How To Stay Positive When Life Doesn’t Go Like You Thought It Would

Life is full of things that can just knock you over. Whether it’s an inconvenience or a life crisis, how you define your own difficulties depends on you as a person, your past experiences, your tolerance for pain, where you are currently in life and so on.

First, let me say that when we go through these hard seasons, it’s okay to have a tough time.

It’s okay to cry, to question, to cuss a little if you want. I’ve been there. I’ve been overwhelmed and lonely and felt the darkness of depression, so this is coming from place of total empathy.

I don’t want you to think you need to have this Pollyanna attitude and no matter what you’re going through it’s all butterflies and everything’s fine.  But I do truly believe that keeping a positive mindset is a super beneficial way to live and I want to help you make that happen. So here are three practical ways to stay positive that I have picked up and learned on my own journey. I truly believe they will help you on yours.


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don’t play the victim.

No matter what you’re experiencing or what isn’t going right in your life, it’s important to not throw a never-ending pity party. It’s okay to have a quick one but don’t stay there. If you need a minute to vent, take a minute to vent. Call your family or a friend and share what you’re feeling in that moment but then you need to move on in a positive way.

 

Acknowledge your feelings and take action.

During seasons or moments when you are just completely overwhelmed with life, pay attention to how you feel. When you take the time to acknowledge your feelings you’re able to see more clearly what it is that you need to do and how you need to move forward. Are you tired? Take a nap. Are you stressed? Take a break. Are you overwhelmed? Cut things out or let them go.

You’re probably not going to immediately solve your problem and that’s okay! Just the act of doing something is going to make you feel so much better.  


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Set boundaries on your breaks.

If you decide that you need a break and you need to just veg out in front of the tv and eat crap for a whole day or two, then you do you. But set some boundaries on your breaks so you’re not still eating crap and watching Netflix all day in three months.

Tell yourself that you’re going to do whatever you want for one or two days and then it’s back to your routine. Hold yourself to that. Even if it’s hard. The only way to get over something is to get through it, so push through it.

Maybe these seem like weird things to do to stay positive but when you’re in a season of crisis this is what positivity looks like. It looks like taking a break, acknowledging your feelings and shutting down the pity party. This is positive movement forward when you’re in a tough situation.

I hope these steps are a light to someone who’s in a dark place right now. I have been there, and I understand where you are are and I care about you. I’m rooting for you. You’re going to pull through and come out on the other side. One step at a time, one day at a time.

Because you, my friend, are an overcomer.


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THE OVERWHELMED BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO A SIMPLER MOTHERHOOD.

SO YOU CAN LIVE ABUNDANT, WELL, AND INTENTIONALLY FOCUSED ON THOSE WHO MATTER MOST!

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How I Structure My Schedule

Let’t talk organization + structure. Organizing and structuring months. Organizing and structuring the week. Organizing and structuring the day to day. How do you find balance in all that you have going on? Where does your job fit in? Where does schooling fit in? Where does personal stuff fit in? How about housework and cooking.

I will say that there is a lot going on in my life, but I definitely feel very present, focused, and like I am never really stretched too, too thin.

Let’s dive in and talk all about how I structure my schedule. Maybe you’ll pick up a few tips and tricks here and there that will help your days flow a bit more smoothly.


let me tell you about “batching”

Basically, you segment your work by type. If you are writing emails, you are writing emails. You are not writing your emails, then checking in on social media, then recording a podcast episode. You are “batching” your work. You are putting similar tasks together.

Basically the idea behind this is that in terms of your psyche, it makes you more productive because you are already in that zone. You are already in the zone of writing emails or writing blog posts, or homeschooling kids. You are already in that mindset and in that zone of your brain, so you don’t have to switch tasks and re-gauge yourself. You’re already there.

I have a “batch-style” schedule. It is very flexible and changes as needed. I think even if you are not an entrepreneur you can absolutely use the idea of batching with your schedule, even with housework and stuff like that.

It is very flexible. I believe in having a rigid schedule set up but being gracious to yourself and allowing yourself flexibility because that’s life. It is much easier if you can ebb and flow as needed instead of trying to be perfectionistic.


BLOG TO BUSINESS RESOURCE GUIDE

This has all my favorite books, websites, courses, and influencers who helped me when I was growing my business.

It’s basically anything that helped me in my entrepreneurial journey of starting and running my business.

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batching my days

It’s important that I plan my week in advance in a flexible batch style schedule.

Here’s how that looks:

MONDAY: I complete work tasks. Often these are the days where I am recording the podcast, interviewing guests for the podcasts, etc. I am in a good working mindset, after coming off of a restful weekend. Brian does schooling with the kids while I work.

TUESDAY-THURSDAY: Less business work, heavier homeschool days. If there’s something I really need to get done, I work first, then do school with the kids after. I may knock out a couple of tasks, but these days are more school focused days

FRIDAY: Batched meetings all day. There are always different needs for meetings, but I always have the same few meetings, weekly. Depending on the load and the need that week, I have at least a couple of hours of meetings on Fridays, sometimes more than that.

 
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batching my month

Typically, the last week of every month and the first week of every month, I am recording the podcast for the following month. For example, the last week of February and the first week of March I was recording for April. 

There is a huge benefit in having cushion and giving yourself space and time.

Aside from those two recording intensive weeks, the other two weeks of the month consist of working a bit more heavily on things like: writing emails and blog posts, and connecting with my audience through things like livestreams or Instagram stories.

 
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batching my personal life + housework

Brian and I have a weekly date night. It is kind of religious for us. We only skip it if we have to. Even then, we will try to squeeze in some time alone together because we look forward to it. Similarly. we try to get in some one-on-one time with our kids whenever we can.

With housework and stuff like that I try to look ahead. I like to plan meals ahead of time, based on our schedule that week. I try to have my family eat at home whenever we can. We definitely do enjoy eating out, so if we need to, the night calls for it, and it is going to be a lot easier, we will definitely eat out together.

In terms of cleaning and maintaining my house, I am a big believer in not scheduling this per se and getting it all done as I go. Basically, a “see something that needs to be cleaned and do it right then and there” mentality. If a mess is made, clean it. I also have my kids do as many chores as they can for their ages. This is great because while I am doing one chore, they can do another. We get a lot more done that way!

I also have a housekeeping team that comes every other week to the do the deep cleaning stuff because I do work and I would rather have that time with my family and pay for that to be delegated.

That’s how I do it! Batching has really helped me a lot. There are some weeks that are really, really heavy and busy. Sometimes you just go through a busy season and that’s OK. There is grace for that. There’s takeout for that. There are crockpot meals for that. There are cereal nights for that.


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11 Ways to Easily Speed Clean Your House

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This is a guest post from Kendra Hennessy of Mother Like A Boss.

Kendra and I crossed paths in the business world last year, and since then we have worked on tons of projects together and become close friends.

She is the queen of cleaning, and I am honored to share her with you today!

Kendra is also hosting an online workshop for my audience, which is totally free! Sign up here


Oh, house cleaning. Some people love it, most people are apathetic to the whole thing.

As a mom with littles who are constant mess-makers, it’s a necessary evil.  

I have come to find that the reason cleaning is such a proverbial pain in the butt is because it takes far longer than it needs to.

Day to day, moms spend their time on a cleaning hamster wheel. It can be easier. It can be minimal. It can be faster.

For moms, most things are about speed. How fast can I clean this up? How fast can I get dinner on the table? How fast can drink this coffee before it inevitably gets cold? You know, the important things.

Time is of the essence and becoming more efficient AND effective at what we do is the key to gaining more minutes in the day.

The ironic thing about speed cleaning is that it isn’t really about speed: it’s about efficiency. Speed cleaning is a way to utilize the minutes you have, even if it’s only 5, to tidy up and clean as much of an area as possible.

As a former professional house cleaner, I spent years perfecting the art of speed cleaning.

As a mom, I'm constantly trying to improve upon it even more. My minutes are precious and so are yours.

I’ve compiled some of the best tips here for you. House cleaner tested, mom approved.

 

1. Declutter first.

The only thing worse than a dirty home is a clean home with a bunch of clutter in it. When you really think about it, what is the point of hemming and hawing over cleaning when you’re just going to throw junk back on top of that clean countertop? Decluttering your spaces is always numero uno when it comes to speed cleaning. Set a timer and declutter everything in 5-10 minutes. Put it back where it belongs and if you’re on the fence about keeping it or needing it, there is a good chance it can be chucked in the garbage. 

2. Start in one area and work your way out.

When I had my cleaning business, I was a big fan of starting in the top corner of the house and working my way out. This works in a lot of ways, but mostly it just meant I could do it faster. It made no sense to clean the downstairs floor, then walk on it to go upstairs, then have to come back downstairs and re-clean that floor. See what I mean? Make you life easier (and the whole process faster) by “working your way out.”

3. Always clean top to bottom.

Along the same lines as above, always start from the top and work your way to the bottom. Seriously. No exceptions, unless you are a fan of cleaning things twice. Ain’t nobody got time for that. What does this mean? It means dust and wash the areas highest up and work your way down. Ceiling fans, cobwebs and the tops of furniture should be done first, then work your way down to the floor.

4. Have your supplies handy and accessible.

I talk about this all the time, but it is basically professional/speed cleaning 101. When you don’t have your cleaning supplies right at your fingertips, it just takes up more time. Imagine having everything you need in a bag or a caddy, rather than having to search around the house of the spray bottles, cloths and sponges you need. Huge. Time. Saver.


Did you know?!

Kendra is hosting a free online workshop just for my audience!

It's totally free, and you'll learn all about cleaning your house in just 30 minutes a day. Heck yes!


5. Stick to a routine. I LOVE a good cleaning routine.

In fact, I developed a free cleaning list to get you started. Click here for your free access. Having a solid cleaning routine allows you to not only get more done in the house, but do it speedier. Once you develop a routine, you’ll notice how quick your chores become. Think about how easy it is for you to brush your teeth or tie your shoes. You don’t even think about the steps, you just do it. That’s because it is a habit, created by a routine. Routines create speed. 

6. Clean as you go.

This may seem like it goes against the tip above about routines, but hear me out. If you have your kitchen scheduled to be cleaned on Tuesday, but you cooked a baked a lot on Sunday, don’t wait until Tuesday to clean. Clean as you go. Wash the dishes while the food cooks, wipe down the stove immediately after it gets dirty, run the self-clean oven setting when you’re done. Cleaning as you go is a speed cleaning tip not many people take advantage of. If you want your house to stay clean, clean it as you go.

7. Leave the floors and glass until the very end.

Cleaning can put dust and dirt into the air that will eventually fall onto the floor and usually stick to glass. Leave it for last. Doing it first will just mean you have to do it again, and that is a speed cleaning no-no.

8. Clean the shower in the shower.

I can’t believe how few people take advantage of this super useful tip. When are you closest to the shower and all it’s soap scum glory than when you are in it. No stretching over the sides of the tub or worrying about getting wet, because you’re already there. Keep your cleaning supplies right in the bathroom (or even in the shower itself) and go to town while you’re in there. You’ll be amazed how clean your shower stays. 

9. Stop worrying about it getting dirty again.

The one thing I hear over and over again is, “It just seems futile. It’ll just get dirty again.” Well so will your hair, but that doesn’t stop you from washing it. Dirt is inevitable. Dust is inevitable. Kids are messy. People are messy. Stop focusing on the negative aspects of not keeping a spotless home and instead, focus on how it feels to have it clean, even if that’s for 20 minutes. Your mindset plays more of a roll in how you view cleaning than you think.

10. Set a timer.

If you really want to get motivated to be a speedy and efficient cleaner, set a timer. Do as much as you can before the timer goes off. Boom. Speed cleaning at it’s finest.

11. Be like Nike. Just do it.

Don’t worry about not being “good” at cleaning. Stop focusing on what you should do, and how, and when. If you see some dust, grab a rag and go to it. Clutter piling up on the end table? Take care of it now. I can give you tips, tricks and tools for days, but the most important one of all is to just do it.

Remember: it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to be done.


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Kendra Hennessy is a home management expert and positive motherhood enthusiast. She is a podcast host and founder of Mother like a Boss, where she helps busy modern moms become homemakerish.

Her mission is to redefine homemaking in the 21st century and make the difficult and tedious parts of running your home smoother through systems, routines and mindset shifts. She lives in upstate NY with her husband Adam and their two spunky kiddos, Ava and Everett.

Kendra is a Girl Scout co-leader, a coffee junkie and can usually be found in her off time binge watching The Office. She loves giving support and encouragement to the moms of the world and giving them the confidence they need to enjoy life as a mother.


Enjoy this free access from Kendra!

The Mother Like a Boss Vault:

Your one-stop shop resource library for worksheets, videos, trainings and audio to uncomplicate modern homemaking.

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We Hit One Million!

WE DID IT!

THANKS TO YOU, WE HIT ONE MILLION UNIQUE DOWNLOADS OF THE PODCAST SINCE JANUARY!

 

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I started this podcast for moms who want to leave a legacy of intention and joy. I was tired of counting the minutes till bedtime, and couldn't help but think there had to be a better way to do this thing called "motherhood". 

I spent the first four years of motherhood completely miserable and stuck in survival mode: overwhelmed, overworked, battling heavy depressions and barely scraping by in life.

When I started simplifying and removing the unnecessary from my life, I was able to finally shake my depression for good, have more free time, actually enjoy playing with my kids, serve my family well and be the best, happiest, most fulfilled version of myself possible!  When I found the light at the end of the tunnel, I just had to share that hope with overwhelmed moms everywhere. Just like that, "The Purpose Show" came to life!


Here are the most-loved podcasts of mamas all over the world!

 
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1. Ep 003: How my Morning Ritual Is Changing My Life

This episode is all about:

  • How I began my morning routine, and how it has shifted with the seasons of my life

  • My detailed morning routine that makes my day more focused and purposeful

  • How my morning routine helps me overcome one of my biggest weaknesses

  • How to fit in more reading time on a daily basis

  • Why taking action on your goals will leave a lasting impact on your life

Listen to this episode here

 
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2. EP 004: Positive Words for Your Children

This episode is all about:

  • The effect words have on you, both a positively and negatively.

  • How easy it is to complain and use negative words to describe things, and why it’s important to switch your words to the positive.

  • Why it is important to speak positive words over your children.

  • How to speak positive words or scripture over your children if you feel uncomfortable.

  • How changing the words you speak to and over your children has the power to completely change their behavior.

  • Tips and suggestions on where to find positive affirmations and scriptures, and how you can store them on your phone.

Listen to this episode here

 
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3. ep 001: My Goal Setting Process

This episode is all about:

  • Why New Year's is great time of year to create new goals, but not the only time

  • How I manage so much with four kids, a full personal life, and multiple successful businesses

  • How to achieve your goals

  • My step-by-step process to setting the right goals for where you are in your life

  • What reverse engineering is, and how it can change the way you reach your goals

  • Why taking action on your goals will leave a lasting impact on your life

Listen to this episode here


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“HEY MAMA!

 

STOP SETTLING FOR OVERWHELMED. 

LET’S UPROOT WHAT’S WEIGHING YOU DOWN AND UNCOVER YOUR ABUNDANT MOTHERHOOD.

AND LEAVE SURVIVAL MODE BEHIND.


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4. Ep 006: How My Blog Got My Husband Out of His 9 to 5

This episode is all about:

  • Our struggle to make ends meet when Brian worked insane hours, six days a week.

  • Following God’s call to move to the midwest, where they knew no one.

  • My struggle with doubting God.

  • How I found my passion and developed the idea of turning my blog into a business

  • How Your Uncluttered Home came to be.

  • The incredibly grueling months that we experienced when Brian quit his job and the blog and course hadn't taken off yet.

  • Having a post go viral, and waking up to 15,000 new subscribers and money suddenly in my account overnight.

  • What has changed since everything happened, and what the business is like now.

Listen to this episode here

 
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5. EP 002: How To Lose Weight By Loving Your Body Better

This episode is all about:

  • Why and How we should stop pushing our bodies to morph into something they’re not.

  • Shifting your focus from what your body IS from what it isn’t

  • How we can start acting out of love for our bodies.

  • The importance of living a life of balance.

  • A 2-step process that can help you bring forth more gratitude for your bodies.

Listen to this episode here


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ARE YOU READY TO CLEAR THE CLUTTER AND FOCUS ON THE AREAS OF YOUR LIFE THAT BRING YOU JOY? 

YOUR UNCLUTTERED HOME IS LITERALLY EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO BECOME A MINIMALIST MAMA WHO IS ABLE TO BE A LOT MORE PRESENT FOR WHAT MATTERS MOST.

 


8 Ways to Create an Intentionally Peaceful Home

After a decent amount of trial and error, I think I've finally come up with a comprehensive list of ways to bring peace into your home, and set up a peaceful home. I have worked hard to create a home that feels peaceful. In the way that I decorate. The way it’s laid out. The way I act as a mom. 

Intentionally creating a peaceful home is a great way to ensure there is a solid foundation to fall back on when stressful moments make their way into your day to day life.

If you want to quickly and easily reference these steps, I created a free checklist for you!  Get it HERE!


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1. choose intentional DECOR

Use décor that makes you feel the most at home, relaxed, and happy to be there

I have created a home that is perfect for me. It makes me happy and relaxed. It feels lived-in and functional, but still beautiful and stylish. It reflects my personality. I don’t really purchase things to decorate my home with, unless they are really amazing and “my favorite” and I love it that way. Everything in my home just makes me really happy. That is so important.

Take a step back and ask yourself, “How do you feel when you walk into your home?” Take note of it. What could you maybe change? What is it that you don't like? Do you not like the way it's decorated? Do you feel like you don't even know how to decorate? Educate yourself. Figure out a way to make it happen. You should like the way you feel when you walk in the house. I think decor is a big part of that because it's so visual.

 

2. handle your ENTRYWAY

Some homes have an “official entryway,” whether it’s a mudroom or whatever. My home does not have one of those, but I’ve created an entryway. Whatever you are standing in when you first walk through your front door, set that up. It's the first thing you see when you walk in the door. Everything should have a place. It should be functional and work well for you, but also be pretty, well-lit, minimalistic, clean and clear of clutter so that you walk in and the first thing you see is good.

Figure out a way. Do you come in through the garage? Do you come in through the back door? Do you come in through the front door? What do you and your family use as your main door? Where were you coming in from running errands and setting your keys down?

Make that section of your home really functional, pretty and clear of clutter for yourself, so the first thing you see when you walk in is clear. That's really going to help you set up a peaceful existence in your home.

 

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3. give your kids the gift of a "lived-in" home

I think there's a balance between a home that feels way too kid friendly and a home that looks like a kid doesn't even live there . My style is very important to me. It's important to me that I love my home when I walk in. But I don't want my house to feel so perfect and so beautiful that the kids are afraid to touch anything.

I think there's a way to mix functionality with style. You can have a beautiful home that you love, that you're proud to show off, and that you're proud to host things in but is also a comfy place where your family can relax and unwind at the end of the day. 


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“HEY MAMA!

DO YOU FEEL LIKE A SIMPLIFIED DAY IS TOTALLY UNDOABLE FOR YOU?

I’VE BEEN THERE!

LET ME HELP YOU GET UNBURDENED AND START THRIVING!

This small, straightforward course is everything for the mom who feels like she needs a total overhaul, but is too overwhelmed to start. 

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4. find simple solutions to daily problems

Another way that you can bring peace into your home is find a solution to the things that are regularly stressing you out in your home.

When we moved into our two story home, I noticed that there was continually a pile of things that belonged upstairs at the bottom of the stairs every day and it was really ugly. So I found a regular dark wicker basket that goes with my décor. I put it in the empty space on the wall by my stairs and every night we take it up. It’s part of our nightly cleanup routine. We put things away, put the empty basket back downstairs for the next day. 

It took away the stress, it took away the mess. No matter how minimalistic you are, if there are people living in your house, you're going to have stuff around. 

Sometimes you don't think outside of your box and you don't realize there's such a simple solution that would help you so much. 

 

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5. get yourself some FLOWERS

I personally love to always have fresh flowers in my house. I budget for flowers every week and stop at the store every Sunday to pick up a new bunch. I have a couple of vases I love and I swap them out on my kitchen sink. I do not like to do the dishes and I don't particularly love cooking either, so one way that I helped myself is by making myself love my kitchen.

I take extra care. I put extra thought and budget into making my kitchen a place that I love. 

In some way, shape or form, whether faux or real, flowers can really brighten up your home. And they do make for a more peaceful environment. It's a gift that only they can give.

 

6. create a peaceful atmosphere with scents

A great way you can create a peaceful atmosphere is to diffuse essential oils, use incense, or light candles. I have a diffuser I absolutely love. Pretty much all day, every day, I set it to “on”, and it goes until it runs out of water. I put distilled water in it, add some essential oil drops in there and I just diffuse all day.

It's in the main area of the house. You can smell it anywhere you are downstairs; sometimes even upstairs too. Seeing the steam and smelling the oils, really does create a more peaceful atmosphere.

Lighting candles is always a very easy way to create a calm atmosphere in your home. The flicker and the scent warm you up like nothing else can!

Whatever way you choose to do it, adding a comforting scent to your home will bring peace to your household.

7. INTENTIONALLY PLAN PEACEFULNESS

Intentionally planning for peacefulness around times that are usually stressful is huge. If you want to set your home up to be peaceful, you have to think ahead. What are usually the most stressful times of your day? Intentionally look ahead and plan for peacefulness around those times.

Play worship music. Play instrumental music. Play acoustic music. Light candles during those times. Maybe take a minute and go in a closet or the bathroom or somewhere and just sit for a second and focus on your breathing. Consciously do a quick standing meditation for 5-10 minutes before those times. Get yourself in a place of peace. We reflect what we're feeling on our kids and our families, and they tend to follow how we're feeling. I think there is something to be said about intentionally planning for peacefulness around the times that tend to be tense and stressful.

 

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8. create PHONE BOUNDARIES

Phone boundaries make for a peaceful home by fostering family time. I actually did a whole podcast episode a while back on phone settings for a present life. I would encourage you to look at how much you're using your phone. It's going to create stress if your kids feel like you're always looking down at your phone.

You can have your phone settings set up so your phone will ring for phone calls but not make other sounds. You can a have set time and place where you check your text messages and Instagram. 

Putting your phone in its place will create an atmosphere of peace because you're focused on your family. You're available to answer questions and talk to them about their days and be there without being distracted.


the peaceful home cheat sheet!

more ways to calm the feel of your home

When a stressful or tense situation hits, this checklist is GOLD! It is the perfect go-to because it's practical, straight forward, and has even more great peacemaking ideas! It's incredible to have something like this on hand just in case a stressful day decides to creep up on you!

Friends, I really don't want you to forget your checklist! It’s all the points that I covered written out for you to print out and put on your fridge. “13 Ways To Bring Peace Into Your Home.” What an amazing thing to have sitting on your fridge so you can look at it and be reminded all the time.

It's divided into two sections: ways to set up a peaceful home and “in the middle of stress” peacemaker ideas. If you feel like your house is getting really tense and your family really needs some peace, look at your fridge, look at these ideas and do one of them or all of them.


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ARE YOU READY TO CLEAR THE CLUTTER AND FOCUS ON THE AREAS OF YOUR LIFE THAT BRING YOU JOY? 

YOUR UNCLUTTERED HOME IS LITERALLY EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO BECOME A MINIMALIST MAMA WHO IS ABLE TO BE A LOT MORE PRESENT FOR WHAT MATTERS MOST.

 


How To Edit Your Favorite Photos

A guest post from Jessie Martin

Editing your photos can make a seemingly mediocre picture really come to life. It can be the most satisfying part of taking pictures, but it can also be the most frustrating. Editing definitely takes a little bit of practice, but because of the impact that editing can have on a photo, it’s something worth investing a little time.

However, before you start trying to edit your photos, you should take some time to learn how to take a good photo. If you don’t have a basic understanding of how to use your phone or your DSLR or you don’t understand how to use light, editing will be a nightmare.

Editing is used to ENHANCE a photo, not fix it. No amount of editing can truly ‘fix’ a photo if it’s too dark, too bright, out of focus etc. 

 

I would recommend going back to the beginning of this series & taking my free photography course for mamas if you want to learn some of the basics:

 

Below are some examples of both unedited phone photos and DSLR photos, followed by the edited versions:


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In this post I am going to cover editing using your phone and free editing apps. However, if you have a DSLR or you really want to up your editing game, I highly recommend Lightroom for your computer.

Free Tools for Editing

My favorite free tools for editing on my phone are the VSCO app, Lightroom app, and Snapseed app. Each of these have their own strengths and weaknesses + they all have a few different features that aren’t offered by the rest. I almost always find that I use at least two of the apps in combination to edit my photos.

 

VSCO:

VSCO is the simplest of all the editing apps. The free version comes with several ‘presets’ or ‘filters,’ which are basically just pre-made edits that you can apply to your photos with one tap. You can apply the filter and call it good, or you can edit the photo further. Most photos are going to need a little more editing than what a filter is going to provide though, so I suggest editing every photo further. The better you are at taking pictures, the less editing your pictures will need.

 

Lightroom:

The free Lightroom app is a really great tool. It has a feature where you can adjust each color within your photo individually, which is a game changer.

 

Snapseed:

Snapseed has a 'Heal' function which both free versions of VSCO and Lightroom lack. It allows you to clone out blemishes or unwanted parts of your image.

 

Editing Tips:

When it comes to editing your photos, it’s important to remember that the goal is to enhance the image and make it look as natural and life-like as possible. Try to have a light hand while making adjustments.

When I go to edit my photos, the very first thing I do, regardless of which app I’m in, is adjust the brightness (aka exposure) of the image. I typically need to increase the brightness.

 

In the example below, increasing the brightness made a huge difference & really made the image pop:

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The next thing I focus on is the ‘temperature’ or ‘white balance.’ Sometimes when you take a picture, the image will look a little too blue or a little too orange. To fix this, you need to adjust the temperature. The goal is to adjust the temperature just enough to make the image looks as natural as possible (or fit your personal taste).

 

In the examples below, the first image is too blue, but the second image is too warm. To fix this I adjusted the temperature in the third image to be more neutral:

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From here, I assess my photo and try to see what else it might need.

Many times I need to straighten my photos or crop them to be more visually pleasing. I always take a look at the skin tones of the people within the photo and make sure they look natural. If they look too orange or too washed out, I use the Lightroom app to adjust the orange and yellow colors in my image (if you’d like to watch a tutorial on this, I have a Lightroom app tutorial saved to my highlights on Instagram

At this point in the editing process, I assess the photo and decide if it needs anything else or if any part of the photo needs additional enhancements.

To simplify and recap, these are the steps I suggest taking with each photo:

  1. Assess the brightness of the image. Is it too dark or too bright? Edit accordingly.
  2. Assess the temperature of the image. Is it too blue or too orange? Edit accordingly.
  3. Is the photo straight? Does it need to be cropped?
  4. Assess the skin tones within the image. Are they too orange or too washed out? Edit accordingly.
  5. Make whatever additional adjustments you think the photo needs and/or add your personal touch/style to the image. For example, some people like to fade their images and add grain to create a film look etc. 

 

Suggestions + Tools to Simplify the learning process

Editing can feel overwhelming, but I promise that if you set aside a few minutes to play around with each app, it won’t seem so daunting.

Start with VSCO. Download the app and pull a practice photo into it. Play around with all of the settings and sliders. After you have an understanding of VSCO, move to Lightroom, then Snapseed.

To help you learn what all of the buttons and sliders do within each app, I’ve created a free cheat sheet that explains all of the functions and what they do to your photos. You can download it HERE

I taught myself how to edit by both trial and error and watching youtube videos! I think it’s really helpful to watch other people edit. Youtube is a great place - just type in something like, “VSCO editing tutorials.” If you like the way I edit my photos or you want to learn more, I frequently do video editing tutorials in my Instagram stories. I have several saved in my highlights.

 

Thank you!

I have appreciated so much the opportunity Allie has given me to share my heart and love of photography with you, her sweet audience. I know you all are a loyal bunch and love her to pieces and I’ve been honored to hang out with you this month during the photography series. I hope you know that I am an open book and am always happy to answer questions and chat further. You can email me any time at hellojessiemartin@gmail.com or come say hi over on Instagram (@hellojessiemartin).

 

My heart truly is for you, mama. Although I love sharing my passion for photography, I believe it is so much more than a hobby or creative outlet. Taking pictures of our families can be something we make into a burden or a mundane task with little meaning, but it can be so much more! These pictures can be an exclamation of thankfulness and gratitude, a reminder of all of the blessings we have. We as mamas have the privilege of documenting our families’ stories and I truly believe this endeavour has worth and value.

 

If you’re hoping to up your photography game, I’ve created a FREE 5 day course just for you, mama! You can enroll for free today!

 

Mom-Tog in Five

Five Days to Better Mom Photography, Even if You Don't Have a Fancy Camera


I don't care if you have a crazy expensive camera or a hand-me-down smart phone - you have everything you need to create pictures you're proud of & tell your family's story.

    We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

    Powered By ConvertKit

    *This post may contain affiliate links.*


    Picture1.png

    Hi, I’m Jessie!
    I am a wife + mama and self-taught photographer. Im passionate about empowering fellow moms to to see how incredible their everyday is and to take beautiful pictures of their kids (regardless of what camera they use). I teach moms how to apply the same techniques I use as a professional photographer to their own personal photography. 

    - Jessie

    jessiemartin.co

    I love new friends! Come say hi over on Instagram (@hellojessiemartin)!

     

     

     

     

    How To Take Better Smartphone Photos

    A guest post from Jessie Martin

    It’s easy to get discouraged if you feel that you don’t have the best camera to take your pictures. Maybe you have an old iPhone or a hand-me down camera and you feel like it’s holding you back. If you are feeling like this, I have some encouragement for you:

    YOU are the one in control of the pictures that your camera takes. You are the conductor and the creator.

    Even the best camera in the world can’t take a good picture if you don’t know how to use it. Your camera or smartphone is just a tool. If you don’t know how to use that tool correctly, it won’t matter how expensive or up to date it is, your photos won’t turn out the way you hope.

    When Allie and I first met, she shared with me that she takes almost all of her pictures with her iPhone. Her and Brian own really great equipment for their business, but she prefers her iPhone over any of the fancy cameras. She also shared that the photos she has hanging on her walls are primarily ones she’s taken with her smartphone.

    GUYS. That says so much about smartphone cameras. Allie has access to a fancy camera and she knows how to use it, yet she prefers and chooses the simplicity of her iPhone.

    I’ve spent a lot of time trying to master my smartphone camera even though I love my DSLR. I don’t always have my fancy camera with me, so I want to be fluent with both of my cameras in order to take pictures of my son whenever and wherever.

    I’ve got 10 tips to help you take better pictures with your smartphone:


    Picture1.png

    1. Turn off the flash

    Lighting will make or break your pictures - especially if you’re using a smartphone. If you take pictures with artificial light, like lamps or ceiling lights, it will cause an unnatural yellow/orange tint. Use natural light as often as you can to avoid the yellow discoloration. Take advantage of windows and doors. By using natural light you alleviate the need for flash and can turn it off.

    Although I always advocate for natural lighting, I truly believe, “moments always win.” Don’t skip taking a photo just because natural light isn’t available. Just keep it in mind and use it when you can.

     

    Picture2.png

    2. Use two hands for stabilization

    Using two hands will help stabilize your phone and decrease blur in your photos. It’s helpful to alleviate as much blur on your end as you can, because if your kiddo is anything like mine, they definitely won’t be holding still for you.

     

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    3. Use the volume buttons to release the shutter

    When your camera app is open on your phone, the volume buttons can be used to release the camera’s shutter and take the photo. This can reduce blur and allows you to stabilize your phone better. If you have an iPhone with the apple earbuds (they’re called EarPods), you can use those volume buttons to release the shutter as well.

     

     

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    4. Tap the screen to hold and lock focus on your subject

    Tap the area you want to focus on and hold down. This will lock the camera’s focus on your subject and your image will be more clear. You may need to do it a few times if you’re subject is a fast-moving toddler.

     

     

     

     

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    5. Tap the area you want to expose for

    Before you take the picture, tap the area on your screen you want to make brighter.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    6. Use the exposure meter to brighten or darken your image

    When you tap and hold on the area of focus (as described in #5) a little sun icon will appear. You can drag your finger up or down on the screen to increase or decrease the brightness and then snap the photo.

     

     

     

     

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    7. Set HDR to Auto

    The HDR setting is a feature that takes multiple shots and then combines them into one final high quality image. This is great for a stationary object, but if your subject is a wiggly kid, the image will be blurry. Set your phone to HDR auto so it will turn on and off at the appropriate times.

     

     

     

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    8. Don’t use the ‘selfie’ camera

    The selfie camera on your smartphone is actually a lower quality lens than the outward facing lens. Always use the outward facing lens on the back of your phone to take pictures. This will help your pictures have sharper focus and be more clear.

     

    Picture9.png

     

     

    9. Consider taking burst shots of moving subjects

    When photographing a moving subject, hold down the shutter button (or volume button) for a few seconds. This will take burst shots (multiple pictures in a row at a really fast pace) and increase your chances of getting an in-focus photo. Another option is to tap the shutter button as quickly as you can over and over again. This will capture several pictures and increase the chances of capturing a non-blurry one. Go in afterwards and delete the duplicates from your phone.

     

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    10. Don’t Zoom

    When you zoom, you lose photo quality and your image will not be as clear. Instead, try taking a few steps closer to your subject.

    All of these tips have really helped improve my smartphone photography and I hope you learned something new and feel more confident when you pull out your phone for pictures!

     

     

     

    If you’re hoping to up your photography game, I’ve created a FREE 5 day course just for you, mama! You can enroll for free today!

    Mom-Tog in Five

    Five Days to Better Mom Photography, Even if You Don't Have a Fancy Camera


    I don't care if you have a crazy expensive camera or a hand-me-down smart phone - you have everything you need to create pictures you're proud of & tell your family's story.

      We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

      Powered By ConvertKit

       

      *This post may contain affiliate links.*


      Picture1.png

      Hi, I’m Jessie!
      I am a wife + mama and self-taught photographer. Im passionate about empowering fellow moms to to see how incredible their everyday is and to take beautiful pictures of their kids (regardless of what camera they use). I teach moms how to apply the same techniques I use as a professional photographer to their own personal photography. 

      - Jessie

      jessiemartin.co

      I love new friends! Come say hi over on Instagram (@hellojessiemartin)!

       

       

       

       

      10 Reasons Your Photos Aren't Turning Out The Way You Want Them To

      A guest post from Jessie Martin

      Pictures provide us with a way to revisit a single moment in time and relive it over and over again. They allow us to remember the small details that we never want to forget and provide us with the opportunity to document our children’s childhood. They give us physical reminders of who we are, where we’ve come from, and what’s important.

      Unfortunately, taking pictures can actually be super challenging and discouraging when our photos aren’t turning out the way we envision.

      I remember a few years back scrolling instagram and wondering how in the world all of these non-photographer mamas were creating such amazing pictures with only their smartphones.

      I realized pretty quickly that those mamas had been very intentional and had invested some time to learn HOW to take better photos.

      Good pictures aren’t just going to happen. Even the most expensive camera isn’t going to magically take great pictures. I believe if you’re willing to be intentional and put in a little bit of time, you can learn to take incredible photos of your family and make photography a natural part of your everyday life.

      Below are 10 reasons why your photos may not be turning out the way you hope and how to improve in those areas:


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      1. You aren’t seeing the magic in your everyday

      Sometimes, when we’re knee deep in diapers and sleep deprivation, we can lose sight of how incredible these days actually are. We can’t help but put our heads down and push through – constantly looking towards the next season, thinking it will be easier and better. Taking pictures can do something to you, though. It can cause you to dig deep. To slow down. It can cause you to see.

      Let photography help you slow down. Let it help you see the magic of your everyday. Think of the things your kids do that make your heart burst. Think of the everyday family routines you never want to end. These things are the magic of your everyday. The little details. The seemingly ordinary moments that make up your days and eventually your years.

      If you want to know how and why I see the magic in my everyday, you can read my ‘Why,’ from week one. 

      Pick a day and make a list of all the things you are thankful for. Don’t just include broad things like “family.” Get specific. What things throughout your day are you really truly thankful for that maybe tend to go unnoticed? These are the things that you should be taking pictures of.

       

      2. You’re letting the thought of taking pictures overwhelm you, and in turn, you aren’t taking any

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      Taking pictures doesn’t have to be some huge unrealistic time commitment. Photography can be incorporated throughout your day in a natural, unburdened way with a few simple habits.

      1. Keep your phone memory uncluttered so that you always have enough storage to take pictures when the time comes. Back up your photos often and then delete them off your phone. Google Photos is an amazing tool – It offers a ton of free storage and after you use it once, you can set it to automatically back up your photos for you. Allie actually did an interview in my photo course for moms where she shared that Google Photos is her go-to as well!

      2. Keep your phone (or your camera) somewhere nearby and easily accessible. This will probably already be your habit if your phone is your main camera, but keeping it close, or in a central location, will alleviate missing photo opportunities. I keep my camera hanging by the door with a clean memory card and a fully charged battery at all times so that I can quickly grab it if I notice a photo opportunity.

      3. Start picking 2-3 things each week that you want to document about your family. An example may be that you really want to take a picture of the way your baby looks when they’re asleep. When a good opportunity arises during the week, take the picture. That’s it. That was like 2.5 seconds of being intentional, planning a photo, and taking the picture.

       

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      3. You don’t know how to use your phone or your camera to its full potential

      The basic difference between a phone camera and a DSLR camera is the amount of control you have over the settings.

      A smartphone camera gives you less control over the settings but significantly simplifies the  process. Most smartphones have pretty incredible built-in settings and features that make the photo capabilities rival that of many DSLRs. The trick is knowing how to use the camera you have to its full potential.

      There is a saying among photographers –

      The camera doesn’t make the photographer, the photographer makes the photographer.

      You could have the most expensive camera on the market, but if you don’t know how to use it or how to use the light around you, your pictures will be awful. On the flip side, if you understand basic photography techniques, you can make beautiful images with just your phone camera.

      I had the chance to talk to Allie about the photos she has displayed in her home. She shared that all but ONE of the photos she has hanging in her home are iPhone pictures! She and Brian own a fancy camera, but her go-to is her smartphone because it’s simple and she’s taken the time to learn how to use it.

      Don’t feel sorry for yourself because you don’t have a $3000 camera. Change your mindset. Be intentional and learn how to use the camera you do have. Become an expert at taking pictures with the gear you have available to you and I promise you’ll be ecstatic with your photos.

       

      4. You aren’t being creative with the way you take your photos

      ‘Composition,’ is the way you arrange your photo. It’s being intentional and thoughtful with the way you take your picture and where your subject is in the frame. Composition isn’t just for professional photographers - it’s an easy way for anyone to take better photos.

      Easy Composition Tricks

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      Always make sure your photos are straight. Pick a vertical or horizontal line within the image and use it as a guide. It’s much easier to do this before you take the picture, but if you forget, you can always correct this when you edit.

      Think of ways to make your photos more creative. Get closer or further away from your subject. Take pictures at your subjects eye level. Take pictures from above or below. Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and take pictures from various angles and heights.

       

      5. You don’t understand light or how to use it

      Lighting is one of the most important elements of taking a great picture. It can make or break your photos, so it’s important to understand it.

      There are different types of light depending on the time of day. The most well-known is during the evening when the sun is just starting to go down. This is called “Golden Hour,” because the sun is casting a golden glow onto everything. This is one of the prettiest types of lighting.

      The easiest type of lighting to use as a beginner, and especially if you’re using your smartphone, is “even” light. Get out of the sunlight and take your photo in the shade where the light falls evenly across your subject. This alleviates having to worry about angles or the sun causing weird shadows on your subject.

      Once you feel like you’ve mastered the easy light, move on to more challenging lighting situations.

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      My Number One Lighting Hack:

      Artificial light casts a yellow glow onto everything and causes photos to look unnatural. One of the easiest ways to transform your photos is to turn off all of the artificial lights and open the curtains to let natural light in.

       

      6. You aren’t editing your photos

      The ability to edit your photos gives you so much creative freedom. A good edit can transform a photo and bring out so much life to an otherwise uninteresting picture. Editing is a skill. It takes a while to get a good eye for it. Practice makes perfect!

      My favorite editing apps are VSCO, Lightroom, and Snapseed. Go download one or all of these and play around with them. If you’re new to editing apps, start with VSCO and play around with the free filters and adjustments.

      Everyone edits differently, but I personally try to edit as true to life as possible.

      My goal as I edit is to enhance the photo, but to do so honestly.

      If you ever need editing help, I frequently do editing tutorials over on Instagram! I also created an editing cheat sheet that explains all of the actions in VSCO and Lightroom and what they do to your photo. You can get it for free HERE.

       

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      7. You aren’t in any of your pictures

      I am a big promoter of getting into pictures with your kids.

      I know how easy it is to feel self-conscious in photos. I know it’s much easier to hide behind the camera and be the one taking the pictures.

      Don’t let insecurities get in the way of taking pictures with your kids.

      Because of Allie and her heart for encouraging self-care for us mamas, I took the time to invest in myself in a few simple areas and it has helped my confidence SO much. I took her advice and invested a little bit of time and money into a wardrobe that I love. I also took some time to learn how to do my makeup and created a five minute makeup routine for myself. Those two things alone have boosted my confidence SO much. When I am dressed and ready for the day, I feel confident and am so much more willing to jump into pictures with my son.  

       

      The more confident you feel, the more likely you’ll be willing to get in front of the camera.

      Because we don’t always have someone else to take pictures for us, there are a few simple things you can do to take those pictures yourself. I suggest investing in an inexpensive tripod and shutter remote. These two tools simplify the process SO much and make it possible to get into pictures with your kids whenever you want!

      Smartphone Shutter Remote + Tripod

      DSLR Shutter Remote (Canon + Nikon)

      DSLR Tripod

       

      8. You haven’t developed a consistent photography style

      Have you ever been scrolling Instagram, seen a photo, and without looking at the name you know exactly who took the picture? This is because this person has developed their own personal photography ‘style.’

      Allie is a great example of someone who has a consistent photography style. Anytime her photos pop up on my instagram feed I know they’re hers before I ever see her name. Her instagram stories are also a great example because they always have a similar look and feel to them.

      Start a Pinterest board with photos, colors, and tones that stand out to you. Take note of the way you decorate your home or the colors you choose to wear. These things can tell you a lot about your ‘style’ and will help you develop an honest photography style that is true to who you are. You can see my Inspiration board HERE as an example.

      It takes time to develop your own style and there is a lot of trial and error. Don’t be discouraged if you try something for a few weeks and then decide you don’t really care for it anymore. You’ll find yourself continually tweaking and improving upon your style. You’ll continue to get better and feel more confident in your ability to create.

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      9. You focus too much on posing or staging your photos which leads to frustrated kiddos

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      Every kid is going to be different and their age needs to be considered. My biggest tip for taking pictures of your kids is to make it as easy going and simple as possible. Letting your kids just be themselves will allow you to capture their true personalities. If you let them be, you will be able to capture so many of their different emotions and their true personalities.

      Because my camera is always easily accessible, if I see something picture worthy or the lighting is really beautiful, I can grab it real quick and snap a few pictures.

      Try to limit yourself to just a few minutes and then put your phone or camera away.

      For babies, I don’t recommend trying to pose them in any specific way. Try placing a few toys in a spot that is getting good light. Let your baby do their own thing with their toys and take pictures while they play. When I do this with my son, I usually walk away with several pictures that I LOVE. While he plays I’ll occasionally make him giggle by singing a funny song or making a silly noise. For the majority of the time though, I try to just leave him alone and take pictures as he plays.

      A common issue with little kids is getting them to hold still long enough to get an in-focus picture. Try putting them in something that contains them a little more, like their highchair or the bathtub. One of my favorite places is our kitchen sink! I have taken some of my favorite photos while my son is playing during a sink bath.

      For older kids, you can make a game out of taking pictures. Another great trick is to let them do something that is usually against the rules, like jumping on the bed. When you do ask them to pose or do something specific, just be quick and don’t make them take pictures with you for too long.

       

      10. You don’t know when to put the camera down

      When my son was born, I was terrified that I was going to miss an opportunity to capture a moment with him. He was growing so quickly and changing everyday. I was terrified that I was going to miss something or forget something. I read this quote by Ann Voskamp and I have been so thankful for these words, because I think it has saved me so much mom-guilt.

      “All the moments a mother never captured on film – isn’t perhaps a failing, but a relaxing into fully being in that moment. They say that you can tell as much about a life by the photographs that weren’t taken as those that were. There doesn’t have to be fear of missing. Moments don’t need to be captured as much as they need to be enjoyed. There’s ridiculous freedom and glory in courage like this.”

      Be encouraged mama. Pick up your camera and capture your babies.

      Be intentional and practice taking good photos so that the time you do use your camera is worthwhile. Spend the rest of your time living in the moments with your family.

      Don’t ever be afraid to put your camera down and just plain love on your babies. You won’t ever regret being fully immersed in moments with them.

       

      If you’re hoping to up your photography game, I’ve created a FREE 5 day course just for you, mama! You can enroll for free today!

      Mom-Tog in Five

      Five Days to Better Mom Photography, Even if You Don't Have a Fancy Camera


      I don't care if you have a crazy expensive camera or a hand-me-down smart phone - you have everything you need to create pictures you're proud of & tell your family's story.

        We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

        Powered By ConvertKit

         

        *This post may contain affiliate links.*


        Picture1.png

        Hi, I’m Jessie!
        I am a wife + mama and self-taught photographer. Im passionate about empowering fellow moms to to see how incredible their everyday is and to take beautiful pictures of their kids (regardless of what camera they use). I teach moms how to apply the same techniques I use as a professional photographer to their own personal photography. 

        - Jessie

        jessiemartin.co

        I love new friends! Come say hi over on Instagram (@hellojessiemartin)!

         

         

         

         

        How Losing Our Baby Changed My Life, My Motherhood, and My Lens

        A guest post from Jessie Martin

        I sat there alone, sobbing, in a disgusting park bathroom. I held my camera on my knees because there was nowhere clean to set it down.

        I hated my camera a little. It didn’t matter if it got ruined now anyways. I was having a miscarriage, what was the point? It seemed pretty stupid, actually.

        There weren’t going to be any announcement pictures or ‘bump-dates’ to document. No birth pictures or newborn photographs to take.

        Eventually, I had to get up, do my best to clean up, and walk outside. I explained to the teenage girl waiting for me that I was going to need to reschedule our photography session.

        I called my husband and he came to drive me home. I crawled in the car, threw my camera in the back, and we went home to finish miscarrying and grieving in private.

        But really, a miscarriage isn’t finished when the bleeding stops. It isn’t finished when what would have been week 20 comes and goes and there’s no gender reveal. And it doesn’t end on your due date when there’s no baby to bring home from the hospital.

        Miscarriage is devastating and it feels like it will never end.

        Like many women, one of the main reasons I bought my camera was because my husband and I had decided to start trying for a baby. I wanted to get good so I could document my pregnancy and take pictures of our future kid.

        After our loss we experienced month after month of negative pregnancy tests.

        I felt angry and creatively unfulfilled, but I had a lot of unexpected extra time on my hands, so I decided to keep practicing.

        I ate up anything I could about photography. I kept taking pictures of whatever or whoever would give me the chance.

        I knew one day I would have a baby of my own and I wasn’t going to miss or take one freaking detail for granted.

        We don’t always get a straightforward answer as to why bad things happen or why we have to go through certain trials. But one thing I do know is that there are always glimmers of hope, grace, and growth in every hardship.

        My takeaway from our miscarriage and fertility issues, among other things like my brother’s childhood cancer and my job as a nurse,  is that I want to live an intentional life & take nothing for granted.

        I want to strive to be thankful every single day and enjoy all of the little things, because really, they’re the big things.


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        Around the time of our miscarriage, we made the decision to boldly live our lives and follow our dreams.

        We saved every penny we could and eventually sold everything we owned, packed into a rental minivan and moved 1000 miles away. We bought some land and spent the entire summer of 2016 building our home ourselves.

         
        Picture3.png

        On April 30th, 2017, two years after our loss, I took my first picture of our brand new rainbow baby.

        My heart exploded and my eyes filled with tears. Every picture I had ever taken was in preparation for this.

        For him.


         

        This is what that creative part of my heart was made for.

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        I didn’t hire anyone to come take newborn pictures. I took them myself. And I love them – they’re beautiful.

        Every day since my son was born I’ve taken pictures of him and of our family and I cherish every single one.

        They’re good, too. They aren’t blurry, grainy pictures. Whether I use my phone camera or my expensive DSLR camera, they’re images I’m proud of.

        As I write this, I’m gearing up for our precious baby number 2 and I’ve started my own business where I help moms learn to document their days and tell their families’ stories.

        http://jessiemartin.co/portraits-of-us-course/

         

         

         

         

        How Photography Can Impact Your Motherhood

        Because I thought I may never get to have babies, I am so much more in tune to the everyday magic that is motherhood + childhood. Because I don’t know what God’s plan is or how many kids we’ll be able to have in the future, I soak up every second of every minute of every day I have with our son.

        Picture5.png
        Photography is a way that we as moms can intentionally look at our everyday lives and say “I see you. I see these blessings, I see these days and these moments, and I am thankful for them, even the hard ones.”

        Because of our story, I know what pictures I want to take. I know how important the details are and how precious this time is. I have the utmost appreciation for the mundane because it’s all I’ve ever wanted. Our everyday is my dream life.

         

        The act of taking a picture causes us to slow down, to see and take the time to truly be grateful. It keeps our priorities straight and gives us perspective on what’s important.

        My heart is for you to have images of your everyday that you take yourself, with whatever camera you have available to you, whether it’s an old iPhone or an expensive DSLR camera.

         

        I want you to see the beauty in your everyday, to live with intention and purpose.

        I want to empower you take images that you are in love with, that have value, and that tell your family’s story.

        No one else is going to take these pictures for you. No one else knows what little details you cherish most or which moments are most precious to you.

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        When I first bought my camera, I had no idea what I was doing. I spent hours googling and YouTubing how to take a good picture. I taught myself everything I could and I continue to learn and seek out how to be better at taking pictures. I had no idea when I started that anyone can learn to take a good picture, even if they don’t have a fancy camera. All of the same techniques apply.

        If you love taking pictures of your kids but you don’t know how to take quality pictures or how tell a story with your images, I want to help!

        I’ve created a free photography course just for moms to help you get started!

        I want the time you spend behind the camera to be worthwhile and produce great images and stories so you can spend the rest of your time living in the moment with your family.

        Mom-Tog in Five

        Five Days to Better Mom Photography, Even if You Don't Have a Fancy Camera


        I don't care if you have a crazy expensive camera or a hand-me-down smart phone - you have everything you need to create pictures you're proud of & tell your family's story.

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          Hi, I’m Jessie!
          I am a wife + mama and self-taught photographer. Im passionate about empowering fellow moms to to see how incredible their everyday is and to take beautiful pictures of their kids (regardless of what camera they use). I teach moms how to apply the same techniques I use as a professional photographer to their own personal photography. 

          - Jessie

          jessiemartin.co

          I love new friends! Come say hi over on Instagram (@hellojessiemartin)!

          10 Things I've Done To Simplify My Life

          I'm all about asking the question: What can I remove from my plate in the different areas of my life?

          What must be done by me? What do I want to be done by me? What's dragging me down? Is it necessary that it drags me down? Is it just a part of life? Or can it go?

          Is there a way that I could learn to enjoy this more? Is there a way I could learn to do this more efficiently? Is this serving my family? Is this serving someone else in a positive way? What is going on with each area of my life?

          I think that's how you really get intentional - checking in with yourself, asking those questions. 

          This is the first time I've actually come up with an even ten so, I'm feelin' like the most profesh blogger of all time right now.

          *ahem* Anyway, let's dive in.

          10 Things I've Done To Simplify My Life


          01: DECIDE WHAT'S MOST IMPORTANT

          The first thing that I would say came to my mind about things that I've done to simplify my life is I decided what's most important to me. I would encourage you to do this and to keep your list to 5 or less things.

          Life is crazy and chaotic. Sometimes you need to come back to what matters most, but you've got to know what those things are.

          For me, my list is broken down into relationships because really that's what each area of life breaks down to is your relationship with your priorities.

          For me, it's: 

          • my relationship with God
          • my relationship with myself
          • my relationship with my husband, Brian 
          • my relationship with my children
          • my relationship with my business.

          And frankly that's about the order that it's in, too.

          GOD

          The reason that I have it in that order is, well, first of all, God. Not to be cliché, but really He is my most important relationship. And I'll be honest and say sometimes my actions may not reflect that. But in my heart of hearts, that's what's most important to me. That's the relationship that deserves the top priority. And if I feel like my actions are not aligned with that statement, I know that I need to make some changes and some shifts. And I will and I do. That's a constant fine-tuning of sorts.

          Myself

          Controversially, I put myself next instead of my relationship with my husband. I don't know if that's right or wrong, perfect or flawed, or what, but that decision came out of a lot of reflection and a lot of learning in my twenties. I just recently turned 31, so, I’m no old sage or anything.

          But I will say that in my almost 11 years of being married to Brian, being a mother and “growing up,” I've learned that if I don't prioritize myself first, I'm kind of a terrible wife, mother, person, friend, sister and daughter, and all the roles that I fall into because I'm an introvert. The way the Lord made me is beautiful and incredible. But it's human. It's flawed. And if I don't prioritize myself and take care of myself at least a little bit, I don't perform well. I don't feel good. I'm snappy. I'm cranky. I'm short-tempered.

          Of course, there are times where I feel like that and I've got to suck it up and be a decent person. Do my job. Get through my day. Be a nice wife. Say nice things. Hold back from saying something rude, unhelpful or cutting. But my point is, after my relationship with the Lord, my relationship with myself is important in that I need to make sure that I'm taking care of myself.

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          MY HUSBAND

          I put my husband first in a lot of ways. But all in all, I will say that I will make sure that I carve out a little bit of “me time” before I carve out a little bit of “marriage time,” if that is what it comes down to, it often does not.

          I hope I'm getting my point across that I have to take care of myself so that I can be a better wife, a better mom, more available, more patient, kinder, able to respond and be mindfully present for my husband and for my children.

          The order doesn't matter as much as you saying what your priorities are.

          WHAT ABOUT FRIENDS?

          Friends and non-immediate family are very important to me, but they're definitely on the outer rings of my life. Not the center ring. They don't come before that other list.

          That doesn't mean that I'm selfish. That doesn’t mean that I’m money hungry because my business is on the other list first or anything like that. It just means my relationship with God first, and I've got to take care of myself. I have to make sure that I'm having some quiet time. That I feel OK. That I have taken a shower. That I take a second to myself. That I’m not feeling anxious or like I am lacking something. That I am just not doing good and not able to function. That my marriage is healthy. That my relationship with my kids is going well, or at least it's been taken care of and that I put time into.

          BUSINESS

          My relationship with my business is so important because my business is not just a business. It's my passion. It’s really a ministry of sorts. It is so important and it is my family's livelihood. Brian and I work together on it and it's how we provide for our family, as well as other organizations who are doing good work and need financial backing. This matters!

          When it comes down to it sometimes (a lot of the time actually) I do have to prioritize my business and my work above having coffee with a friend who's going through a hard time. Every once in a while it just comes down to it.

          But usually - because I'm an entrepreneur, I work from home and I've got an amazing team behind me to carry the load of the day-to-day stuff - I can say, “You know what, I'm not going to work today. I'm going to finish up school with the kids and I'm going to go ahead and have lunch with my friend because she needs me.” I do that all the time.

          But when I'm writing out my priorities, when I am writing out what really matters, that's kind of where my list is. I think it can be really daunting to come up with that list, but I think you should do it. And they think it's important.

          If my feelings about a relationship with my main people and my business are suffering, something's going to have to give, because those are my priorities. So that's one thing that I have done to simplify my life is: I called out and said “what is most important to me?” And I made that decision prayerfully and thoughtfully over time.

          I've got that list. I know I can come back to it if I'm feeling a little lost, overwhelmed or burdened by all the things. I can come back and look and say, “OK, what are my priorities? What needs to be top of the heap here in this situation?”

          Although it can be daunting at first, once I did it, once I decided what's most important to me in my life, it simplified my life. It simplified my decisions. And it simplified a lot of things because my calendar reflects those priorities. My heart reflects those priorities and the way that I make decisions and say “yes” and “no” to things reflect those priorities. So, simplified my life a lot.

          02: Learn to say no

          Another thing that I did to simplify my life is I learned to say “No.” Learning to say “no” can be so difficult for some people. It is not super difficult for me. It depends on the circumstance. There are some things that I feel like, “Oh, my heart goes out to the situation. I want to say yes, I want to be there to help.”

          I am really passionate about giving. I'm getting a little personal here, but in the first year of my business our family was America's version of poverty. It was really, really, really bad. (If you want to hear our story, you can listen to episode six of my podcast.)

          We came around to the other side. Our business was thriving and went as a business from zero to seven figures in 18 months. It was so exciting and crazy. I have always been passionate about giving and helping others and my difficult financial experiences in my life with my husband definitely fueled that fire.

          I became even more passionate about giving and wanting to do good things with this money. I got a little bit too gung-ho about giving and gave away too much to where it was like, “Oh crap, now we don't really have a safety net here.”

          We probably should have put a little bit more away because that’s what you want to do. I have a hard time saying “no” when it seems good, when something seems charitable, when it seems like it's going to help somebody else.

          I definitely think that sometimes self care and prioritizing your own family can turn selfish. I think sometimes it could turn into you're not really “looking outside of your own bubble.” I never want to get to that point. It's such a hard balance. I really think it's got to be some kind of gut check that you have with your own self and a “heart thing” that you're watching and prayerfully keeping watch over I guess, and asking the Lord to point out to you if you've gone too far one way or the other.

          In this case, with the money thing, I had gone too far. Too much charity, not enough being careful, wise and a good steward. I wanted to give back after I felt like we had had to take so much and we weren't able to help at all.

          I've since learned to say “no” and to be wise. I'm not talking about just with money - that was just in one small example - but in little things like volunteering for something or having coffee with a friend, sometimes you just need to say “no.”

          Sometimes it's not a good idea. It's not wise. It's not a moment to be giving. It's a moment to be wise is in the way of, “I know what my family needs today and this isn't gonna work for us.”

          There's a lot of talk, from me as well, about self-care and having time away, taking care of yourself, having girls’ nights, going to get a Mani-Pedi every once- in-a-while. That's so great. But sometimes it's the opposite and while this girl's night that I just got invited to is so fun and a great idea, it's a really bad week for me to leave my family and do that. It's going to end up not serving me and actually stressing me out. You may need to say “no.”

          I've got a blog post about saying “no” and it has really simplified my life to have that skill to know how to graciously say “No, I can't do that right now.”

          Unapologetically having your boundaries in order is such an act of simplification and it's a habit that will serve you well.

          03: REMOVE DISTRACTIONS

          The third thing that I have done to simplify my life is I turned off the things that distract me from my life. I'm talking about Facebook, phone notifications, all those types of things. There's recently been a podcast episode about that and I'll link to that in show notes for you guys as well. It's literally called “Phone Settings For A Present Life” and that is exactly what it is. How to physically set up your phone to stop beeping to you and distracting you from your actual life. It’s so funny, especially being a blogger, there's this pull and this almost expectation to share every moment and to not actually enjoy very many of them.

          I feel like I have struck a really great balance of sharing plenty, sharing the fun stuff, the silly stuff, the serious stuff, the family moments, the business moments, the processes behind the scenes, but also really not feeling like I always have my phone. I found that balance I feel like. And I'm really happy with the balance I've struck. I want you to feel like that too. Turn off the things that distract you from your life.

          I do not have the Facebook app on my phone. Facebook is on my computer and I can log in and do what I need to do there for work or pleasure or whatever. And then I'm done. It's not carried around with me all day long. I don't think it should be.

          Your texts, your phone calls, your social media app alerts. All those things are only in the way how much you let them be in the way. I decided to prioritize (back to #1) and turn off the things that distract me from living my actual life, from being present for my God, myself, my husband, my children, my business, my friends, my family, and all these other things.

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          04: TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF

          The next thing I did to simplify my life is I started spending time alone. This was another thing that totally came out of my 20’s, of me figuring myself out.

          I say this a lot, but I'll say it again. Extrovert and introvert is not being hyper or super high energy, or loud versus quiet and shy. It's actually where you get your energy from. Extroverts get their energy from being around other people and introverts get their energy from being alone. There's people that are both, and that's called ambiverts. I don't know many of those but I know they're out there.

          I am an introvert, and learning to give myself alone time, oh my gosh, it just restores me in such an amazing way. It's unbelievable what less than 10 minutes of being alone will do for me.

          Even if you're an extrovert, being alone is so good for the soul.

          Just being quiet for a second. Get the kids in bed, check in with your hubby and make sure he's good, and go for a 20-minute drive. Get a Chai latte and go for a drive with the windows down. Don't even turn music on, just be by yourself. It’s so nice to see what good company you are and where your thoughts go. What worries, fears, dreams or joys come to mind?

          05: simplify your home

          Another thing I did to simplify my life was I simplified my home.

          I got rid of the clutter. I let go of the drawerfuls of junk and crap that was taking up all the nooks and crannies in the closets, under the bed, wedged in between couch cushions, crammed into nightstand drawers and kitchen drawers. Multiple spatulas, spoons, and bowls that were mismatched. Magazines and random clutter.

          I got rid of all of it and I've kept it all away by ruthlessly being the editor of my home over the last six years. It has transformed my entire life more than almost anything. It's been huge.

          You probably already know this is what I do. This is what I'm known for. This is where my signature course, my e-course, Your Uncluttered Home came from- this has been my process and my journey and I now teach other mamas how to do the same thing.

          Simplify your home, watch your life transform. You wouldn’t even believe it if I told you all the different areas of my life that have changed just from simplifying my home.

          My marriage improved.

          Relationships improved with myself, with my kids. I was a lighter person, much happier, less stressed out.

          I found it so much easier to stop yelling and stop reacting to my life because I wasn't living in this place of constant stress. My life no longer reflected the way that my home was cluttered. It reflected the way my home was uncluttered.

          Studies show that the way that we have our homes is a reflection of the way we have our lives. And I really believe that.

          It's been true for me and true for the thousands of students who have gone through Your Uncluttered Home. I definitely, definitely would say that one of the biggest things I did to simplify my entire life was clearing my home of clutter.

          Your_Uncluttered_Home_Promo_Facebook_Ad_2.png

          Stop cleaning up after your kids' childhood. Start being present for it. 

          Your Uncluttered Home has been globally praised & taken by thousands of moms who changed their lives!


          Allie_Reading_Bible_Drinking_Coffee_Flatlay.jpg

          06: Establish routines

          There's a podcast episode about this! Listen here.

          My morning ritual is very important to me. I hate when something is going on that causes me to miss my morning ritual.

          That happens very rarely because my morning ritual begins pretty early in the morning. It's only when we're traveling and I have to get up early to leave for the airport for a trip or something like that that gets in the way. I feel a big difference when that happens, and it's not a good difference!

          My morning ritual has transformed my life so much. It has simplified so many aspects of my life.

          07: DOWNSIZE

          Another thing we did to simplify is we started living in smaller homes. Back before all of this, before I decluttered, before this part of my story began, we lived in a pretty large house. It was definitely big for our family size at the time. It was about 3,000 square feet and we only had two of our kids. In my opinion and experience, it was too much for us. 

          It was so much maintenance and cleaning and it wasn't really worth it at the time because I was so overwhelmed. I was fighting depression and was pregnant with our third baby, Hudson. We couldn't even afford to furnish all of it, so it just felt empty, dull and high maintenance. 

          We ended up downsizing and started to live in smaller houses. Nothing super tiny or anything, just smaller. Small enough to where the potential landlord would say something like, “Are you sure this house is big enough for you guys?”

          Friends and family would comment regularly on the fact that we were living pretty small. It didn't feel too small to us but small enough to where it got comments for sure. It was a little bit against the norm, even now when we have four kids. And now that we're going to be adopting, our family is going to grow even more.

          Our house is about 2300 -2400ish square feet andthree bedrooms (plus our office). We work from home, we’ve got an office that's an extension of the garage. So even now our house really isn't that big for a family my size. It's definitely the biggest house that we've had since our big downsize.

          I can handle a little more square footage now. I've got less stress and I'm not in a crazy season of struggling anymore. My kids are older, they help out a lot, my husband's here to help, we have a housekeeper that comes once or twice a month and helps. 

          We still live a little smaller than most people with our family size, and it's great. I love a small house. I think there's something really beautiful and there's something to be said for small living. And I love when people message me and they say, “You know, I've got two kids and we live in a thousand square feet and we just love it. We're outside all the time.”

          It's so true, you get out and you start to live. You enjoy the outdoors. You really make your little home count, you know? It matters to you more. It's more important to you. 

          08: GET MOVING

          Another thing that I did to simplify my life was I started walking. This might sound silly and you might wonder what that has to do with simplifying, but it really does.

          I started walking as a way to simplify my health. I think that the health and wellness industry is a money hungry industry of unnecessary advice, and I got sick of it. I just wanted to feel better. I wanted to lose weight. I wanted to feel like I had more energy.

          I wanted to get moving, but I really didn't like to exercise, so I just started to walk.

          What I found was that, first of all, I love taking walks. Whether my kids come along or Brian's home and they stay with him and I go by myself, I love to walk.

          I started to let my thoughts wander. I started to get really grateful. Then I started to intentionally think of things that I was grateful for while I walked. I call those my “gratitude walks.”

          Sometimes I do that, sometimes I listen to a podcast or an audio book, sometimes I listen to music, sometimes I pray, sometimes I have absolutely no agenda and I just go for a walk and see where the Lord takes me. But walking simplified my health. I lost weight. I feel better.

          I do more than just walking now, but I still walk almost every day. It's a simple practice that I am really fond of that's really changed my life.

          09: IMPLEMENT A NOTHING DAY

          Our "nothing day" used to be once a week. Now I guess I still have a “nothing day” once a week, but really a very intentional, absolutely zero things on my calendar day, once a month for sure.

          Sundays I like to turn off social media, at least for the most part. I don't look at my phone much. There's no work, unless I really want to because I love what I do. Sometimes I getting inspired and want to jot down a blog post or something. It's just rest, whatever rest looks like that day for me.

          “Nothing day” is when you feel pulled really thin and you just need a break. “Nothing day” is no phone alerts, no phone at all, maybe. No capturing things for social media. I just unwind. Maybe we'll go out and do something fun as a family, maybe we'll just hang out and do nothing at home. That's usually what happens, but the point is it's just a day of “vegging out” and just “being.”

          It's something that is so overlooked and not very often scheduled and it needs to be. It's so good for the soul. 

          10: SIMPLIFY YOUR EATING

          This goes back to the whole thing about the health and wellness industry- it's overwhelming! We eat at least three times a day and making food can be so complicated. It can really take over your day.

          A friend of mine, Amanda Wilson, is an incredible Instagrammer for the health and wellness industry. I had a couple coaching calls with her about two years ago, and among other helpful things, she taught me about food prepping instead of meal prepping.

          Food prepping is when you prep basic foods so that you can put plates together for meals, instead of deciding what you're going to eat way ahead of time, making the meal, and putting it in the fridge.

          Because what was happening for me was I eat by mood, so I would make a meal and put it aside and I wouldn't want that later. What if I didn’t want leftover spaghetti or whatever it is when it came time to eat it? I was wasting food and opting for convenient takeout far too often. 

          Instead, I started prepping basic foods that I know I eat all the time. For example, grilling up some potatoes, grilling some chicken and seasoning it lightly with salt and pepper so it can be used for any recipe, making some cauliflower rice and putting that in the fridge... things like that. Things that could be made as part of a meal but aren't already a designated meal.

          That really helped me and it simplified my meals. 

          I would encourage you to find a way that you need to simplify your eating, if that's feeling like a point of stress for you. I have a really good friend who just absolutely loves food. She loves everything to do with the creation of food. She would never want to simplify this area of her life. She loves cooking from scratch. She is amazing at it. But that is not me.

          While I do enjoy cooking from scratch, I don't want to do that for every single meal. This is an area of my life that it served me greatly to simplify. I found a way that worked for me and our family. I would encourage you to do that if that’s hitting home for you.

          And there you have it: 10 things that I've done to simplify my life. I hope that this was inspiring in a fresh way because I'm really just telling you something that I've done and not really telling you exactly how to do it. I think that can give you creative space to make it your own and apply this to your own life. 

          Happy simplifying!

           


          ARE YOU READY TO CLEAR THE CLUTTER AND FOCUS ON THE AREAS OF YOUR LIFE THAT BRING YOU JOY? 

          YOUR UNCLUTTERED HOME IS LITERALLY EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO BECOME A MINIMALIST MAMA WHO IS ABLE TO BE A LOT MORE PRESENT FOR WHAT MATTERS MOST.

           


          Introducing My New Brand! [+ the story behind it]

          My brand is a direct reflection of who I am. And since I’m human, I’m always changing.

          I’ve been walking further down the path of simplifying and intentional living, and lately, I’ve been in a season of pruning.

          In my business and in my life, there have been things I felt like I had to do in order to serve and show up for other people - some things were good and worked fine once, but then they stopped working.

          Because of the drain on my energy, those things weren’t actually serving anyone - not even the people I was trying to hard to show up for.

          They pulled life from me in a way that meant I had none left to give in other areas that matter.

          I have been letting go of those things with a confident knowing that I will be better for it, and so will the people I serve.

          Did you know that in vineyards, the vines that are not fruit-producing are pruned (cut back, trimmed) in order to give more water and energy to the vines that are producing fruit?

          In the past six months alone, I have cut off two branches of The Purpose Group Incorporated (the official entity of my business, which owns this website and The Purpose Show).

          Those two branches were The Purpose Society (my monthly membership site) and These Solid Walls (my print shop).

          These two things were vines that needed to be pruned in order to reserve water and energy for the more fruit-producing branches. Even though they weren’t bad ideas or rotten vines, they just weren’t my purpose and they were pulling my focus from more important things.

          Just because something is a good idea doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for you or for this time in your life, and God set me free by showing me that.

          This has been a really impactful, deeply transformative time in my life. Learning what to say “no more” to and what to say “let’s grow more of this” as a business owner and influencer has caused me to really work on my heart and seek God.

          When a change like this takes place in you as a person and YOU are your brand, it’s hard to look at your current brand aesthetic the same way. Because, like I said, my brand is a direct reflection of who I am, it starts to feel like you’re producing content on a platform that isn’t yours.

          It’s almost like you’re boxed in to the old things you just let go of.

          It might sound silly, but seeing the colors, fonts, and feel of my old brand had started to feel crippling to my creativity. I needed my brand to change to fit me better.

          The thing is, as a brand, you don’t want to do this often, if ever. It can really harm your reach if people don’t recognize your images on social media, and it is part of my job (and my team’s job) to make sure you see what I’m putting out.

          The message I am sharing is something I take incredibly seriously.

          I know if any mom hears it and takes action on it, God will use it to change her entire motherhood.

          Motherhood is what is shaping the future of our world, so this matters greatly.

          See? Told you I take this seriously ;)

          So, it was important to me not to change too much about the general “feel” of my brand, as I didn't want to hurt the spreading of the message behind it. 

          I weighed it out in my head over a couple of months and finally decided a change was worth a small risk, because the new brand would reflect more of what you get here at Allie Casazza dot com - minimalism, less, simplification tips, encouragement to live well and to live your life on purpose.

          This was worth the change to me.

          I started opening my eyes to ideas for fresher colors and praying that God would guide the steps of this rebrand.

          One day, I was browsing a strip of small local shops and there somes prints of paintings created by a local artist. There was one piece of art that immediately caught my eye and brought up emotion.

          It was so simple. It made me think of an open door of opportunity… it made me think of what I do here in this little space on the internet.

          I bought it and put it on my mantle, staring at it anytime I sat in my living room for weeks.

          I want what I do here to feel like the message in that painting - like an open door of opportunity for mothers all over the globe.

          If you make small, positive changes, if you start to look at the things in your home and on your calendar with a little more intentionality, your life is going to rapidly and seriously transform.

          That’s a door of opportunity for you if I’ve ever seen one!

          The painting I bought, although my new favorite, was a little dark. I like my brand to breathe and feel light and airy, so I knew I wouldn’t be totally borrowing from the artist when I used this piece as my rebrand inspo.

          It needed to be a jumping off point, not the end all be all.

          After a few more weeks of praying, searching, and just letting inspiration find its way to me, I had put together the new brand in my head.

          I had over a month of time off scheduled and it was rapidly approaching. I couldn’t bear to keep this to myself all that time, so I scheduled an evening meeting with my designer in my cozy backyard, and I poured all the stuff in my head into his while he created some mockups of what the brand would look like.

          After a little fine tuning and moving things around, we had it.

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          I told him I wanted a paint brush stroke in the brand somehow. When you see it on an image, know that the brush stroke symbolizes a couple of things…

          First, it’s symbolic of my own creative journey as a mother - finding myself outside of being a mom, and developing my love of painting.

          But mostly, it symbolizes you, friend. It’s a nod to your part in all this- taking what I give you and making it your own, creating the life you want and making it happen for yourself and for your family.

          I wanted the colors to quiet down and reflect minimalism, and the idea of less better than they were. They used to be happy and cute, but just not right for this space - it was a lot, and I’m not about a lot.

          I wanted muted greys, my signature dusty blush toned down a notch, and the exact navy from the painting.

          Designer Derek nailed it.

          Lastly, we freshened up the fonts to reflect less, to be modern and attractive, and to bring more “happy” to the feel of my new brand.

          Done and done.

           

           

          I feel so invigorated by these new changes, and I hope you do too.

          But here’s what I want you to know, branding aside…

          You can do this. This motherhood thing - it’s dang hard and it will pull your energy from you in ways you didn’t know was possible before you stepped into it.

          But it’s beautiful and humbling and so full of opportunity! I don’t want you to miss that like I did in the beginning of mine.

          This can be so good. And if it's awful - if you're pulling your hair out, constantly cleaning up and getting your kids out of your way so you can "catch up" even though you never do, hear me... 

          It does not have to be that way for one more day! You can make changes that last, that matter.

          It doesn’t have to be so chaotic and overwhelming that you’re counting the minutes til your kids go to bed.

          I want you to have a few days like that here and there (that's normal), not live every day in that place. Because when you live there, you’re not able to pause and really enjoy the gift of this short season of raising babies.

           

           

          Intentional motherhood starts at home.

          Take ownership, get your time + your life back.

          It’s the blink of an eye and then it’s over and they’re gone.

          I’m here to walk with you as we step into purpose, as we grab onto hope, as we ask ourselves the questions -

          Is this necessary?

          Is it helping me live a focused life of purpose?

          Can I let this go?

          I want JOY and less for you, friend. So that you can enjoy MORE of what really matters. That’s what my brand, and everything that falls under it's umbrella is all about.

          A Typical Day in Our House

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          Do you ever wonder what someone else does in different areas of your life? Like how other people deal with tough parenting issues or how other moms structure their day?

          Me too!

          I think it can be really helpful to see how other people do things. Even if the exact system wouldn't work for you, it can be inspiring and helpful in other ways.

          Lately on Instagram (@allie_thatsme) and on the podcast, I've been sharing some things about my schedule, such as: 

          • how I run my business
          • homeschool my four littles
          • fit in some self-care
          • and all the other things I've got going on

          It's been so fun to hear people's feedback and comments! Since it's been asked a bunch, I thought I'd get specific and share a peek into a typical day for our family!

          So keep in mind, this is a typical day.

           
          It's not exactly this way all the time - that would be so boring I'd die, cause I love to be spontaneous!

          OUR TYPICAL DAY

          5:30-6:00

          I usually wake up, slip into my workout clothes, and make coffee.

          I go through my morning ritual and usually follow it up with some pilates.

          7:00

          The kids' alarms go off (they play upstairs if they wake up before this), they make their beds, put their pajamas away, get dressed, and come downstairs. I normally put myself together for the day at this time.

          7:30

          Bella serves breakfast for herself and her brothers (cereal or toast and hardboiled egg, or something similar), they clean up after themselves, then unload the dishwasher (I always run it the night before).

          8:15

          I sit with the kids and we talk, pray over our day, and dive into Language Arts. During this time, sometimes Brian is working in the office, sometimes he's working on a house project.

          9:00

          I head to my office to get some work done, Brian comes in to do math and science with the kids.

          They take breaks as needed. 

          When they're done the older two work on solo work (guitar or reading for Leland, art lesson or reading for Bella) while the younger two play outside.

          12:00

          We eat lunch as a family.

          After we eat, we clean up the kitchen and do a 10-minute pickup around the house. Usually school books need to be put away, the robo vac needs to be run, and things just need to be straightened up.

          After lunch, we might go for a walk to the park near our house, run errands, go out to do something fun, or take a family nap if we need it. On busier weeks, Brian and I might have the kids do separate quiet times while we get a little more work done in the office.

          Sometimes I'll take the kids out alone while Brian stays and gets some editing done (he's the master behind the photos we use for the business and all my videos). Other times we'll pack up and head to Legoland. It just depends on our workload and what's going on that day.

          5:00

          Time to make dinner! Brian and I have assigned nights for who cooks. 

          It is always flexible, though! 

          Usually he cooks two nights a week and I cook three. The other two nights are date night (which means a frozen pizza for the kids and sitter) and the other night is family takeout/game night!

          After we eat dinner and clean up the kitchen, we head into our evening routine - another 10-minute house pickup, Bella wipes the bathrooms down, everyone chips in with what's needed so we can go to bed with a clean house. Plus bath/showers for all the kids.

          8:00

          The younger kids (ages 5 and 3) go to bed.

          The older kids will normally hang out together or read separately. Sometimes they play on the iPad together, watch Blue Planet on Netflix or color and chat. At this time Brian and I are either relaxing on the couch or wrapping up anything that needs us (maybe work or a house project or just talking to each other).

          9:00

          The older kids (ages 9 and 7) go to bed.

          I normally go to bed around 10:00, but it changes depending on the night.


          Allie_Playing_with_Boys_at_Home.jpg

          THAT'S IT!

          I feel like this is super boring but I know I like reading things like this from other people and so many of you were asking me for this, haha! There you have it! :)

          Whenever I share something like this, I get a bunch of emails asking why there's not more time spent on housework and how is my house always so clean on my InstaStory if I don't spend a chunk of time each day maintaining it.

          Mamas always write me saying how overwhelmed they feel and their day is so full of chaos and putting out fires. It breaks my heart! I know how that feels because it absolutely used to be my life!

          Scroll down for info about "Unburdened", The overwhelmed beginner's guide to a simpler motherhood 

          But this is what I'm always telling you beauties - minimalism and simplifying your home and schedule will set you free from that!

          Take action on that ish for yourself, mama by clicking right here and choosing what will help you the most right now...

          Is it time management?

          Decluttering?

          Doing a surface sweep of your entire life?

           

          Get straightforward help with what YOU need right now.

          Whatever you need, I got you and I want you to know there is so much hope!

           

          Love sharing with you all and I hope this is a fun read!


          “Hey mama!

          Do you feel like a simplified day is totally undoable for you?

          I’ve been there!

          LET ME HELP YOU GET UNBURDENED AND START THRIVING!

          This small, straightforward course is everything for the mom who feels like she needs a total overhaul, but is too overwhelmed to start. 

          SIMPLIFY THE THINGS THAT HAVE YOU STUCK

          AND LEAVE SURVIVAL MODE BEHIND. 

          Our Minimalist Homeschool Room

          Why we chose to turn the loft into the school room

          When we moved into this house, the upstairs loft jumped out at me right away.

          I’m of the mindset that you can homeschool anywhere, without a designated “school room”, but if you have the space for it, it definitely makes things easier!

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          Even with a school room, we still sometimes find ourselves learning fractions at the dining room table and going over Egyptian civilization at the kitchen island while I make lunch. However, I love having a separate space just for learning and storing our curricula.

          Homeschooling is messy, and I like that the mess is segregated from the rest of the house most days.


          What’s in the room & how we use it

          The first thing I did when we moved in was look up the different options for desks. We have four kids, and while only three of them are actively being homeschooled (Emmett is only three so he mainly just tags along), it’s a lot of bodies in a small room at once.

          I didn’t want the room to feel cramped or for our set up to be inconvenient.
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          I’m not new to homeschooling, so that helped me have a sense of what would and would not work for us in terms of this school space.

          I decided to ditch all the Pinterest images I was saving and do my own thing - a dining room table is what we really needed in here. This would give us lots of space for everyone to sprawl out with their books, and it would be easy for me to move around and go from kid to kid.

          We got this super modern table from IKEA, and as fate would have it, it was previously purchased, put together, then returned without a scratch on it by another person, so we got the last one for 50% off and didn’t have to assemble it. #winning

          The chairs are a collection of what we already had (but didn’t want to use at our actual dining table) and they’re comfy to sit in so this worked out perfectly too!

          We use The Good & The Beautiful curriculum, and one of their main selling points is that there aren’t 100 books per subject - their design is very minimal, which I of course love. I knew we wouldn’t need a ton of shelving and storage, but definitely some!

          One shelving unit is plenty for us, and we could even do with less space here, which surprises me with four kids!

          We keep our Legos in the school room for a couple of reasons. First of all, it worked out in terms of space.

          Also, all four of my kids play with the Legos, so it made sense to put them in a shared space rather one of the kids' rooms. 

          We store Legos separately from their other toys (which are in a toy bin in the boys' shared room) and we also use Legos for school on a regular basis. It just made sense to store them in this room.

          We use the bins to hold segregated Ziplock bags of Legos. Leland likes order, so he’s usually pretty good at keeping the Legos separated by color, but it’s not perfect and I’m not picky.

          As long as they’re off the ground and out of my way, I don’t care.

          Legos are so valuable for learning and so good for the kids’ constructive play, I think they’re worth the mess they make.

          Besides, a little mess is good for you, and raising kids is messy! If you're analytic about every little thing being perfectly organized, you'll probably end up miserable and not too much fun to be around!


          How we keep supplies at bay

          It is so easy to become overcluttered with homeschool supplies! So many times I find myself excusing myself to keep junk because we “might need in one day”, which I normally don’t struggle with!

          I have to check myself and let that ish go.

          Homeschooling is awesome but also unpredictable, so it can make you feel like you need to hang on to stuff all the time, but that’s not true.

          If you need help with this, read this blog post.

          Our homeschool supplies are what we need, and nothing else. I feel like we’ve struck a really good balance with where we’re at.

          Currently, our homeschool practice itself is incredibly minimal and “bare bones”.

          What I mean by that is that we aren’t doing a lot of extra stuff. We are in a very full season of adoption prep, business growth, and focusing on extracurricular activies rather than extra homeschool activities (things that go beyond the main subjects).

          Our supplies reflect the season we’re in.

          Someday we’ll do way more art and new languages and science experiments that will cause our supply stock to grow a bit, and we’ll adjust, but for now it’s super basic.

          Do you homeschool? What do you love or hate about your homeschool space? Share with me in the comments!


          Want to know where we got something you see here? I gotchoo, girl. 

          Our homeschool table: IKEA

          Leather chairs: IKEA

          Rug: IKEA

          White book shelf: Target (similar one here)

          Lego cart: Target (wheels purchased separately) (similar one here)

          Lego bins: Target (similar ones here)

          "MAPS" book: Amazon

          Panda bear head: Target

          Black macrame: Target

          Cactus art: By Bella :)

          "Seek adventure" and other decor on that wall: Target

          All frames: Target

          Bean bag: Target (similar one here)

          Curtains: IKEA (couldn't find the link! Looks like they've discontinued them)

          Pencil holder: Nake Berkus for Target

          (Some of these links may be affiliate ones.)

           


          How We Use Sundays to Hit Reset + Prepare for the Week

          I love Sundays so much. Sunday is the day our family rests and recharges.  It’s the day we set ourselves up for success before the new week begins.

          Every Sunday morning I wake up early, have a cup of coffee, read whatever book I’m currently digesting, and let the kids pour themselves cereal. We take our time, we talk and listen to acoustic music, they play in the backyard while I read more and Brian makes avocado toast for the two of us. Sunday mornings are my favorite.

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          As a mama with a fairly large family, Sundays are more than just restorative - they’re a key part of running my household. It’s important that I look ahead at the coming week and prepare. I want to wake up on Monday and know that my fridge is stocked, my work is pre-planned, my homeschool lessons are laid out, and I am ready to be intentional and show up for my role. Sundays are huge for us!

          Since I’ve been getting questions about our Sundays every week on Instagram (I use my InstaStory as a vlog, so people see what I’m doing most days), I thought I’d take some time to share a written version of what a typical Sunday in our house looks like. I know I get inspired reading things like this from other people, so I hope it does the same for someone reading this!


          A Typical Sunday

          After our leisurely morning, we clean up and head upstairs to get ready for church.

          After church, we usually go out to lunch with friends and then grocery shopping.

          Once we get home, everybody helps clean out the cupboard and fridge of anything that’s gone bad. We wipe it all down and make way for the new food. I prep our food before storing it away to save myself time during the busyness of the week.

          I like to set the tone for a quiet day of resetting even as I’m working to prepare for the week by playing music and diffusing oils while I slice berries and the kids help Brian carry in groceries and prep the fridge.

          The rest of the day is usually lazy and peaceful. Maybe we’ll play board games or take a nap. Maybe Brian and I will Netflix it up while the kids play in the backyard. 

          Later, after dinner’s been eaten, it’s clean up time. We all help clean up the house, start the week with a sparkling kitchen, wrap up any laundry that’s been abandoned in the washing machine, put clothes away, run our robo vacuum, basically just our normal nightly routine. The kids are included in the clean up too (bath time, yo).

          Once we’re done, the younger ones go to bed and our two older kids hang out in Bella’s room with books or toys and quietly play til they’re bedtime. This is the time when Brian and I have our weekly “meeting”. We love our Sunday night meetings!

          We pour some wine, snuggle up, and look at what’s coming this week.

           

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          Here are some of the things Brian and I cover during our Sunday night meetings:

          What’s happening this coming week?

          What does he need & how can I help him?

          What do I need & how can he help me?

          What’s going on with the business?

          What’s going on with the kids schooling & acitivities?

          Are there any phone calls that need to be made or emails that need to be sent?

          When will we need to drive separate and tag team stuff?

          When will we have quality family time?

          Where do we want to go for our weekly date night?

          What is he worried about?

          What am I worried about?

          It’s important to us that we are on the same page before life happens. I think this is one huge thing that really helps us respond to our life rather than reacting to it out of stress.

          And that’s pretty much our Sundays!

          Why This All Started

          A few years ago, God really laid Proverbs 29:18 on my heart when I was seeking ways to get organized and run our family with intention.

          Where there is no vision the people perish.
          — Proverbs 29:18

          Our Sundays (among lots of other things) were born out of my conviction from that verse.

          Think about it - even if you’re not “of faith”, if you don’t look ahead and get some vision for where you’re headed, you’re going to flounder and probably fail, or at least struggle a lot. If we can avoid hardship, stress, tension, and a week full of yelling parents losing their minds, why wouldn’t we?

          If you feel like your life is happening to your family and you'd like to pull it together, I totally get it and have been there. And you know what? I'll get there again. Because life is crazy and things ebb and flow and with that, you have to adjust. But I would encourage you to try choosing one day a week, even if it's not Sundays, to look ahead, plan a little, and prepare. 

          You can do it, mama! I'm rooting for you!

          Tools I use to plan our week:

          Simplified Planner from Emily Ley

          Google calendar

          Asana

           

           


           

           

          The Right Way to Have A "No Gifts" Birthday Party

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          There are a few questions that make their way into my inbox on a near-daily basis.

          “How do you handle gifts for birthdays?” is definitely one of them!

          And I totally get it.

          You’re trying to simplify, you’re letting go of all kinds of junk that made its way into your home quietly and sneakily, and here comes a birthday party. More clutter on its way posthaste.

          What do you do?

          You don’t want to undo all your hard work, but you also don’t want to deal with push-back from relatives who want to give your kid gifts.

          Don’t stress out! I’m gonna go over how I handle gifts and a couple other options that would work too. As my girl Marie Forleo says, everything is figureoutable :)

          In this post, I’m specifically talking about birthdays. If you’re finding this post around the holidays and would like help with that specifically, click here.


          HOW I [USUALLY] DO BIRTHDAYS

          I don’t usually do “no gifts” for my kids’ parties, although I like the idea and see why people do it. We did it one time for Hudson’s first birthday, but I’ll get into that in a minute.

          What we normally do is one of two things:

          1. Celebrate without a traditional birthday party (go somewhere awesome or go out for a nice dinner and dessert)

            OR

          2. Have a traditional party, get gifts, smile and be grateful.

          I’m not super strict when it comes to people getting my kids presents. I think it’s nice and my kids love it. Most people ask what the birthday kid wants, and I take advantage of that and tell them!

          Bella is really into using charcoal to create art right now. If you got her a nice charcoal art set or a new easel, she would be ecstatic!

          It’s not rude, it’s honest. It’s also helpful for both parties when you come forward and answer this question. Now they don’t have to play guessing games and worry about wasting their money on junk your kid won’t care about, and you can rest easy knowing the new “clutter” coming into your home will at least be loved and used by your kid.

          Sometimes I do a registry on Amazon or at Target and give it to people when they ask. That’s always super clear and helpful.

          We have regular toy purges throughout the year (we try to do them seasonally), so I can relax and know that a few times a year, any toys that aren’t getting played with will get donated and out of my hair. So who really cares if we get some new ones for a birthday party?

          My kids have been raised on minimalism and are very used to our lifestyle of simple. Their toys and getting them to let go of things isn’t a point of stress for me.

          Side note: with consistency and practicing what you preach, your family will get to this point too!


          Hosting A Party?

          Ever wonder what to do with all that stuff leftover from hosting a party? Let's talk about what I keep and what I don't keep after I host a party.   

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          THE TIME WE DID NO GIFTS

          When we passed on gifts for Hudson’s first birthday, it was mainly because it alleviated stress during that period of our lives. We had just moved into a new house and were going through a miscarriage, and Hudson was way too young to miss his presents (or even know that his party was about him).

          On our invitation, we simply said “no gifts please!” and asked friends to please consider bringing a gift to donate to a local children’s hospital instead. At the party, we had an empty box for donations in lieu of a gift table.

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          I might do “no gifts” again in the future - I have nothing against the idea - it’s the attitude behind it sometimes that I think is wrong.

          I see a lot of moms coming at this with an almost aggressive attitude - seemingly angry that loved ones want to give their kids presents.

          I’m of the mindset that it’s incredibly narcissistic to expect everyone else to get on the same page as you.

          Sure, it’s your kid, your home, and your family’s party (and that’s why you can have boundaries and do whatever you want to do), but do you have to be a jerk about it? Not really.

          I like letting people bless my kids - it makes them happy, it makes my kids happy, and like I said, it’s not like it’s causing me a ton of extra stress.

          My kids like gifts, and I don’t feel particularly compelled to get super minimal here. Also, I’m minimal in most other areas of my life, so I don’t feel like I need to get crazy with this.

          Plus it’s a chance for me to have the kids practice gratitude and writing with their thank you notes, which I really like.

          I also feel very strongly that I never want my kids to look back on our simple lifestyle and hate it or become hoarders. I’m careful about not creating a joyless life of deprivation. Most of the time, there’s no real reason to pass on gifts, so why do it? That’s where I’ve landed :)


          Want to get totally uncluttered?

           Your Uncluttered Home is my signature e-course, designed by me for overwhelmed moms who are sick and tired of cleaning up all the time. 

          Stop picking up after the life you'd rather be living. 

          Your_Uncluttered_Home_Promo_Facebook_Ad_2.png

          WHY YOU MAY WANT TO SAY “NO GIFTS PLEASE”

          >> If you’re new-ish to minimalism and your kids are not like mine are now (you’re worried they’ll get new things and never let them go).

          >> If you’ve got a relative who goes completely out of control and you feel passing on gifts as a whole will solve this problem.

          >> If the thought of more stuff truly stresses you out and is coming at a bad time for your family (like a super hard season where you can’t even handle one more thing - like I was during the move and miscarriage).

          >> Because you can do what you want and you just don’t want to deal with gifts. Maybe toys is an area you’re choosing to really simplify so you can feel freer in other areas of your life. That’s your perogative, mama! You do you!

          HOW TO DO THE “NO GIFTS” THING WITHOUT BEING RUDE/ANNOYING/HURTFUL

          You’re not an awful person for wanting to say “no thanks” to people’s gifts, it’s just that it’s really easy to come off that way. Ultimately, you’re the mother of your kids and it’s your call.

          In fact, there are perks for your guests when you say “no gifts” on your child’s party invite. For one thing, you never know who’s struggling financially, and toys ain’t cheap! Lots of people will feel the sweet waves of relief when they read your party invitation - one less thing on their to do list!

          No gifts at parties can feel really annoying, rude, ungrateful, and steal joy from family and friends who want to love your kids. I DO think there’s a way to do “no gifts” parties right though!

          1. Don’t have a party.

          Do something with your kid instead. No party usually means no gifts. You might get a few straggler gifts from super close relatives who go out of their way to bring your child a present or two, but that is far less than you’d get with a party!

          2. Have the party, and say simply on the invitation “no gifts please”.

          That’s it. You don’t have to explain yourself or say anything more.

          If Grandma calls hysterical, have the conversation with her about your reasons and how you feel. You can decide if you’d like to tell her she can bring a gift and give it to Sally aside from the other guests or not.

          Personally, I have seen people make a fuss and use their love for your child as an excuse to be the favorite relative and show up with an outpouring of clutter. Set your boundaries where YOU feel they should be, and stick with them!

          You could also ask for an experience gift from relatives who just can’t deal with this sentence on your invite. Say something like, “look, we’ve really been wanting a zoo pass. If you really want to get something, that would be incredible.”

          Bella_and_Leo_at_Disneyland.jpg

          Sometimes we overthink things and feel like it has to be a big deal. It doesn’t. You can simply say “no gifts” and let that be that. How other people respond isn’t something you have to let stress you out.

          No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
          — Eleanor Roosevelt

          Do you have a creative solution for birthday party gifts? Share in the comments!

          Keeping Intimacy Alive & Well When You Have 1,000 Kids

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          When it comes to intimacy, people usually jump right to sex. Obviously, intimacy has a lot to do with sex. And it can lead to that but, in my opinion, intimacy is more about being close. Liking each other and wanting to spend time with each other - that’s what intimacy means to me.

          Brian and I are close, and I share that with my followers on social media. So I get asked a lot, “How do we keep intimacy and closeness alive, even when we have one thousand children?”

          It’s time to stop putting intimacy on the back burner, leaving room for it to occur only after the kids are in bed. You absolutely MUST keep that fire burning ALL. DAY. LONG! You want to be excited to spend that time together once the kids are asleep.

          So, let’s dive in mamas!

          1. Get the overly romanticized, intimate relationship out of your head!

          It is so easy to have super high expectations that the time you’re going to spend with your husband is going to be SO romantic. That your husband is going to want to open up and share all these things with you. But maybe he had a day from hell, and he may have no clue what you want.

          Rather than setting yourself up for failure and probably an argument, get out of your head. Let go of your expectations and this overly romantic view of how time should be spent with your husband, and just enjoy the time you have.

          2. Communicate throughout the day.

          Don’t complicate it, yo!

          It doesn’t have to be face to face communication. It can be texting or sharing something that’s funny, or just making the time to call during a lunch break. You want to keep that closeness, so that it feels like you are there with one another throughout the day.

          Brian and I feel like we have better days when we actually take the time to connect, especially when it’s a date night. When you’ve been chatting on and off all day, you kind of feel like the pressure’s off, and you can just enjoy your time together.

          3. Make time for each other.

          Life. Gets. Busy. That’s why you need to make your relationship a priority. Trust me, if you get to the end of the week and haven’t done anything with each other, you’re going to feel disconnected.

          Make the time to connect, to share, to talk about the day or the things that are going on. Take time to just decompress without the kids.

          This can be really helpful for those who have spouses who work outside the home. You’ll both know that you get to stop working, the kids will be asleep and you’ll be able to do something together.

          One of mine and Brian’s favorite things to do is sit down on the couch, after the kids are in bed and we’ve cleaned up a bit, have a snack and watch some shows on Netflix. It just feels so good to connect this way!

          4. Be OK with scheduled intimacy.

          It’s not unromantic or anti-spontaneous OR unhealthy to schedule in time for sex or just alone time. It’s actually really romantic because it shows that you’re prioritizing each other enough to let it hold space on the calendar.

          Brian and I have date night scheduled once a week. We’re in the season of being able to leave the house and go out on date nights every single week. It hasn’t always been like that, though. There were times when I’d have to do some work after the kids were in bed, and it always felt off and weird if we didn’t spend that time together.

          You need to make it work for you. If you have to take some time in the middle of the day, if that’s when the kids have their quiet time and your spouse is home, use it to veg out together and hit reset. (It’s always worth it!)

          5. Be friends.

          Ever since Brian and I met, we’ve been friends, and have developed into best friends. There are so many things we can do together because we like a lot of the same things. At the same time, there are times when we don’t like the same things, or don’t really care what the other person is talking about.

          But how would a friend act? You need to take a step outside of the marital aspect and ask yourself, “What would a friend do?”

          They might hang out together or listen to one another. You have to be respectful of each other. I think when people get married, they get way too comfortable and end up being really rude. If it were your friend and not your husband, you’d never say, “I literally don’t give two craps about what you’re talking about right now, and I want to talk about me.”

          So, listen to each other, schedule time to be together, doing whatever you love to do.

          Tips for Scheduling More Intimacy into Your Day-to-Day Life

          1. Put your kids in their place. Your relationship with each other is the number one priority. You came together, married, started a life together, and the kids came after that. Your closeness and relationship is first! Set the kids up with an activity, and then take that time to spend together!

          2. Choose a time of day that works best for both of you. Your time together doesn’t always have to be at night. When Brian worked outside the home, we’d start our day together because he didn’t need to start until noon. We’d feed the kids, get them set up with their school work, and then find a quiet spot in the house to have coffee together and talk.

          3. Couch time! This is time before the kids head to bed. This ties into the first tip: putting your kids secondary to your relationship. This is comforting and healthy for the kids to see that their parents prioritize each other. After dinner, just sit on the couch together and talk while the kids play. Don’t allow them to interrupt you unless there’s an emergency or somebody’s bleeding to death or something.

          4. Choose a time once a week for prolonged time together. Make it an actual purposeful date. This will look different for every couple, depending on each budget and the season of life, but just set time aside to be together.

          5. Communicate that your goal is to be closer to your spouse. Don’t come at this from a combative spot by saying something like “We never do anything.” It can almost feel like you’re saying, “You suck.” Try something more like, “I want to be closer to you, really bad. How can we do that?” Then, talk about what you’d each like to do, and agree on something realistic that you can both look forward to.

          Alright, friends. I hope you find this super useful! I hope it answered all of your questions and inspires you guys to open the door to an awesome February that’s going to be full of love and intimacy in marriage.

          Why A Family Mission Statement Is So Important

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          Prefer to listen to this post? I totally get it. Just click play + I am happy to read it to you while you knock out those dishes or drive the road to preschool pickup!


          A family mission statement may sound a little corny to some, but it can be paramount in creating the life you love with the people you love. A family mission statement is just that- a statement that encapsulates your priorities and goals as a household. It is a great way to lay the groundwork for what your purpose is as a family, what you stand for and what you won’t tolerate.

          As a parent, things can get tricky as your kids get older. But through it all if you have something solid in place, you can go back and compare the behaviors you’re experiencing to what you’ve laid out in your mission statement.

          You can ask yourself questions like, “While we really believe in this, does this align with what we believe, or where we want to go as a family? How would we like this to end up?”

          This is the legacy that we want to leave behind as people and as parents.

          Everyone ends up somewhere, few arrive somewhere on purpose.
          — Lara Casey

          Your family is going to be raised, your kids are going to grow, they’re going to become adults, and your life will continue to go by whether you do anything about it or not. So, why not choose to be intentional and purposeful? Choose to intentionally strive for where you would like to end up.

          When I think of motherhood, Proverbs, 29:18, really holds a lot of weight for me:

          Where there is no vision the people perish.
          — Proverbs 29:18

          Parenting is messy and just gets messier as the kids get older, so if you don’t know what you want to do or where you’re going, you’re going to fail.

          This is also true in business, if you don’t know where you’re going and what you want, if you don’t set any goals, you’re not looking at them and striving for them. You’re probably going to fail because you don’t know where you’re going.

          Mama, it’s time to sit down with your spouse and write out your family mission statement. It’s really important, and it’s a great excuse to have an amazing conversation with your spouse.

          You’ll want to figure out what exactly you want to do with your family. What mark and legacy do you want to leave on the world from raising them?

          It’s not little. It’s not light. It’s heavy and it matters.

          This is one area that I believe is really beneficial and important to be intentional about.

          I want to share something with you that I haven’t shared in any other place other than in one of my courses -  our family mission statement. It’s something that Brian and I have agreed on. It’s gone through some ebb and flow, and a couple things have changed, but it pretty much has always been the same.

          He and I like it. I’m going to share it with you, just to give you an idea, because I think people are afraid to share and be vulnerable. I get it. As an influencer, you’re susceptible to people’s opinions and comments about everything you share. But, I do think that example is one of the best ways we can learn.

          This isn’t about having control. It’s not about playing God. It’s about saying “I’m alive, I’m a mother, I’m a wife, I’m a human being raising other human beings, I have contributed to society by having a family, and these people are going to grow up to be adults.” They’re going to be out there interacting in society, and that’s heavy.  I don’t want to just wing it. I want to be intentional.

          I want to be intentional and say exactly what we believe and where we are headed as a family.

          Our family mission statement:

          In our family, we love God and serve people. We are loving, gracious, respectful and accepting, never hateful. We choose kindness, joy, faith, and love. We value curiosity, imaginations that run wild, knowledge, adventure, and each other. We take responsibility for our actions. We pull our weight at home and always offer to help one another. We communicate freely, with kindness and without fear or timidity because our family is a safe space for sharing. We give to the needy, look after others, and stay humble. We have fun together, stay grateful, laugh, hug, and protect each other. We choose collaboration over competition, and cheer each other on any chance we get. Above all else, we love deeply - both within our family and out in the world, because all people are God’s people.

          I think writing out a family mission statement might seem unnecessary. You may write it and forget about it. But I have not found that to be true. I don’t do anything to remind myself or our family of the mission statement.  It’s just written down, but we always remember.

          We’ve had it on an index card, and on our fridge for a long time. Brian and I took the time together to write it out, and then we share it with our kids. They are really excited about it, and like it too!

          Steps for Writing Your Family Mission Statement

          1. Grab a journal and jot down your priorities.

          2. Ask yourself what your core values are and what things you value as a family.

          3. Additional questions that you can ask yourself: What mark do you want to leave on the world? What do you want to raise your kids to believe and be and do and think? How do you want them to act? What do you want to impart on them?

          4. If you feel stuck, look up other examples online, copy ours exactly, whatever you want.

          5. Make sure it lines up with your goals, priorities, mission, passion, purpose and what you feel you’re here to do as a mother and with your family.

          6. Write it out and put it where you can see it, so that you’re reminded constantly of the core value of your priorities.

          7. Share it with your kids, and start holding each other accountable for being a purposeful family.

          Remember, friends, where there is no vision, the people perish. Whether you have faith or not, that is really powerful - get to work creating your family mission statement.

          I would love it if you create a mission statement, if you feel called, to snap a pic and tag me on Instagram. I would love to see what you and your family come up with.


          Words matter. 

          Know someone who could use a little encouragement? Grab a print from my shop.

           

          You Don't Come This Far - Allie Casazza


           

           

           

          How My Blog Got My Husband Out Of His 9 To 5

          Brian_Allie_Cheek_Kiss.jpg
           
           

          Prefer to listen to this post? I totally get it. Just click play + I am happy to read it to you while you knock out those dishes or drive the road to preschool pickup!


          One of my most frequently asked questions is: How was I able to get my husband out of his 9 to 5? But answering that is very difficult for me to share. There’s just so much that goes into it.

          I'm opening the door for the first time on a very vulnerable, difficult, at times embarrassing, and then exciting part of our story. I needed to get to a certain place in my life, and in my heart, before I felt ready to really open up and share. I’ve been feeling, for a few months, that I’m getting there and now it’s finally time.

          I'm taking deep breaths here, guys. Here we go.

          So, a little bit of a disclaimer, before I start…

          I’m not going to give very specific numbers, just because this is not a business blog and it doesn’t really matter. I have friends and family who read my posts, and money changes relationships, and it can sometimes be negative. So, while I think maybe one day we’ll get there and share certain things because I do think that the specific numbers add to the power of this story, I am not going to tell you everything in that regard here in this post.

          I do think that an aspect of this, and this whole story, can help somebody who wants this lifestyle and who’s maybe on the verge of making a change and pursuing their dreams.

          The second disclaimer before I begin to tell my story is...

          This is NOT luck.

          I think when there’s any aspect of fame or a spotlight in something, people think that you got there because you’re lucky - because you were chosen. 

          THIS is the life that you were chosen for. I believe that God has plans, that he has a purpose for each and every person, but I also believe that you can make choices that cause you to miss it.

          I said YES to this. I worked for this. I planned for it. I put in the hours, by getting up at 3:30 or 4:00 in the morning so I could work on growing my business before Brian left for work. I followed God’s lead and I did the work. It was simply an issue of timing.

          Our Story

          Let me start by sharing a little bit about where we came from and how our life was before.

          Brian and I met in junior high school, and were in the same circle of friends throughout high school and throughout our lives. We were never super close until senior year, when we started hanging out more. I started to really like him. I was attracted to his humility and his character, and he was just really sweet.

          Want to hear the cheesiest story ever?

          We ended up going to senior prom together, kind of a last minute thing. It was the day before the actual dance, when he asked me to go with him. Just as friends, because neither of us had dates (I’d actually just broken up with the only other person I had dated), so it was kind of a weird point for me.

          Brian wasn’t supposed to go either, but at the last minute he was able to because the school band had canceled their event so that everyone could go to prom. He asked me, and I said yes!

           Awwwww!

          Awwwww!

          From there, we just kind of clicked, realizing we were right in front of each other for years, started dating, and got married about two years later.

          About eight months into our marriage we found out we were pregnant with Bella. Which was a surprise, because as a teen, doctors had told me that I may not be able to get pregnant, or that a pregnancy could be very difficult. We found out that was not the case, were thrilled, and just started having our family.

          Old Pic of Brian and Allie.jpg

          Brian landed a job doing cable and internet installation. He’d go into businesses and homes and install services like that for a very large company.

          It was a very good day when he got that job!

          That was September of 2009, so it was a long time ago! This job was supposed to be 8:30 am to 4:00 pm, but it definitely wasn’t. There was forced overtime, but we were grateful for it because we needed it. We couldn’t get by very well on the normal hours' pay. So he would work overtime and take other people’s shifts too.

          He was working about six days a week with twelve to fourteen hour days. Every once in a while he’d get two days off, but we would always suffer for it by not having enough money to pay all of the bills.

          There was a constant pressure on us to make money. Not because we wanted a ton of it, because we never had enough of it. 

          We were in total agreement that we wanted me to be at home with the kids, though. Especially while we were having babies. I was content to be a stay-at-home mom - I loved it. I had a hard time with it for sure, but I did love it and knew it was where I was supposed to be. Brian always agreed, and any time I felt like I should go out and do something to contribute, he would quickly disagree and remind me how much he loved that I was at home with our kids. It was just how things were supposed to be in that season, and we could tell by the peace we both felt despite difficult circumstances. 

          Our life, having our kids and living in Southern California was very difficult.

          brian and allie old.jpg

          There were a lot of scary nights. We had cars repossessed, and a lot of traumatic experiences because of money. We scraped by, made things work, and worked very hard together to make that happen. My part was the budgeting - making sure we didn’t spend too much.

          That was our life. I'm very, very much just grazing the surface, but I wanted to give you some background so that I can get to the point. But, it was very difficult and dark.

          We’d always talked about moving out of state, because California’s one of the most expensive places to live, especially Southern California. But, our whole family and all of our friends were here. We didn’t really know anyone anywhere else and didn’t really know where we’d move.

          We went to Texas and looked around to try and find if that was where we were supposed to be, and it was almost comical how hard God shut that door in our faces. Like, "this is NOT where I want you!" So, we obviously didn’t move there.

          During this time, when Emmett was a few months old, we really began to feel led out of California, more so than ever before. It was the kind of thing where you know God’s pulling you do to something, and you can’t get away from it. It’s that undeniable force, or tug, on your heart to do something.

          We couldn’t really afford to go out and look anywhere. We'd used any excess money that we had to go to Texas.

          We started talking to God, asking him to make it really obvious where he wanted us to end up. It was obvious to us that He would have to move and make it happen for us. We couldn't afford to do anything. 

          We looked at North Carolina and other parts of Texas. We looked at Oregon and Colorado and places like that. Nothing felt right.

          Long story short, of all the places in the country, Arkansas made its way into our lives. At first we were really resistant to moving there. My great-grandfather and my grandmother are from there, so I knew a little bit about it, and this particular area that he was from was not good.

          But, then a job opened up in a town called Fayetteville. For those of you who don’t know, it’s in Northwest Arkansas, and it’s a neat little city. Very trendy and cute! It's college town, up near the Ozark Mountains, and it’s just very beautiful.

          We decided we’d look into it because it kept popping up and they kept contacting us, telling us that they’d transfer Brian right away. We researched and fell in love with it online. We prayed about it for a week, and just felt like this was it.

          So we said YES!

          Maybe a month passed (it was a very fast process), and we were saying goodbye to our heartbroken family members.

          The only reason we were able to move was because we got two thousand dollars back from our rental deposit we had put down when we moved in. Seriously, we would not have been able to go without that. We were walking by faith that God would provide what we needed right up till move-out day. And of course, He did. 

          We got rid of everything and had the tiniest little trailer attached to our minivan as we road tripped across the country. We were moving for a better life.

           Right when we arrived at our condo in Arkansas after a 30+ hour road trip!

          Right when we arrived at our condo in Arkansas after a 30+ hour road trip!

          The job that Brian was moving for was the same job that he had in Southern California, but because of the lower cost of living, even with a little bit of a pay decrease, it worked out to be more money each month. It was also supposed to be better hours, and no mandatory overtime. Our hope was to not be stretched so thin, and we’d have Brian home more.

          Our goal has always been to be together. I’ve shared a little of this in the past, but Brian and I really like each other. We have a friendship marriage, we WANT to be together. We had this really unique conviction on both of our hearts to be together and have some kind of life where we were together a lot, if not all the time, raising the kids together.

          It was weird because people would tell us, “That’s just a dream, you need to let go of that. You have to work hard and you have to work away at a job to make money. You go to work and that’s it.” We understood that, and we were doing that, but for some reason we couldn’t quite shake this dream of just wanting to be together, wanting to raise our kids together, and spend the bulk of our days together at home.

          We always had this in the back of our minds, but we never thought it was really possible. But we thought this might be close. THIS was at least more time at home together, and so we pursued it even as leaving our loved ones broke our hearts. 

          When we got to Arkansas, we were very quickly met with the hard reality that this was NOT what we were promised by the company. 

          The pay was a good chunk of dollars less per hour than we were promised. It was basically a lie. The pay was not what they had said and the hours were different.

          Our life got dramatically worse.

           Our family in California, who we missed so much.

          Our family in California, who we missed so much.

          Not only did it get worse, but now we were away from everybody that we knew and loved. I can’t tell you how difficult it was for me and my faith. My faith has never been shaken like it was in those first few months in the Northwest Arkansas area. It was very, very difficult. For a certain amount of time, I completely stopped talking to God.

          I was so angry and hurt that He would lead us out here, away from everybody, for THIS. It didn’t make sense. I didn’t understand, and it was very difficult for me.

          It was January and it was frigid freezing for me because, you know, I’m a So-Cal girl. I was standing outside letting the kids get some energy out because they were so cooped up from being indoors all the time. Brian called me from work and said, "I just wanted you to know I found out that in Southern California all of the offices for my company are taking away hours. People are losing their homes, they can't pay their bills, and they're losing their cars."

          We were already so close to barely making ends meet, that if that had happened to us, we would have lost everything.

          I realized that maybe that’s why God moved us out here. I remember praying and apologizing to the Lord. Asking him to help me be grateful for Him saving us from that,  and asking, “But is this really what you want for us? This life? We’re still barely getting by. We missed this difficult time in California, but is this really what you want for us?”

          I’ll never forget where I was standing that day in the park. I can see it in my head right now. I felt Him just come over me and say, “No. There’s something coming, and I need you to not move away from me. I need you to be close to me and talk to me so that you’re open to receive it when I’m ready to reveal it to you.”

          That gave me a little bit of hope!

          During the move to Arkansas, I started to focus on the blog I’d had since Leland was born. Moving away from my family, I decided to really throw myself into it because I didn’t have anyone.

          I started to fall deeper in love with not just blogging, but with helping other women through my story and my experiences, with minimalism and simplifying.

          My audience had grown by a few hundred, it was still very small, nothing like it is now, but it felt big to me at the time and I was really starting to like what I was doing.

          After that day in the park, I was sitting with Brian, and we were panicking because we were going to have to leave our condo. We couldn’t afford to stay.  We were not making our very low rent every month because of what had happened with Brian’s job.

          We were just talking, but I kept bringing up how much I loved blogging, and how I wished I could turn it into a business from home.

          I was raised by two very successful entrepreneurs and I’ve always had the entrepreneurial spirit and drive in me. I was sitting with Brian, and we decided to start looking things up. Brian ended up finding Femtrepreneur, a blog all about turning your blog into a business.

          I plummeted into this season of googling and learning everything about marketing and being an online entrepreneur, creating courses and growing a very successful business from your blog. I spent all of my late night and early morning time googling and reading and researching and watching YouTube videos.

          I created new Audible accounts with old email addresses so that I could get free audio books (they give you a free book credit if you sign up with a new account. I know, humbling) and learn all about marketing and running a business.

          I ran straight ahead, full force. 

          I had this feeling that this is what God was telling me about. THIS is what he wanted me to pursue.

          This became a way to not only contribute to our family income, but also to start getting my message out louder and bigger.

          I knew I wanted to grow my blog, and it had always been a frustration point of mine because I just couldn’t seem to grow beyond a few hundred people.

          I knew that if I started doing these webinars that I was learning about - these online classes - and inviting people to share and tell their friends about my blog and my message, it would help me grow.

          So, the one thing that was really complicated and very new at the time were webinars, online classes like this one. Femtrepreneur had a course on how to do webinars, so I borrowed five hundred dollars from my dad to buy this course. I've never asked my parents for money and it was awful, but I knew I needed saome kind of small bit of help. I knew I would make it. Failure wasn't an option. 

          Once I learned how to do that, I just started. I didn’t have a microphone. I was using an old Toshiba laptop that had a fan and would make sounds to cool off and you could hear it in my recordings - it was so bad! But I had to use what we had because we couldn’t afford anything else.

          Then, I started opening up and being more vulnerable, and helping other women. Slowly, my audience began to grow, and these women began to ask me for something more, something deeper, something where all the things that I was teaching them and helping them with was consolidated.

          This is what would end up becoming my course, Your Uncluttered Home.

          YUH promo_slide size.png

          I went right to work, starting to create this thing they were asking for. I would ask them questions and get their feedback, and then began outlining this course and realizing it was going to be the thing that I’d sell on my blog.

          I didn’t want to pour all this time into this thing and then launch it and have nobody buy it, so I pre-sold it. I started to do webinars and pre-sell the course at the end of the webinars to make sure that people who were saying they wanted this would actually put their money where their mouths were.

          From that pre-sale launch, I made more money than Brian made per month. It wasn’t a lot, but it was a lot for us, and it was enough to get us feeling confident that this was a solid idea and really worth pursuing.

          I was learning how to do everything myself, like coding and website building, because I couldn’t afford to hire anybody to do anything for me.

          I was a machine!

          I had this drive in me that wouldn’t die. I was setting my alarm for 3:30 or 4:00 in the morning, every morning, and working for hours before Brian would leave for work. I’d work when the kids were napping, and then get them busy and work more. I'd make dinner, and work at night, stay up late and work even more. It was like I didn’t need sleep, I was on fire and was pursuing this dream.

          I will NEVER forget that season of my life. It was when I became an entrepreneur!

          After a few months we hit a wall. I was growing, I was working my butt off, but we were seeing almost no financial benefits yet. I had already pre-sold my course to my audience and that was kind of it. I had sold to a good percentage of who was following me, and in the online business world, I'd sold way more than is "standard" in the industry. 

          My focus then switched from selling my course to growing my following, reaching even more women. But to do that, I needed more time to spend on this thing. 

          I remember seeing some other very popular bloggers be able to bring their husbands home from their corporate jobs, and I really wanted that. We decided that I was going to be able to bring Brian home from his job, and we were going to work together. It became really exciting!

          But God very firmly and quickly let me know that making the money we needed AND THEN bringing Brian home was not going to be my story. He wanted to use our faith to tell a story and make a point to other people someday.

          He made it VERY clear to both of us that he wanted us to leave the safety of Brian’s job before it made sense.

          It was scary. No, it was TERRIFYING.

          What we ended up doing was truly the epitome of a leap of faith. We ended up leaving. It got to the point where I was working so hard, doing everything that I could, but I simply could not do what I needed to do and put the time and effort into this to be a success. And also be at home with the kids. We couldn’t afford help, not even a cheap mommy’s helper or pre-school or anything.

          It got to the point where it was either he had to quit, or I had to quit. Something had to give. I wasn’t the mom that I wanted to be. I was frustrated and yelling and being pulled in all these different ways. I needed help so that I could focus.

          We prayed about it for a couple months. And we’d talk a lot during the day while Brian was at work. What would it look like? What would we do? How long would it take to get the business off the ground?

          And we both felt God's pulling. We knew we needed to do something that would seem ludicrous to everyone around us. 

          It came down to a question from God. Are you going to trust me or not?

          I know it looked crazy and stupid to everyone around us, and I know we scared the crap out of people, but we had confirmation several times from God.

          We knew it was the right move, so Brian went in to the main office one day, and quit.

          And you know what they said to him? "Go home now. Forget the two weeks. You're replaceable."

          Seven years of work and just like that, "bye." This cemented our desire to work for ourselves and build a company where people would love working. 

          Brian came home that same morning and we have never hugged that long or that powerfully ever. It was a very sweet moment that I'll never forget. 

          I love you.jpg

          I began the work of actually creating the course, outlining it, and recording the lessons. I even took a trip to California with a portion of the earnings from my first month making money from the pre-sale so that I could purge some friends’ homes and talk to people who struggled with hoarding.

          I spent five days basically not sleeping and going and purging homes and talking to people who needed help. I wanted to make this course the best it could be!

          I had a drive to change the world and save my family.

           This was where I planned and created Your Uncluttered Home. The post-its were lesson titles so I could see it all in one place while I planned the content. I was so nervous it wouldn't be good enough for my beautiful readers!

          This was where I planned and created Your Uncluttered Home. The post-its were lesson titles so I could see it all in one place while I planned the content. I was so nervous it wouldn't be good enough for my beautiful readers!

          God gave me a really powerful word for my business that I still cling to, and that was “I will use you to change the world twice. Once with the message that you’re sharing for mothers, and again with the money you make sharing it.” I truly believed this message, but we faced several incredibly grueling, difficult months first as I clung to it. 

          You have to understand that we had followed in faith when we made the choice to leave Brian's job. So as we went into this season of financial poverty, we felt like idiots. We still knew this was the right choice, that God called us here, but dang it was hard.

          Brian can do anything, he’s amazing. And he’s very good at building furniture. So, while at home, he was building benches and chairs and things like that, and selling them on Facebook resell groups on the side. He would make a little from building somebody a custom bench, then I’d do another little pre-sale and make a couple hundred dollars, and that was okay. But we had to ask ourselves, now how can we stretch this? That's where we were at for a few months.

           Brian snapped this pic of me the day I got an email from Ariana Huffington, inviting me to contribute to The Huffington Post Parents and letting me know I was a very good writer. SUCH a good day!

          Brian snapped this pic of me the day I got an email from Ariana Huffington, inviting me to contribute to The Huffington Post Parents and letting me know I was a very good writer. SUCH a good day!

          I was doing everything that I could. I was writing guest posts while simultaneously working on the course. I was taking whatever I could get. I was learning about marketing and applying it to my website. I was doing webinars and falling deeper and deeper in love with this process of spreading my message, and hearing about how women's lives were being changed, and really clinging to that promise that God gave me about changing the world twice.

          I really believe that our thoughts and our words shape our beliefs, and that our beliefs form our reality.

          I believe that we were made in the image of God the Creator, and that He spoke the world into existence and that we can speak our reality into existence, because of the power He gave us.

          I believe that prayer changes things and your words matter. 

          During this time, I was working on my mindset and choosing to speak words that felt ridiculous at the time. Every morning I would get up and I would go stand outside in my driveway and say affirmations and scripture. I’d say things like, "I am extremely wealthy. I am running a successful business. Money is flowing to me. I am grateful for it, and generous with the money I receive." While I literally didn't know how we were going to eat dinner that night. I felt INSANE!                                          

          This went on for a few months, Brian was supportive, he was helping me, we were working together, we were brainstorming together. How can we make this course better? How can we get this done? How can this be amazing? We had launched the course. It had done okay, but not what we wanted because our audience wasn’t big enough.

          I ended up writing a guest post, "How Getting Rid of my Stuff Saved my Motherhood." I poured my heart and soul and story into that post, and did everything that I could to make it viral and change the world. I studied virality, formatted the post in a way that captured the audience while sharing the realness of my story. I learned the ins and outs of writing a captivating post and prayed like crazy over it as I submitted the final draft with butterflies in my stomach (and hardly any food). 

          A couple weeks passed and it wasn't getting as much traction as I wanted. I had put a content upgrade in the post, which is something that you can download from the author that will help you take the next step. That content upgrade was The Minimalism Starter Kit that I had put together, and it was how to take minimalism and apply it to your life.

          I had been hoping that the viral post and the content upgrade would grow my email list and maybe people would come and find my website through it and buy Your Uncluttered Home. I was frustrated because it wasn’t working.

          At the end of this three or four month period (about three weeks after that blog post had been published), and we were at rock bottom.

          I wondered, “Why isn't God blessing what we're doing?” We were just confused. There was one point where we had to go to a food bank, and I felt like a thief. We had a job and we left it in faith, by choice, and we still hadn't “made it.”

          I felt like I had failed my family. I had applied for and got denied for a job at Target. I remember this one incredibly difficult night, Brian was angry, I was angry, we were confused and upset and scared, and we had stretched one portion of dinner for four kids. Their tummies were full but ours weren't.

          I was terrified. We went to bed and I kept saying, "I'm sorry I failed our family, I'm sorry that I couldn't do what I thought I could do. I don't know. I don't know what's going to happen here." Brian repeated my apologies on his own behalf. We just kind of fell asleep scared.

          When I woke up the next morning, I went to log into things and check on my work stuff. So I logged into my email service, and I noticed that they had locked me out. I had an email in my inbox saying that I was a spammer, and that they shut my account down because it looked like I was breaking spam laws.

          I was already feeling depressed, and this was just the cherry on top of everything that was going on with me.

          I looked into it and saw that my email list was now over 15,000 people. Overnight! And that number was literally growing by hundreds every time I hit the refresh button. UNHEARD OF. 

          How could this be?

          I went and logged into other things and I realized that the guest blog post I had written had gone viral. It was EVERYWHERE!

          My story, my face and my family were everywhere. All over the internet, and it just kept getting spread around.

          That morning I opened up our PayPal account and there was $20,000 in it.

          TWENTY. THOUSAND. DOLLARS. 

          I had never even seen that number with a dollar sign in front of it. We were freaking out!

          I wish I had a video of that morning. We were jumping and screaming and dancing and sobbing. The kids were so confused!

          I got in touch with my email service and said, "I'm not a spammer, but I had a post go viral, and that's why my list exploded.” They fixed my account right away!

          There was an email in my inbox in the next couple days from ABC News. They wanted to do a story on me. Good Morning America followed. Then, The Jenny McCarthy Show. Fox News Network. The Today Show. Canadian radio. All of these people emailed me asking to talk to me about my story and about this message.

          People were buying the course, and things started happening. My business grew! I had thousands and thousands and thousands of fans on Facebook and Instagram. It was incredible!

           This picture was taken by me just a couple days after everything happened. We'd just gone to Old Navy and bought our kids a ton of new clothes, which they needed so so badly. Such a happy time!

          This picture was taken by me just a couple days after everything happened. We'd just gone to Old Navy and bought our kids a ton of new clothes, which they needed so so badly. Such a happy time!

           This was taken the day I bought my family our first new car. Our Suburban was SO old and beat up. Had no air conditioning (and we were traveling in Florida at the time!), and had tons of problems. I spent the day at the dealership feeling confident about my finances and getting asked for business advice from 60-year-old men. Another good day!

          This was taken the day I bought my family our first new car. Our Suburban was SO old and beat up. Had no air conditioning (and we were traveling in Florida at the time!), and had tons of problems. I spent the day at the dealership feeling confident about my finances and getting asked for business advice from 60-year-old men. Another good day!

          Most blogs grow slow and steady, but that wasn’t our path. All of the work and faith and difficulty that we had poured into trying to grow happened in one fell swoop.

          And now after all of what we had done, I had the money that I needed to take and invest and grow my business. I learned all about being an entrepreneur and a CEO, and over the next 18 months I just grew so much. So many good things happened: new courses, new partnerships, new collaborations, new press and media coverage. Our business is reaching women in countries I've never even heard of. It's amazing.

          18 months later, we are just about to hit the seven figure mark in our business revenue.

          God is so good.

           Snapped by Brian at LAX, on our way to a work event across the country. Traveling together was something we always dreamed of. 

          Snapped by Brian at LAX, on our way to a work event across the country. Traveling together was something we always dreamed of. 

          I have a message for you. If you’re striving to do what we did, if you have a dream that’s crazy, that people laugh at or that feels impossible, let me just tell you, keep an open mind. Change the way that you talk and think about money. Look for opportunities and clues around you for what you’re good at, and do what you want to do.

          Think about how you can make this your reality. Pray about it, put it out there and it will come to you.

          If you're struggling and you don't know what you want, if you don't know what to do, if you have a dream that you want to follow and you're not sure if it's ever going to happen, my message for you is:

          DON'T YOU DARE GIVE UP. 

          The world needs you. The world needs good people to get rich doing what they love - sharing their message, changing the world, and reaching people.

          The internet allows us so much. The world needs people like you with good and charitable hearts who have a passion and a mission and a message that will change the world.

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          People who will do good things with money, because there are corrupt people out there with a lot of power and a lot of money, and us good guys need to get up there and match where they're at so that we can counteract that and do good things for the Kingdom of God and the betterment of humanity.

          Finally, I know most of the people who read my blog are women or moms... no matter who you are, no matter what you do, no matter if you've gone to college or not, no matter what money you're making right now, no matter how successful you are right now, or how unsuccessful you feel right now, no matter if you are living in your parents' house with 17 kids because you guys feel like failures and you haven't been able to get out of the rut, you can.

          Start telling yourself a different story. Decide what you want and where you want to go.

          What is your purpose? What are you here to do? Find a way to do that, and make money doing it, and build your dream life. It doesn't have to be a dream.

          Now it's your turn.

          Learn how to turn your blog into a business!  

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          Download Allie's Blog To Business Resource Guide and start right now.

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          One way our corporation is changing the world with our revenue is by partnering with International Sanctuary. They help women who have just been freed from sex trafficking get housing and jobs. They're AMAZING!

          Please know that every time you support my family by purchasing one of my courses or digital products, 10% goes to them. You're helping yourself rock motherhood, and helping another girl find hope at the same time. 

          Women helping women - that's what our corporation is all about. 

          I Don't Have A Capsule Wardrobe, And Here's Why

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          Prefer to listen to this post? I totally get it. Just click play + I am happy to read it to you while you knock out those dishes or drive the road to preschool pickup!


          I get asked about capsule wardrobes A LOT.

          People watch my Instagram Stories or see photos of me on the blog and say things like, "I see you wearing lots of different things. It seems like you have a lot of clothes. How do you deal with that?" So, I just wanted to address it directly.

          First off, in case you don’t know what a capsule wardrobe is, it’s basically the idea of having thirty pieces of clothing (or less) - kind of having this neutral wardrobe that’s easily mix and matchable. Basically, it goes hand in hand with minimalism.

          There are SO many different ways to do a capsule wardrobe. Some people have ten pieces of clothing or less, but thirty or less is about where most people fall. You basically want to keep your wardrobe really minimal.

          The idea is that having less clothing options frees up your time in the morning and helps you make decisions about what to wear. It’s a simplification thing. I definitely agree with it and totally get it. And, I know having less clothing will make the decision-making process easier.

          So, then, maybe you’re wondering… Why don’t I have a capsule wardrobe?

          I love clothes!

          I am a person who loves getting dressed!

          Having a larger wardrobe allows me to be creative, and being creative in this way adds to my joy. For me, this is part of an abundant life, and brings more joy to my daily life.

          It makes me sad that no one dresses up for things anymore. When Brian and I go out for date night, someone almost always says, “Wow, you dress really nice.” It’s not that we go black tie or anything, we just dress well.

          I’ll put on earrings, a cute top, trouser jeans and maybe some heels. I spend time doing my hair and makeup, and Brian will dress nicely, too. We love dressing nice for each other - it’s just how we are. I absolutely LOVE dressing up! 

          If we go to events, or even church on Sundays, we’re always the only ones that are kind of dressed up. I was just raised that when you go to church, you’re going into the House of God and you should dress nice. It’s not a legalistic or religious practice, I just really like it. Plus, it makes me feel good!

          You could totally dress nice with a capsule wardrobe, but that isn't my point. 

          I love putting an outfit together, it’s my favorite part of getting dressed. I feel beautiful and put together when I take the time to really choose my clothes.

          I mean, I’m a mom of four and I work at home… Sweatpants and t-shirts are pretty much my daily thing.

          It might seem funny to you, especially if you’re not a person who cares about this kind of thing, but it’s a joy for me. A small, simple joy!

          My transition began a few months ago. I was not really into what was in my wardrobe.

          I felt that since I teach other moms about how to be minimal, I needed to have a minimalist wardrobe. I was also in a season of really needing to simplify every area of my life. I just needed everything to be as simplistic as possible because I had a lot going on and didn’t really care as much about getting dressed.

          At the time, it kind of worked for me, but I quickly found myself slipping into this place of not feeling happy - of not being excited to get dressed in the morning. And, not to sound overly dramatic, but I kind of felt a little depressed whenever it came time to get dressed. 

          I was feeling unhappy and worn down, and anytime someone would ask about my clothes, I’d just give this automated answer like, “Yeah, here’s about how many pieces of clothing I have. Here’s how many jeans I tend to keep,” etc. It was definitely minimalistic, and it was great for the simplistic part of things, but it wasn’t making me happy AT ALL.

          But, then, I had this lightbulb moment where I realized, you know what? I really MISS being creative in this way. I don’t dress really loud or crazy, my style is actually very simplistic, so you’d think a capsule wardrobe would work for me, but I just love having options (and I also really love shopping with my little girl and during my alone time. another simple joy for me!). For me, it’s worth the extra time that my wardrobe takes from me because it’s a joy of mine.

          I decided to forget it. I’m not gonna go through the motions and live this legalistic approach to minimalism (which is something I teach against anyway), and I’m just gonna do what I want to do.

          I chose to let myself be FREE in this area of my life, and went shopping!

          Now, when I see something that is beautiful and I really love, I just get it and don’t worry about how many pieces of clothing I already have.

          So, yeah, now I have a fairly large wardrobe. It isn’t massive, but it definitely doesn’t fit into the definition of a capsule wardrobe, and I am SO happy.

          I literally run up to my closet and look in it, trying to decide what I am gonna wear most days. Or, if we’re going to have a photoshoot for the podcast or blog, I have fun putting together the outfits I’m going to wear.

          I love clothes and I love having things that make me feel amazing. That make me feel beautiful, make me feel thinner and lighter and allow me to dress for my shape in a way that makes me feel better and more confident.

          Truthfully, I think if I wasn’t doing what I’m doing now, I could easily do something in terms of helping other women feel un-frumpy and getting dressed in a way that flatters their shape. I love that kind of stuff!

          I think that the key message here is that minimalism doesn’t have anything to do with following rules that don’t make you happy.

          It’s not about suppressing yourself and just deciding that since you’re a mom, you have to be a super minimalist because it will save you time.

          Don’t make it legalistic. If you love to cook and bake, and decide to suppress yourself by not buying the kitchen appliances you need for cooking and baking, you’re following minimalism just for the rules. If that is what it’s about for you, you're gonna run out of steam very quickly, and you're gonna find yourself really unhappy.

          If you don’t get what the heck I’m even talking about, I hope this message still gets across to you. This is something I deeply care about. The point of all of this, for me, is joy. Living a life and having a home that makes me feel excited to be home, to get dressed, and excited to be with my kids. It helps me to feel focused on the things that matter to me, and my wardrobe is something that matters!

          The whole idea behind my course, Your Uncluttered Home, is that minimalism is not about legalism.

          It’s not about following these rules or living a certain way and practicing minimalism just for the sake of being a minimalist.

          It’s about clearing the clutter in your home and in your life and your heart and asking, what is taking away from what really matters to me?

          If something brings joy to your life, like my wardrobe brings to mine, it is not taking away time from what matters, and it isn’t something you should suppress.

          I want this to be a message of freedom for you. Here's your permission to make minimalism work for you and make it something that brings you joy.

          Let this be your permission to have what brings you incredible joy. And to have what makes you love your life more.


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          Are you ready to clear the clutter and focus on the areas of your life that bring you joy?

          Your Uncluttered Home is literally everything you need to become a minimalist mama who's able to be a lot more present for what matters most.


          The Power of Words and Your Kids

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          Prefer to listen to this post? I totally get it. Just click play + I am happy to read it to you while you knock out those dishes or drive the road to preschool pickup!


           

          I’ve always had a love for words.

          I can remember as a child almost having a relationship with words.

          I was drawn to them, and I loved making up stories, or even rewriting some of the classic fairy tales. They’ve always been a powerful passion of mine.

          But, on the flip side, I’m a blunt, passionate person, and whatever emotion I feel, I feel it 100%.

          I’m 100% angry, 100% happy, 100% bitter, whatever it is, it’s typically a very strong emotion. And, as I mentioned, words are usually something that I’m good at, but when I am 100% angry, my words can be incredibly cutting. I have this knack for knowing just what to say, that will slice right through. This has been one of the biggest struggles with friendships and motherhood, but especially with my marriage, because those of us who have been married or are married know that whatever your flaws are in marriage, those are magnified by like 1,000%.

          As words have been one of my biggest gifts, they’ve also been one of my biggest struggles.

          Today I really want to focus on the positive ways I’ve been able to use my words. For instance, being able to know just what to say, I rarely have a clue what it came from. And, most importantly I’ve been able to help change my children’s behavior simply by speaking positive words and scriptures over them.

          You might know I’m a Christian, I believe that we were made by God in his image, that he spoke the Universe into existence. I believe that WE have power in our words, and that God gave us this power and control.

          Now, after giving you that background, do with it what you will. Feel free to stop reading, but I want you to understand how much I believe in the power of words. I’ve seen words change the way my kids act. They’ve helped me overcome difficulties, and they’ve had a massive part in transforming my marriage.

          Science shows us that words are powerful.

          The words that you say to people have a deep effect on them, and the words you say about other people have a profound effect on how you feel about them

          If you’re constantly complaining about your husband and how lazy he is, you’re just solidifying those feelings in yourself. And, if you say those things to him, you’re just solidifying that in him. I’ve really found this beautiful magic, if you have a problem with something or someone and instead of always saying the negative, start giving attention to the opposite. Then, start watching the positive bloom and actually begin to exist.

          Giving you that background, I really want to share how this applies to our kids and give you a small example from my life, and how I’ve seen this transform my children, specifically one child.

          My son, Leland, has always been incredibly defiant. He was the child that had me locking myself in the bathroom, sitting down and just sobbing on a regular basis. I was completely lost on how I was going to raise him.

          I was really struggling. I started saying things to other people and because of my blunt sense of humor I’d always tend to give really extreme examples of things, because it’s just my personality.

          It was a really difficult time. I was exhausted because I was sleep deprived from having had another baby. I also experienced a miscarriage, and no matter what else was going on, I couldn’t catch a break with this kid.

          Then, I don’t even remember what happened because my life was just a freaking blur, but I remember having a realization….

          What if I stopped solidifying his behavior with my negative words, and instead started speaking positive things over him?

          I started Googling, doing some research and found this idea of speaking blessings over your children, so I started doing it for all of them.

          It was really awkward at first. Leland was probably 3 or 4, and he’d just look at me like, “What the heck, mom? What are you even doing?” But, I just started to say things over him.

          If I was doing the dishes I would say things like, “Leland, you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Leland you have a big purpose. Leland, I boldly claim that you have a hunger for God and the things of God.” Things like that.

          In the beginning, I was always scrambling for what to say. It always felt really forced and weird, and if I’m being honest, I didn’t even really believe these things. He was 3, he didn’t really have a relationship with God, and he’s also still freaking the heck out.

          As I practiced it more, I found that doing it while we were driving made it the easiest. I’d repeat things like, “You are called to great things. You are a strong leader,” etc. I was doing this over all of my kids but again, focusing on Leland because he’s the main point. I saw changes in all of my children, but with Leland, he became a different child. I kid you not, over the course of a few months, he became a different person.

          The tantrums and freak-outs started to slow and eventually stopped almost completely (because he’s still human). He’s still a normal kid but it worked. My words changed him. My story to him and about him changed everything.

          When I changed the words that I spoke over him, even when he wasn’t there, I changed myself too. I’d spend time praying out loud and always worked to stay positive, positive, positive. If I’d have a negative thought, I would take it captive and throw it away. I’d tell myself we weren’t going there, and that I was chosen out of every other mother in the entirety of the world to be this boy’s mother. It isn’t my job to let negative thoughts come in.

          I chose to speak life.

          I chose light, hope, joy and purpose with intentionality for this child, and it changed him.

          We have the power as mothers to intentionally use our words to make a difference for better or for worse. The choice is ours.

          We’re all in this together and it’s hard. It’s a habit we’ve got to grow and cultivate and be reminded of again and again. Let this message seep in whether or not you have a difficult child.

          The words you say about, into and over your children matter. Why wouldn’t we get intentional with that?

          If you’re ready to become more positive and intentional with your words, the easiest way to start is to get some ideas. Make a list of positive words, phrases and affirmations that you can say over your kids. If you’d like to do blessings or scripture, just Google it for ideas.

          Pick your favorite ones, and write them down. I’ve got a journal full of them that I reference on a regular basis. I’ve also got a note on my phone that has some of my favorite top 20, that I’ll just look at real quick before we start driving.

          I’ve also created a list of positive phrases and affirmations for moms, that I’d love for you to grab and use with your kids.


          NEED HELP GETTING STARTED?  GRAB THIS LIST OF AFFIRMATIONS!

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          Let’s start using our power as mothers in a positive way for our kids’ sake. Your words matter so much, mamas. Don’t let the frustrations of the day-to-day bring those negative words out, instead choose to speak the positive.