When the Heaviness is real: How to create a life of joy rather than carrying the weight of Clutter


The weight of life has been intense and overwhelming, lately.  Most days, I am surviving to get through the day of children, school, work, self-care, and sleep.  My self-talk tends to say, “Kate, you are such an 80 percenter today, or some days, a 50 percenter.” And isn’t that a cop-out, like “let me just protect myself from vulnerability, to avoid disappointment”? I joke with others because I just always feel that on any given day, I celebrate the 50% of me that is actually feeling good or moving in the positive direction. The truth is that I am living and giving 100%. I just never give myself credit for it.

I am a coach, a motivator, a teacher, and a lover by nature.   With others, the positive mantras come easy.  But, when I take a moment to look inside, I allow my own self, at times, to be controlled by the self-doubt that creeps in to my mind.  Am I doing enough?  Have I been a good (fill in the blank with wife, mom, friend, sister, daughter, in-law, woman, and person) today?

Recently, I have been struggling.  I have an almost 5 year old and an almost 1 year old at home, I just recently stopped breast feeding, my hormones are WHACK, I suffer from generalized anxiety and seasonal depression,  and I am paralyzed at times by the “what ifs” in life.

With that said, I have worked hard to rewire my life in a way that has made these harder moments, lighter, easier, more palatable.  I have learned to remove the “weight” of life.

It’s about the weight we carry.  It’s about the things we let control us.  It’s about the clutter.

So, here is where it gets good.  There is a way, for us all.

Start a morning mantra (thank you, Trish Blackwell!). Wake up with a purpose.  If I don’t start the day with something positive, my mind takes the wheel.  Today, my mantra was provided to me by the best life coach on earth, Trish Blackwell (trishblackwell.com), “I choose peace, not pressure”.  Because I have repeated this mantra today, over and over, it is 9:33 AM, 72 days into the new year and I am FINALLY writing my first blog post of 2019.  It is a “champagne moment” for me.  Morning mantras are more energizing and do more for your mind, body, and soul than that celebrated Cup ‘o Joe (yes, I said it, something is more effective than caffeine)

Choose to make this season the season of NO. Pull the draw bridges up, lower the gates, and proceed with caution towards all things that are not going to bring you joy, happiness, peace, and most of all, fulfillment.  WE DO NOT HAVE TIME FOR IT!

Instead, choose life.  Choose to open up your calendar, your to-do list, your mind for moments to enter.  The past two years have been some of my toughest years.  I was chasing a career, struggling with an incredibly difficult pregnancy, living with a low-functioning kidney that spit out kidney stones like a PEZ dispenser, keeping up with a 4 year old, and, oh ya – trying to breathe, sleep and eat.  Trying to be everything to everyone left me exhausted, sick, and unhappy.  I over-scheduled our calendar with trips that only people without kids (never mind a newborn) would agree to go on, and I was over it.

I decided that 2019 was going to be my SEASON OF NO!  I have been the world’s worst at saying NO, so this has been a true stretch for me.  But, when I tell you that I have never felt more free, enjoyed more moments, had less stress, loved my own home more than I do now, I am not joking.

The decision has allowed me to:

Find balance. I was able to find a career that opens up my time to be a mom and a wife and a healthy woman.

Simplify my life. I have had time to truly minimize my things and get rid of the material things weighing me down.

Spend magical moments with my children. I have spent 5 solid days, alone, with my youngest and I have spent an overnight at a ski resort snuggling, reading, and skiing with my oldest.

Invest in myself. I was given a Peloton (onepeloton.com) for Christmas, and I AM OBSESSED!  It has allowed me to sweat again, and do it while watching both of my kids.  The girls LOVE dancing to the music, as I ride.

Be in the moment. I actually see my husband and children, now, for who they are, for how awesome they are, and can enjoy it instead of rushing through it.

Feel empowered. With the ability to JUST SAY NO to things I don’t want to do, to things that make me anxious, and to things that just aren’t the right fit for me, I feel grounded.

Gain confidence. I know now I can do what I want because I have gained control of my life.

Reduce your stuff– Why organize when you can minimize? If it doesn’t have a place in your heart or home, why do you have it?  So, why don’t we free ourselves of our physical clutter and GET RID OF IT!  I have minimized my house (and I can probably do it 10 more times) and still not get everything I don’t need out of it.

What are you holding onto because you feel like you “should?”  Start now!

If you are ready to let go of physical heaviness in your home, let’s chat. I am passionate about helping simplify the minimizing and organizing process to help you feel on top of what matters most to you.  Visit me at www.joyfullivingspaces.com for support, consulting, organizing or just joining in on my blog fun!


How to donate easily and for a cause

Do you ever sit at home while cleaning and organizing and wish that when it was all done you had an easy way to donate your things?

Does the thought of shuffling bags of clothes, furniture, knick knacks and other unneeded items to a donation center make you cringe?

Have you ever decided to NOT organize just because you don’t want to deal with the things you need to get rid of from your space?

Here are a few easy ways to donate without the mess or the stress.

Find non-profit, charitable organizations that will pick up your stuff.  Living in Northern Virginia, there are many organizations that provide this service.  One of my favorite of these is the LUPUS Foundation of America who is devoted to solving the mystery of lupus, one of the world’s cruelest, most unpredictable, and devastating diseases, while giving caring support to those who suffer from its brutal impact.  Using this service, I know the things I donate are going directly to a cause worth fighting and they offer easy ways to set up a pick-up, online.  You simply leave your things on your front door step, labeled with LUPUS, and they will arrive, pick-up, and leave a receipt.  You do not need to be home to have it whisked away!  Learn more HERE.

Some other organizations that are reliable and fighting to support those most in need are:

Green Drop Donation – GreenDrop has been selected by the American Red Cross, the Military Order of the Purple Heart, the National Federation of the Blind and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Philadelphia, to raise funds through the generation and collection of donated clothing and household items. Donated items are converted into critical dollars for these organizations, to assist them in upholding their mission and programs for supporting American veterans, the nation’s blind and neighbors in need throughout Philadelphia.  Tax-deductible donations of clothing and household items collected by GreenDrop on behalf of the American Red Cross, Military Order of the Purple Heart, the National Federation of the Blind and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Philadelphia, are sold by the charities to thrift stores such as 2nd Avenue and Village Thrift. In 2015, charity proceeds from the sale of the donated goods to the thrift stores exceeded $2.5 million – supporting charitable programs locally and nationwide.

They will pick-up at your doorstep.  Learn more HERE.

Goodwill Industries International – Along with their donation centers around the world, Goodwill offers pick-up services at some (not all) of their local centers (you will need to call to see if it is offered in your area and to schedule a pick-up).  Goodwill of Northern Virginia does provide the service and I have used it in the past.

Have you ever wondered if your things actually get anywhere when you leave them in the donation bins that seem to appear in every parking lot?  Check out this infographic below!  I love that Goodwill provides this for us.

To donate, learn more HERE.

If you feel overwhelmed with the thought of beginning this process, Joyful Living Spaces is here to help you!  We can organize and help remove your unwanted items through donation!  Let us be part of bringing simplicity and joy back to your life.

http://www.joyfullivingspaces.com or joyfullivingspaces(@)gmail.com.



Beat Summer Clutter

Have you begun summer vacation, soaking up the sun, frolicking with the kids, and bouncing from bbq to bbq with ease?

Does your mud room, laundry room, or entryway look like it is already August? Are they piled high with swimsuits, sports equipment, or just daily “droppings”?

It’s time to take your spaces back, simplify, declutter and make some memories!

Let us help!

Email – joyfullivingspaces(@)gmail.com

How I Broke Free from Infertility, Naturally

As most of you know, I have never been a fan of posting or writing as it seemed I never really had anything that important to say. This year, however, I have been given the gift of time.

Time for pregnancy and birth; time for reflection; time for hardship; time for research and understanding; time for making healthier choices; time to be a mom; time to consider my options professionally; time to investigate the best products for my family, my home and myself; and time to create a life that matters.

With that said, I have begun blogging, created a Facebook page for Joyful Living Spaces – for all of my organizing and simplifying tips, and built a Facebook group called “Clean Momma” where I will not only post steps in my own health journey, but will help you to understand the importance of health – so we all can live a joyful life knowing we are taking care of ourselves and our families.  I will connect with many woman who are providing amazing insight into all the corners of our lives as women and post about them, too.

But first, I wanted to share my story.

Over 5 years ago, I was in the midst of infertility and depression. My husband and I had tried for years to get pregnant and had failed at every turn. After our IVF procedure failed in June of 2013, I hit a low that I had never felt before. But, it was the storm before the calm (yes, the storm came first) – because it forced me to take a solid, critical look at how I was treating my body and to do something about it.

With the help of a close friend (thank you for saving me!), I began the following journey:

  1. I saw an acupuncturist (thank you, Khalsa Integrative Medicine)
  2. I dropped gluten, sugar, corn, coffee and alcohol from my diet (thank you, Dr. Khalsa & Kris Carr)
  3. I exercised daily
  4. I practiced mindfulness – yoga and mediation
  5. I spent time with positive people
  6. I prayed

I never felt better. And in September, 2013, on a random Sunday afternoon, my husband and I found out that we were going to be parents, naturally. WHOA! The world of health and wellness opened up to me and I have never looked back.

Fast forward to May 2017, I was about to turn 40 years old in July and we had a beautiful, thriving, 3 year old girl. We never stopped hoping or trying for more children, but felt it was just a pipe dream.

With my 40th birthday fast approaching, we made a pact to simplify our lives and get healthy.  I sold or donated most (if not all) of the baby things I still had left, and I embarked in the same health journey I was on in 2013.

Again, I saw an acupuncturist(thank you, Acupuncture and Herbology Clinic), I took herbs specific for kidney, immune, and fertility health, I did the Whole30 cleanse, I exercised daily, I practiced mindfulness, I bought a Berkey water filter, I replaced all home cleaning products with all natural products, I made peace with my demons, I started my Joyful Living Spaces business, I simplified my spaces (inside and out), and I prayed.

I never felt better.  And in August 2017, on a random Sunday afternoon, my husband and I found out that we were going to be parents, naturally, AGAIN!  Oh the miracles that we have seen.

Since then, I have battled through a hard pregnancy, managed kidney stones to the tune of passing 24 of them, recovered from a c-section, and been blessed with the ability to breastfeed my now two month old daughter.

It has occurred to me that it was time to dive deeper into health and wellness.  I needed to regain my strength and my knowledge of what causes bad health and how I could avoid those things I could control.

I have never been a beauty person.  I have only barely put on face lotion and my sister can attest to the fact that I hated applying body lotion or sunscreen because it felt sticky and oily.  But, when I really thought about all that I had done to be healthy, there was one factor that I had missed.

My skin.

How could I have gone this long neglecting the largest organ on my body?  How could I read labels on all the things that I ate and drank, but not on the things I put on my skin?  It was time to make a change.

I did not realize the effect products were having on me until I finally broke ties with the largest culprits: my lotions, hair products, and deodorant.  They were poisoning me.

Over 1500 harmful chemicals can be found in skin care and makeup products across the United States.  Harmful chemicals banned in other countries (Click here for the full story).  While looking for the perfect, clean products, my sister-in-law introduced me to Beautycounter and I fell in love.  I am now a consultant for a company that prides itself on clean, safe, effective products.  Whose mission is clear, “To get safer products in the hands of everyone.”

Isn’t that what everyone should be aiming for in health?  Safer products for ourselves.  Safer products for our families.  In a world that is full of environmental toxins, shouldn’t we do our part?

So here is what I know:

Beautycounter is for me.  It is clean.  It makes me feel beautiful.  I don’t have stomach issues when it is absorbed into my skin.  It is safe for my family and the environment.  The CEO is fighting for stricter policies and laws regarding skin care chemicals and is winning the battle.

Beautycounter is a company I want to learn from and thrive in supporting.

It can help you, too.

Yours in joy,


P.S. As always, I am here to help you meet your goals.  I work with clients both locally and globally by helping them effectively create Joyful Living Spaces.  There is no project too small or too large that we can’t tackle together.

Email me at joyfullivingspaces(@)gmail.com.

P.P.S – please visit my website www.beautycounter.com/katestavish to see all of the products and to learn more about how it can change the course of your skin care and makeup regimen and provide you with a healthier choice in health.


The 6 Secrets That Will Simplify Organizing

Full transparency, I don’t have it all together. In fact, most days lately, I am thankful to be able to drink coffee before noon and brush my teeth before leaving to pick my oldest up from preschool.  As a mom of two daughters, 4 years old and 8 weeks old, I find fewer and fewer moments for myself. I am sure every mom, parent, adult (for that matter), is nodding their head in agreement with me. I am here to tell you that I am not perfect. There, I said it – and you should, too.  

Our spaces are not meant to be “perfect” they are meant to be “perfect for us”. With that said, my kitchen counters have things on them (gasp), my daughter’s playroom is an utter disaster Every. Single. Day. I put clothes in my drawers and I do not roll them like sushi. My car has Cheerios on the floor and the crumbs of some foreign snack in the dark crevices of my daughter’s car seat.  I have magazines and books on my family room coffee table, and I like them there.

I could go on and on about how imperfect things are, but truthfully, that mindset is exhausting. Instead, I see these spaces for what they are – a sanctuary for my family, a clarity for my brain, and a lightness for my soul.

If things make me feel heavy, then I remove them. I have a system that works and I want to help you embrace your “happy” and let go of “perfect” – because organizing is never a game of perfect.  

Here are my pillars (organizing secrets):

Secret #1 – Find Time

Carve out some time, daily, to get into a positive mindset about removing the clutter – affirm the journey as part of the process.

Secret  #2 – Do the easy stuff, first

Always start with spaces that are small and not overwhelming.  Do not try to tackle the master closet before practicing on smaller items.  I always suggest choosing a cabinet, drawer, or a shelf.

Secret #3 – Make A Mess

This is the easiest step.  Pull all of it out, make a mess, in order to put only the “right” things back.  You have to make a mess to truly remove the clutter.

Secret #4 – Follow the Golden Rule

“If it doesn’t have a home, why do I own it?” Now that everything is out and visible, you may be reintroduced to things that you haven’t seen for months or even years.  Do not get sentimental, keep your game face on, and begin the process of categorizing. Here are my 4 categories for organizing anything.  Make sure that all items are placed in one of the categories. We use the DOTS ™ method (my original acronym):

  1. D – donate
  2. O – organize
  3. T-  trash
  4. S-  sell

Secret #5 – Contain it or Explain it

Take the organize pile and investigate it fully.  Do these items bring you joy? Do any of them make you feel heavy?  Having a relationship with stuff is a real thing. We need to be sure it is positive.  Ask yourself: Can you fit everything back in the space from which it came? What type of container does it need?  Does it require a shelf, a basket, or a specific container?  If you cannot contain it, why do you have it? If there are things in this pile that after further review can move to another category, do it now.  Then, decide how you are going to contain it. See my upcoming posts about containers and how to use them effectively in every space.  If there are still things in this pile that you cannot contain, explain why you still need to keep it. Is it an emotional attachment or is there a functional use for it?  I always allow myself to keep (1) thing from a space that is only there for sentimental value. This keeps my spaces warm and welcoming and not cold and sterile.

Secret #6 – Leave space

Finally, put your items back.  Be sure to do a self-check of your final product.  If there is still empty space in the area you have organized – YOU DID IT! Be sure that there is space for the items to breathe, just as we need space, so do your things.  Be kind to them and make them visually appealing. Use these organized spaces as a way to stay uncluttered on a regular basis.  Even if things are used or removed from the space, you should easily be able to put them back, efficiently and neatly.


Yours in joy,


P.S. If you still feel overwhelmed, or you just don’t want to do this by yourself, I am here to help you meet your goals.  I work with clients both locally and globally by helping them effectively create Joyful Living Spaces.  There is no project too small or too large that we can’t tackle together.

Email me at joyfullivingspaces(@)gmail.com.