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Unstuffed by Ruth Soukup (Zondervan, 2016)

Book Review – Unstuffed by Ruth Soukup

Unstuffed by Ruth Soukup (Zondervan, 2016)

About the book (from the publisher):

Unstuffed: Decluttering Your Home, Mind, and Soul by Ruth Soukup (Zondervan, 2016)

STUFF. It’s everywhere. Lurking in corners and closets, spilling onto counters and coffee tables, creating havoc everywhere we look. And it’s not just the physical clutter that weighs us down. Oh no, it is the stress of overbooked schedules, and the weight of life that sometimes feels oppressive and totally out of whack.

New York Times bestselling author Ruth Soukup feels your pain–she has been there too. Through personal stories, Biblical truth, and practical action plans, she will inspire and empower each of us to finally declutter not just our home, but our mind and soul as well. Unstuffed is real, honest, and gets right down to the question we are all facing–how can we take back our lives from the stuff that is weighing us down?

In this book, together we will:
• Create a comprehensive vision for our homes, and make instant changes to improve its overall function.
• Discover that more closet space is not the solution, and instead learn how to set strict limits for the stuff we bring in.
• Overcome the frustration of dealing with our kids’ influx of stuff and implement practical solutions for keeping the chaos at bay.
• Recognize the pitfalls of an overstuffed schedule BEFORE it gets out of hand, and instead learn to combat the culture of busy that keeps us running from one thing to the next.
• Finally conquer that mountain of paperwork that threatens to tumble down around us at any moment.
• Let go of the guilt that gets attached to gifts and instead learn to separate our loved ones from their stuff.
• Begin to cultivate our real friendships while eliminating the toxic relationships that weigh us down.

My thoughts:

The author blends practical with inspirational in a fairly well-rounded (for the intended audience) book in Unstuffed.

When picking up this book, it’s important to realize from the start that the book will not focus solely on decluttering physical possessions. Thankfully, the subtitle conveys this right away: “Decluttering your home, mind, and soul.” The book is organized into three main sections (Home, Mind, and Soul), with three chapters in each section tackling different components, like living areas, storage, kids, schedule, paperwork, gifts, and soul aspects of living (friends, wellness, and spiritual). The author uses both personal anecdotes along with practical step-by-step lists to offer what she’s learned and researched about decluttering our lives – physically and mentally. She incorporates a few faith-based statements throughout, but especially focuses on spiritual ‘decluttering’ and focus in the very last chapter.

A few aspects to consider: This book will be most helpful to its intended audience, which is first world, middle class with an overabundance of material stuff and crowded schedules. If outside of that group, this book will either be not useful, or possibly frustrating. However, considered within the intended audience, she begins with the physical stuff because many readers feel like that can help them gain some sanity if they’re in a position many middle class Americans are with too much all around.

The practical tips begin right away (on page 17), and her ideas will likely help much of her intended audience. If readers have researched decluttering techniques at all, many of her tips will have been heard or read before, but can still serve as good reminders. Perhaps more helpful is how she includes examples of applying those tips before or after each such numbered list of tips. The second section of the book is perhaps more useful because it deals with the why of decluttering (and why we get so cluttered in the first place), which allows readers to reflect and look at ways to change (and ways to accept grace). I particularly appreciated her thoughts on balance.

"We want to believe we can create balance. But balance comes from rest." - Unstuffed by Ruth Soukup

There is also a DVD study available to accompany this book, as well as an app and website with access to many of the resources discussed in the book.

What books or articles have helped you refocus on what matters?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine

Saying Goodbye to Survival Mode {Book Review}

I have some Type-A, perfectionist tendencies (I’ve seen more severe, so I can’t fully claim the label), and I definitely place way too much pressure on myself, including unrealistic expectations sometimes.

And I have young children (one of whom has multiple special needs), a part-time business, a husband who works more than full-time (also a blessing as he’s a hard worker who provides), a tight budget, and other challenges. Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine was written for me. And a whole lot of others.Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine

Crystal offers very understandable questions in the introduction as to whether or not you could benefit from this book. Some of the questions were a little too relatable for me. And, I just came off of being sick for a few days due to a hefty dose of sleep-deprivation over the past two weeks (due to both family needs and work needs).

Again, I needed to read this book.

I love Crystal’s honesty of her own struggles in reducing “schedule clutter” and the financial challenges she and her husband overcame early in their marriage. She offers simple, clear writing, but with enough detail to relate to and help readers.

“But I remember how empty and exhausted it felt to try to do it all, I realize it’s okay never to wear the [Superwoman] cape again.” – Say Goodbye to Survival Mode, p. 9

Crystal offers both practical tips (tips for setting up a sound budget, for managing time, for serving others as a family) along with a realistic and encouraging perspective. She includes tips from her own experience, research, reader tips, and reader questions.

“Excuses never get you anywhere. Instead of sitting and making excuses, invest the time and effort it takes to make excuses to consider how you can set yourself up for success in achieving your goals.” – Say Goodbye to Survival Mode, p. 101

I love how Crystal considers many kinds of families (single moms, working parents, stay-at-homes, families with special needs) and offers encouragement to all of us. She also addresses the root of why we should steward our time, health, and resources well:

“Live simply so others can simple live. Because truly, there is nothing more fulfilling than living a life with out-stretched arms.” – Say Goodbye to Survival Mode, p. 128

Some of the information Crystal shares may not be new to you if you already know about S.M.A.R.T. goals, sound financial planning, and basic health recommendations. But, as a single book to help inspire you to take action to better serve others and thrive (not just survive) in life, this book is a great resource.

Chapter 8 (“Yes, You Can Make a Difference”) might be my favorite chapter. It has inspired me to follow through on an idea I had before – monthly service projects as a family. I want serving others to be a daily habit in our family (and my kids inspire me constantly to do this more with their loving hearts!), but I also want to remain intentional about creating opportunities to bless our community or others internationally through activities the whole family can contribute to. Crystal gives practical suggestions in this chapter (and look for more posts from me on this blog on ideas we want to try and what we attempt).

quote from Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine

If you haven’t visited Crystal’s site before (MoneySavingMom.com), it’s full of daily money-saving tips and encouraging articles, plus free printables for home management.

If you’d like to read more or purchase Say Goodbye to Survival Mode, click here.

How have you gone through the survival mode and into a thriving mode?

Disclosure: I received a free advance reading copy of this book as a part of Crystal’s launch team in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. I was not compensated in any other way.