As humans, we all have a habit of collecting and accumulating clutter. Often, our cupboards are full of gadgets and accessories we don’t use anymore, and our closets are filled with items of clothing that either don’t fit any...
As humans, we all have a habit of collecting and accumulating clutter. Often, our cupboards are full of gadgets and accessories we don’t use anymore, and our closets are filled with items of clothing that either don’t fit anymore or no longer bring us joy when we see ourselves in them. Yet, we hang on to these items creating clutter that can cause our stress levels to go up, prevent us from being productive, and steal time from us while we hunt for things that are lost in the clutter. In this episode Dr. Peggie Kirkland (PK) talks with Dana Laquidara about the importance of decluttering your environment in order to bring more peace and calm into your life.
The Impact of Clutter on Your Life - Key Takeaways:
You'll want to hear this episode in which you’re sure to gain some tips that you can use to start on your decluttering journey.
And while you’re at it, don't forget to grab your FREE Affirmation eCards to shift your mindset, raise your self-esteem and boost your self-confidence. Choose one or two that resonate with you, and make a habit of repeating them several times throughout the day, especially when you wake up in the morning, and at night before you go to bed. As you use them, observe the effect they have on you:
Try to be aware of how your mind and body react to your practice of repeating affirmations. Be consistent with this practice and you’ll see the difference over time. Just click the link! FREE Affirmation eCards.
Connect with PK:
Connect with Dana Laquidara:
https://www.amazon.com: The Uncluttered Mother: Free Up Your Space, Mind & Heart
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Website, Instagram, Facebook, Review on Apple podcast.
FREE Affirmation eCards
Peggie Kirkland 0:04
Welcome to the Momma's Motivational Messages podcast, where women learn to stop putting themselves on the back burner, and start paying attention to caring for themselves first, so they can be better for everyone else in their lives. I know you'll be inspired by the stories of resiliency and starting over, of health and self-healing, of gaining clarity through journaling, of showing self-love through world travel, and the list goes on. I encourage you to relax and enjoy. I'm your host Peggie Kirkland, PK.
Peggie Kirkland 0:43
Hi, everyone. Is anyone else feeling confused about this weather as I'm feeling? The calendar says spring, but the temperatures here on the East Coast are saying something completely different. Feels more like winter to me. Is it really spring? Well, the daffodils in my yard and the birds chirping outside seem to think so. In any event, when we think about spring, we think about rebirth, and renewal. It's that time of year when you start thinking about cleaning the windows changing your table decor maybe, and decluttering your environment; you know, after being at home for the entire winter. And you know, we tend to accumulate a lot of things when we're indoors. This may be the time when you're thinking that it's time to minimize. Well, if that's the case, Today's guest has some thought-provoking things to say about that. For her decluttering is not a seasonal act, but a lifestyle. So to tell us more about this minimalist style of living. I'm excited to welcome to the show, Dana Laquidara. Dana is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in many publications like The Huffington Post, Boston Mama's and Mother's Always Write. She is also the author of The Uncluttered Mother: Free up Your Space, Mind and Heart. Welcome to the show, Dana.
Dana Laquidara 2:35
Thank you, I'm happy to be here.
Peggie Kirkland 2:38
Dana, I was so excited when I saw the focus of your new book, because I have to be completely transparent with you, I have an issue with clutter. But before we get into dealing with clutter and ways in which we can start to minimize, I'd like to start by giving you an opportunity to allow our audience to have a deeper understanding about who you really are, by telling them a little bit about your background. Like where you grew up, your educational background, your interests and hobbies maybe, and what led you to write this book.
Dana Laquidara 3:23
Sure. I grew up in Massachusetts, and I got a teaching degree in early childhood education like at school for a few years after graduating. And I always loved reading. I always loved writing. It never occurred to me that I could be a writer I didn't know any writers as I was growing up, and or through school, but and I did enjoy teaching. But once I began raising my own family, I sort of delved into the writing a little more seriously and began to to get essays published. I wrote about topics such as education, parenting, wellness, and eventually simplifying and decluttering because I found as I was raising my children that I really wanted to not feel as if their childhood was going by in a blur. I didn't want to be an overwhelmed mom. And I wanted to have a lot of joy and parenting, which I did and I was sort of learning as I went and I wrote down my thoughts and ideas and into essays. Some of them were published, and then once my daughters were grown, several years went by and I began working on other things. I have a memoir that I'm working on but I finally submitted my essays so my book The uncluttered mother, which is really essential series of essays based on that time period that I was figuring out the decluttering, and simplifying and creativity and how to fit creative projects into motherhood and into life. And it was published this last September.
Peggie Kirkland 5:20
Dana Laquidara 5:23
Peggie Kirkland 5:24
I find it interesting that you say, when you started to raise a family you started writing, I would think that it's harder as you're starting to raise a family to start doing something that is extra. Was it cathartic to do this writing, while raising a family,
Dana Laquidara 5:47
I think it probably was cathartic in a way. And also it fit into my lifestyle at the time, I had given up full-time teaching. And I had three children, three daughters close in age. So you know, I had three under the age of five at one point, and I wasn't doing full time teaching anymore. I eventually went back into the classroom a bit and did some tutoring, and eventually substitute teaching, but I just had, for the most part, left that behind.
Dana Laquidara 6:22
So the urge to take on some creative projects kind of surfaced. And I, you know, remembered how much I loved writing, I loved it as a child. My favorite classes in college were the English classes and any writing classes that I took. And I loved children too. And it just sort of, you know, worked out, I put pen to paper and eventually got some pieces published. And of course, that was encouraging. And, you know, as I said, my book, I didn't really set out to write it as a book, but it turned out that way. So it was kind of a happy accident, in a way once I realized I had enough enough on the topic of simplifying to have a book, and then, you know, I was fortunately fortunate to be picked up by a publisher.
Dana Laquidara 7:19
That was, you know, a bit of a long process that didn't happen really quickly or anything, but they became interested in my book, actually, in the middle of the pandemic, or right, right, as the pandemic was beginning. And, you know, for, for a little while, I thought, oh, gosh, you know, what, is this topic going to be relevant anymore. I mean, now, we were in a pandemic, and women was struggling more than ever, with trying to keep so many balls in the air, you know, with work and raising children, some of them homeschooling and various things. But it turns out the topic, it was still very relevant, because it's always a good time, to simplify in areas that you can. I think, you know, in small ways, and big ways, in all areas of life, wherever you can, can simplify in ways that are right for you. And I get into the the different tools and ways, is a gift that we sort of give to ourselves. And to those around us.
Peggie Kirkland 8:27
I'm sort of happy to hear that stepping away from teaching, from the classroom for a little while, was what actually opened the avenue to writing because I was sort of beating up on myself a little bit here as I listened to you because I too, have been an education, and I felt like I didn't have a moment to breathe, to do anything creative, while I was creating for the students in my life. So I'm sort of happy that you shared that. I'm very curious about the statement that you made. You said you didn't want the childhood of your children to go by in a blur. Can you explore that a little more for us because I think many of us live and experience that situation? What do you mean by that?
Dana Laquidara 9:21
Sure. I think that life can be complex and then introducing children, you know, becomes more complex, as we're raising them as they're growing. And it's, it is easy, I think, for the family schedule to be too quickly become overwhelming. You have you know, the parents' schedule, the at work schedules or other other commitments and then add on schedules of children, sometimes multiple children. And I think it can easily get to a point where you're just getting ready for the next thing. And I think that having presence is so important for ourselves and for our children that time where we're not thinking of what's next, we're not getting ready for what's next. But we're actually just in the moment present with ourselves or our children or whoever we're with. And I really wanted more of that. So that set me on the path to simplifying.
Dana Laquidara 10:29
I really thought about what are my priorities, and which activities and commitments support those priorities and which can go, and this can be done in so many ways. And it really has to be tailored to the individual person who's doing it, or the individual family, and it's different for everyone. But I could sort of assess, you know, what was right for my family, and what was worth hanging on to and what was too much. And also the temperaments of the children, I think, come into play. And I wanted them to have some creative time in play time and quiet moments, as well. I think that's important. And I think that really is what sparked my passion for simplifying. Just that desire to have a peaceful family life. Children who aren't overwhelmed, and to not be overwhelmed myself.
Peggie Kirkland 11:39
Wow, I think you said quite a mouthful there, something to really reflect on and think about how we run our lives and how our children are a part of that, and to think about some of the things we miss out on, because our lives are not simple enough, as it were. And it makes me think that when I think about my own life, that some part of my brain seems to always be occupied with the issue of what pile of clutter will I deal with next. And it was interesting, because as I read the introduction from the publisher, I saw something there that resonated with me. And it says, "After the family's been fed, up, the dishes have been clean, laundry folded and put away, emails have been written, and bills have been paid, the stress remains, as the wheels inside keep grinding away, in anticipation of the next episode of clutter to tackle." It's almost as though we're giving clutter, free real estate in our heads. I mean, is there a danger to that?
Dana Laquidara 13:03
I think there is. I think the danger is you sort of miss your life, if it's taken up by all of that mental clutter. And, you know, we all have some of that. And it's probably impossible to get rid of all of it. But there are tools, some pretty basic tools that you can use every day, whether it's just sitting quietly for 10 minutes, or meditating or doing some yoga, journaling, things you can do to quiet the mind so that you can be more present. But also, I find that simplifying all areas, your physical clutter, your calendar, whatever it is that you can simplify in a way that's right, for you will help the mental clutter, because then there's not so much on the outside pulling at your thoughts. And, you know, some of it, of course, is unavoidable. And we wouldn't want to get rid of all of it. But if we can simplify in a way that feels right to us, I think it just invites that presence and gets rid of some of that mental clutter.
Peggie Kirkland 14:14
Would you say that when we are cluttered internally that it also detracts from our ability to even listen to our intuition.
Dana Laquidara 14:30
Yes, I think that's very true. Because I think it takes an amount of a certain amount of decluttering to, to be clear, to be to have your mind more clear to be more present so that the intuition can come through. And that's such a gift. You know, we all have that intuition. We all have that inner wisdom. And we really miss out when we don't hear it or we don't feel it because we're busy in the mind clutter, or even dealing with the physical clutter, or we"re you just plain too busy to slow down in here, and I think we can miss some important messages. But it's never too late to try to see what you can do to declutter, what you can do to slow down and sort of clear out around you inside and outside so that you can be in touch with that intuition. I think that's one of the most exciting parts of decluttering.
Peggie Kirkland 15:37
So as I think about our listening audience, and the fact that they are Gen X women, who are spanning generally a range of let's say, from being 40, to almost 60. And definitely dealing with a variety of challenges, someone who's listening to the show right now and thinking, "Well, how does this relate to me as I'm trying to make my way up the corporate ladder? How does this relate to me as a single woman with three children who has no help? How does this relate to me as a woman who is now an empty nester? What's the relevance of this to me? What would you say to anyone who's falls into that category?
Dana Laquidara 16:32
Right? Well, I think first and foremost, your feelings are very relevant. So if you feel overwhelmed, or if you feel unclear what to do next, all of those feelings are relevant, and you have to give yourself the time and space to actually feel them when those feelings come through. And sometimes the answer is to ask for help, you know, sometimes you need some help. Sometimes the area of decluttering that you need might not look like somebody else's decluttering. Maybe it's a relationship that's very draining; maybe it's something in your job that needs changing. Maybe it's something in your daily routine, you know, something you need assistance with.
Dana Laquidara 17:19
I mean, there's so many stages of life and people going through and juggling so many things that I think sitting with the the feelings of it all. Where do your feelings of overwhelm come from, and then go from there. You know, because it isn't a one size fits all; there isn't a way to simplify that's right for everybody. Anyone can start in their physical surrounding. I think you can get a sort of boost of energy by starting with something small right around you, whether it's clearing off your desk, or a closet, and just upgrading your environment, by making it a bit more simple and easier to manage, you know, that can give you a surprising boost of energy and, and a little bit of clarity. And sometimes that, you know, starts off, gives you some momentum to go to another area in another area. But all of it comes back to all this decluttering and the different ways that you can do it is so you can listen to yourself better and know what you need more and take care of yourself in ways that you know, make your life better. And the more you do that, the more it becomes clear what else you might want to simplify.
Peggie Kirkland 18:51
Now, are there things that can prevent us from actually getting to those feelings and listening and hearing ourselves? Like let's say, for example, traumas that we've experienced in early childhood, could that be a barrier to actually getting to the point where we experienced those feelings that would help us to, you know, declutter, emotionally as it were,
Dana Laquidara 19:22
I think they can. I think anytime we have a trauma or past hurts or pain that we have not dealt with, it can keep us sort of spinning our wheels, you know, it's we might not even consciously realize that we're avoiding going back and healing what needs to be healed. So instead, we keep very busy, or we, you know, we sort of stuff our lives or stuff ourselves. And that keeps us from ever getting to the wound because it feels kind of scary and icky and we don't want to go there, but the good news is if we just have the courage to clear away, what might not be good for us, or what we can clear away, and we get to that old wound, because we're become willing to sit with ourselves at long last, and it might come up, we will be okay.
Dana Laquidara 20:21
We'll be better than okay, you know, letting those feelings come up and out. And maybe you need to journal and maybe some, someone might, you know, need some help getting through that healing. But avoiding us, keeps avoiding it keeps us stuck, and letting ourselves go there sitting with ourselves decluttering enough so that we can sit alone with ourselves without all the distractions that life offers us. And face what we need to face. And maybe it's some pain, maybe it's a hard conversation, whatever it is that we need to unravel. I think, you know, the beauty is on the other side of that, that's really, our divine selves are underneath there. So I think it really is a gift to ourselves if we, if we go there,
Dana Laquidara 20:21
You speak about this in a way that makes me believe that you have some experience with "decluttering" from childhood trauma is that is that the case?
Dana Laquidara 21:06
That's true. I did have a childhood trauma. And after my parents were divorced, when I was four years old, I lost all contact with my mother. And we, we reconnected somewhat in later years and in my early adulthood. But that I think, for the most part, I had buried that trauma, I mean, out of necessity, a lot of times we do bury a trauma out of just survival or defense mechanism or out of necessity at the time. And I feel like society's message is to not go back to the past, you know, don't dig it up, leave it alone. Move on.
Dana Laquidara 22:15
But I think that only serves us if we have actually dealt with it first. And I was always very, I became very curious about it and wanting to deal with it, because it felt like clutter to me. I knew it was there, I knew it was something I hadn't really, truly dealt with or truly grieved. And so just like any other clutter, I wanted it to come to the surface and to get rid of it, you know, to heal it to, to move through it. And so, that was part of my journey of decluttering, to deal with that wound. And, you know, it wasn't done quickly or all at once or anything like that. It wasn't a simple thing for sure. But a very worthwhile and I think important part of my decluttering, that emotional decluttering.
Peggie Kirkland 23:17
This sounds like you have to make a conscious decision to invest in yourself, which is something that we talk about on this show all the time. The idea of this show is really to inspire and encourage women to take better care of themselves. And to do it unapologetically so that they can provide better support for their family members. And what you just talked about, really sounds like that's what you would have to do to really consciously invest in yourself. Did I get that right?
Dana Laquidara 23:56
Yes, I completely agree with you. I think it is an investment in yourself. And first you have to believe that you're worth it. And if you have any beliefs that says you're not, or it's indulgent or selfish, I think those are false beliefs, those ane beliefs you picked up somewhere along the way, maybe in childhood, maybe in early adulthood. But I believe those are false beliefs. And you're absolutely worth it. This is your life. You are responsible to yourself, and you will give to others and to the world from a better place if you are taking good care of yourself, for sure.
Peggie Kirkland 24:48
Now, I think one area that we don't think or talk about often is clutter in the car and I noticed you made mention of that in your in your book, I have to tell you, though I am not guilty of that no clutter in my car. But why do you why do you see this as something important to take note of? And to do something about?
Dana Laquidara 25:18
I do. You know, I had actually forgotten that I wrote about that in the book, but I do. I think it is important to declutter the, the car, at least for me. I think the vehicle that gets us from one place to another, some people spend a lot of time in it, some people are in the car with their families, or partners or other people as well. And it's just a part of, I think it's a way to take care of yourself and those around you too; those are that you're with, I mean, you wouldn't, probably wouldn't want your living room cluttered up or, you know, food on the floor, and I realized your car isn't your living room, but it's still a place and a space that you are occupying. And I know I feel better in it when it's clean; I feel clearer no matter where I am if it's space that I'm responsible for; if it's reasonably organized, my thoughts can come through better.
Dana Laquidara 26:22
It's amazing how the external affects the internal, but it really does. The clutter on the outside I think can just fog up your mind a bit. And, and maybe it's subtle for some people, but I think it's there, you know, I think it does make a difference. You know why not honor yourself and take care of yourself by having the space where you get around, you know, where you go from place to place, have it be somewhere that you can look forward to getting into that you, that it's at least pleasant and reasonably organized. You know, it's, I think, a little bit of a reflection of how you're running your day and your life. You know, if it's completely if it's cluttered and dirty, and all that then your mind is probably a bit cluttered as well. I think one affects the other. So, and you can start either way, you can start on the outside or start on the inside, but either way, they affect each other, which is the beauty of decluttering.
Peggie Kirkland 27:30
And I'm not so sure that our cars are not our living rooms, considering the amount of time we sometimes spend in them or some period commuting back and forth. It can sometimes feel like yes, you're in your living room. So you're absolutely right about wanting to keep that space clear and free. One of the benefits that you mentioned, to your own life, having a life that was not cluttered was the fact that it allowed you the space and time to support your husband, as he went through weekly chemotherapy treatments. The thing that really struck me and I really felt it, I could understand that you said it was traumatic, not chaotic. Can you explore that with us alittle bit?
Dana Laquidara 28:22
Right. It was traumatic and not chaotic. That's exactly right. We had simplified our life by that point in various areas. And, so when we got to his very unexpected diagnosis, although it felt traumatic to get it, we were able to rally and do what needed to be done and do it as peacefully as we could. And, you know, when when you get a diagnosis like that it's sort of all hands on deck and all your mental energy needs to go to what do we do next? And you know, how do we do this as as gracefully as possible and for the best possible outcome. And so we had that slack in our lives. We had that, I guess, you know, some leftover energy, mentally and emotionally to do what needed to be done. And we were fortunate to because our children were grown and we had good health insurance. And his recovery went, his treatment went as smoothly as it could go and he's healthy today. So we're very fortunate in other ways as well. But I just, I remember reflecting on that time, a lot that, wow, it it could have been so much more chaotic than it was.
Peggie Kirkland 29:56
Well, I'm so happy to hear that your husband is doing Well, I wish you both peace and many blessings in your life as you continue. Are there some strategies for dealing with clutter that you would like to leave with the audience something that they can hang on to once they get to the end of the show? And maybe something they can get started with Immediately?
Dana Laquidara 30:24
I think for immediately, I would probably take a deep breath. Consider what is the physical clutter around you that drains you the most? Is it your desktop? Is it your closet? You know, what is it that when you enter that space, it just takes energy from you and is sort of draining and I would start there. You could set a timer and and start small, you could say today, I'm just going to work on this for 10 minutes. And then after 10 minutes, if you feel like you want to keep going, you keep going. And if not you stop for the day. So it's fine to start small. And I think what happens as you build momentum, you realize there's a lightness to it, you feel a little better after you do it. And then you want to do more, or you want to continue the next day. And you could continue like that bit by bit in your physical space.
Dana Laquidara 31:33
And then of course, you can always revisit your calendar; you can try to get, you know, practice saying "No" to things that don't, you know, fit your top priorities. And I am a big proponent of meditation, I also do yoga, I think even 10 minutes of sitting quietly can change your whole day. And you know, that's, that's pretty easy to do. I think almost everyone has 10 minutes, if not 20, and you can do that on your own. Or you can look for, you know, a YouTube meditation guide, or you can, there's so many apps out there, like Be Calm or Headspace. So there are many tools to help you if you don't feel comfortable just doing that on your own. But I would say those are, those are easy ways to just start small, and see where it takes you. And I'm excited for you. I'm excited for anyone who starts on a path of decluttering because I think it can lead to things that you know, you you may not have even imagined yet.
Peggie Kirkland 32:47
Yes, freeing up that space. You know, it's interesting, as you talked about, where, where someone might want to start and you said desktop, it also brought to mind the idea that not just the top of your desk, but your desktop as in digital clutter, that too, it can really cause some some angst as you start to go through your day. Right?
Dana Laquidara 33:18
Absolutely. And I am guilty of that myself. That is the area I struggle with the most, the digital clutter. I find it hard to keep up with. I find the thing that I let go the most, you know that I'll let slide and let get cluttered and have to keep you know, sort of drag myself back to it and clear it out again, whether it's you know, too many saved emails, or just a messy desktop. And it's definitely an area I struggle with for sure.
Peggie Kirkland 33:55
As do I, but we've got some other things that we can work with ladies. Start small. Set a timer. I can tell you that the timer technique definitely works because that's how I get myself going. I'll usually set the timer for like an hour or an hour and a half because I know there's a finite amount of time. Because if I don't do that, I will walk around I don't know if anyone else does this, I will walk around the clutter I will pace back and forth, looking at it and trying to determine what to do next. So if I usually plan ahead to I'll plan before I get out of bed, what area I'm going to tackle and how I'm going to tackle it and then I get up and I can set my timer and and get to work. What has happened to me is that oh, and there has to be loud music in the background. That's just for me.
Dana Laquidara 34:56
Whatever works. Whatever works for you.
Peggie Kirkland 34:58
Right, but what I have found is that many times when that timer goes off, I'm so engrossed in what I'm doing, that it doesn't feel so much of a chore that I don't want to do that I may hit repeat, and continue a bit longer. But I never get to the point where I allow myself to feel overwhelmed. What do you think of my strategy?
Dana Laquidara 35:25
I think it's wonderful. And it sounds like it works well for you. I think the planning what you're going to declutter and setting your intention, and then adding in the timer sounds like a fabulous way.
Peggie Kirkland 35:39
Alright, so we've got some strategies here. Start small. Set your timer. Set an intention. Say "No." Learn to say "No." Practice saying "No." Do some meditation and some yoga. So those are some of the strategies and techniques that you can start with right now as you get on your journey to decluttering. So as we come to the end of our interview, Dana, I'd like to ask you, what else is there for Dana? What's in the future?
Dana Laquidara 36:14
I'm continuing to edit my memoir, and that's my next exciting project. And I'm, I blog at on my website, "Minimal Mondays", every week. I try to share some snippets of something that's going on for me or ways that I'm decluttering or, or things that I think might be interesting to, to share with others who are on the journey of simplifying, and lots of writing, lots of writing, and I'm always happy to speak with people about my book, or decluttering.
Peggie Kirkland 37:00
Well, I have to tell you that I was definitely drawn in by the first words of the first essay in your book. And I have to say that it was really easy to digest, it was easy on the mind. It didn't feel like clutter as I was reading your book. So thank you for your simple approach to decluttering. And those first words that I talked about, says, "I detest clutter." I agree. "It feels bad to me, almost like suffocating, whereas leaning into minimalism feels like freedom, and clarity." So ladies, if you have a goal this spring in achieving freedom and clarity, one way is to start decluttering. So happy decluttering to you all. And Dana, where can people find your book,
Dana Laquidara 38:00
You can find The Uncluttered other, pretty much everywhere books are sold all the all the big stores, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, online. And you can read about it on my website, if you want to just hear a little bit more about the book. You can find me at Danalaquidara.com And I'm always happy to have visitors there.
Peggie Kirkland 38:26
And that link will be in the show notes. Dana it's been such a pleasure chatting with you. Thank you. I feel motivated to get started on some other pile of clutter. So thank you so much. I do have a goal, that by the time the weather is really awesome outside, inside will be just as awesome. Thank you, Dana.
Dana Laquidara 38:49
That's great, thank you.
Peggie Kirkland 38:52
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Transcribed by https://otter.ai