This episode is for anyone really but it’s especially for my beautiful friends living the military life. I get so many questions from military wives and women in the military themselves who need advice on how to implement minimalism and rhythms and routines in their homes.
Lauren is a health strategist but she is also a mom and a military wife. She understands military life and she has amazing advice and tips and I really believe this conversation is going to help you, give you hope and give you the feeling that somebody understands.
In This Episode Allie and Lauren Discuss:
The lack and scarcity mindset in military life
Minimalism & decluttering in military life
Moving when you’re in the military
Rhythms & routines in military life
- Health and wellness
Mentioned in this Episode:
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Lauren’s Facebook page
My globally-praised online course, Your Uncluttered Home, will help you clear the clutter, reduce your stress, and create more space for what matters. This course has changed over 10,000 motherhoods. Yours can be next!
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Mom life. We are surrounded with the message that it’s the tired life. The no-time-for-myself life. The hard life. And while it is hard and full of lots of servitude, the idea that motherhood means a joyless life is something I am passionate about putting a stop to. I’m on a mission to help you stop counting down the minutes till bedtime, at least most days. I want you to stop cleaning up after your kid’s childhood and start being present for it. Start enjoying it. I believe in John 10:10 “that we are called to abundant life” and I know mothers are not excluded from that promise. Join me in conversations about simplicity, minimalism and lots of other good stuff that leads to a life of less for the sake of enjoying more in your motherhood. I’m Allie Casazza and this is The Purpose Show.
Hello friends! I’m so excited to dive into this episode with you today. I sat down with my new friend, Lauren Chante. She is a health strategist for women. She’s got three kids and her husband is in the military, and what we did today is we dove into everything about military life. I get so many questions from military wives, moms who are in the military themselves or married to somebody in the military and they have this lifestyle that is so different from mine, different from most people and they’re struggling. They’re struggling with implementing minimalism, implementing rhythms, routine, and self-care—whether that’s physical, mental, emotional or all of it. It’s just a difficult lifestyle to navigate alone.
So, I’ve been looking to bring somebody on for a long time that’s living the military lifestyle, but I was praying for the right person. Lauren commented on something of mine recently and I reached out to her. We started talking and I just knew she was the one.
We’re having this conversation about military life, simplicity, wellness, and what to do when your husband is gone a lot, but what I really want you to understand is that this is for you to listen to whether you are a military family or not.
If you just deal with stress, if you move a lot, if your husband works really long hours–I’ve recorded an episode for that lifestyle in the past and it’s popular because people are struggling with this. It’s hard.
It’s hard to have the expectations of not having a partner in life day-to-day when you are married and you do have a spouse. So, what does that look like? What do you do? There’s so much to unpack in this episode. I can’t wait for you to dive in!
We talk about minimalism. We talk about rhythms, routines, managing life, managing a home. We talk about making decisions about things to keep and get rid of when there’s so much at stake and at play in the military lifestyle and the moving-a-lot-lifestyle.
Then also, because Lauren is a health strategist, we dive into wellness. I love what she has to say about this. Please stick around to the end of this episode. And please share this episode with your mom friends, especially if you are military. This needs to get into the hands of every single military mom that exists right now. Please share it in your Facebook groups, your support groups, text it to your friends.
This is such important content, so uplifting. It really creates comradery and togetherness and I think we as women need a lot more of that.
So please welcome Lauren and enjoy this conversation!
ALLIE: Hi Lauren! Thank you so much for sitting with me in person.
LAUREN: This is so fun! Thank you for having me.
ALLIE: I know! I’m really excited.
Okay, so I’m with Lauren Chante and we are going to have a conversation. Really, this conversation is for military families. There are so many of you in my community and I love all of you so much but I cannot show up and serve you in the way that I really feel you deserve, so I invited Lauren here. We connected on Instagram.
ALLIE: You were texting me about something else.
LAUREN: I left a comment about something and you reached out to me and now we’re friends. That’s amazing!
ALLIE: I know! We had coffee and we’re going to have lunch after this.
Lauren lives an hour from me and she drove down here out of the goodness of her heart to reach out to you other military mamas and we are going to just have a conversation for you guys. I’ve so many amazing questions here in front of me. We are going to just dive in.
We talked about you military mamas before we turned on the recording button and we want this to be life-giving for you. We want this to be something that makes you feel like you’re not alone. And we also do want to dive into the technicalities of the things that I teach with minimalism and all that life stuff. Military families are a little bit of an exception with some things and we wanted to give you those key questions to ask and those tools that you can use as a military family to simplify your life. It just might look a little different.
Something that we were talking about that I want to go over again with Lauren is the lack and scarcity mentality. First of all, what is that? What does that mean to you or for anyone who maybe is thinking, “Oh, that sounds like we speak,” or, “I don’t know what that means?” What do you feel like having a scarcity mentality is exactly?
LAUREN: For me, it’s when you’re afraid that you don’t have enough or you’re not going to have enough, and instead of just letting it be a fear, you allow it to turn it into action and you live your life dictated by that fear.
ALLIE: Okay. That was really well said. Thank you.
I feel like it’s used a lot in the business world about money and making decisions in your business, but really it’s everybody. It’s all the time. It can be from anything.
I’ve spoken a lot with military wives from all different branches, different lifestyles, different backgrounds. Women whose spouses are in the military or sometimes they’re in the military as well, or they’re the one that’s going to be deploying, whatever it looks like, they come to me. And the thing I hear a lot is: “I don’t really know where this mindset comes from or why.”
And I’m like, “I know where it comes from. But that’s ok, we’ll work through it.”
But they say, “I just feel like I can’t let go of anything, like I need to hold on to everything.”
The common denominator is that they’re military—they’re in the military or they are military wives. So where is the connection with that? Can you explain that?
LAUREN: Yeah, so the military lifestyle is really different from the way that most people live their lives. We move multiple times over our time in the military. Sometimes it’s after 11 months, sometimes you’re in the same place for three years. My husband and I had seven addresses in seven years at one point. It’s very different from what a lot of people experience. Then, when you layer on top of that a lot of the emotional stuff we go through, there is a lot of fear in the military lifestyle.
You’re afraid for your spouse if they’re deployed or even if they’re off at training. You’re afraid for yourself—that you’re not going to be able to handle all the responsibilities that are going to be put on your shoulders. You’re afraid for your children—that the way that you’re living is going to impact them in some way. I know we always hear that military children are resilient and they’re better off than other kids in many ways, but when you’re a parent looking at a child who’s crying in bed at night because they miss Daddy, it’s really hard to believe that sometimes.
There’s just so much fear and it’s really hard for many people to cope with that and to cope with the uncertainty. And so, I think sometimes you just try to keep control under your own roof. And what you had kind of put together, Allie, was that keeping control over our stuff and over our things is a way of coping with that and that can lead to dealing with clutter and with all the things that minimalism can help with.
ALLIE: And not that everyone who is a military spouse becomes a hoarder or anything, but hoarding is something that I deal with a lot and it’s just like any other, for lack of a better word, “disorder.” Anytime you’re extreme in one way or another it comes from something. And I feel like hoarding always comes from some kind of fear or lack. When you deal with somebody who has an eating disorder they’re trying to control something because they can’t control something else. And that’s almost always the case. It’s the same with keeping too much. All of this verbiage that these women are using with me is coming from fear, lack, scarcity, lack of control. They’re worried and so they say things like, “I feel like I won’t have the budget to buy this again if I need it. I feel this weird need to control everything, hold on to everything.”
Of course you do! That is so hard. It’s so freaking hard! And a lot of us just don’t understand. We civilian families don’t know how to talk to you. You are so amazing to us. You’re so brave and you’re doing this hard thing. We’re just like, “Who am I to come in and be like, ‘Well, you shouldn’t keep that,” or, “This is how I handle my kitchen.’” It just feels so empty and stupid to me if I’m honest. I don’t want to even go over there and talk to you about that because I just feel like I’m going to say the wrong thing and have no idea.
I’m so excited about this conversation because I want these women to understand that they’re not alone in that fear-based mentality. And also, putting a label on it, knowing that is where it’s coming from, I think that knowledge is power. They’re going to be able to see and say, “Oh, I feel like I can’t get rid of anything because it’s coming from a need to control, so I can label it that, and then walk in that knowledge, in that power, and make decisions that are a little bit different.”
When I’m teaching minimalism, I really try to come at it from a non-legalistic standpoint. I don’t want to be like, “Here are the rules. Here’s the cloak you put on to be a minimalist, or to act like me or like this person in order to call yourself a minimalist.” And then if you don’t do these things or if you have that much stuff you can’t call yourself that.
A lot of minimalist teachers, gurus, and leaders kind of talk like that. I think it’s damaging because this needs to be relevant. It needs to be relevant for your lifestyle, for how often you move, for your climate, for your family size. Do you homeschool? Do your kids go to school? Are you married? Are you single? Are you in the military? What is going on? That is going to change astronomically family-to-family.
When it comes to the military, the three key questions I’m always saying, half of them go out the window because it’s not relative for you. I think it’s important to take everything with a grain of salt and to know this is going to look different for Lauren and her family than it does for me and my family.
Lauren and I were talking about an example earlier and I want to go back to it. Women have said to me, “I have these curtains that I love, but I’ve moved them all over the country seven times and I’ve never had an opportunity where the house was right and I could use them. Should I keep them?”
And I loved what Lauren said earlier about the questions that need to be asked. Can you go over that again and talk about what matters here when it feels silly to drag things around from state to state and all over the place? What are the questions that matter to you and show you what to keep and what not to keep?
LAUREN: Yeah, for sure. I think, for me, the first really big question is: If I love this item and I’m thinking about whether I should get rid of it or not, is it actually interfering with the reason that I started minimalism to begin with?
When I found minimalism and I found you, Allie, I really was feeling the burden of my husband being deployed. He was deployed overseas for 11 months. We were just a couple of months into it and I was really struggling with keeping up with our laundry and keeping up with our dishes especially. I was also struggling with making up for the fact that my kids were missing an entire parent. They were missing love. And when you’re hustling to not only keep up with your house but to be present with your kids, it just can feel like this impossible race.
And obviously to me the most important thing was being present with my kids and having them feel as much love as possible since their dad wasn’t there. But I also wasn’t willing to let our house completely slide into ruin and filth because it was also important to me that their environment was comfortable and happy for them too. So, when I was looking at things, if I wasn’t sure about them, the questions that I would ask myself were: If my goal is to be present with my kids, is this going to interfere with that? Is this going to get in the way of my daily rhythms or can I pack this away somewhere and not have to touch it, look at it, or deal with it and know that it’s not taking time from my day? Because for me it was really about getting time back.
ALLIE: Okay. I love that. For me, that’s the same thing but under a different light. Not because they’re missing a different parent. Well, for the bulk of the time they were. During the day for 6 days a week/14 hours a day, Brian was gone, so I did feel a little bit of that. And I relate to you—not to my husband being deployed—but just that feeling of, “Man they’re not going to see him except for Sundays so there’s something to be made up for there and I don’t want to be yelling, screaming, and freaking out.” The search for this stemmed from that for me as well.
What an amazing perspective not only for military families but for non-military families to have of minimalism. This is the purpose. It’s not about the clean house. It’s not about having “less for the sake of less” or to say, “Look how minimalist I am.” That’s ridiculous. It needs to be about less for the sake of more of what matters and choosing those things. You only have so much energy to give. You only have so much space and what takes up your space takes up your time. So what is worthy of that to you?
Going back to the curtain example, if you’re a military wife and you’re going through Your Uncluttered Home, you’re taking the course, you’re implementing minimalism, whatever that looks like for you, and you come to those curtains—are they getting in your way? Are they in storage?
How does storage work with the military, Lauren?
LAUREN: Well, if you had a storage unit you would be paying for it yourself, but it could also be the storage in your home. Maybe you’re keeping it in your garage, in the closet, or the closet under the stairs, whatever it might be.
ALLIE: Okay. So it’s out of sight. It’s not sitting on your bookshelf, right? You put it in a space. And you love them. That’s the other thing, one of the three key questions that I’m always saying to you guys is, “Do you love this item?” That question stays. If you love it and the thought of getting into a home where you could use those curtains lights you up, then yeah, keep it. Why would you just purposely lose out on joy because you’re not using it right now?
I’m here. I live in this city. I live in that home. We have no plans to relocate anytime soon. These are the things that I have and that I use. And so, if it were me who had those curtains, I would give them away because I’m not using them and I have no plans to use them. I do like them, but I’m just not using them.
But if you’re military and you’re moving around all the time, you don’t know what house you’re going to get next, but you always know you’re going be moving. Why would you purposely get rid of the curtains you love? That’s where the wasting of money comes in because you might want to use those one day.
I think for military families it’s okay to hold on to more things than a normal, non-military family would because that is making minimalism relative for you in your story, in your lifestyle. I feel like what women in the military need to understand is that it’s okay to keep things because of your lifestyle. It is going to look different. Your garage is going to have more things that it’s holding than mine does. We don’t even use our garage. Our garage is a gym. We don’t even have anything out there because we don’t need to. You do need to. That’s your lifestyle. Does that make sense?
LAUREN: Home run! With you totally.
ALLIE: Okay, good. So, talk to me and all of us listening about moving. How often and what does it look like in the military to move? Doesn’t somebody move for you?
LAUREN: So, the military has movers and if you have a certain type of orders over a certain number of miles, you’re eligible to have your household moved. You can choose to do it yourself if you want to, but I personally would not want to do it myself. They’ll even pack for you. All you have to do is take your pictures off of the wall. So, that’s pretty amazing to just have somebody be able to pack up all your stuff, put it in a truck and take it where it’s supposed to go.
ALLIE: At no extra cost?
LAUREN: At no extra cost. They do all the packing.
There are certain things that can’t go with you like they’re not going to transport potted plants. If you want to bring your fig tree that you’ve been growing in the back of your house, you’re going to have to put it in the back of your husband’s pickup truck and have him drive it across the country because they’re not going to take plants. And I know many people who have done that, people who love to garden and who just really cherish their plants. They won’t take things that are open. So, like your wine that you bought in Italy when you were living in Sicily with the Navy, you gotta finish all that before you go. Because if it’s open, they’re not going to take it.
So, that part can be good and bad because it’s really nice that they move everything but it can also enable you to never look through your stuff because you don’t have to worry about the expense of moving it. That’s a personal decision that you have to make. Am I going to make each move an opportunity to purge? Or am I just going to let it be and just let them move everything? And I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer to that because moving can be stressful.
There have been many moves, even with the help of the military, where having to think about decluttering might have sent me over the deep end. And I think that’s important to talk about.
Two moves ago, my husband was sent away for training in the desert (we lived in Virginia at the time) for the entire month leading up to our move. He was not on active duty at that point. He’s a Reservist now, so we had to do that move ourselves and I had two kids by myself. My mother-in-law and my brother-in-law came down and we packed our two bedroom apartment into a Uhaul ourselves. And I remember closing the Uhaul as my husband came up in a taxi. He got out of the taxi and said, “What can I do to help?” And I said, “It’s done. Everything’s done. We’re closing.”
ALLIE: You are so amazing!
LAUREN: Trust me, I’m surprised that my mother-in-law still talks to me after that because I was a witch. It was horrible and it was a good thing that they were family because it was really hard.
But decluttering did not need to be the priority then. Getting through it, taking care of our family, taking care of ourselves, those were the priorities. There’s no shame in identifying when minimalism is going to help your self-care and when it’s going to hinder it because it’s not always going to be the right time.
ALLIE: Absolutely. And I think so many women are saying things like, “Well, I just don’t want to move with all this stuff.” But you didn’t have the time that you needed pre-move to figure this out. You found my blog or my a podcast, or figured this out in your head too little too late. And that’s okay. I always say in my business that it’s okay to produce B- work as long as it’s done. You don’t need to be perfectionistic and always seeking that A+ because it’s never going to come. It’s not going to be perfect. Just get it out into the world and deal with it later. And it’s okay to do that in life and in motherhood. We don’t want to not try or to be lazy, but if you want everything to be perfect, you’re just going to make yourself miserable.
That’s what the legalistic side of minimalism looks like. It looks like you saying, “I really shouldn’t move with that junk.” Listen, that’s ridiculous. Just get it done. Get it in the truck. You have enough going on. You had all the kids, you had everything by yourself, did everything yourself and it was done. When you get there you can deal with it. It’s okay to be putting things in the garbage and putting things in the donation pile after the move. Why is it like once you’re in a new house you think, “We can’t have any clutter; everything has to be perfect.” That’s a perfectionistic mindset and I think it’s really hard to overcome that, but really important to remember.
I love how you’ve been talking about this. What is going to serve us right now, in this moment in time, because being in the military means living a lifestyle that is so different, sudden, and stressful. Like, “Okay, pick it up and let’s go.” You can’t do things the way that I would do them. You just can’t. And you need to know that it is okay to hold onto things a little longer, to hold on to a few more things, to keep things in your garage. It’s okay. That is making minimalism relative to you. I think there’s freedom in that. I hope there’s freedom in that.
LAUREN: Can I share a practical tip about moving that works? When the military movers are packing your stuff, they will also unpack it for you at your destination. So one thing that we used to do that I got from other military spouses is get a bunch of different roles of different colored masking tape so that you can color code the boxes. Green might be everything that goes in the living room. Red might be everything that goes in the attic. So if you have stuff that you’re not sure if you’re going to want to declutter, pick a colored tape for that and when you get to your destination don’t have the movers unpack it. Just leave it where it is so that you don’t have the stuff that you don’t know what to do with just sitting everywhere, and you can take your time going through it instead of having it dumped in a pile on your living room floor and then being forced to deal with it.
ALLIE: Because then you unpack it with all the other stuff and you’re like, “I don’t think I want to keep this but I don’t know what’s going on.” You also don’t have the brain space when you’re moving to sit and make those decisions. Decision making and problem solving take up the most brain calories of anything so you’re just not going to have it.
I love that tip of having a stack of green taped boxes in the corner for when you’re settled, things are set up, your kids’ beds are made and they’re good. Everything is set up.
LAUREN: And it’s so easy. You just say to the movers, “Don’t unpack the green boxes.” That’s it. You don’t have to look at every box as it comes in the door and say, “Unpack that one, pack this one.” It’s just all taken care of.
ALLIE: That’s genius!.
LAUREN: And then you can focus on what you need to focus on—getting the kids registered for school, making sure you can find everybody’s winter clothes and underwear, getting the beds set up, the things that are really important and just leave that for later.
ALLIE: Making it feel like a home when you guys have just moved again. That is so good.
I was going to ask you if you had any tips for moving, so that’s great. Thank you so much for sharing that. That’s amazing!
Before we move on, is there anything about minimalism for military families that you’ve been hoping would come up or that you feel like you want them to know? Anything that comes to mind about that?
LAUREN: I think that, for me, the biggest impact for our family was on our day-to-day life. I think that if you’re overwhelmed by minimalism as a military family and you just focus on the things that directly impact your day-to-day life, you will find a lot of meaning in it. For me, as I mentioned before, laundry and dishes were a really big issue especially when my husband deployed. I was actually hiring a mother’s helper to come over and help with the laundry.
And when I went through Your Uncluttered Home and I pared down the amount of clothing that we had, that problem went away. The kids and I do our laundry together now. We have a laundry party once a week. The kids get to pick what music we put on. It’s not so much clothing that they feel like they’re going to throw a tantrum because they’re overwhelmed by putting it away. It was amazing. I never had to hire somebody to help me with the laundry again after that for the whole 11 months that he was gone.
Another thing that’s really specific to the military community is the uniform situation which we didn’t talk about earlier, but man, the guys and the girls that serve have so much clothing because there is a uniform for everything.
ALLIE: Oh, I didn’t know that.
LAUREN: Oh gosh, there’s all these different uniforms. You have your formal uniforms, your informal uniforms, formal uniforms in different colors for different seasons. My walk-in closet is filled with uniforms. When they deploy they have to bring all their clothing with them. So they have like a hundred green shirts, a thousand pairs of boots because they have this lack mindset about making sure that they bring enough with them because it’s not like they can just go to the military store.
ALLIE: Will they be in trouble if they don’t have the right thing?
LAUREN: Well, they just won’t have a shirt to wear. If you’re in Afghanistan and you’re out of socks and shirts, that’s not really that fun. So you can understand why they want to keep all that stuff.
But then sometimes they’ll have their deployment shirts that they wear because they’re going to be working with vehicles and they know they’re going to be dirty. Then they’ll have their shirts that they’ll wear to the office. And they’re all just T-shirts but they need two different sets of T-shirts. As the person who’s handling the closet organization and as the person who’s handling the laundry that can be really overwhelming.
One thing that I’ve been doing (I hope my husband doesn’t listen because I don’t think he even knows I’m doing this yet) is sorting out all the stuff that I know he uses on deployments and trainings. I just put it in a tote in the garage and it’s not given an opportunity to be in the regular rotation. He has the stuff that I know he needs on a daily basis, and if he asks and says, “Honey, where’s my set of oil steamed, green T-shirts that go with my camis?” I’d be like, “Oh they’re in the tote in the garage.” That way it’s not constantly entering my laundry pile. I am controlling how much I’m dealing with.
ALLIE: The laundry should really only be what’s day-to-day. What are you and your family actually using all the time? I love that you saw that and that you made that switch.
I have so many thoughts and questions because I don’t understand. I feel like everything that you’re saying brings me back to the ‘lack mindset.’ What if I’m deployed and I need more clothes? What if we’re here and we need this piece of decor that we got rid of? I feel like that fear and scarcity is littered throughout the military lifestyle. Is there anything that you have learned to combat that?
LAUREN: I actually just had an epiphany about that as you were saying it. I think that a big thing that’s missing for a lot of military spouses is that if this is going to work for you—minimalism or not—you have to trust yourself and you have to trust that you are the expert in your family, in your relationship, and in the way that you want to live your life.
I think that so many times we, as spouses, can look to the outside world for what we need to be doing which sometimes is great when we find a course like yours, when we find a community like yours. But you can also become paralyzed because you’re constantly looking outside and there’s just so many options for how you can live your life that are presented by the world. You have to go inside of yourself and trust that you are good enough, strong enough, and worthy enough to make these calls for your family.
It doesn’t have to be Allie making the call. It doesn’t have to be anybody else anywhere making the call. I do think that a lot of military spouses are tossed into this lifestyle young. There’s a lot of couples that get married young, have children young. I think that sometimes in the military lifestyle, we as women have not stepped into our power as the wives and the mothers in our families. So, if you’re feeling like you’re living from a place of fear in the military life, there is a huge part of that that could be rooted in the fact that you are not believing in yourself enough and that is probably the first place that I would tell somebody to start.
ALLIE: That’s amazing. Thank you.
I feel that somebody listened to this and wasn’t really sure why and that they needed to know that.
LAUREN: I just got teary. I know you guys can’t see that, but I did, I just got teary-eyed.
ALLIE: I love that you shared that. It’s so important.
Military families are so good at sticking together, virtually and digitally. I was sharing with you earlier that I have several friends who are military wives, or Coast Guard wives, and they have this community that’s unwaveringly loyal. But there’s an isolation in you as the wife because you’re dealing with other people, other families who don’t get it. And everything that you just said is so needed. I’m so proud of you for saying that. That’s really good.
I want to shift gears from the minimalism thing to life. You mentioned rhythms earlier and you mentioned it off the cuff because you are doing that in your own life. What about being a military family is a little bit different?
One of the things that I’m always talking about is rhythms, routines, your schedule and being intentional in that. Is there anything that’s glaringly different for you that you’re like, “Okay, well, that’s going to look different for me,” or “I’ve had to learn to do this with my schedule.” I would imagine that it definitely has something to do with your husband being gone a lot. How do you run your life as a solo parent so much of the time? What does that look like for you?
LAUREN: Absolutely. Well, for me, I honestly don’t rely on him being around to help, which is maybe not what everybody wants to hear. Nobody wants to hear, “Just do it yourself,” but I think sometimes you have to because their schedules can be so unpredictable. When we found out that my husband was deploying, I didn’t know he was supposed to go. We got to his unit and there was no, “We’re gearing up for a deployment.” Something happened. Another unit couldn’t go. And I got the phone call, “Honey, I’m going to Afghanistan for a year and I leave in two months.” It just absolutely blindsided me. Tears were streaming down my face in the car and I’m just saying to my husband, “I’m okay. I’m really okay. I’m just upset because it’s a surprise. It’s going to be fine.” And I’m talking to myself as much as him.
Those things happen all the time. Whether it’s like, “Oh honey, I have to go in and I have to work this weekend now because something came up,” or, “They just slated me to go on this training that I wasn’t expected to go on, so now I’m going to be gone for our son’s birthday,” or something like that. It just comes up. So you have to be prepared to roll with the punches and you have to figure out how to be able to run things yourself.
My husband’s actually now a Reservist, which means that he’s gone one weekend a month, two weeks a year as a Marine. And then he holds down a civilian job as well. So that really throws a loop in the family schedule because one weekend a month he’s gone and it’s not always the same weekend. It’s not like we can always count on the first weekend of the month or the last weekend of the month.
And then there was a phase of his career where he had to do a special training because of his rank so he was actually gone a second weekend a month, and he elected to go to our local base to do that because it meant he would get paid if he went to the base instead of doing it from home and studying at night. So, he was gone two weekends a month and two weeks a year for a significant amount of time. There was no ability to have predictability with that. I just had to know that it was something that I could do on my own.
Now, just because it was something that I did on my own doesn’t mean it was easy, it doesn’t mean that I did it well, and it doesn’t mean that I would wish that on anyone. I have to be transparent for all the military spouses out there—we all have dark moments when they are gone. This year while my husband was deployed I hit rock bottom many times in different ways and so I don’t want to be talking about solutions in a way that minimizes how hard it’s going to be anyways. Because it is going to be hard anyways.
Using rhythms, minimalism, and all these tools is really just something to help you keep your head above water a little bit more than it would have been otherwise. I don’t want to be waltzing through this conversation like everybody should just be Mary Poppins while their husbands are gone. Because that’s definitely not it. But using these tools definitely is what I would recommend.
ALLIE: Yeah. We appreciate that from you too. The listeners and myself appreciate you being transparent about that. And I feel like mothers in general struggle with feeling like it’s supposed to be easy, it’s supposed to be perfect. No, it’s not. It’s just supposed to be a little lighter. What can you do in this heavy season—whether it’s military life, having a new baby, going through postpartum depression, going through a divorce, a move, whatever it is—to take control over what you can take control over? You’re not trying to control everything, but there’s pieces of this that you have a say in and how can you use that to just lighten things up a little bit?
What would make this a little bit less? A little bit less laundry to do? Sure. Less dishes to wash? Yes. Maybe ordering out instead of cooking every single night? Will I make that exchange to make the financial things a little bit higher, but the stress a little bit less? Yeah, I’m willing to make that.
And it’s making those choices—that in and out—that just lightens it a little bit, but absolutely does not diminish how hard this season is or how hard your life is with no end in sight. So many people talk about this like, “Oh, it’s just a season. It’ll pass.” But for military families you don’t have an end in sight really, or if you do it might be very far away and that can feel hopeless. But it’s not hopeless.
It’s just that you are more running a marathon and maintaining this pace of, “I can just simplify what I can and let go of the rest and know it’s going to be hard.” And you know that you can continue to do that longer than most of us have to.
LAUREN: Something I say to my clients a lot on the health strategy side and the site where I coach moms is it’s not necessarily about reaching your goal as it is about becoming the person that you have to be to reach your goal, whether that goal is weight loss or whether that goal is surviving military life.
I think that we, as women, need to take more time to appreciate the ways that we are changing and growing from the hardships that we go through. For a long time I would get frustrated that things in my life were difficult because something hard would happen. My husband would go away and there was a long time where I was really bitter about my husband being in the military. I was urging him, “Get out of the military. I don’t like it. I don’t like you being away from the kids. I don’t like you being away from me.” And it really tore into our relationship. It made our marriage a lot more difficult. And then I finally realized that the problem wasn’t really the military. It was me and the way that I was accepting or not accepting hardship in my life.
And once I really started to notice that, “Listen, yes, this is hard, but after every hard thing that we go through, I grow so much…” Once I started noticing those ways that I was growing, I started to appreciate it instead of being upset by it. The person I am now is not the person I was 10 years ago, and so much of that is because of what we’ve been through as a military family.
There was one time where I basically had myself locked in the bathroom just trying to stay away from the kids, give myself a break, keep my head on straight. And instead of sitting there and just feeling so distraught that things were so hard, I said to myself, “Do you see a light at the end of the tunnel? Do you see something good coming from this?” And I could. In every single dark moment during the time that he was gone this year, I could see myself growing.
So, if you can sit in the darkness and you can say, “You know what? This is just the hardship that I need to transform,” and you can see that transformation is coming, I think it helps you get through it and know that it’s going to be okay. Whereas, when you just are so focused on the hardship it makes it feel like you’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders.
ALLIE: That’s so beautiful. I feel like you’re not even realizing as you’re talking that this is groundbreaking; this is so good.
LAUREN: This is what my brand and what my purpose as a business woman is based on. I always say it on my Instagram Bio: “People’s happiness is more important to me than their dress size.” And so much of my work is around happiness and it just so happens that, for me, health is the vehicle that I know how to affect people with but it’s the same across the board no matter what you’re working on. These are the principles that help people be happy.
ALLIE: Okay. So moving based off of that, I want to go into health, wellness, and self-care. This is what you do. This is what you teach. This is what drew me to you. I went to your profile and I saw what you’re about. And it’s so good, so life-giving in a culture of “Diet. Just do it. Work hard. Hustle. Burn that fat away. Pain is fat leaving the body.” Or whatever it is. It’s so abrupt and rough. And these expectations are very much how I feel the legalistic side of minimalism is being taught. It’s like, “No, moms, no. You can’t go there. You can’t do that to yourself.” It needs to come from hope, light, love, and it needs to be very relevant for where you’re at.
It’s the same with wellness. There’s that side of it where it’s like, “You just need to do it. What do you want? Do you want to be fat or do you want to be…whatever?” It’s so rough. What do you believe about all of that? Tell me about what you teach and your mission in that.
LAUREN: Totally. Well, like I said, I’m all about “happiness is more important than your dress size.” And I’ve been in the wellness industry for more than 11 years now. My master’s degree is in the field. I’ve worked in all sorts of different environments around the country because as a military spouse I have moved a lot so I’ve seen a lot of the industry.
And there was a point in my life where being in the fitness industry, the messages you just said were the things that I was telling myself. Because personal trainers and people in the fitness industry are afraid that if we’re not the best at fitness we’re not going to get paid and nobody is going to want to come to our gym to work with us. And then how are we going to put food on the table?
So it becomes self-perpetuating because we’re allowing ourselves to take in that rhetoric about wellness and health. And when we are taking it in, we’re modeling it for people and it just keeps going. I, myself, hit a point where I recognized that it wasn’t making me happy to be that way. And I said to myself, “Well, what is the point of all of this if I’m not happy? If it’s giving me anxiety?” There was a point after I had my first child when I made myself throw up and I had never in my life thought that I would be somebody who was sitting over the toilet bowl shoving my fingers down my throat.
But I just felt so badly about my body. I had been having trouble losing weight after my first child at that point because I had never had to diet before. I wasn’t nutrition certified at that point. I didn’t really know what I was doing. I was going about it the wrong way. I was just so frustrated and it felt so small compared to the body image that we see out there in mainstream media. And I just remember looking at myself and saying, “This is not who you are and there has to be a different way to do this.” And ever since that day I’ve just been on a mission to figure out what health really should be for women. And gosh, I don’t even know what to say after that.
ALLIE: No, it’s amazing. No, that’s good. I have a coach who helps me with intuitive eating and not binge-eating because that’s my go-to because when we were in our hardest place, food was “all I had” and it was a comfort. So I just go to that when I’m stressed or even when I’m happy. I’m thankful that it was food and not something else, but you know, it’s still not good. Anytime I meet somebody who’s in the wellness industry, I just feel like, “Oh my gosh, would you just share light, love, hope and help,” because it is such an over saturated market with the negative messages.
When I have business coaching clients who are in wellness they’re like, “I don’t know how to get my messages out there because it’s so over-saturated.” And I’m like, “That may seem true to you, but actually it’s not. It’s the opposite.” There needs to be so much love, light, acceptance, body love, intuitive eating and wellness versus forcing your body to become something that it is not. And it’s just not enough. More wellness coaches, please, more.
LAUREN: So after you, I actually coined the phrase, “fitness minimalism.” I just did a video about this on my IGTV. I really recognized that I was spending such a significant portion of my life on being in the gym and on exercising. Not to be healthy but to be fit. And there’s a really big difference between being fit and being healthy.
When we are talking about being healthy, we’re looking at our cardiovascular health. Is your heart healthy? Are your lungs healthy? Are you doing just enough to make sure that you’re preventing injuries, you’re not going to have osteoporosis and that you can deal with your day-to-day demands? Can you pick up a child? Can you carry the groceries without hurting your back? Do you have enough endurance to play with your kids? That’s health. Fitness is a whole other thing.
What we’re seeing in mainstream media in terms of the body types that we’re glorifying and the images that we’re seeing in magazines is either thin women or very athletic women. And there’s nothing wrong with either. Every body is beautiful. But the fact of the matter is that being athletic and fit takes more time than just being healthy.
And going through Your Uncluttered Home and being exposed to minimalism was the first time that I really started to think of time as something that’s not a renewable resource. And even though I was in the fitness industry, I had to step back and I had to look at my fitness habits and I had to say to myself, “Why am I spending so much time on trying to make my body look a certain way?”
And when I really asked myself those questions, it was because I was hustling for my self-worth and hustling for my place as a professional in the fitness industry. It wasn’t coming from the right place.
I think that so many women, especially after we have children, really what we’re trying to do when we say, “I want to lose my baby weight,” is we’re trying to hustle to get our self-worth back because we’re just so rocked by becoming mothers and by finding our place in the world again.
I don’t really know where I was going with that, but I feel like it’s such an important distinction to make. I am probably one of the only people out there right now who’s urging women to examine stepping away from exercising so much, stepping away from making these ambitious fitness goals and just allowing them to embrace their health and to embrace spending their time wisely on the things that they love.
Right now my ministry is my children and my ministry is this business that I’m growing. I don’t need to have cut shoulders and six-pack abs anymore. I’ve done that and it’s not that important to me. It’s not going to be my legacy and it doesn’t have to be yours just because it’s the legacy of other people in the fitness industry. You have to cut your own path.
ALLIE: Absolutely. I want to share this because it’s been on my mind a lot lately and it’s been my journey: I feel like I’m learning to seek balance in everything. That word is so overly stated, but I feel like I’m really seeking balance. On the days where I’m sitting a lot longer than usual, I will push myself to have a dance party in the living room with the kids, take a walk, or go jump on the bike and spin a little bit. I’m pushing for balance because I know how good it is for me. But it’s not coming from a place of negative fuel like, “My butt is going to get so much bigger. I need to make myself do that.”
It’s more like, “How can I bring balance into today? Well today I ran a ton of errands, I was on my feet all day, I cleaned the whole house and I did all this stuff. I don’t need to also work out because I need to burn this percentage of fat or whatever.” I don’t know if that will help anyone, but I feel like when it comes to wellness, especially if you’re busy, if you’re a military family, if you’ve got a lot going on, if you run a business and you have kids it’s just like, “How can I balance out today?” When you look back over the morning, or the afternoon, whatever time of day it is, what did you do mostly? Balance that out.
Maybe you need to sit down and watch Netflix for 30 minutes. Maybe that’s what will balance out. Maybe it is doing a quick workout or putting on a yoga video on YouTube or something. But I feel like if balance is the pursuit, really it’s harder to go wrong. It’s harder to overdo anything.
LAUREN: And I think that focusing on balance urges you to learn what works for you instead of what works for other people. And I always tell my clients and my tribe that I don’t read books about health and fitness. I do not do it. I will not read the book. I have my master’s degree in exercise science. I have studied a lot in nutrition. I have enough of the fundamental knowledge that now I understand that, again, just like we were talking about with minimalism and military life, you have to trust yourself and you have to trust that you know what is best for your life, your family, and your body.
And I do teach people tools. One of my favorite tools to use is a food journal that I created that I’ve paired with metrics like your energy level and the amount of water that you drank to teach people basically to be reflective about themselves because we are out of touch with that.
Just like with motherhood and our households, we’re always looking to figure out what we should be doing with our lives. And it’s the same with our health. We’re always looking at the diet that our neighbor is on, the thing that we see on Instagram, or the latest New York Times bestselling book about nutrition, and we’re not stepping back and looking at ourselves and our own wisdom.
That’s really what I’m trying to empower people to do right now is to stop jumping from diet to diet. Stop being paleo on Monday, figuring out it’s not working on Wednesday, and then being Keto by Friday. Take the time to learn about what it means to learn about yourself. It’s something that we’re not educated in that we need to be.
ALLIE: This just came to my mind and I want to close with this question because I think it’s really important for the military women listening. In terms of mental wellness, emotional wellness, I guess inner wellness, what is something that you’ve learned or that you would want to say to the military wives listening about that area of wellness in what your lifestyle looks like, feels like? What is a mental or emotional self-care tip that you have for them?
LAUREN: I think that you really have to look at your personality and identify if you’re somebody who sits on the extremes of personality. If you can’t tell I’m super Type A, I don’t admit it a lot but I’m really on that Type A side of things.
ALLIE: That’s not a bad thing!
LAUREN: It’s not, but sometimes you can also be on the extreme and you can be very laid back. I think in general we as people tend to sit on extremes and the more that you can cultivate habits in your life that help you find the middle, the easier it is to deal with everything. Because sometimes the things in our personality that are strengths can also be weaknesses and they can be things that really can make our journey harder, so we have to try to know ourselves and strike that balance.
ALLIE: That’s really good. I love that answer.
Okay, we’re going to wrap up but I want to give you guys this thing to go and do right now. I want you to please share this episode in whatever military support group you’re in and in Facebook groups. Share it with a friend, text a military mom friend. Please share this because what Lauren is saying is so impactful and so full of emotion and truth and it’s needed. I feel like it’s so needed.
I’m going to share this with my best friend. She’s a Coast Guard wife and she’s going to love this. I feel like how can we support each other as women, as mothers, but more importantly, Lauren being a military spouse, how can you guys continue to support each other? You’re already so good at it?
Share this episode. I want this to get into the hands of every military mom that can possibly listen because I think that what you said is so amazing, so impactful and thank you so much!
LAUREN: Thank you!
ALLIE: Guys, if you are loving what Lauren is saying, I just want to encourage you to check her out. She is an amazing health strategist. She’s teaching wellness in this incredible light and I really love everything she has to say.
She’s also given us a discount code for 25% off anything in her store. She’s got a Daily Journal, Picky Eater Solutions For Our Kids, which by the way, she has this course on that and it is amazing. I’ve looked at it. It’s incredible.
She also has a membership community that she’s forming. It’s coming soon.
Use code PURPOSE for 25% off anything in her store. Go and check her out.
Let’s support each other! Babes support babes, right? Support small business. Go and check out Lauren.
I would never have anyone on the show that I didn’t completely stand behind their business, their message, check out their courses and make sure that it’s reputable and good for you to check out, good for you to spend your money on. And this is the real deal.
Laurenchante.com Code PURPOSE for 25% off everything, anything she has to offer.
Lauren has also been so kind as to give us her free cookbook called My Kitchen Table. It’s normally $8 and she’s giving it away totally free for just you guys! There’s a special link for that. It’s Laurenchante.com/thepurposeshow. You can go and snag that cookbook. Lauren definitely has a knack for recipes, talking about picky eaters with your kids, and teaching your kids wellness.
Oh my gosh her stuff is so good and you guys go check it out! Laurenchante.com/thepurposeshow
This was an episode of The Purpose Show. Did you know there is an exclusive community created solely for the purpose of continuing discussions surrounding The Purpose Show episodes? And to get you to actually take action and make positive changes on the things that you learn here? Go be a part of it. To join go to facebook.com/groups/purposefulmamas.
Thank you so much for tuning in. If you are ready to uplevel and really take action on the things I talk about on my show, and get step-by-step help from me, head to alliecasazza.com. There are free downloads, courses, classes, and ways to learn more about what the next step might look like for you and to focus on whatever you might need help with in whatever season you are in right now.
I am always rooting for you, friend! See ya next time!