When I began my journey to simplify my life, I had no idea that there was a small movement of people out there who were doing the same. In fact, later on, I discovered one of my now favorite YouTubers (and new friends) – Carrie LeighAnna. I found Carrie to be a genuine, honest, and kind woman; I can understand why so many people love her YouTube videos. What I like most about Carrie is that she is willing to be truthful with herself and with her viewers; in fact, she is open with the public about her goals, her challenges, and her victories. This is what makes Carrie so relatable; she doesn’t preach perfection or create a facade of perfection; she is just herself, and that’s part of what makes her so beautiful. The ideas and tips she shares are both encouraging and doable, yet they are super inspiring. If you are not familiar with her work and her message, you are in for a real treat with this interview.
1. Carrie, thank you for taking the time to participate in this interview. You live a simple life, and it seems that you work to prioritize your faith, your health, and your family above other areas of your life. This is very inspiring. For those who are not familiar with you and your YouTube channel, can you please tell us a little bit about yourself, where you are from, who you are, your interests, etc.?
I’m a 25-year-old wife, mother, YouTuber and recovering addict. I was born and raised in Kentucky, but moved 1,000 miles away to attend school in Florida where I met my husband of five years. However, just this month we’ve moved back to Kentucky to be closer to family.
I’m an old soul, I tend to go against the grain in just about every way, and I’ve never felt like I’ve really ever “fit in.” But as I’m getting older, I’m really coming to value my uniqueness, rather than feeling insecure about it.
Lastly, I’m obsessed with tiny things. Tiny houses, tiny nurseries, tiny pumpkins, tiny wardrobes, tiny flowers – they all just make my heart so happy!
2. Can you describe and list your simple wardrobe for us including your clothing, pjs, shoes, scarves, coats, etc.? Lots of people have asked me about how many undergarments to keep, so if you are willing to share that information also, if it’s not too personal, that would be great.
Just last month when I lived in Florida, my entire wardrobe consisted of a handful of little black dresses, a pair of flats, a pair of booties, a statement necklace, a set of diamond jewelry and several sweaters. I also had a pair of leggings and a maternity jacket I would wear on cooler days. That was it – less than twenty items – and it was all I ever needed.
Since moving to Kentucky, however, I’ve had to alter things quite a bit, and I’m still working on it. So far, I’ve got three dresses, some leggings, skinnies, several nice tees, a pair of shorts, flats and I’m on the look out for a pair of sturdy boots for winter. I also have a lightweight coat, a heavy wool jacket and my original maternity jacket from my Florida wardrobe.
But here’s the catch- everything I wear is black. I’m a mommy, so stains are just a part of life – but not on black clothes! Also, Audrey Hepburn… Need I say more?
I have a small handful of workout/ painting clothes that I purchased at second hand stores for less than $10 total. And as far as undergarments go, I have just enough to wear for a week before everything needs to be washed. I purchase really nice panties and bras because it’s such a simple way for me to feel beautiful.
3. You are a mother. How has motherhood changed you? Do you have any insight for people who are on the fence about parenthood?
Nothing in the world has made me realize how incredibly valuable and fragile life is like motherhood. The moment I locked eyes with that tiny little stranger, the world became so much bigger, so much scarier, and so much more dangerous. But right along with that, it became so much more joyful, playful, beautiful and wonderful all at the same time. When you give birth, you are literally born into a new type of human and you enter an entirely new world. It’s the craziest thing!
Though it was tempting to become “just” a mommy after she was born, I’ve realized in the last year how important it is that I take care of Carrie, and nurture and grow Carrie before I play mommy. The nice thing is, they are mutually compatible. My daughter was born into my world, and the best thing I can do for her is be a mature, growing and happy version of myself first, then welcome her into the world I’ve been living in, rather than make my life revolve exclusively around her.
4. When people say that “children are expensive” or “kids require a lot of stuff” do you agree with that? For anyone who would like to raise a child and still live a very simple lifestyle, what are your tips and suggestions?
I absolutely disagree! Babies need food, clothing, a carseat (at least in America) a quiet place to sleep and lots of love. None of that has to cost a great deal. In fact, for the average mother, all of this can be completely free. There are exceptions of course, but for the most part, babies simply do not need a lot.
Even as the child grows, the costs don’t have to be exorbitant. Living within a budget, buying gently-used items, and “doing it yourself” can all keep costs low.
5. For new Moms-to-be who want to only purchase (or ask for) necessities, what do you think the absolute essentials are to have? How many clothes, towels, cloth diapers, travel items, kits, other items are needed? Is there a way you would recommend tactfully asking for only the items listed on a registry (no extras) or cash in lieu of gifts for a celebratory shower?
My essentials were my electric breast pump, car seat, cloth diapers, and baby jammies. Everything else can be nice to have, but isn’t necessary. Our baby did sleep in a crib, but we were given a hand-me-down. And we received so many clothes and gifts at showers that we didn’t need to purchase anything more.
If you are going the cloth diaper route, I’d suggest 12 covers and inserts, minimum. This will hold you over for two days when they’re newborns and a little longer once they’re older.
Baby towels, toys and utensils are entirely unnecessary. By all means, get them if you like them, but don’t think they are a necessity. Use your adult towels on your baby. Let your infant play with a purse, a rock, and a spatula… heck, they like the boxes the toys come in more than they like the toys anyway! And teach your child to use adult utensils from the start. As the old saying goes, “Start as you would go.”
6. Regarding mementos and sentimental items, how many do you have? This seems to be the most difficult thing for people to pare down. Have you ever regretted an item you got rid of?
From my childhood, I have nothing left. Several years into simplifying my life I set aside special items from my childhood that I wasn’t ready to release. At first, I thought I’d keep them forever. But eventually I let them all go.
There’s no rule here- hold on to what you want, but realize that it’s okay to let things go when you’re ready… just don’t watch Toy Story 3 right before doing it.
As far as motherhood is concerned, the day I found out I was pregnant, I purchased a sweet, whimsical journal and started writing to my unborn baby. Ever since then, I write a letter to her every two or three months. A few ultrasound pictures are also tucked away in the pages. This is the most precious and sentimental baby item I have, and I’ll give it to her once she becomes a mother. I don’t keep a baby journal because I’m just not a journaler. I tried, but it was always a source of guilt when I would forget to fill in all the appropriate pages. Eventually I realized I simply didn’t need that stress in my life, so I invested all my memory-making energy into the letter journal and stuck with that.
I also have a journal of notes and letters I started writing my husband shortly after we began dating. That’s my favorite sentimental item of ours, with the exception of the simple diamond jewelry my husband has given me as gifts over the years.
7. You just moved. What was that experience like for you? What is your new home environment like?
I moved to Kentucky just about a month ago and it was a lot of work, but so worth it! We sold every piece of furniture we owned rather than shipping it across the country, plus we purged all the unnecessary items from our home. At times it was a little scary realizing I didn’t own anything for a home anymore, with the exception of the carload I kept, but I knew in time I’d be filling my home again soon. And since we sold almost everything for more than we purchased it for, we had change to spare!
We are currently living in one bedroom in my parents house as we transition. We could rent if we wanted to, but my parents have generously offered to let us live with them while we save up for a hefty down payment on a house. Our hope is to move into our own place in the next year!
I’ve actually decided that since I’ll never get to live out my dream of living in a legitimate “tiny house,” that I’m going to make our current space as close to small-living as possible. The room is just a couple hundred square feet (I’m guessing), and so far I’ve managed to include a bedroom, family room, dining room, kitchen and nursery into the little space. It’s a stretch, but it’s a fun adventure, and I’m enjoying it more than words can say!
8. Are you a stay-at-home Mom? If so, what have been some of your best money-saving successes? Any tips for anyone who already avoids shopping most of the time but would really like to take their savings to the next level?
I am a stay-at-home mom. Actually, I was a stay-at-home wife before ever having kids, which is fairly uncommon these days. We’ve been able to make this work simply by staying out of debt and spending frugally. We are not perfect at sticking to our budget, but the tension and expectation is always there, so it keeps us from getting into trouble!
We read and followed Financial Guru Dave Ramsey’s principles pretty adamantly before getting married and we continue to study his material today. Honestly, that’s my number one money-saving (and money-making!) tip – read and follow all his stuff!
9. Friends and Family: This is one area of the holistic health circle that makes such an important difference in a person’s wellness. How have you managed friendships and personal relationships over the years? Do you keep things simple when it comes to friends (such as only having a couple of close friends)? Are you close with only a select handful of friends and family? Thoughts on social media?
I’ve struggled with social anxiety since elementary school. I was also raised in a highly-sheltered environment. Because of that, I’ve had a hard time making friends in my life. But the ones I have – MAN – they are the absolute best!
Relationships can be so tough to maintain. I realized the first year I went off to school that the majority of friendships from my past were going to fade away. I realized years later that that was both normal and healthy. Forgetting and letting go of good things only allows room in our lives to welcome newer, better things. I may have lost many of my closest friends from high school, but then I gained even closer friends in college, not to mention a boy I fell in love with and a child we created together!
But with that said, I believe with all my heart that every single human alive needs close friends. I have a handful of them, and I try my best to invest in those relationships as frequently as I can. Like many women, I want to do so much better. I could call more. I could visit more. I could do a lot of things more. But for now, I’m doing my best and maintaining where I can.
As far as social media is concerned, I would just caution everyone to be wary of “staying close” online. It’s simply not the same as truly being close. There’s nothing wrong with keeping up with friends, but if you’re doing that at the cost of neglecting your current relationships and others around you, you’re simply setting yourself up for some really serious isolation.
And when it comes to family, by all means, be friends with them. Forgive them. Love them as hard as you are able. And if you can live close to them and still remain happy, do it!
10. Faith: You have described your faith as an important part of who you are. Do you have any words of kindness or encouragement to share with anyone who has lost their faith – faith not just in a specific religion or spiritual beliefs – but faith in anything or even faith in themselves?
My faith isn’t just a part of who I am – it is who I am. I believe in a God who created me, knows me by name, loves me deeply, and has a plan for my life. In my lowest moments in life, I can have hope because God loves me. In my highest moments in life, I can be grateful because God has given me sweet gifts!
As I mentioned before, I am a recovering addict. I attend regular twelve-step meetings and there is so much talk of God you’d think you were at church. But really, in those rooms there aren’t very many “believers” in the American-sense of the word. But the rooms are filled with people who have decided to give God a chance. And let me tell you- if that’s all you have to give, you have a lot to look forward to!
Regardless of your faith, or lack-there-of, you can know that you are loved. God loves you. And if you don’t think that’s real, then know that I love you (and I’m real!). Life is hard, messy, sticky and beautiful. There is nothing that love cannot fix. Don’t just wait for love to come save you, but actually seek it out. Keep yourself out of isolation. Serve someone lower than you. Eat with a homeless man. Dance in the rain on a summer day… Life is full of beauty, you just have to open your eyes to see it.
11. Anything else you would like to share with us?
I am not a fortune cookie, regardless of how my last answer just sounded. I’m actually a realist. Most things in life really don’t matter. People do. But most everything else simply does not.
Thank you, Carrie! You can learn more great tips and suggestions for living simply from Carrie’s YouTube channel. She also shares valuable information for saving money, living frugally, taking care of yourself, and raising a child.