The Spectrum of Clutter || Why Having Too Much "Stuff" isn't Always the Problem

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A few weeks ago, I asked my Instagram followers which “type” of clutter most weighed them down. The answers were, as you’d expect, all over the board, with most saying that physical clutter distracted them the most. But regardless of which type bogged an individual down more, one thing stood out to me as I read the comments of the photo.

Not one person said they felt like clutter didn’t affect them.

No one said that they had all aspects of their lives squared away and didn’t struggle with at least one area.

This struck me because, despite our obsession with Kon Mari-ing everything, downsizing, and ensuring our wardrobes are neatly edited and capsuled, it’s still not enough. We still feel stressed. We still feel overwhelmed…sometimes (for me at least) it’s an overall feeling of overwhelm that I can’t peg on anything in particular.

These moments of “general overwhelm”, I’ve learned, usually boil down to an excess in one of the following areas that I haven’t recognized until it’s too late.

Sure, we can’t weed out every aspect of stress or “extra” from our lives, but we can do our best to recognize when we’re doing too much, owning too much, or taking on too much and learn when to cut back. It’s been one of the healthiest mental exercises I’ve started doing for myself, and I hope that once you’ve become more aware of which area of clutter stresses you the most, it will do the same for you too. Learning to think of clutter in a broader sense can be much more helpful than you’d realize.

I’d love to hear which clutter-style you most relate to in the comments below ;)

*Disclaimer, I don’t claim to be an expert in any of these areas, nor am I a psychologist. The following areas are simply describing things I’ve noticed both in my own life and in the lives of those I love.

  1. Physical Clutter

The first “pillar of clutter” gets the worst rap of them all, likely because it’s the most visible and the most publicized. Physical clutter is out in the open, for you (and everyone who enters your home) to see. Our possessions are a reflection of what we value, so of course, they’re the first thing that gets attention when we get stressed or in need of a detox.

For some, myself included, untidiness is a major area of stress. I usually feel like I can’t sit down to write or be creative unless my space is at least a little bit cleaned up and I have a cup of coffee in hand. I’m drawn to aesthetics, so I like my space to reflect the kind of creativity I’m trying to conjure up. That’s likely why I was so drawn to minimalism after becoming a mom — it felt like the only way I could regain a sense of control and identity. Lots of you said the same thing on Instagram. You feel like you have too much stuff, too many clothes, too many unnecessary “junk drawers”.

Clearing out this clutter is a great and important step towards feeling more free, but it only scratches the surface.

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2. Mental Clutter

It usually takes a bit of a “self-discovery” journey to figure out whether mental clutter weighs you down or if you’re able to stay more or less “on task” when it comes to your thoughts. Through learning more about myself via the Enneagram, I’ve learned that as a type 9, I have an exceptionally hard time learning which tasks to prioritize. This often leads to a brain fog where I’m aware of everything I need to do, but can’t quite nail down which item needs checked off first. Usually, I end up doing something less important (scrolling Instagram or picking up after the girls for the thousandth time) instead of doing the more intimidating but important things first.

Mental clutter can look different for everyone though. Some people are able to mentally keep track of everything (Type 1’s i’m looking at you), but for others, it’s really their mental clutter that weighs them down more than anything else.

3. Calendar Clutter

Oh, the glorification of staying busy. We get bored, so we schedule more. All too often, we subconsciously assign ourselves value through how many playdates, or meetings, or business calls we schedule for a particular week. How much we do, or achieve, instead of who we are. Having things to do somehow makes us feel more important/valuable/validated.

I wrote a few years ago about this “glorification”, making the case that being busy isn’t better. In this post, I break down a list of “why’s” for doing something — for example, I sometimes sign up for something because I think it will make someone else happy, instead of doing it because I want to do it.

I try to use the same “spark joy” mentality that I use for the belongings I keep when it comes to the way I schedule my time.

4. Emotional Clutter

Physical clutter gets a bad rap, but it only scratches the surface when it comes to other types of clutter than can weigh you down. Which type do you relate to most?

For those who feel before analyzing (feelers vs. thinkers), emotional clutter can be debilitating. Oftentimes, this boils down to drama with family or friends or stressing over an important decision and being unable to prioritize anything else.

In cases like these, it’s so important to recognize which relationships are an added weight to your life without adding joy or edification. Of course, some relationships we can’t cut out fully, but there are most certainly times when saying goodbye to a toxic or unhealthy relationship is just the thing to help your mind heal and de-clutter.


Clutter, being the buzz word that it is, can be tricky to nail down. Clearing your life from clutter completely isn’t necessarily possible (or healthy), but being aware of your clutter stressors can help you live life more fully and simply.

HowGood is Your Amazon Cart? This Plug-in Can Help

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If you’re a human with access to the internet, chances are you shop on Amazon relatively regularly. The sheer volume of products available in one spot is too much for our convenience loving hearts to avoid and, despite my issues with their excessive packaging and, unfortunately, morals as a company, I find myself shopping from Amazon semi-regularly too.

Living in a very (very) rural area - yes, I live on a literal mountaintop - I don’t have easy access to places like Target, Wholefoods, Trader Joes, or other health stores within a two-ish hour drive. So when I need to order something quickly that I don’t have nearby, and when I can’t pack up three kids and head to Denver, Amazon is often the simplest choice.

But, being the online superstore that it is, the excessive amount of options can be overwhelming to me. It’s harder than browsing the aisles of a store since there’s almost every option and brand known to man and womankind at the click of a button. I’m used to being picky about what I buy for my family, but ever since I discovered HowGood, it’s made finding healthy products on Amazon much less of a hassle.

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HowGood recently launched a simple plugin for your computer. Once installed, it will give you instant advice about the “goodness” of a product you may be interested in. HowGood believes the path to sustainability lies in transparency, especially when it comes to our food and the products we use in and on our bodies. Since the FDA is notoriously lax when it comes to regulating skincare and often allows ingredients that are knowingly harmful for our bodies, it feels like the consumer can’t rely on “regulations” when it comes to staying healthy.

That’s where HowGood hopes to simplify things.

As a website, they’ve rated more than 1 million products with only 5% earning the highest rating. They’ve build a team of researchers, gathering data from more than 350+ sources, and are committed to telling the story behind our food and other products and hopefully, in time, changing the face of the industry. (Click here to see how they evaluate a product for safety and sustainability.)

Their app, and now their newly launched plugin for Google Chrome, gives consumers access to their research and info on the sustainability and healthiness of a product, both in stores and online. Their plugin currently works on Amazon for baby related products (think wipes, diapers, baby lotions, etc), and they'll soon be expanding to include cosmetics and hopefully even more.

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Although I admittedly try to limit my Amazon shopping, it’s so nice to have the plugin as a backup to check the safety of the things I’m ordering for Aria and my older girls. When things labeled as “natural” or even organic generally aren’t so natural, having a deeper look into the ingredients and even the undisclosed fragrances and other sneaky chemicals that make up our go-to products is helpful. When HowGood gives a product a bad rating, it will recommend other safer alternatives for you to check out easily, without having to dig through the depths of Amazon’s inventory.

You can download HowGood’s app on your iPhone or Android to take with you to the grocery store and you can add their Chrome plug-in to your browser to make your online shopping as toxin-free as possible.

Although I haven’t placed my order yet, these water wipes (I haven’t quite gotten to the level of feeling comfortable with zero-waste wipes yet), Vitamind D drop, toxin free sunscreen, and prenatal vitamins are all sitting in my cart with the help of the HowGood plug-in.

Do you shop on Amazon? Would this plug-in help set your mind at ease?


*This post was sponsored by HowGood to promote their new plug-in. Thank you for supporting the brands and organizations that make SL&Co. possible.*

Deciding to go Tiny || Why we took the plunge

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As trendy as “tiny living” may be at the moment, deciding to take the plunge into a smaller space, be it a camper/RV, a trendy tiny house, a small apartment, or anything that feels “restricting” spatially can be more than intimidating.

For anyone who doesn’t know, my family of four (five any day now!) has been living full-time in an RV travel trailer since September — nearly 9 months. There have been lots of struggles that come along with going tiny, and equally as many benefits in that time and I’d love to share a bit of the back story here in case anyone reading is considering downsizing too.

As odd as it may seem, I’ve never considered myself a minimalist. If you’ve read my blog for years, you may remember when I really got into intentional living and began downsizing our belongings and creating capsule wardrobes for myself. That phase, about four years ago, was the most “rigid” I’ve ever been about minimalism and although it was extremely beneficial for my mental state and for learning how to say no and create a home I loved, I eventually got burnt out by the rules of true minimalism and gravitated towards something closer to “intentionalism”.

I don’t believe in intentionally depriving yourself of things you love, nor do I endorse the purely aesthetic mentality that the word minimalism can evoke. I think living with less is much more than curated white walls and sticking to a color scheme for your entire life. Real life is messy, tiny or not, and the size of your house or the amount your own won’t change any of that.

RV living for us, so far, has been empowering because it’s been an intentional decision both my husband and I made together to move towards our goals of getting out of debt and buying or building a home in the near-ish future. It has been hard, especially during the winter, and we’ve had plenty of “what are you doing with your lives” looks and conversations from friends and family. But, in spite of it all, we’re both convinced this path is right for us right now, and for anyone who may be toying with the idea and enchanted by the freedom that tiny living can bring, here’s a bit of our story…

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Our why

Due to a host of reasons, Aj and I, like most people, felt like we could never work our way out of our debt we had accumulated together over the past five or six years. In that time, we had two babies, bought/remodeled/sold our first home (accruing more debt in the process), moved to a new state with a higher living cost, and still battled with things like student loans and car payments.

I know this story isn’t unique. Everyone reading this probably has debt in some form or another. But we knew that if we were going to move forward with the kind of life we envisioned for our family (one of flexibility, freedom to travel, and not being held down by finances), a season of restriction would help us dig ourselves out.

Our when

We didn’t (and still don’t) know how long this season will last. We were careful not to put any time constraints on ourselves because we knew that the second we said we “had” to live in an RV for two years or three years or any amount of time would be the second we started resenting it.

Instead, we’re focusing on the freedom we have, the new appreciation we have for our belongings/space/and each other, and the excitement that we aren’t bound down by a “next step”.

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Our how

We’ve always both loved the appeal and freedom of “mobile living” and have followed multiple people for years who have done it with children, so we knew we weren’t alone in the fact that it seemed to make so much sense to downsize, move into something with a payment we could realistically afford, and “rough it” for a while.

We toyed with the idea of remodeling a used RV, but eventually landed on buying a new one when we considered how rough Colorado winters are and our need for specific things like a bunk house for the girls and a bit of extra space for the baby we knew would be joining us.

We bought the RV, with help from my parents who we were living with at the time, in September and since then, have paid off the vast majority of our debt, have been able to start a savings for the first time in our marriage, and are finally feeling like our feet are underneath us. Restricting space for this kind of stability is so worth it.

FAQ’s

How did you decide “how tiny” to go? Did you test it out first?

We did lots of research before deciding what kind of RV we wanted. AJ had been pushing this idea for a year or more (it actually took me the longest to get on board) so he knew his stuff when it came to different sizes and models. We wanted it to be as comfortable as possible and we knew that separate sleeping spaces were a MUST for us. I also wanted one with an “open” middle space to give us the most homey feel possible.

We didn’t test it out, which felt scary, but we had lived in small spaces before (1-2 bedroom condos and even shared a single bedroom at my parents’ house before this), so we knew a small space wouldn’t be that big of an issue.

How does it work with kids?

One of the most common questions we’re asked about is if our kids like it. At 3 and 5, they’re pretty much along for the ride right now and are able to adapt really easily to every space we’ve lived in thus far. RV living has been no different for them, it’s a home and a safe space that is theirs. They still have plenty of toys, activities, and things to do inside, but I’ve loved the way tiny living has pushed us to get outside more and push our boundaries socially so we don’t get too stir crazy.

If the girls were older and were more actively seeking their own spaces, I don’t know that we’d commit to this longterm (maybe a summer or a year).

Every child and every family is different and their needs are different, and if we sensed that this was in any way, limiting our children’s ability to thrive, we wouldn’t do it. If anything, it’s taught us all lessons that I hope my girls cherish as they grow up.

Do you feel comfortable/cozy in a tight space?

Anyone who knows me knows that coziness is my middle name. I rely so heavily on atmosphere and creating home-y spaces, that I told AJ long before we moved in here that I’d need to make it our own if I expected to make it work. I painted the walls, added shelves and wallpaper, hung decor, and did everything I could to make it feel like “me”, and honestly, this space has been one of my favorites to transform.

Decorating in here is a great exercise in “intentionalism” because not everything works in such a small space. I can only bring in things that serve a purpose or truly cozy up the room. Throw pillows, blankets, warm colors, and decorating it with the same care that I’d decorate a bigger home has made it feel like just that.

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How to know if it may be right for you

Although I wouldn’t take the decision to sell (or store) your things lightly, I also don’t think making the decision to go tiny has to be as scary as it seems. It’s not the only way to get out of debt, find a lifestyle with more freedom, or push your own boundaries and I don’t think it’s right for everyone. That said, if the thought of RV living, buying a tiny home, or downsizing at all excites and inspires you, that urge shouldn’t be ignored.

For us, this was a journey years in the making and not a spontaneous decision, so I would suggest downsizing your current space first, and going from there. Get in the habit of saying no to things you don’t love, learn what items in your closet you wear most, declutter your kitchen, clear the junk drawer….these little habits will make tiny living so much easier because you’ll already be used to living with the essentials and not much extra.

If you’re…

  • Ready for an adventure

  • Wanting a feasible way to get out of debt

  • Ready to downsize your belongings and keep only what you love

  • Looking for freedom to travel

  • “In between” plans and looking for something temporary

  • Wanting to teach your family (and yourself) lessons on the value of less, living sustainably, and creating lifelong memories along the way…

…tiny living might be right for you.

It’s not the only way to achieve those goals, of course, but 9 months in, we wouldn’t trade this season for anything.

Conversations on Confidence & Raising Daughters

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One of the most common questions I’m asked as a mama of multiple girls is “are you going to try for a boy"? Well meaning strangers see AJ with his daughters and jokingly suggest that he’s “going to have his hands full” when they’re teenagers, or that it’s a shame he’s so outnumbered.

Although we’ve never been discontent with our girl gang, the idea of instilling self-confidence and individuality at a young age in my girls weighs heavy on my mind. Raising boys, which of course I have no experience with but know through chatting with friends, research, and watching my own brothers grow up into men, is naturally a different experience and being a mom of only girls is a mental adjustment I’m still working on.

I’m keenly aware of just how closely my five and three year old watch me. Everyday when I get dressed, put on makeup, size up my ever changing body in the mirror, or make snide comments about my body that I don’t think they’ll understand, I’m aware (usually after the fact) of their little brown and blue eyes watching me and their growing minds processing how I see myself. Will they resent me when they’re older for getting eyelash extensions? Am I letting them try out my lipstick too early? Is their wardrobe too “girly”? Am I modeling a balanced perspective of femininity? Did they see me scrolling Instagram admiring the wardrobe/lifestyle/body type/life phase of someone else? How do I, a young mom still very much figuring this whole self-confidence thing out for myself, instill these vital traits in my daughters?

This post is less of a “how to” guide (because in the realm of parenting, those don’t really exist) and more of a conversation around the subject of self-confidence and a few ways I’m working on modeling it in my day to day life in front of the girls. Of course, the same concepts can apply to raising boys too, and whether you’re raising boys or girls, I’d love to hear your tips and suggestions on the subject!

Let them do “big” things

All kids love “helping” their parents do adult-y things and, despite the fact that their efforts to help or join in usually aren’t all that helpful, I think it’s vital for kids to try their hand at the things mom and dad are doing AND feel reinforced in their efforts. For us, it’s usually letting the girls “get ready” with me in the morning, even if they smear lipstick all over their faces or pick out mismatching outfits. It’s letting them stir the cookie batter, even though you know it will be messier and take longer. It’s letting them help clean up and giving them the time to scoop snow with daddy, even if the snow all ends up back in the pathway. These simple (slightly inconvenient) gestures instill confidence in my girls through simply giving them a safe space to experiment, help, and learn new things.

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Don’t classify their appearance

I’ve made this mistake SO MANY TIMES and I’m sure I’ll make it a lot more, but I think especially with girls, it’s so important to let them take the lead when it comes to what they love to wear, how they like their hair done, and even what kind of toys they play with. A few months ago, I was helping Evie get ready for preschool and she walked in with an entirely pink outfit on; from head to toe, bright pink. I mentioned something about that outfit being really “girly” and asked if maybe she wanted to change her pants or something, and for a few weeks afterward she was obsessed with making sure her outfits were “girly enough” and didn’t become “too girly”.

Regardless of my personal taste (which tends to be super neutral, especially for kids), I’m working on letting them pick clothes/toys/hair styles just because they love them, and not necessarily because it fits a certain aesthetic or stereotype.

My girls love beautiful things, as most girls do, and little surprises like their You & Me Tassel Necklaces from Sela Designs are the perfect little accents to start conversations around inner beauty and highlighting it with beautifully made things that they truly love.

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Model self-care

For the first few years of my motherhood journey I rarely made myself a priority. Of course, it’s not easy when you’re raising babies or toddlers or multiples, but as my girls have gotten older and as I’ve done the same, I’ve learned that in order for me to raise them well and lead by example I’ve got to give myself time to recharge.

Self-care may be trendy at the moment, but in practice, it isn’t always easy or glamorous. Sometimes it means forcing a naptime because I can’t function without sleeping. Sometimes it means letting my husband take over bedtime so I can squeeze a shower in after he gets home from work. However it looks each day, I’ve been working on modeling language around caring for myself (especially easy for them to understand while I’m pregnant) and separating it from them. For example, I’m trying not to say things like “mommy needs alone time because you’ve been wearing me out today”. ;)

As they grow up though, I hope they’ll be able to look back and see that self-care is an act of courage sometimes, and that I modeled it well most of the time.

Take the focus off of their appearance early on

Girls grow up with conversations centered on their appearance from such a young age. And, of course, there’s nothing wrong with telling a girl she’s beautiful (that’s important too!), I’m working on mentally rewriting my own script for when it comes to talking to my girls and complimenting them.

I’ll try to focus equally on their character, their choices, or their talents, instead of their appearance only. Pieces like my Round + Square silk scarves or t-shirts (which my girls have been known to steal from time to time) have empowering phrases on them that help spark conversation. Instead of saying how “pretty” their hair looks, I can talk about what being “brave and kind” means or what “#equality” looks like early on, or why “Girl Power” isn’t just a catch phrase.

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I’m still very much a work in progress as a mother, especially as I think about my girls getting older and requiring more and more intentional modeling and behavior.

My job is on the internet, requires me to take photos of myself all the time, get new things, and seems very externally focused on the surface, so I have ample room for improvement and conversation around self-confidence and inner beauty.

How are you having these hard conversations with your kiddos? I’d love to hear your experiences.


*This post is part of a long term collaboration with Sela Designs and ROUND + SQUARE. All content ideas, creative direction, photos, and children are my own ;) Please do not use my photos without permission.*

Simple, Affordable, Organic Skincare with Bohemian Rêves

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When it comes to skincare, I’m a minimalist at heart. I’ve shared bits and pieces of my skincare lineup before (if you can call it a “lineup”…I really only use one or two products consistently), but each time I have the opportunity to work with a skincare brand I feel extra spoiled. There’s something about taking extra great care of my skin, bathing it in ingredients I can pronounce and trust, and supporting organic, sustainable brands that feels like such a win/win/win.

Pregnancy is a mixed bag when it comes to skin health — for some, they’re glowing like the proverbial goddess for 9 months straight with no concern about switching up their normal routine, for others, they’re battling more breakouts, dryness, and unevenness than they did when they were 14. I’ve been in both camps and have learned to listen to what my body needs (typically, more moisture) at each phase of pregnancy/postpartum/breastfeeding/menstruation, as well as to not stress about whichever “phase” my body is in at the time.

Bohemian Rêves is my newest skincare obsession and once you learn a little more about their ingredients, packaging, and mission, I think you’ll fall in love too.

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Last Spring I shared a post listing my “skincare criteria” when it comes to which products I try and which brands I support. If you missed it, here’s a quick recap of the questions I ask before committing:

1. What is my skin type and what issue am I trying to address? 

2. Can this product be used in more than one way? 

3. How transparent is the brand about their ingredients/sourcing?

4. Is this product worth the investment? 

I’d also add a note to consider the brand’s packaging, since this is my year of #InspiringZeroWaste…

When I consider Bohemian Rêves’ products in relation to these questions, I’m even more convinced they’ve earned their place in my natural (albeit minimal) beauty routine.

The brand crafts all of their products using organic, plant based ingredients. They use glass jars for packaging (which I love to reuse when I’m done), AND they’re much more affordable than other brands I’ve tried in the past. Featuring a beautiful line of body butters, botanical perfumes, face masks, rollers, and more, I’m already hooked on the sweet products they sent over for me to test out.

The Mask

Doing a weekly face mask has become a mini-ritual for me lately, especially at this phase in my pregnancy when rest is hard to come by. Bohemian Rêves’ Rose Clay + Ginseng mask is as luxurious as it sounds and their custom bamboo mask brush makes putting it on simple and mess free. I typically put mine on a few minutes before showering and then let it soak into my skin before washing it off mid-shower.

The Botanical Blends

One of the products I was most excited to try was Bohemian Rêves’ Botanical Blends. I love softer scents and knew that these blends would be just enough of a mood boosting perfume to lighten my mood and keep me feeling just a little bit fancy (I mean, how gorgeous are the bottles?!). I tried the Sol Dorado scent and it’s a fun, citrus-y, earth-y concoction that leaves me feeling awake and smelling fresh.

The Body Butter

Although I primarily requested this body butter for my baby belly — stretch mark prevention and all that jazz — I’ve been using it everywhere and on everyone. Mara is prone to super dry, eczema-like patches, especially in our ultra-dry Colorado winters, and this body butter has helped to keep her skin moisturized and non-itchy.

The Matcha + Green Tea body butter isn’t greasy, like many other body butters out there, and has a light scent that makes it perfect for everyday use.

The Deodorant

Although it’s not pictured, I also tried Bohemian Rêves’ Patchouli and Blood Orange natural deodorant. As someone who is extremely picky when it comes to natural deodorants (and have tried quite a few in my day), this one has come out on top as one my favorites I’ve tried. I’m waiting till I’ve used it for a bit longer to make up my mind officially, but for the first week or so, I’m wonderfully surprised. Instead of many alternative deodorants that use baking soda, this one uses arrowroot powder and magnesium to absorb odor, making it much gentler on the skin.

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If you’re on the hunt for clean skincare alternatives, Bohemian Rêves is the perfect one-stop shop for everything from candles to soap to lotions to cleansing oils. Their ingredients are thoughtful and non-toxic, their packaging is zero waste and reusable, they’re budget friendly, and have products for all skintypes, what more could you ask for?


*This post was sponsored by Bohemian Rêves. All photos, opinions, and creative direction are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make SL&Co. possible!*