost like that clear. Chris, I still love you. And I and I and I argued with him. You don’t understand who I am and what I’ve gone through and how dark things are. I don’t even love me. You can’t love me. And I was ready for an argument.

You know, it’s never a good thing when you think you’re going to argue and win with God, but that’s a side point. Instead of engaging me in that, the Lord just repeated himself. He said, no, Chris, I still love you. And it hit different for me the second time. And it’s like something shifted in my spirit in a really deep way. If the creator of the universe who knows better than anyone else exactly how messed up I am.

Kathi (17:09.485)
Right. Yes.

Chris Morris (17:37.13)
is still willing to engage with me and still see something worthwhile that maybe I ought to as well. So that’s sort of part one of the restoration of my soul. Part two came the next day, my pastor came and visited me. I I’ve had a lot of gaslighting in my life from pastor so I was super nervous. I almost didn’t show up. Because I’m like I

I don’t think I can handle one more person tearing me down one more time. I’m already in a psych ward. I can’t, but it can get worse.

Kathi (18:07.53)
Right. Oh, absolutely. Yes.

Chris Morris (18:10.682)
And we small talk for a little bit, you know, how’s the food? It’s fine. Are you enjoying yourself? What? He didn’t ask that question. I’m kidding.

Kathi (18:19.67)
I was like, oh, he needs some training. OK, good. He did not ask that question.

Chris Morris (18:24.063)
No, we just small talk for a while. And then I saw his posture change. And in my, and internally I went, Oh no, here it comes. Here’s where he’s going to tear me down. But he didn’t. Instead he said, Chris, we can’t have this happen again. God’s not done with you yet. And our church needs you. And those two things helped me understand not only is not only was he affirming what

Kathi (18:30.243)

Chris Morris (18:49.482)
had happened through the Holy Spirit the other day, but he was telling me, you have a home and we miss you in this home.

Kathi (18:57.789)
To know, to say, we want to know you more deeply, and you’re needed is huge, is huge. And that’s what you needed to hear, is what you’re telling me, is that you were wanted and you were needed. And yeah, I think sometimes we forget.

Chris Morris (18:58.21)
deeply transformative.

Chris Morris (19:06.733)

Chris Morris (19:17.002)

Kathi (19:22.941)
to show up for our friends, for the people that we love in that way and say the simple things. And you talked about your three or four friends. I call that my short sucker list. If I’m, it doesn’t matter where I’m at, at 2.30 in the morning, I’ve got a handful of friends who won’t ask a question, but will show up and just, you know, because they know I need them. And we all need that.

that short list in our lives. Chris, there are people who are listening right now who are going to deal with, they know somebody who is hurting right now. What do they need to tell that person that they love so deeply, who are struggling so much, that they are needed and they’re wanted? What else did you need to hear?

Chris Morris (20:21.654)
I’m gonna go someplace weird to give you an answer to this question. I’m going to go to the book of Job and his friends. No, normally when Pete, when you talk about Job’s friends, you think about, well, once they open their mouth, all sorts of stuff, we’ll use the word stuff. I could use other words, all sorts of stuff tumbled out of their mouth. That was really unhelpful and really harmful and really hurtful. But the first thing they did.

Kathi (20:23.709)
Please, please.

Kathi (20:27.946)

Kathi (20:39.94)


Kathi (20:46.809)

Chris Morris (20:52.338)
is amazing. And it’s the best thing that anyone could have done for Job in the midst of his tremendous, terrible, unbelievably awful circumstances. They came and they sat with him and they mourned with him for a week and they didn’t say anything. They offered him the ministry of presence.

And I think that is something that so many hurting people desperately need. That’s something that I desperately needed and still need sometimes for someone to come alongside. What that looks like sometimes is this menu situation really stinks. I don’t have an answer for you, but I’m here for you. I’m here to listen. If you want, if you want, I can grab some pizza and we can watch a movie. You know, I just want to be with you.

Kathi (21:39.61)

Chris Morris (21:48.978)
and acknowledge that what you’re going through is hard, and that there aren’t easy answers for it. And that’s important because a lot of times as Christians, we feel like we have to defend God for the circumstances that our friends find themselves in. And that never goes well.

Kathi (22:05.533)
Mmm. Ah.

It’s so true. And we all want to be that person who says the magic thing that makes it all better. And there is no magic thing. There’s nothing. There’s nothing we can say to, you know, you look at Job’s circumstances. He lost his family. He lost, you know, he lost everything. There was nothing to be said, but you’re right, that ministry of presence to just say, you are worth spending time with, you are worth.

Chris Morris (22:19.447)

Kathi (22:37.329)
loving you are worth mourning with it. You know, I feel like, you know, we have, as I think Americans, we have. And sometimes as Christians, we don’t have the right rituals around these really hard things. We don’t know how to show up.

Chris Morris (22:59.159)

Kathi (23:02.373)
And to realize, you know, it took me until my 50s to realize that, you know, when my friend’s parent dies, even if I didn’t know the parent, I show up and mourn with them. I’ve lost nothing, but the person I love has lost so much. And I don’t know why it took me so long to really understand and realize that.

I think just because you show up for people that you know who died, but to come alongside, I guess it was in my 40s that I figured that out. But I hate that you’ve gone through this. And I love that you’re reaching a hand back to help others to say, people are going to go through this. And we need to figure out how to be present for them.

Chris Morris (23:46.626)

Kathi (23:58.237)
Um, Chris, I would love your most practical advice for the person who loves somebody who’s going through this. What, what is the, is there, you know, is it the suicide hotline? Is it grief grocery? Like, what is your most practical advice?

for somebody who’s going through this when you need to show up for a friend. I love the ministry of presence. Is there something really practical we could do as well?

Chris Morris (24:35.81)
That’s a tough question because every person is sort of wired a little bit differently. Um, I, I think it comes back to some of what we’ve already talked about. The idea of communicating as.

directly and as clearly as possible. Hey, I’m for you and I love you, not because of the specifics of how you’re built necessarily. Like I don’t love you only because I think you’re well put together right now. I love you because of who you fundamentally are and no circumstances are gonna change that. My…

Kathi (25:14.547)

Chris Morris (25:23.638)
My friend Mary says it this way, no matter what, I’m always on Team Chris. And I love that language of being on Team Chris.

Kathi (25:29.249)
Yes, I love that.

Kathi (25:34.173)
Team Chris, oh, 100%. Let me ask you one last question. You went through this and how do people show up for the people you love when you’re in this crisis? How did you want people to show up for your wife, for your family?

Chris Morris (25:58.638)
Don’t worry. You know, I’ll be honest.

Chris Morris (26:06.238)
My wife carried the lion’s share of the load through the darkest times that I had. And for her, it was…

you know, simple things like not saying how can I help, but people showing up with a mop and a brush and saying I’m, I’m going to clean your house because I know that having a clean house is important to you. Or show it or just bringing a meal, not being on a meal train, but just unexpectedly doing something and showing up. I think those were the moments that were really meaningful for my wife, Barbara.

Kathi (26:37.625)

Kathi (26:43.087)

Kathi (26:47.929)
and just saying it’s here. Okay, awesome. And Chris, how are you doing today? How’s Barbara doing today? How’s your family?

Chris Morris (27:00.362)
We’re in good shape. Still healing, but we’re in good shape. Yeah, healthier than we’ve been in a long time.

Kathi (27:03.042)

Kathi (27:07.033)
I’m so grateful to hear it. You guys, the book is Resilient and Redeemed by Chris Morris. And I’m going to encourage you to pick it up. I don’t normally say, could you go pick this up? But here’s what I know. If your family is not currently going through something like this, we just thank God. But there’s a family you love who is. And…

Chris Morris (27:09.014)
Me too.

Kathi (27:36.325)
Chris is gonna give you some spiritual applications and practical application and how do we maneuver and how do we love well through all of this. Chris, thank you so much for being on the podcast.

Chris Morris (27:51.658)
It’s been a pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Kathi (27:54.209)
And guys, we’re gonna put the resources for how to stay in touch with Chris. If this is something that you or somebody you love is dealing with, he has an email list that I would love for you to get on and we’ll have the link to the book in our show notes as well. I know it’s a good, I’ve read the book, I love the book, and I can highly recommend. Well friends, you have been listening to Clutterfree Academy, I’m Kathi Lipp.

Go create the clutter free life you’ve always wanted to live.


#619 Decluttering Sentimental Items: Transforming Loved Items into Meaningful Displays

#619 Decluttering Sentimental Items: Transforming Loved Items into Meaningful Displays

619 – Decluttering Sentimental Items: Transforming Loved Items into Meaningful Displays

Welcome back, our sentimental decluttering friends!

In part 2 of the Clutter Free Academy series on decluttering sentimental items, Kathi Lipp and Tonya Kubo explore the art of curating and displaying emotional items in a meaningful way. Throughout the episode, they emphasize the importance of being intentional and selective in your curation process, ensuring that each displayed item truly reflects your heart and brings joy to your space. Listen in as they share insights and inspiration about sentimental items, such as:

  • How to transform your emotional clutter into beautiful, intentional keepsakes
  • How gallery walls, shadowboxes, and themed displays can be used to honor your loved one
  • How sharing the narratives behind sentimental items can enhance their value and significance.

With their insights and inspiration, you’ll be well-equipped to transform your sentimental clutter into beautiful, purposeful keepsakes. So, grab a tissue (just in case) and join us for this heartfelt conversation!

Did you miss Part 1 of this series? Here it is for you. #618 Decluttering Sentimental Items: A Step-by-Step Guide

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The Accidental Homesteader: What I’ve Learned About Chickens, Compost, and Creating Home

Homesteading [hohm-sted-ing]
1. an act or instance of establishing a homestead.
2. the act of loving where you live so much that you actively ignore the fact that your house is trying to kill you on a regular basis.

For Kathi Lipp and her husband, Roger, buying a house in one of the most remote parts of Northern California was never part of the plan; many of life’s biggest, most rewarding adventures rarely are.

Kathi shares the hard-won wisdom she’s gained on her homestead journey to help you accomplish more at home, gain fresh perspective, and give yourself grace in the process. Here’s a handful of the lessons Kathi shares:

  • Prepare before the need arises
  • Everything is always in process, including us
  • Your best household solution is time and patience
  • You don’t have to do everything the hard way
  • Be open to new and better ways of doing things
  • A lot of small changes make a huge difference.
    Highly practical, humorous, and inspirational, The Accidental Homesteader will encourage you to live with more peace, joy, and contentment.

Order your copy of The Accidental Homesteader: What I’ve Learned About Chickens, Compost, and Creating Home here.

Links Mentioned:

Click here to subscribe to our newsletter and access a copy of the Decision Tree for Letting Go of Emotional Items that Kathi mentions in this episode.

Clutter Free Resources:

Can you share some of your favorite creative display ideas for sentimental items?

Share them the comments!

Let’s stay connected

To share your thoughts:

  • Leave a note in the comment section below.
  • 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 


Tonya Kubo

Tonya Kubo is the illustrious and fearless leader of Kathi Lipp’s Clutter Free Academy Facebook group and the Clutter Free for Life membership program. 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.


Tonya Kubo Picture

Kathi Lipp [00:00:08]:
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. And we are back for part two of. Yeah, I think that we are going to be referencing this podcast over and over and over again in our free group, in our paid group. And just as people are struggling to, they don’t know what to do with their sentimental items, whether they were passed on from a loved one or something from your childhood that you are just having a hard time. Like, do I keep it? The song should I stay or should I go? Keeps going through my brain. And we’ve got somebody here who’s going to help us decide. It’s Tonya Kubo. Hey, Tonya.

Tonya Kubo [00:00:54]:
Hey, Kathi.

Kathi Lipp [00:00:55]:
Well, I just want to dive back into this conversation that we are having about getting rid of sentimental items. So you also think that we need to talk about the space and lifestyle considerations.

Tonya Kubo [00:01:11]:
There are some things that are absolutely ginormous, and there are some things that aren’t ginormous, but they’re bigger than the space you have. And so I think you have to think about, you know, does this item align with my current lifestyle and my current space? And, you know, if the answer to that is yes, then by all means, find a suitable place for it or repurpose it. So I think of, I didn’t do this. I got rid of it. But remember, when I bought this house, it came with everything in it, which sounded like a deal, until I realized that really, it was just a bunch of stuff that I had to take to the dump.

Kathi Lipp [00:01:51]:
But one of the things, including the stove. Right, right.

Tonya Kubo [00:01:54]:
I’m gonna talk about the stove.

Kathi Lipp [00:01:56]:
You know, I’m gonna talk about the stove. The stove is what I can’t forget.

Tonya Kubo [00:01:59]:
Yes, right. 1949 Wedgewood gas stove. I mean, the thing restored would have been gorgeous. And the family had driven three states over which we live in California. It takes a very long time to get to another state. This isn’t like going from Massachusetts to a neighboring state. So they’d driven to another state. They’d paid several thousand dollars, but they had to rent a vehicle cause it weighed a ton.

Tonya Kubo [00:02:25]:
Four grown men were required in order to lift it out of here. But when they turned this house into a rental, they put it in the garage. Critters had taken up habitants in there, but they were really caught up in, like, no, we pretty much gave you a $4,000 gift here. Like, we covered your closing costs with this stove. And I’m like, yeah, and I’m just, like, looking at it. But eventually we kind of got to the point where, I mean, we knew that we were going to sell it. Once we saw how heavy it was. We’re like, we’re not going to be able to get that into the house.

Tonya Kubo [00:02:57]:
No, we’re gonna sell it. We tried for three years to sell it. Couldn’t find a buyer. Now, if I had deep sentimental attachment and some skill, which I don’t have, by the way, let’s just be clear there. I could have probably turned it into, like, a really cool, succulent planner, right. Because it had, like, all these cool compartment y things, right? I could have done something really cool with that. I could have repurposed it into some kind of storage unit, because, again, it had these neat little compartment y things. I could have made it like a decorative fixture, right? I could have put some kind of, like, plastic acrylic thing across the top and made it almost like a coffee bar.

Tonya Kubo [00:03:41]:
I coulda, woulda, shoulda Kathi done a lot of things with it if it meant that much to me. But just telling you all the things I could have done with it makes this, like, anxiety bubble up in my chest. That makes me so grateful that I posted on Facebook free, but you gotta pick it up.

Kathi Lipp [00:03:59]:
Yes. And which, by the way, yes. We had somebody deliver just our. Our fireplace, and it about killed the two guys who were doing it. And your stove was so much bigger. So, like, I can’t even imagine. Yeah. So it did not align with your lifestyle.

Tonya Kubo [00:04:20]:
It didn’t.

Kathi Lipp [00:04:21]:

Tonya Kubo [00:04:21]:
But if it did, let’s just say I really was attached to it. Right? Like, I was the person who drove three states over to bring that into my house.

Kathi Lipp [00:04:28]:

Tonya Kubo [00:04:29]:
Then you know what I could have done? Like, I could have taken a picture of it, and now with AI, I could have uploaded that and had some warhol style, like, portrait made of it that I could have framed and put in my house.

Kathi Lipp [00:04:43]:

Tonya Kubo [00:04:43]:
There are ways to preserve the memory, the good feelings, without having to keep the thing if the thing is no longer practical for you.

Kathi Lipp [00:04:55]:
Yes. It’s so true. And, you know, I appreciate, like, we had a relative who put together a book of my mom’s family history, and I’m doing some genealogical research right now. And I’m so grateful, one, that I don’t have to keep all those pictures, and two, they’re available on ancestry.com. And, oh, my gosh. I mean, what a gift, right? So what are some other ways to. Okay, so AI could have taken a picture, some other ways that we could preserve things like that. You know, my dad’s paycheck is schlacked to a piece of wood, and it’s cute, and I love it, but I love the idea of taking pictures of things and putting that up in your house.

Kathi Lipp [00:05:46]:
I think that that’s a great way of doing it. I think one thing not to do is to say my kids have to take it. Cause I don’t want it, but my kids have to take it.

Tonya Kubo [00:05:59]:
Well, I think you can’t. Yeah. You can’t make anybody take it is my point. Because we see that with kids. We see that with siblings, right? I see that a lot in clutter free academy. Right? Like, I am the only one of my siblings who has a garage, who lives on property, and therefore, my siblings have all decided, I have to take this. And it’s like, you don’t have to have to do anything, actually.

Kathi Lipp [00:06:23]:
Right, right. No, I mean, we just had a discussion with Roger’s brother, who. He’s the oldest. He lived closest to everybody, and all the photos ended up with him. And he was feeling such tremendous guilt, and he said, I’m sorry, I have to give these to the other brother. We live on the other side of the country, and it’s like, no, there should be no guilt involved in this. You know, it’s. We can only do what we can do.

Kathi Lipp [00:06:51]:
And if it starts to weigh down your life, I’m hoping that your parent, your relative, your grandparent, that’s not the legacy they wanted to leave for you. Okay, so you’ve answered no to all these things. Like, no, it doesn’t fit my lifestyle. No, it’s not super sentimental, but I think my mom would be really upset if she found out I threw away this cookbook or. How do you get past that feeling?

Tonya Kubo [00:07:25]:
Well, that’s. I mean, that’s really hard, right?

Kathi Lipp [00:07:29]:

Tonya Kubo [00:07:30]:
Because. Well, you know. Cause first of all, it’s like, okay, so is mom alive or dead? Because people. I mean, and I’ve even been that way. Right? Like, I held onto a lot of stuff after my mom died because my mom would have a fit if I got rid of it. And, you know, there was a point where I was like, okay, how long am I gonna make decisions based on fear of my mother’s ghost haunting me? Right? And, I mean, I can laugh about that now because I’m talking about my relationship with my mom.

Kathi Lipp [00:07:57]:

Tonya Kubo [00:07:57]:
I would never laugh somebody else. But no, you know, if it’s no. All the way down and your concern is what other people will, think what you’re really saying is you’ve got a boundary problem. Right. And we’ve talked frequently in past episodes about how clutter is a boundary issue. But there’s a lot of, you know, boundary issues that we have in our relationships that manifest through stuff. And, like, all I can say is, I can acknowledge that it’s hard. I can also acknowledge that it’s not helpful for me to be like, we’ll just get rid of it.

Tonya Kubo [00:08:34]:
Right? I mean, your emotional connection with somebody is your emotional connection. But I do think there is a way of working through that. And part of that, I think, Kathi, is you have to separate the act of decluttering sometimes from the emotional thought. Work around the decluttering.

Kathi Lipp [00:08:55]:
Hey, Tonya. We’re going to take a quick break. We’re going to talk to our sponsors, and then we will come right back. Okay? We are back continuing our conversation with Tonya Kubo about sentimental and emotional items.

Tonya Kubo [00:09:10]:
When you’re holding the item in your hand, there’s a lot going on.

Kathi Lipp [00:09:15]:
Mm hmm.

Tonya Kubo [00:09:16]:
Right. Internally in your head. It’s exhausting. Sometimes what you have to do is you have to put that item down and come back to it another day. Or rather than coming back to it, just put that item down for now. Set a notification. I’m a big fan of 30 days from now. I’ll make that decision, but then actually schedule some time.

Tonya Kubo [00:09:35]:
Sit down, journal it, think through it, but, like, think through all the questions, and then, like, okay, so, like, if. If my mom were to find out that I got rid of this, and, like, would she actually say something? If we’re talking about my mother? Yes. Yes, my mother would have. Okay, if she said something like, what’s the best case scenario? What’s the worst case scenario? Like, walking through that. Because all those emotions are going to bubble up just as you’re thinking about these eventual cases. But you don’t need to also be holding the item in order to be working through that. That just adds more stress to the whole scenario. So separate yourself from the item.

Tonya Kubo [00:10:15]:
Go through the questions. Really think through, like, what’s the worst case scenarios? How bad can it be? Scale of one to four. How much can I tolerate these potential outcomes? And then once you make that decision, I’m going to give you a very unpopular opinion. Popular opinion would say, once you make the decision, go take care of it right now. I say, once you make the decision, close your notebook, whatever it is, take a deep breath, go reward yourself because you just did some hard, stinking work and come back to handling the item when you already scheduled yourself to handle the item, but you’ve done the hard work of the thinking?

Kathi Lipp [00:10:54]:
Yes. Okay. Yeah, I love that. It’s to process the emotion. And I think the thing I have to remind myself is my loved one is not in this item. I have a couple of things that, when I look at them, they make me happy, and we should only keep things around that make us happy when we look at them. And that another thing that I’ve had to do, a couple of, like, hard things I’ve had to do, is tell my kids, hey, you’ve got stuff here. If it’s sentimental to you, I need you to pick it up by this date.

Kathi Lipp [00:11:44]:
And if you can’t, if you choose not to, I’m okay getting rid of it. And that may seem really, really harsh, but it’s just not. If I can’t, I can’t be a caretaker for somebody else’s memories. Like, these things. These items mean nothing to me. And so we. That, and we had Jeremy at our house at 1145 one night going through stuff, and he picked out what he wanted, and he said, you can get rid of the rest. And that’s.

Kathi Lipp [00:12:17]:
That’s all we needed. The other thing that I’ve done before is saying, here is this item, extended family. If nobody wants it, I’m going to get rid of it by June 1. And because somehow, sometimes we are held by emotional blackmail by other members of our family, it’s not important enough for me to take, but you should keep it. And that is gaslighting. That is gaslighting in its finest form, to say you’re a bad person if you don’t do what I also refuse to do, and it’s just not true. If you can curate the things that are important to you, and only you can decide what’s important to you, don’t let other people decide what should be important to you, what feelings should be attached to things. It’s emotional blackmail, and we don’t do that around here.

Kathi Lipp [00:13:19]:
If we’re getting rid of clutter, we’re also getting rid of useless feelings.

Tonya Kubo [00:13:23]:

Kathi Lipp [00:13:24]:
And so to put a date on something and say, you know, and this happened with my mother in law’s stuff, my brother in law sent messages to Rogers and his stepfather’s family and said, hey, we’ve got this item. Does anybody want it? He didn’t hear back from anybody. And so three months later, he got rid of it. A year and a half later, somebody said, oh, I’d actually like that. He’s like, it’s gone. It’s gone. And here’s the thing. If it was really important, there’s a phrase going around, at least on TikTok.

Kathi Lipp [00:14:02]:
If he wanted to, he would. And what that means is, if they wanted that item, they would have acted on it. If they were. We can’t be healthy for other people, and so we have to have our own boundaries. And my brother in law felt guilty at first that he got rid of this item. I’m like, you gave them every chance in the world.

Tonya Kubo [00:14:25]:

Kathi Lipp [00:14:25]:
No, no, no. Yeah. We’re done. We live. We are deciding on our own health. Okay, Tonya, anything that you think we have not said that should be said on this subject?

Tonya Kubo [00:14:39]:
Yeah, I think so. I’m just gonna say three more things. Thing one, okay. Is. And this is the hardest part. So what I will say is, give yourself grace. You want to be as honest and objective as possible when you go through the decision tree. Okay.

Tonya Kubo [00:14:57]:
It’s hard. It’s going to feel hard. That’s okay. But, you know, be as honest as you can be. The other thing I will say is take breaks, which I already kind of talked about. Separating yourself from the item sometimes really is beneficial. And then this is the big one that I don’t feel like people like. Hear me when I say, but gosh darn it.

Tonya Kubo [00:15:18]:
Celebrate your successes along the way. Okay. Maybe you have a box of 25 things, and you were only able to part with five of the 25. Can we celebrate that rather than talk about how only five things?

Kathi Lipp [00:15:39]:
Yes, Tonya? I think as we heal, as we do the work, these items come in layers, and sometimes there’s obvious stuff. It’s like, oh, I never have to see this again. It’s fine. And then as we do the work, we become healthier and understand that our relationship is not in these items. We curate the things that were meaningful to us. We are not holding on to things because other people in our life say they should be important to us. And that decluttering that box may come. You may be able to declutter it the first day.

Kathi Lipp [00:16:24]:
It may take you years, and it’s okay. I will tell you this. When I finally take things out of the box and I get rid of six things, and then there’s this one thing. I’m like, you know what? I want that displayed in my house. I don’t want it to be in a box. I I want it to be someplace where I can see it every day and recall the good memories with this person I love. Or, you know, this animal like it. Part of my grieving and healing with Jake was putting that, you know, going and buying the candle.

Kathi Lipp [00:16:58]:
We do not have enough ritual in the United States of America around the death of loved ones. And I think sometimes creating that ritual, you know, finding the candle, and when somebody loses a pet, I send them candles that I think are going to be about the same size as their animal’s neck so that they can put the collar around it. Because there’s a ritual there that says, we honor this life that was so important to us, and that’s part of our grieving and that’s part of our sentimentality. And when I first looked at that after Jake died, I would cry every single time. And now it just brings a smile. And that’s what we want your house to do, is to bring you joy and to bring you peace as you look around. This was a deep conversation, Tonya, but I think it was a really good one. And I’m really grateful for you being here with me.

Tonya Kubo [00:17:55]:
Well, thank you for having me. This was a really. I hope this one is very helpful to our listeners.

Kathi Lipp [00:18:01]:
I hope so, too. And, friends, you have been here, and we’re so grateful that we can speak to you. You’ve been listening to clutter free academy. I’m Kathi Lipp. Now go create the clutter free life you’ve always wanted to live.

#618 Decluttering Sentimental Items: A Step-by-Step Guide

#618 Decluttering Sentimental Items: A Step-by-Step Guide

618 – Decluttering Sentimental Items: A Step-by-Step Guide

Do you have a box (or two, or three) filled with sentimental items that you just can’t seem to let go of?

In this episode of Clutter Free Academy, Kathi Lipp, and Tonya Kubo tackle the challenge of decluttering sentimental items. They discuss the various categories of emotional clutter, from childhood memorabilia to inherited items, and share their personal experiences with letting go. Together, they offer a step-by-step decision-making process to help listeners navigate the emotional decluttering journey with confidence and clarity. Listen in as they how to ask questions and set limits on sentimental items in the decluttering process using:

  • Kathi’s “Five Item Rule” for curating sentimental objects, and
  • Tonya’s “Decision Tree” process for making decluttering choices

Click here to be notified when part 2 of this series, where Kathi and Tonya will dive even deeper into the art of curating and displaying sentimental items in a meaningful way, goes LIVE.

Also, stay up to date and sign up here to receive our newsletter.


The Accidental Homesteader: What I’ve Learned About Chickens, Compost, and Creating Home

Homesteading [hohm-sted-ing]
1. an act or instance of establishing a homestead.
2. the act of loving where you live so much that you actively ignore the fact that your house is trying to kill you on a regular basis.

For Kathi Lipp and her husband, Roger, buying a house in one of the most remote parts of Northern California was never part of the plan; many of life’s biggest, most rewarding adventures rarely are.

Kathi shares the hard-won wisdom she’s gained on her homestead journey to help you accomplish more at home, gain fresh perspective, and give yourself grace in the process. Here’s a handful of the lessons Kathi shares:

  • Prepare before the need arises
  • Everything is always in process, including us
  • Your best household solution is time and patience
  • You don’t have to do everything the hard way
  • Be open to new and better ways of doing things
  • A lot of small changes make a huge difference.
    Highly practical, humorous, and inspirational, The Accidental Homesteader will encourage you to live with more peace, joy, and contentment.

Order your copy of The Accidental Homesteader: What I’ve Learned About Chickens, Compost, and Creating Home here.

Links Mentioned:

Click here to subscribe to our newsletter and access a copy of the Decision Tree for Letting Go of Emotional Items Kathi mentions in this episode.

Clutter Free Resources:

How do you personally navigate the emotional challenges of letting go?

Share in the comments!

Let’s stay connected

To share your thoughts:

  • Leave a note in the comment section below.
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Meet Our Guest 


Tonya Kubo

Tonya Kubo is the illustrious and fearless leader of Kathi Lipp’s Clutter Free Academy Facebook group and the Clutter Free for Life membership program. 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.


Tonya Kubo Picture

Kathi Lipp [00:00:08]:
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. And today, I am back with my favorite clutter free co conspirator. It is Tonya Kubo. Hey, Tonya.

Tonya Kubo [00:00:26]:
Hey, Kathi.

Kathi Lipp [00:00:28]:
Uh, I I’m excited about today’s podcast, and also, I don’t know, I feel prejudged. Let me just put it that way. I already feel like this is where I’m failing. This is. You know, I think we all have different areas of clutter that we struggle with. And weirdly, I’m not a very sentimental person. I don’t have a lot of, like, things from my kids childhood, things like that. But when there is something and I struggle to get rid of it.

Kathi Lipp [00:01:05]:
And I know that when we were doing our interviews with members of our paid group clutter free for life, you found that the majority of people are just like me. We’re all just like each other, that we struggle. So I would love to hear from you what people’s struggles were with these emotional and sentimental items and kind of the things that. That brought up for people.

Tonya Kubo [00:01:31]:
Yeah, well, so the struggles are. I mean, they’re varied, right? Just because we all have the same. The same core challenge, how it. The symptoms of that challenge are not always similar. So the sentimental items, something we’ve talked about a lot, right, are just like the ghosts of our past lives. So that’s the childhood memorabilia, whether it’s our own childhood stuff or our children’s stuff from when they were babies and such. There is the stuff that we have inherited. Right?

Kathi Lipp [00:02:06]:
So the.

Tonya Kubo [00:02:07]:
The ghost of past lives is both like childhood, but it’s college, it’s former professions. It’s the empty nester who used to homeschool, but they don’t want to let go of the homeschool curriculum because maybe their grandchildren could use it.

Kathi Lipp [00:02:19]:
What is it about homeschool curriculum?

Tonya Kubo [00:02:23]:
It’s expensive. That’s what it is. Kathi, as a former homeschooling mom.

Kathi Lipp [00:02:29]:

Tonya Kubo [00:02:29]:
You know.

Kathi Lipp [00:02:30]:
Yep, you’re right.

Tonya Kubo [00:02:31]:
When I was homeschooling, we had, you know, in our state, we had a thing called public charter schools that would help offset some of the expenses. But if you were homeschooling in the eighties and nineties, you were on your own, and.

Kathi Lipp [00:02:46]:
Yeah, no, that’s true. Right.

Tonya Kubo [00:02:50]:
So there’s that.

Kathi Lipp [00:02:50]:
So that’s true. I remember that. Yeah. Because we, you and I have both dipped our toe into homeschooling. And even though I bought a lot of curriculum used. It was not cheap.

Tonya Kubo [00:03:02]:
No, no. I mean, I remember there was one curriculum that was touted as the best for working families, and it was like $2,000 a year.

Kathi Lipp [00:03:12]:
So you just think, holy cow, right?

Tonya Kubo [00:03:16]:
If that’s you, Kathi, wouldn’t you want to save that just in case the off chance is that, a, you had grandchildren and, b, those grandchildren would be homeschooled maybe one day, kind of.

Kathi Lipp [00:03:28]:
I would want to save it in case I got pregnant at 56, like.

Tonya Kubo [00:03:32]:
Yeah, exactly.

Kathi Lipp [00:03:34]:
And, Tonya, I have to tell you, I was talking with our friend Sherry Gregory recently, and I remember one of the things she had the hardest time decluttering was one of these programs that you got in the box. And, like, here was lesson number 42, and here’s lesson number 78. And I saw somebody post about that and say it was Pokemon for stay at home moms. Gotta catch them all. And just about died when I heard that. And I finally realized I was never going to get lesson number 37. Like, they were never going to put that out. They were just going to add more and add more because I kept buying.

Kathi Lipp [00:04:18]:
Yeah. It is such a pit of despair. Okay, so.

Tonya Kubo [00:04:23]:
So back to the point, right? So past lives, and then there’s the inherited stuff, which I think you see a lot more, you know, but we’ve seen that from the beginning with clutter Frey Academy, that inherited stuff is really tough.

Kathi Lipp [00:04:40]:
It’s really, really tough. And I think, yeah, past lives and future lives. Like, I bet someday, you know, like, I’m gonna keep my wedding dress because I bet my daughter’s gonna want to wear this. No, probably not. Unless your daughter has said, oh, I want to wear that, it’s probably not gonna happen. Right? Yeah. So I understand that there is a lot of angst around this, and so how do we get rid of this stuff? And I think one of the things, we know the challenges, but I have had to approach it with a very systematic approach to take some of the angst out of it. I am not.

Kathi Lipp [00:05:29]:
I lose all logical thought when it comes to some of these things. And I give myself one box for each kid where I don’t have to explain why I’m keeping it. It’s just. But I can’t keep ten boxes for each kid. I keep these boxes because right now the kids don’t want the stuff. And these are small boxes. We’re not talking huge things. But, like, my son, he’s not in his forever house.

Kathi Lipp [00:06:02]:
He lives with a bunch of roommates. And I have a ring from my grandfather. That he wants. He goes, but I don’t feel like I’m in a good position to hang on to. I’m like, I can hang on to it. And I’m also hanging on to his boo bonkie because I think everybody has a version of Boo Bonkie, which is his blue blanket that he couldn’t live without. And I don’t know that he ever cares about it. But, like, about once every couple of years, I go into that box and I’m like, oh, blue blankie.

Kathi Lipp [00:06:32]:
So you came up with some ideas about a decision tree, and I love this. It’s kind of an emotional sorting system for making these decisions. Right. So I’m going to take. And let’s talk about. We’re not going to talk about Boo Boinke, but we’re going to talk about. I’ve got an item right here, and I’ll take a picture of it to show everybody. My dad, his first paycheck at the library when, you know, he.

Kathi Lipp [00:07:07]:
I think he was probably 17 at the time. And my son’s been a librarian. Well, he’s worked at a library. He hasn’t been a librarian. That’s a very specific role.

Tonya Kubo [00:07:17]:
That’s a master’s degree right there.

Kathi Lipp [00:07:18]:
Yeah, exactly. Um, and we used to call him the guy Brarian. But we’re going to take this paycheck that I have sitting behind me that’s laminated and everything like that on a piece of wood. And I’m going to take it through. I want to take it through the decision tree process. So, um, let’s start with my dad’s paycheck. And you know what? We’re going to do that right after we take a quick break. We’re going to take a quick break.

Kathi Lipp [00:07:43]:
We’re going to listen to some sponsors who keep this podcast free, and then we’ll come right back. Okay, guys, I am back with Tonya Kubo, and we’re doing the emotional, sentimental item decision tree. So what is the first question that I am going to ask myself, Tonya?

Tonya Kubo [00:08:03]:
So for me, it is, how do I feel? Like when I’m holding this and I’m just holding something random because nobody listening can actually see what I’m holding. But when I hold this, what are the emotions that instantly bubble up? Am I feeling angst? Am I feeling hurt? Am I feeling happiness? Am I feeling joy? Like, that’s the first thing that I think needs to happen. You got to label that emotion. So how are you feeling about that paycheck, Kathi?

Kathi Lipp [00:08:34]:
It makes me happy. It just. It. You know, I’ll be honest. My dad and I didn’t have a super close relationship. He was definitely on the spectrum. Hard for him to connect engineer. But this makes me feel connected to him.

Tonya Kubo [00:08:52]:
Okay, so it makes you feel connected because that’s the. You know, the second question I would ask is, you know, why do you feel happy? So it makes you feel connected to him. He’s not here anymore. So the next question, like, absolutely doesn’t apply to this item, but it’s. But it will apply to some of our listeners items that they are evaluating, which is, you know, what is the frequency in which you use it? Like, how often are you using it?

Kathi Lipp [00:09:18]:

Tonya Kubo [00:09:19]:
And I’m gonna say, what’s the practicality of using it?

Kathi Lipp [00:09:23]:
Zero practicality, but it is displayed. So I feel like that’s a use. That’s. That’s a form of use for me, that it’s not just on a shelf that I’ve ignored. It’s like, no, it’s in a place that when I see it, it makes me happy.

Tonya Kubo [00:09:41]:
Well, what I would add for consideration, because that’s the other thing we know, is our listeners are great rule followers, but this decision tree is a wonderful framework for evaluating whether to keep or not keep your sentimental item. But there’s nuance to it. So, in this case, you’re not using it, but it’s displayed. It’s not taking up a ton of space. It’s a first paycheck.

Kathi Lipp [00:10:07]:

Tonya Kubo [00:10:08]:

Kathi Lipp [00:10:08]:

Tonya Kubo [00:10:09]:
We’re not talking about a china hut chair.

Kathi Lipp [00:10:11]:
Yes, exactly.

Tonya Kubo [00:10:13]:
So I think that’s important to point out, too, we might feel a little differently if we’re talking about this gigantic china hutch that goes floor to ceiling.

Kathi Lipp [00:10:21]:

Tonya Kubo [00:10:21]:
But next, whether it’s a china hutch or it’s your dad’s first paycheck, the next question is, what’s the sentimental value associated with. Of that item? Is it because it’s attached to irreplaceable memories? Is it attached to an irreplaceable association?

Kathi Lipp [00:10:40]:
Yeah. Well, I have not kept a lot of my dad’s stuff because, you know, honestly, it wasn’t his. His rock collection. There were other people who were more connected to that. His cameras, other people more connected to that. But this one, I have very few things of his because I. I remember my dad, and I remember him with love and fondness. So I don’t need a lot of stuff around.

Kathi Lipp [00:11:09]:
But this paycheck, it’s not that it’s associated with a particular memory, but it’s associated with goodness. In my dad.

Tonya Kubo [00:11:18]:
Right. And for most of our folks who are evaluating sentimental stuff, they’re probably not looking at something that’s already displayed. They’re probably going through boxes in their garage, in a spare room, in a drawer. So what I would say if they had the same answer, though, right? Like, it’s associated with good memories. I feel good about this. I have very few things that have similar associations. Then I would say, okay, so let’s think of ways that you can preserve the memory if that item is not practical in your home. If the item is practical, then let’s talk about clever ways of displaying it.

Tonya Kubo [00:11:56]:
Like, how do we make it part of the actual intentional design of your home? And if the answer is no, like, it does not have any, you know, irreplaceable memories or associations, you know, it’s one of 22 of a similar item, then, you know, it’s. It’s time to make the hard, that hard decision about, do I really need to keep this? Do I need to keep this now?

Kathi Lipp [00:12:22]:
Yeah. So this is not part of the decision tree, but what I. A kind of rule that I’ve made for myself. Not a rule, a guideline is for somebody who is close to me. I. I can keep up to five of their items. So, you know, and obviously, if something happened to Roger, that would be blown out the water. But, you know, I’ve lost my dad in the past ten years.

Kathi Lipp [00:12:51]:
A year ago, I lost you and I lost our good friend Jen. And I have a couple of items around here that remind me of her. She sent me one time a towel that says fold in the cheese, which is from Schitt’s Creek. And it’s a little joke. And so I have a couple, but, you know, and that was a significant loss in my life. But five items is enough for anybody in my life. And I have people in my life that are very precious to me, but I haven’t lost them. And so things of my kids, that kind of things.

Kathi Lipp [00:13:32]:
Five is a good guideline for me. It doesn’t feel overstuffed, it doesn’t feel crazy, and it forces me to make decisions. So everybody has to have their own number, right?

Tonya Kubo [00:13:44]:
And what I was going to say is, I want to speak to the person right now who is like, five is not enough. Damn. I get five does not sound like very many. And, you know, you already said it’s an arbitrary number. It’s a number that works for you. It may not be the number that works for me. Maybe I need four, maybe I need eight. But the reason five is a good benchmark number is because we don’t just have one special person in our life.

Tonya Kubo [00:14:12]:

Kathi Lipp [00:14:12]:

Tonya Kubo [00:14:13]:
So you think about it. If you’re keeping five items from mom, five items from dad, five items from mom in law and dad in law, now we’ve got 20 different items that we’re having to find space for. So that’s why.

Kathi Lipp [00:14:28]:
And Tonya, let’s talk about our dog, too. Like, we’ve got all these grand. And then. Yeah. And then the things from your dog, like, it can get out of control.

Tonya Kubo [00:14:37]:
Right. So for some people, I just want to clarify that because I think for some people, they’re thinking like, five is so many because they have, you know, I don’t know, six sets of parents because of in laws and steps and all of that. And other people who might be an only child of only children is like, no, I need 20 because that just.

Kathi Lipp [00:14:56]:
Gives me 40 items. Right. So I think it’s good to have a number because then you say, am I keeping this just because I love the person, or am I keeping this because there’s significance to this item in that person?

Tonya Kubo [00:15:13]:
Right. Well, and you know me, like my latest thing that I’m all about, and I talk about this in Clutterfree Academy, and I’m talking about in clutter free for life, which is our private membership program, is I’m all about the freedom of constraints. It doesn’t matter what the number is when you set a limit, it’s clarifying because it either takes the place of one of the five items or it doesn’t.

Kathi Lipp [00:15:37]:
Right. Exactly. Exactly. And, you know, I think about the, I’ve done the, the five for our dog Jake, and one way I keep his sentimental, you know, I do this for some of our pets, is I have a picture in the house. So for pets, it’s the. The number is three. And so I keep their collar around a candle. So it’s around a can, a glass candle.

Kathi Lipp [00:16:07]:
And so I have that collar. I have a picture, and then I have an item that was important to them and that feels like enough. And by having more items, it doesn’t prove that I love Jake more. There’s no way I could have loved Jake more. But these are the things that are comforting to me. Tonya, this has been such a rich conversation, but we’re not even close to being done. Can I have you come back next week and we’re going to talk about how do you curate the emotional and sentimental items in your life? Are you willing to come back?

Tonya Kubo [00:16:40]:
Definitely. I would love to thank you, Kathi.

Kathi Lipp [00:16:42]:
Okay, friends, you’ve been listening to Clutter Free Academy. I’m Kathi Lipp. Now go create the clutter free life you’ve always wanted to live.

#617 Making Your House Work For You

#617 Making Your House Work For You

617 – Making Your House Work For You

Kathi sits down with Tenneil Register to explore practical ways to make your home work for you, not the other way around. In this episode, they discuss: 

  • Designing spaces around your natural habits and routines
  • Examples of functional home solutions (such as paperwork organization)
  • Why entryway, kitchen, and bedroom spaces are key areas in your home
  • The power of taking photos to evaluate your spaces with fresh eyes

Kathi and Tenneil will be sharing their 3 challenges spaces (Entry, Eat, Rest) pictures! Take the challenge and you can post your pics over at Kathi Lipp’s Clutter Free Academy group. We have the most amazing corner of friends who cheer each other on!

Sign up here to be notified when the next episode is released, or here to receive Kathi’s Clutter Free Kit!

Kathi’s shoes that guests love and it keeps her home clean at the same time.

Here’s a peek at Kathi’s kitchen now — head over to Kathi Lipp’s Clutter Free Academy group to find out what changes she would like to make (to love and use the space even more!)


The Accidental Homesteader: What I’ve Learned About Chickens, Compost, and Creating Home

Homesteading [hohm-sted-ing]
1. an act or instance of establishing a homestead.
2. the act of loving where you live so much that you actively ignore the fact that your house is trying to kill you on a regular basis.

For Kathi Lipp and her husband, Roger, buying a house in one of the most remote parts of Northern California was never part of the plan; many of life’s biggest, most rewarding adventures rarely are.

Kathi shares the hard-won wisdom she’s gained on her homestead journey to help you accomplish more at home, gain fresh perspective, and give yourself grace in the process. Here’s a handful of the lessons Kathi shares:

  • Prepare before the need arises
  • Everything is always in process, including us
  • Your best household solution is time and patience
  • You don’t have to do everything the hard way
  • Be open to new and better ways of doing things
  • A lot of small changes make a huge difference.
    Highly practical, humorous, and inspirational, The Accidental Homesteader will encourage you to live with more peace, joy, and contentment.

Order your copy of The Accidental Homesteader: What I’ve Learned About Chickens, Compost, and Creating Home here.

Favorite Links:

A House That Cleans Itself

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Clutter Free Resources:

What key areas in your house would you like to focus on? Share your answer in the comments.

Let’s stay connected

To share your thoughts:

  • Leave a note in the comment section below.
  • 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 


Tenneil Register

Tenneil Register can be found creating, repurposing, decorating, gardening and welcoming guests to their reclaimed barn storefront. She and her husband, Cowboy, established rural roots for their blended family of 7 in their DIY ranch home in Iowa. Connect with her on Instagram for practical ideas to reclaim your home or visit R7Reclaimed.com.


Tonya Kubo Picture

Kathi (00:00)
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. And guys, one of our newer members of our team, but she’s got all the style, my friends. And she is, I love how she’s stylish and practical at the same time. You guys, it’s Tenille Register. Tenille, welcome back to the podcast.

Tenneil (00:27)
Thank you, I’m so happy to be here. And I love that you say stylish and practical because that is my goal. Yes, yeah, you nailed it.

Kathi (00:34)
That’s your intersection, huh? That makes me super happy, because that’s really, when we have these discussions, that’s really what comes through. And that’s what we’re gonna talk about today, because I think it’s so interesting. Something you said, and I don’t know if I’m quoting you correctly, you can always say, no, Kathy, that’s not what I said. Let me tell you the right way to say it. But we just had the Abundant Home Conference.

which is a conference about, it’s for our clutter-free community, but it is, we did a lot of like clutter-free adjacent things. So we had Tanya talking about hoarding and we had Roger talking about beginning gardening and we had you talking about design in your home and function. And you said, I don’t work for my, this is what I remember, but again, please correct me.

I don’t work for my house, my house works for me. Did I just get the spirit of what you said or is that actually what you said?

Tenneil (01:42)
I don’t know for sure. I think, I bet it’s what I said. Here’s what I can tell you about the heart of that, Kathy, is I can vividly remember, I mean, I was probably 20 years old, I bet. I’ve always been one to buy houses, flip them, fix them up. Homes are important to me. And I remember standing in line at the Christian bookstore and they have $5 books that you can add onto your purchase. And one of these books is called A House That Cleans Itself.

Kathi (01:43)
Okay! Okay.

Okay, please.


Oh, I remember that! Yes, it was by Harvest House, yes!

Tenneil (02:15)
And I remember laughing and handing it to the cashier and saying, I’ll take a house that cleans itself for $5, sure. And that is what really framed from my very earliest days when I was really too young to even own a home for goodness sake, like my mindset about my house that I wanted it to work for me. So.

Kathi (02:22)
Yes, yes



Tenneil (02:41)
Yeah, that’s where the spirit of it comes from.

Kathi (02:42)
Okay, so here’s a question. Do you remember something that you started doing differently because of that book?

Tenneil (02:50)
So the main takeaway from that book was I started taking snapshots of a space and thinking about what I really was using that space for.

Kathi (03:01)
Oh, interesting. Wow, and that book was before digital, I mean, at least camera phones, I would think.

Tenneil (03:09)
It was 100% like I had to develop the film from it. Okay. Right.

Kathi (03:13)
Oh my gosh, that’s a commitment, right? You had to go to the Walgreens and get those photos developed. That’s impressive. Okay, so what did you learn from taking pictures inside your house? This is fascinating to me.

Tenneil (03:21)

Yeah, so you see your habits, right? Because this isn’t, I clean the room and then I take a picture of it. This is, you know, after three long work days, I take a picture of the entryway or I take a picture of the kitchen countertop. That’s when you start to discover, I opened the mail next to the kitchen sink, right? I leave my coffee cup near the front door regularly, right?

Kathi (03:34)


Ah, okay.

Right, right.

Tenneil (03:57)
where it might make more sense to have the mail by the front door and the coffee by the kitchen sink. But whatever your habit is, is your habit. And rather than trying to retrain yourself, you rework your space.

Kathi (04:02)


Okay, so this is really interesting to me because you talk a lot about this. You’re not trying to change the people in your house. You’re trying to change the environment.

Tenneil (04:22)
Yes, like I think it’s an act of love where we accept the behaviors of ourself and those around us, and we find solutions that work for our natural behaviors.

Kathi (04:29)

Okay, so tell me some things where you’ve seen that conflict between personal habits and home organization and what did you do because also we’re not saying kids leave your stuff everywhere. I don’t care if you eat, you know, in your bedroom and leave the dishes. I mean, that’s not what we’re saying, right? If that’s what we’re saying, I have to, we have to end the conversation now.

Tenneil (05:01)
Absolutely, it’s not what we’re saying. And in case my youngest who’s still at home is listening, it will never be okay for you to leave your empty dishes next to the couch. That’s a hot button. However, on the issue of snacks, one of the difficulties is our family room is on the lower level, our kitchen is on the upper level, the main level. And then you have this parade of snacks, right? Up and down, up and down. So…

Kathi (05:09)
Good good to know okay, okay?


Okay. Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Right. Mm-hmm.

Tenneil (05:30)
when we had the time, the energy, the budget, we put in a snack bar just off of the family room.

Kathi (05:37)
Ah, so tell me about this snack bar. I’m gonna need a picture of this too.

Tenneil (05:43)
Okay, so it’s just got a kitchen sink and a microwave and in clear containers we have the cereal bars, the pop tarts, the popcorn, the things that you eat snacky that kind of make a mess, that don’t require like kitchen prep, and then it’s there for the easy taking and because they’re in clear containers I can kind of restock them and it’s on open shelving.

Kathi (05:47)




Tenneil (06:09)
So it helps me with the grocery shopping part of it and it helps them with, I’m not like getting out all of these boxes of things. I just select my snack. There’s a garbage can nearby. And it was almost like a trade-off. If I make it easy for you to get snacks, will you make it easy to clean up your snacks?

Kathi (06:17)

Right. You know, we did something very similar because we have retreats here in our house and Roger didn’t always want to be, you know, going down at 530 in the morning, you know, when women were downstairs and stuff like that. So up in our bedroom, actually in my office, we’ve put a coffee maker, some snacks and a microwave. And we don’t have a sink really, but we’re not doing heavy prep up here and

Tenneil (06:49)

Kathi (06:54)
It is, and oh, and the other thing, the most important thing that we put up here was a little fridge. And so one, it has helped us drink more water because we’ve got cold water all the time. And it’s made such a difference in our lives to be drinking all of this water all the time. But I also have like my crystal light packets up here. And so it’s just made it so, yeah, there are less dishes coming upstairs. There’s a less.

Tenneil (07:01)

Kathi (07:22)
There’s less everything. Because we think it’s just the kids, but then all the kids move out and you’re like, oh, it wasn’t just the kids. Darn.

Tenneil (07:29)
That’s my third coffee cup next to the nightstand.

Kathi (07:32)
Yes, it’s so true, right? Okay, so you and I have both made these adjustments in our house that say, okay, we recognize the behavior. We are not the people on TV who just eat at the kitchen table. In our house, we do very little eating at the kitchen table. I’m not gonna lie. Because that’s not what we wanna do, and we’re adults. We get to do what we want.

So what are some other adjustments that you have made that have made a big difference?

Tenneil (08:04)
think a lot of people are going to relate to this. We have an island and our entire life happens at the island. That’s where people eat, that’s where we fix food, that’s where we come and go and drop our keys and our sunglasses, and it’s also where all of the paperwork lands. So we have an office but we were never going to carry this paperwork from the island back to the office, file it, and then come back and finish our conversation. That wasn’t going to happen.

Kathi (08:10)
Mm-hmm. Yes. Right. Yeah.

It’s so true, right?




Tenneil (08:33)
And so a wall just adjacent to the island, we put clipboards on a nail for each person. And then that makes it very simple. Whatever the paper, whichever person the paperwork coordinates with, and we have one for pets too, I can just slap that paper on the clipboard.

Kathi (08:40)
Mm. Yeah.

Mm-hmm. Oh, nice. Oh, that’s really interesting. Okay, we wanna hear more of these ideas and of course we’re gonna need pictures. We’re gonna have to take a quick break and then we’re gonna come right back and we’re gonna get all the scoop from Tenille Register. We’ll be right back. Okay, friends, we are back with Tenille Register and we’re talking about how do you make your house work for you instead of you working for your house? I’m gonna ping pong back. I’m gonna tell you something that

I have done and that is I have invested in a really good floor mats. Like the door mats, like outside, we have door mats outside our house and inside our house in all the main doors. So you have ample room to get your shoes cleared off and where we live between the dirt, the garden,

The chickens you really want to have those Dormats there and the other thing we’ve done is we have indoor outdoor shoes by every exit and that has made a huge difference in our house and the other thing we’ve done which I will be happy to post a picture about is we have a rack of Probably I don’t know maybe 15 different pairs of slippers

in different sizes that get washed every time somebody wears them. But it keeps our floors so much cleaner. And people love these slippers, by the way. They they just adore them. And it’s really, really helped. So I will be sure to share a picture of that as well. Tenneil, what’s another example of you don’t work for your house. Your house works for you.

Tenneil (10:42)
So another example would be how we use our personal spaces. So in each bedroom, thinking about how do we get alone? This is a lot of people in a house. And so what are some things that you need, like your reading zone or your art zone if you’re into art or your gaming station? And I feel like when we invest in

Kathi (10:49)

Mm-hmm. Yes, yes.


Tenneil (11:12)
the person’s going to enjoy that personal space, then we free up more of our common space.

Kathi (11:15)

Mmm, okay, okay. Yes, yes. So give me an example of something you’ve done.

Tenneil (11:28)
Okay, so an example would be a daughter who is really into music. And we have a piano and so all of that music stuff could end up in this music space. But I didn’t want all that stuff there, right? So what do you do? You get a music stand for the bedroom. You put a shelf on the wall for the instruments.

Kathi (11:37)



Tenneil (11:55)
We have great hooks for guitar hangers for the guitars in the house. So that all of these things that could land on the floor that are super important to someone, right? You’re saying like, I love that you love music and I love that you want these instruments so much that here’s the space where you can hang it and use it and love it.

Kathi (11:58)

Right, right.

Yes, I think that’s really important too, because what you’re doing is you’re saying, I’m committing this space to you because I honor your passion and what you do. I have learned not to honor the passion until I see that it’s a long-lasting passion because I can’t tell you the number of things we invested in because it was good for the kids and ended up on, you know, Facebook free groups.

Tenneil (12:32)

Kathi (12:44)
And so, yes, but I think you’re absolutely right. We did kind of the opposite thing when we first blended our family in that we took half our living room and put an L-shaped desk there, and we got each of the kids a computer. Because we wanted them to be using their computer in a common space. And this was before all the smartphones and things like that.

But everybody got their own chair. So we invested well and heavily. So it wasn’t happening like on the couch or in the dining room or something like that. They all had this space. And we could see what they were doing and it was good for them, yes.

Tenneil (13:23)

I love the intentionality of both. What do we want for common space activities? What do we want for personal space activities?

Kathi (13:29)

Yes, it looked like we were running a call center. I’m not going to lie where everybody’s on their headphones and at their monitors. But, you know, at the time, that’s what we wanted to have for our family. So if somebody is struggling with no, I’m a slave to my home. That’s how I feel. I feel like I work from my home all the time. Where would you ask them to start investigating what they could change?

Tenneil (14:00)
So I would start with the pictures of where you walk into the house, a picture of wherever it is you eat, and a picture of wherever it is you try to rest.

Kathi (14:03)

So entryway, rest, and eat. Okay, why would you start in those places?

Tenneil (14:15)

Because I think those are the things we spend the most time doing at home. And they’re all transitional.

Kathi (14:24)

What do you mean by transitional?

Tenneil (14:29)
At the entryway, we’re in and out, out and in and out, and we’re taking things with us. Where we eat, that’s something we do multiple times a day that requires things to go with it.

Kathi (14:35)

Yeah. Got it, okay.

Tenneil (14:44)
And then similar with the personal space, you’re getting ready routine. And so it’s really about recognizing what are the routines that I want to support from this space because we’re really not talking about stuff, we’re talking about living. And this.

Kathi (14:54)

Yeah, it’s so true. And recognizing, I think it’s so important, recognizing change in your house or change in yourself. Like, this is the first time in my life I’ve had long hair and that comes with a lot of ties and bands and scrunch, all the things and more hair product than I’ve ever used in my entire life. And for the longest time, I’m like, why is this bathroom no longer working for me?

Well, because things have changed. I now have long, I never had hair accoutrement before. I just never did. But now I do. And it’s like, okay, recognize that and set it up so that it’s actually easy to use. It’s so true, it’s so true. And to say, you know, but also to recognize when I’m over something.

Tenneil (15:42)
Right? You need a little dish for all those hair bands and clippies, don’t you?

Kathi (15:52)
Like, I’ll just be honest with you, right now guys, I am not cooking sourdough bread, I’m not baking it. There’s just not room in my life at the moment. Let me just put it this way, I haven’t made it a priority. So I’m not spending a lot of time doing that. So it’s okay for me to put all that stuff away. I don’t need it out. I can reevaluate my space and say, you know, we don’t eat like this anymore. Or we don’t eat like this now. That may be even a better phrase.

you know, if you have a whole bunch of like, cake mix, and you’re like, well, we just found that I’m gluten free, get rid of it, you know, give it to somebody who’s actually going to use it, not save it for the time where you’re magically ungluten free, you know, or whatever, what is the transition you need to recognize in your

Tenneil (16:41)
Yeah, and I think that’s where the like assessment comes in, right? Whether you’re visually taking a picture with your eyes, whether you’re journaling about the space, or you’re taking an actual photo, it’s sort of this assessment of how am I living in this space and what would I like to do differently.

Kathi (16:44)
Mm-hmm. Yeah.


Yeah, I love the assessment because I think we can become clutter blind sometimes. I know I can. To walking into a space and it’s like, I’m not really looking at it. You know, it looks okay. But, and I’m not saying to be harsh or judgmental. But, you know, I’m just noticing like right now, I’ve got a giant extension cord in my office. I’m thinking, how long has that been there? What?

What did I use that for? You know, and it’s like, okay, well, I probably used it for when I was filming something, but that could go away now. And taking a picture would be like, oh yeah, I could get rid of that, and it would make it feel better when I entered the space. So I love the idea of taking those three pictures. I think I’m gonna go do that. I’m a little scared to post them though, I’m not gonna lie. Okay. Okay, I’m gonna post the three picture. Yeah, okay.

Tenneil (17:49)
Oh, we want to see them.

Cause wouldn’t that be such a fun challenge, Kathy? If you post a picture of the space and you list five things you can get rid of, donate, put away, whatever, right? Like such a five minute exercise.

Kathi (17:58)


Okay. Post the entryway, where you eat, and where you get ready or where you sleep. Okay.

Tenneil (18:15)
Yeah, like your personal space, you know, some people that’s in their bedroom, some people that’s in their bathroom.

Kathi (18:21)
Okay, okay, I’m gonna do it Okay, two of those three spaces don’t look too bad right now We won’t talk about the other one. Okay. Yay Okay, here’s the problem guys I know it we are recording this in the middle of March and I’ve got I still have my nativity up because I really like It and it’s just weird that in the middle of March. I still But you know what it’s fine, it’s fine. It’s

Tenneil (18:49)
You love Jesus a lot, Kathy.

Kathi (18:51)
I love Jesus a lot. I love baby Jesus even more. Oh, Tenille, this has been such a great conversation. Thank you so much for hanging out with me today.

Tenneil (19:02)
Oh, thanks for having me and enjoy assessing your spaces.

Kathi (19:07)
Yeah, are you gonna take the three pictures as well? I’ve just given you more, you know, I’m like, oh this podcast will just take 20 minutes And now I’ve given you homework. Don’t you love it?

Tenneil (19:10)

100% I’m going to go take pictures of those spaces because I know they are all in disarray right now.

Kathi (19:23)
Okay friends, we’re gonna challenge you to go take those three pictures because I think it’s gonna help you really evaluate What you want to change and what you want to do differently? Okay, you’ve been listening to clutter free Academy I’m Kathy lip now go create the clutter free space you know Okay friends, you’ve been listening to clutter free Academy. I’m Kathy lip now go create the clutter free life. You’ve always wanted to live


#616 The Great Closet Cleanse: A Wear-It-All Challenge

#616 The Great Closet Cleanse: A Wear-It-All Challenge

616 – The Great Closet Cleanse: A Wear-It-All Challenge

Hey there friends! Have you ever found yourself staring into an overflowing closet, feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of clothes you’ve accumulated? This is the episode for you! We’re so excited to share this conversation with the amazing Lauren Horst. Lauren has taken on the ultimate closet cleanse – wearing every single item she owns to assess what pieces spark joy and which ones need to go. It’s a practical, eye-opening approach that just might be the closet cure we’ve all been looking for. Listen in as we discuss:

  • How to come to your closet with curiosity
  • How to curate what’s best in your closet
  • How to clean out your closet by wearing everything you own

So grab a cozy seat and get ready to be inspired as we dive into Lauren’s wear-it-all journey!

Follow Lauren Horst on Tik Tok

Sign up here to receive Kathi’s free Clutter Free Kit resource.

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The Clutter-Free Home: Making Room for Your Life

When it comes to your home, peace is possible…

Longing for a place of peace from which you can love others well? The Clutter-Free Home is your room-by-room guide to decluttering, reclaiming, and celebrating every space of your home.

Let author Kathi Lipp (who once lived a life buried in clutter) walk you through each room of your house to create organizational zones that are not only functional and practical but create places of peace that reflect your personality. Kathi will help you tackle the four-step process of dedicate, decide, declutter and “do-your-thing” to reveal the home you’ve always dreamed of, and then transform it into a haven that reflects who you truly are meant to be.

If you’re also feeling overwhelmed by the care and upkeep of all the stuff under your feet or sense that your home is running you, instead of the other way around, come discover how to create a space that doesn’t have to be showroom perfect to be perfect for you and the people you love.

Order your copy here!

Favorite Links:

Lauren Horst on Tik Tok lauren_horst




Are you inspired to take on this “Wear Everything You Own” challenge? What are you hoping to discover?

Share your answer in the comments.

Let’s stay connected

To share your thoughts:

  • Leave a note in the comment section below.
  • 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 

Lauren Horst

Lauren makes casual and relatable TikToks, encouraging others to declutter and simplify their life while also maintaining a sense of style!

Find her on Tik Tok at Lauren Horst.


Kathi (00:00)
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.

And I have been very, very excited about this interview for a while now. I want to introduce you guys to Lauren Horst. Now, we just found out that I thought we just knew each other. She recognized the podcast. She’s listened to the podcast before. But turns out she was one of the interns at my church where my kids were in the high school group. So we’re like…

old friends, Lauren, and we didn’t even realize it.

Lauren (00:42)
Totally. San Jose, as big as it is, is such a small world.

Kathi (00:46)
It really is, isn’t it? It’s just crazy. Now, here’s the thing. I am so excited about this because I came across you on TikTok. And let’s just say, TikTok’s a big place, right? And you came up in my FYP, if you guys don’t know it, that for you page. So it’s not like I was subscribed to Lauren. It was just saying, the algorithm was saying, hey, I bet you’d like Lauren.

And so I started following her and she was cleaning out her closet. Wait, you say it the same every single day. Go ahead and say it.

Lauren (01:21)
Yes, I say cleaning out my closet by wearing everything I own.

Kathi (01:25)
Yes. Every day she shows up on TikTok and she’s put together a new cute outfit. I started following her and I thought, every once in a while I get my bravery up and I go to one of these big TikTokers and I say, would you come on my podcast? Lauren’s like, I know your podcast. I’m like, okay, this is crazy. Now to find out, we were in the same building forever and ever. I was so excited about this topic because

You’re not just putting together outfits, which is what, let’s be honest, a lot of 30, 40, 50-year-olds are doing on TikTok, and I love to watch it, but you’re cleaning out your closet at the same time, right? Okay, I wanna know what inspired you, first of all, to do this challenge, and second of all, to do it on TikTok.

Lauren (02:08)
Yes, exactly.

You know, I love anything related to decluttering. I feel like it’s just a hobby. And obviously minimalism is a really big trend right now, but I just think it makes so much sense for your life, for your stress levels, for just managing your home. And so I’ve watched many, many a video where people declutter their closet, kind of go through, you know, reorganize things, get rid of things, try things on. And I feel like I’ve just taken

Kathi (02:26)

Lauren (02:46)
bits and pieces of wisdom from people that I’ve watched. And I’m like, you know, one piece that I really like is when you try an item of clothing on, you try it on, you wear it for, you know, three to five minutes as you’re looking in the mirror, you feel unsure about it, you’re not sure, it kind of goes into a maybe pile that ends up just in the abyss of, you know, the closet. And so for example, one piece of advice that…

Kathi (03:10)

Lauren (03:13)
I’ve taken from someone over the years is if you are unsure about a piece of clothing, you have to wear it the whole day. By the end of the day, you will know whether or not you want to keep it, you’ll know whether or not you feel great, you love it, or you’ll be like, yeah, no, this is an item that I am ready to pass along. So I feel like I’ve just taken all these little bits and pieces. And that kind of inspired me to do this closet clean out, which is really a slow and steady wins the race method.

And that has really taken months, but it’s something where, you know, at the end, I will have a much more curated wardrobe that really works for my lifestyle.

Kathi (03:52)
Okay, listeners to the podcast know that my favorite word in the whole world is curated. Because, yes, because it’s on purpose. It’s honed in and it’s on purpose. And I love this so much. Okay, why did you do it on TikTok?

Lauren (03:58)
Oh really?

Um, you know, I, well, I just love TikTok. I mean, TikTok is like the vortex where all of a sudden you’ve spent two hours, you know, searching around things and discovering all sorts of things you never knew. And I feel like TikTok is just such an easy platform. I film directly into TikTok. I don’t, I really don’t do like hardly any editing on my videos other than just a voiceover at the end. So for me, making a TikTok takes me approximately two minutes every day.

Kathi (04:13)
Me too.



Lauren (04:38)
which is about all that’s doable with my life.

Kathi (04:41)
right? And did you want to do it for, I mean, I love TikTok too. Did you want to do it for accountability? Were you sharing it with some people you already knew and trying to inspire them? Like what? Because it’s, I love TikTok too, but I am not filming myself on there every day.

Lauren (05:01)
Yeah, I think accountability and the whole idea is that if you’re actually wearing all of… So most people, what is it that they say? Most people only wear 20% of their wardrobe, 80% of the time, whatever that statistic is. And so what I was finding is you wear all your favorite pieces, you do laundry, they’re back in your closet, then you wear them again. You do laundry, they’re back in your closet. And what’s happening with the rest of the clothes that are hanging there? Well…

Kathi (05:13)
Yes, exactly. Yeah.

Lauren (05:29)
If you are challenged to wear everything, you know, when it comes to choosing an item in your closet, all your favorites are in the laundry and you go to pick out a shirt and you’re not that excited about it. I mean, at what point in time will you be excited about it when it’s the only option there and you still don’t really want to wear it, then it’s probably just something that you need to declutter.

Kathi (05:51)
And I feel like this theory goes for a lot of things. Like, those frozen bags of vegetables in your freezer, if I keep passing over them, maybe it’s just time to say, you know, I wanna eat healthy, but lima beans are not the way to do it for me. I’m happy for other people, but it’s not the way to do it for me.

Lauren (06:11)
Yes, exactly.

Kathi (06:15)
Were you surprised by anything in this process of getting rid of clothes? What I’ll do is I’ll make sure that we link to your TikTok here in the notes so people can kind of see what your style is. I would say you’re pretty classic with a sparkle thrown in. Does that feel like an accurate?

Lauren (06:38)
Totally. I, you know, I’m in my mid 30s. So I love classic silhouette. I work with college students. And so I do not like to be mistaken for a college student. I want to dress accordingly. But I love color patterns, prints, sequins. I do a lot of events and so get dressed up for certain things like that. And so yeah, I definitely wear some more bold pieces. But in my everyday to day life, I would say I’m pretty classic.

Kathi (06:42)


Yeah, and did you discover anything about yourself, your closet, the way you want to dress through this process?

Lauren (07:17)
You know, I think I have just really discovered some silhouettes and some cuts that just don’t necessarily work for my body type or my lifestyle. And I consider myself to be pretty frugal. I love to find a good deal on clothes. And so something that has been challenging is I’m like, well, I don’t wanna just give this away to goodwill because I spent money on it. And it was now it’s, now it seems like a waste of money.

but really being able to look at my closet and have space and not be searching for things. And every item I grab is something that I love wearing. That completely outweighs the money that I’ve wasted in the past. And now I know what I’m looking for when I’m shopping. I know the type of cut I need. I know the type of sleeve that I need. And so when I pull something out of my closet, sometimes I can immediately say like, oh yeah, I’ve had this shirt. I’ve worn this before.

Kathi (08:06)

Lauren (08:13)
but this is no longer gonna work for me now that I know what I’m looking for.

Kathi (08:17)
You know, I think one of the best things you can learn from all this, first of all, I feel like sometimes we have to spend money on those quote unquote mistakes to really understand our own personality. The people that we admire the way they dress, they don’t get it right the first time every time. But I will say my best frugal fashionista friends, they are really good at returning things that they’re like, this is not the vibe.

I love that, you know, sometimes we have things sitting around in our closet for years because we feel like, okay, well, I just bought this, it doesn’t work for me, but I can give it away after five years. It’s like, no, don’t let that mistake sit in your closet. That’s all it is, is a mistake. Get it into the hands of somebody who will love it. And we’re going to take a quick break. But when we come back, you have a special way of giving things away that I think others will be interested in, or who you give it away to.

And I think people will be interested in hearing that. So we’re going to take a quick break and come right back. OK, guys, we are back with Lauren Horst. And we are talking about cleaning out your closet by actually wearing everything in it. And you do get rid of things. I see you get, I don’t know if you get rid of things every day, but I would say at least every third day, you’re putting something into a pile to give away. Wouldn’t you say? Yeah.

Lauren (09:42)
Yeah, definitely. Yeah, definitely. Maybe not every single day, but I mean, pretty often, I feel like it is, it’s much easier to give away things like this slowly over time because I have time to think about it. I’m seeing things in my closet versus just, you know, a two hour closet clean out where you feel like you need to make a decision right away. So I definitely have gotten rid of a lot, which

You know, on the other hand, I’m like, man, I still have so many clothes, which goes to show you like the inner hoarder of clothing that I actually have.

Kathi (10:14)
Well, you know what? I think clothes are such a beautiful self-expression. And there’s responsible ways of building a wardrobe. And I often hear you say things like, oh, I bought this five years ago. And you wear a lot of your clothes all the time. And let’s be clear, you have to get dressed seven days a week. You’re going to church, you’re going to work.

maybe Saturdays you can kind of kick it back, but you’re getting dressed all the time. And for us to be able to do that and do it and keep it interesting for us as self-expression, you need some clothes, you need some depth in your wardrobe. Now, you give away your clothes too, so talk about that.

Lauren (11:03)
Yeah, so usually what I do is the first draft of the clothes that I’m getting rid of, I work at a university and I bring them to my office and the girls who work in my office get to go through everything first. So they get first picks of everything and I know kind of now their style. So sometimes I’ll pick something out of my closet and I’m like, oh, I know so-and-so would really love this. Turns out they do.

So it’s really fun coming to work because some days I come to work and everyone in the office is wearing like my hand-me-downs Which is such a compliment

Kathi (11:37)
That’s so awesome. Yeah, and I think so often when it comes to clothes, our quote unquote mistakes are just to pass through our hands. Like those girls in your office may have never had the opportunity to buy those clothes, whether it’s budget or they don’t shop in that store, et cetera, but you get it into their hands. And what a gift that is. And I feel like as I clean out my closet, I get more specific about

the gaps in my closet. So I know exactly what I want to complete an outfit or to bring in a new trend that’s I’m not really trendy, but there are some things I like and I want to try out. But I get very specific instead of just buying things because they look cute. Do you feel like the challenge has changed your shopping habits at all?

Lauren (12:30)
You know what it has? Because along with clearing out my closet, I’ve been also trying to implement a one in, one out. So when I’m shopping and when I see something, at this point, I’ve kind of narrowed down my closet enough that pretty much everything in it, I like for the most part. And I’m just starting to be more ruthless to just be a little bit more minimal with my clothing. But I have to outweigh, this is a really cute dress. Do I wanna get rid of one of my other dresses?

Kathi (12:38)

Lauren (12:58)
for this item. And a lot of times the answer is no.

Kathi (13:02)
Yeah, I think when you’ve been buying clothes for a couple of decades, you start to really know what works. I’ve just recently lost a lot of weight. Thank you, Ozepik. It’s a testament to me that so many of my clothes I don’t want to get rid of, I want to get altered. Because I’m like, yeah, no, that one has served me well.

I don’t want to get rid of it. I want to continue wearing it. I just need to do that in an altered state. I think that’s beautiful. Have you noticed that there are certain brands of clothing that fit you better, that are more for the silhouette you’re looking for, or is it still, you know, is it kind of all over the map?

Lauren (13:51)
You know, it’s a little bit all over the map. But I really like J. Crew Factory. That’s one that I really like. Madewell a lot of times has, I really like their, this is actually one of those shirts, like 100% light spun cotton. I love that fabric and that feeling. So more so rather than specific brands, because I also do like to shop off Poshmark, I like to thrift. I’m looking more now for certain fabrics.

Kathi (13:57)

Lauren (14:21)
Um, so definitely trying to stay away from the polyester as much and just looking for fabrics that will last longer, um, especially with sweaters. And, uh, because then I know that I’ll have them, the longevity in my closet will last much longer than some of the fabrics that are a little bit cheaply made.

Kathi (14:21)

Okay, and that’s called spun cotton, what you’re wearing right there.

Lauren (14:42)
It’s like it’s a light spun cotton and so it kind of has that gauzy cotton material. That’s just super comfy Yeah, I love like the soft super soft comfortable shirts

Kathi (14:44)
Yeah, okay. Yeah, yeah.

So I would love to hear any of your tips now that you’ve done this closet curation for thrifting. Because you can’t really say when you’re thrifting, oh, I want a coral sweater that has three buttons that is a size XL. You don’t get to do that. So how do you thrift without bringing too much into your wardrobe?

Lauren (15:19)
Um, you know, with thrifting, I’m really not looking so much for the basics to add to my closet that you can kind of find, you know, at Target or wherever else as far as you know, basic t shirt, tank top, things like that. thrifting, I’m looking more for something that’s vintage, something that’s one of the one of a kind. One of the things that I found more recently was this kind of silky material, it actually had shoulder pads that were sewn in that I cut out. And it has music notes all over it, which is perfect.

Kathi (15:24)


I hope… Yeah.

Lauren (15:49)
I work in music. I was like, that’s such a fun novelty item. It’s cream. So it’s still a neutral and will go with everything that I wear for work. But something like that for $5 or whatever it was, I’m like, that is a one of a kind find that really when I’m thrifting, I’m just kind of looking for some of those novelty items that are at a good price.

Kathi (16:09)
Oh, I love it. That’s such a great perspective to go in with, that you’re looking for those, you know, one of a kind of things. That you, it’s not going to be your basic jeans necessarily. You might find those there. I don’t know, jeans are just a whole other thing. It’s just a, jeans and bathing suits. And I’m going to Cabo this month and it’s like, I haven’t come to tears, but I’ve…

Lauren (16:28)

Kathi (16:38)
thought about tears when it comes to shopping for that. So I kind of push back on capsule wardrobes. I feel like it puts a lot of pressure for your clothes to do 10 things with one item, which can be great.

I don’t know. It’s hard for me to say, oh, I’m going to embrace a capsule wardrobe. How do you feel about capsule wardrobe?

Lauren (17:10)
You know, capsule wardrobes are so popular right now. And it is just one of those things that I feel like I have not been able to get behind. It makes perfect sense that what you buy and piece together matches with everything else. So you can really mix and match. So I think it does make sense for a lot of people who are just looking for that ease and getting dressed in the morning. I think for me, I just love color and novelty and different types of outfits.

Kathi (17:18)

Lauren (17:36)
So, you know, one day I’ll be wearing jeans, a sweater, and boots, and the next day I’ll be wearing some crazy print dress, you know, with super bright colored heels or whatever it may be. So I think because my, I don’t know, my mood or my aesthetic changes from day to day, I don’t wanna feel locked into a capsule wardrobe. I would rather have a little bit of a bigger closet with more variety because I think just getting dressed is fun, it’s an expression of who you are.

Kathi (17:51)

Lauren (18:05)
And a lot of times I come to work, the same girls that work in my office, I have, I have like a super bright colored tropical shirt, and they nicknamed that birds of paradise. So sometimes I’ll come to work and you know, I’ll have an outfit that gets nicknamed something and it’s just it’s just a fun expression of who you are. And so I don’t want to be locked into a capsule word.

Kathi (18:16)

And I feel like those of us who struggle with clutter, so those are the people who are listening to this, we are creative. We are, you know, we love self-expression. And I think it’s easy for us to have too much in our wardrobe, but I also feel like having too little would be stifling to a lot of people. And I love a capsule wardrobe for a trip. Like I love being able to, you know, mix and match and do that kind of thing, but for everyday life.

Like you I want variety. Okay, if somebody is going through their own closet challenge What would be your advice to them? What do you wish you would have known on day one because now we’re almost at day 100 You’ve had a hundred days of wisdom. Tell us about

Lauren (19:13)
You know, I think there’s a feeling when you put on an outfit and you feel really confident, you love what you’re wearing. I think you go about your day differently. I think you interact with people differently. You feel different about yourself, whether you go to an office, whether you’re working from home. There’s just something that is uplifting when you’re wearing an outfit that you really love. And so I would challenge anybody.

that you can have a closet where every single thing you pick is something that you love wearing and feel confident in and Life is too short to wear that shirt where you’re pulling at it and tucking it and it just doesn’t quite fit the right and It’s too tight on the sleeves that just uncomfortable feeling where you’re like for whatever reason the color the fit the style I just don’t love what I’m wearing Just get rid of it. You will be so much happier with a closet where you love every single piece

Kathi (20:05)
It is so true. You just talked about Madewell and I bought a Madewell shirt and I couldn’t realize, I didn’t know why I was avoiding wearing it. It’s cute. It’s one of my favorite colors and so I wore it this weekend. I’m like, oh, I remember why I don’t like this shirt. It’s a belly shirt. Shirts are so short these days and I’m like, yeah, that’s…

That’s not for me. And now it’s actually going into the giveaway pile, into the, I don’t know why I put it away. Did I magically think it was gonna get longer? I don’t know. But I want to be able to approach my closet and be confident, even if half of it is in the laundry, that there’s gonna be something there that I’m gonna feel confident and love wearing. And what I love, and I was talking to our paid group today this morning.

I don’t know that you’ve ever used this word, but what I love about your approach is I feel like you come to your closet with curiosity. You are trying things on and saying, does this work for me? And then you might go switch out a pair of pants. I’ve seen you do that a couple of times. You’re trying things on and you’re trying them in different things to say, is this going to work? And I’ve seen you come home and say, yeah, nope.

That’s the last time I’m wearing this. And it’s gonna be great for somebody, it’s just not great for you, and I love that. Lauren, we’re gonna put your link to your TikTok, so other people can follow along on your journey as they are cleaning out their closets as well and curating what’s best. Thank you so much for hanging out with me today.

Lauren (21:53)
Yeah, thank you so much for having me. I love your podcast. I love how much you inspire other people to declutter different aspects of their lives, which is such a broad topic, but decluttering can benefit everyone.

Kathi (22:08)
Yes, well, and I will always hold dear that this was your first podcast interview. And by the way, you slayed. So you did such a great job. And friends, you’re the most important part of this little threesome here. We’re so glad you’re here. You’ve been listening to Clutterfree Academy. I’m Cathy Lip. Now go create the clutter free life you always wanted to live.

Lauren (22:17)
Thank you.