So, if you hadn't already noticed, I've been featuring a lot of guest bloggers recently on Live a F.a.s.t. Life. I think it's important to share the love and to expose you guys to some awesome women that are out there inspiring people to "clean up" their lives too!
But I'm pretty excited about today's guest, Allie Casazza. We kind of "met" on accident through a webinar we were both attending, but as it turns out... we share a brain. Not only are we both all about downsizing and de-cluttering, but we both love God, the Color Run and inspiring you guys to live your best life possible! Plus, her kids are pretty cute (seriously, you need to go check out her Instagram).
But enough babbling from me, take it away Allie!
"How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives."
I used to be incredibly, depressingly overwhelmed. You might say it was because I had three kids in three years at that point, and being overwhelmed is just part of that territory. You’d be wrong if you said that though. It was because of all the stuff in my home. Let me explain.
My husband and I thought we needed the giant house with the oversized bedrooms and double-level floor plan. After all, everyone else was upsizing and having babies, like us, and we “needed” a bigger house! We were excited to be moving into our 3,000 square foot rental home in sunny Southern California three and a half years ago. We had a massive bonus area dedicated solely to the kids’ toys. This room was full of colorful bins that were all overflowing with toys. Our kids would walk into that room, told to “go play”, and after just a few short minutes, they would come out, whiny and bored. This annoyed me to no end.
I had so many rooms to keep clean, so much floor to vacuum, and so many decorations to dust, I couldn’t keep up. I needed my kids to be quiet and go play so that I could maintain our large house. I was very literally always cleaning, and I was far from being a neat freak. It’s just that with all this space came all this stuff, and all that stuff had to be picked up, put away, and maintained.
I was on the treadmill of the American society and I didn’t even know it.
I felt like I was the only one who wasn’t truly loving this whole motherhood gig - how could anyone love all this cleaning, yelling, picking up the same thing over and over?
My husband was working ninety hours a week just to pay our bills, I felt like I was a single parent, and I started to get deeply depressed. I stayed in that place for over a year.
One morning, I woke up determined to get it all together, catch up on the laundry, get on top of the housework, and finally feel accomplished. After a few hours and cups of coffee, I had gotten nowhere. My daughter was bored, and begging for my attention, but I urged her to go play and explained that today Mommy needed to clean up. My son was throwing a massive temper tantrum in front of the TV that had been his babysitter for hours, the baby was needing to eat again, and I was at my wit’s end.
I found myself yelling, felt my face turn red, and ended up locked in the bathroom curled up against the wall. I buried my face in my hands and plugged my ears as my son’s tantrum got worse.
“God, this isn’t the mom I want to be. This isn’t the mom I want them to remember. This isn’t working. What can I do?! Help!”
I cried into my hands and just wanted to give up and go to sleep. I felt God come over me and bring my attention to how I was spending my time. I was always cleaning up, and whenever I got something done, something else was being undone by the kids behind me. I was exhausted and frustrated all the time. I realized most of my time was spent picking up stuff - stuff we didn’t even really need, but we had accumulated and kept.
I felt like maybe there was something to this, and maybe there was some hope, so that weekend I purged the kids’ toy room. I got rid of everything except my daughter’s prized plastic unicorn toy. I was afraid of what this might mean for my kids’ boredom, but I was sick and tired of always re-organizing the toys and I knew this would free me up. You know what happened?
After a few days of whining, my kids started going outside more. They started making up games about cowboys and fairies and getting along with each other. My daughter started painting a lot more - her favorite thing to do.
I found myself happy with the idea of less, and I began to purge other areas in my house. I tackled the master bedroom, the closets, the kitchen. I discovered loads of free time and started to see empty spaces in my home.
My husband and I found out our rental home was being foreclosed a few months later - we had to move fast. We found ourselves in a small home about half the size of our previous one. We had gotten rid of most of our belongings and didn’t miss them one bit.
Things had changed, for the better! I was sitting down and spending most of my time playing with my kids, going outside to chase them, planning out family hikes, forming bonds we just never had.
All because of too much stuff.
I took up homeschooling and formed a very tightly-knit relationship with my daughter, I didn’t dread my days anymore, I felt lighter, more purposeful, happier. My depression lifted and I was able to fight it until it never came back.
Eventually, our entire house was purged and we adopted an intentional, minimalist lifestyle as a family. The idea of less leaked into every aspect of our lives. We realized we wanted more time as a family, and that because of the cost of living in our home state of California, we needed to move elsewhere so Brian could spend more time at home with us. We prayerfully moved away from friends and family and started over in breath-taking Northwest Arkansas. We now live in a small three-bedroom house with our four kids (yup, we added one), spending our time doing things instead of buying things, and living life the way it was meant to be lived - on purpose, together, not in the pursuit of things.
Minimalism isn’t about having less to clean and a home that appeals to the eye. It’s about purposely saying “no” to the societal pull to more stuff for the sake of more stuff. It’s about choosing to prioritize what matters most, and spending life intentionally focused on that.
I challenge you to ask yourself, what do you spend most of your time doing? Does that reflect your passion? Your priorities?
Maybe you need to embrace a lifestyle of less.
Ready to start purging your clutter and living more stress-free but need a little help? We’ve got you! Come to Jenn and Allie’s FREE workshop: “Clear House, Clear Mind: 5 Steps to Start Purging the Clutter and De-Stress RIGHT NOW!” on May 4, 2016 at 6 p.m. PST/ 9 p.m. EST by registering right here!
Allie Casazza is a blogger, author and inspirational speaker. Her passion is helping her fellow women find hope and light when Satan has stolen their motherhood, and infusing them with the truth and purpose God has for them. She believes motherhood and humor should always go hand-in-hand, otherwise you'll never get through it.
Allie is the wife of Brian, her seventh grade algebra partner turned sweetheart. They have four small kids who were born in five years, and they're SoCal natives living in the beautiful Northwest corner of Arkansas. You can find her at The Purposeful Housewife.