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Live A Life "Unstuffed"

Author Ruth Soukup discusses living a clutter-free life in your home, mind, and soul, and the value of a life well lived. Read Transcript


Do you own too much stuff?

Come on, be honest.

Or maybe it's more like your stuff owns you.

Take a look.

NARRATOR: Have you noticed it yet?

Take a look around.

Your home, your car, your purse-- clutter,

it's everywhere.

"New York Times" best selling author Ruth Soukup says clutter

can be physical, mental, or even spiritual.

After going through a two-year bout with depression,

she knows how difficult dealing with internal and external

clutter can get.

In her new book, "Unstuffed," she

shares how to declutter your home, your mind, and your soul.

Please welcome to "The 700 Club" the author

of "Unstuffed," Ruth Soukup.

Ruth, it's great to have you here.

Thank you so much for having me.

Boy, there's a message in here for all of us, I think.

You talk about the significance of an uncluttered life.

Why is that important?

You know, I think we've filled our lives

with so much stuff-- all of us.

TERRY MEEUWSEN: Without meaning to sometimes.

Without meaning to.

It just kind of happens.

We live in this society that is constantly bombarding us

with this message that we need more and more and more

and more.

And so there's the physical stuff.

And there's also the stuff that fills up our schedules.

You know, we're busy, like busy is the new buzz

word for every single person that you talk to.

Oh, how's it going?

I'm so busy.

And so there's all of this stuff in our lives

that's kind of weighing us down and causing

more and more stress without even really realizing

that's what's causing it.

You know, you weren't always this way.

I mean, there was the time in your life

where you felt cluttered in all of the areas

that you mention in your book.

What was the catalyst that kind of said, Ruth,

we need to change this?

--[CHUCKLES] I think I've had lots of catalysts along

the way, actually.

TERRY MEEUWSEN: [CHUCKLES] It's all a process.

To be perfectly honest, I am a mess a lot of the time.

But for me, one of the big things that

happened in our family was a few years ago,

when my kids were a little bit smaller,

I ended up taking all of their toys away.

And it was this interesting day where I had been warning them

for a while, if you don't clean up your stuff,

I'm going to take it away.

I'm going take it away.

And I kept warning them and kept warning them.

And one day, I was like, let's just do it.

Let's just take it away.

And so we did, and we boxed it all up.

And we had this huge pile in the hallway for like a week,

because we didn't even know what to do with it all.

And I kept thinking they were going to want it back.

They were going to see all that stuff there and go, Mommy,

whatever it takes, we'll do it.

We want to get it back.

And they didn't want it back.

TERRY MEEUWSEN: And it actually opened doors

to other interesting things, didn't it?

RUTH SOUKUP: Yeah, they became so much more content.

And it was such an eye-opening experience for me,

because I realized I was doing to them what

I had been doing to myself and to our whole family.

It was just filling our lives with stuff

that we didn't need and didn't want.

And lots of times, children's toys,

especially, take away the imagination and the creativity

of just doing whatever your heart and your mind

is leading you to.


TERRY MEEUWSEN: You share some really helpful steps

to decluttering your life.


Where do we begin?

I'd like to encourage people to start with a vision.

Before you try to get rid of-- because I think sometimes

when people have a lot of clutter,

and there's a lot of stuff in your life,

you get this overwhelming feeling

like, I don't even know where to start.

And so the first step, I think, is really

to create a vision of what you want your home to feel

like when you walk in the door.

And that doesn't mean how you want your home to look like,

the Pottery Barn catalog.

But it means how do I actually use my home?

Who do I share my home with?

And how do I want people to feel when they're there?

Yeah, and in real life, the Pottery Barn

catalog isn't always very realistic, is it? [CHUCKLES]

No, it's not.

But I think a lot of times, we buy stuff,

and we fill our lives with stuff based

on the promise of what we think we want--

on this unrealistic image that we can't actually attain,

instead of actually thinking about how we really truly use

our home and how we want it to feel.

You really give some good insight into there.

I loved what you shared about a Thanksgiving

that your family had had where relatives came

and people were sleeping on the floor.

And I mean, it was less than a perfect scenario but what

a great memory.

And it was one of the best memories.

In fact, in my family, we just did something similar

this last Christmas.

We went to a cabin up in Washington state,

up in the mountains.

And we lost power for two and a half days.

TERRY MEEUWSEN: Oh, my word.

22 of us in a cabin with no power for 2 days.

It was the best Christmas any of us have ever had.

We went sledding.

It was all memories, no stuff, and totally imperfect and so

perfect at the same time.

Do you think we deal, because of advertising--

and I hate to stick this to Pottery Barn,

but we're using them, so let's just continue--


--that we feel guilt when our households aren't picture

perfect and when everything isn't just ready for guests

to arrive?

There is so much guilt that gets attached

to stuff in so many ways.

So I like to call it this endless cycle of guilt that

gets us trapped in clutter.

Because we feel guilty about not having the home that we think

we need to have.

So we buy more stuff to create this.

And then we feel guilty getting rid of the stuff that we have.

Because we spent too much money for it,

or because it was a gift, or because we're not using it,

but we think we should be.

And so we don't want to get rid of it,

but then we feel guilty for having too much stuff.

And it's like this trap that we can't get out of that's

really, really difficult.

Can I tell you, we're in the process of starting

a remodel on a couple of rooms in my house,

so it's meant boxing everything up.

I am reading your book last night, and I'm going,

this is me.


It was scary, actually, but helpful.

Because it really did cause me to ask

some questions about what do I want my house to look like?

And I want the same thing you talked about.

I want people to come in and feel like they can relax

and sit down and be at home.

I don't want to be yelling at my children or grandchildren

because they've marked something up

that is just a piece of furniture.

And at the same time, I want my home to be welcoming.


And I think all of us, deep down, really want that.

And yet, because we hear these messages saying, you need this,

and you need this.

And your home needs to look a certain way,

and you need to be a certain way.

We don't always think what do I want?

Who are the people that I share my home?

What do they want?

And everyone has a different threshold

for clutter and for what feels comfortable to them.

And so I'd like to encourage people

to not base your standards of decluttering your home based

on what you think is supposed to be clutter-free.

But base it on what feels good and feels

clutter-free free to you.

You talk about decluttering your home, your mind,

and your soul.

Talk about those last two places.

Well, you know, I think in the same way

that we've filled up our homes with physical stuff,

we fill up our lives and our schedules

with mental stuff, and with activities,

and that kind of stuff.

But we also fill up our souls with this burden

of feeling like we have to fix ourselves,

and we have to save ourselves.

And that's really what the book dives into.

At the heart of the matter, we can get rid

of all the physical clutter in our lives.

But what then?

What are we going to fill our lives with?

If we're still trying to be responsible

for our own salvation, we're never

going to find that in an uncluttered house.

Well, and there are choices that we can make

that make life so satisfying.

But actually getting to that place of quiet contemplation

about this takes some getting rid of all the stuff

that makes loud noises around you. [CHUCKLES]


There are so many different things competing for our time

and for our attention and for our hearts and minds

all the time.

And so we're really getting to the heart of the matter.

But then we have to be honest with ourselves.

What then?

Am I trying to save myself?

And I think a lot of times, especially

in Christian circles, we do that.

We think if we do the right things,

and say the right things, and say the right prayers,

and read the right Bible studies,

and go to church every Sunday, we'll do it.

We'll attain this salvation.

TERRY MEEUWSEN: Do, do, do do, do.

Yes, it's a very do-it-yourself culture in so many ways.

Well, I loved your book.

It was very challenging, and at the same time,

very encouraging.

Not just one that causes us to think about what

needs to be decluttered and unstuffed from our lives.

But you really give us some concrete ways of doing that.

It's called "Unstuffed-- Decluttering Your Home,

Your Mind, and Your Soul."

It's available wherever books are sold,

and I think you'd really enjoy it.

Ruth, thank you so much.

Thank you so much for having me.

Thank you for your message.

Good to have you with us.

Thank you.


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