It’s too easy to compare ourselves to others and think, “I don’t match up. I don’t do things as well as everyone else. I’m a failure.”
But what if we changed that perspective? What if we had systems and support in place to help us live our unique purpose? What if we could feel really good about the contributions we were making each day–and inspire others to do the same?
That’s what you’ll hear in today’s podcast with Lori Nunno. If you have ever felt “stuck” or discouraged, this is a must-listen. So pop in your ear buds while you go for a walk, or turn this on while you drive home from work today and notice how inspired you’ll feel. 🙂
- 00:00 – Introduction to Lori’s life: intense migraines, feeling like she wasn’t equal to her husband, feeling frustrated, depleted, and discouraged.
- 10:00 – Felt family would be better off without her
- 13:00 – How Lori found hope as she found the STEP (Steps to Everyday Productivity) program
- 16:00 – My (April’s) background, why I am drawn to help others eliminate their “piles”
- 18:00 – Lori’s “desk of hope”
- 20:00 – Key principles that caused the change for Lori
- 30:00 – Asking “What is my legacy?”
- 40:00 – Lori’s encouragement to someone drowning in clutter
Lori’s Pain Points
Today we’re going to share the story of an incredibly brave, amazing woman. Lori is a member of our STEP program who has faced some difficult challenges – but has turned her life around in a beautiful way!
A wife, mother and grandmother, Lori has struggled with intense, debilitating migraines for 30 years. It means spending hours in a dark, quiet room, laying down with an ice pack and closed eyes until she is able to fall asleep.
Before she found our free class, “How to Stop Drowning in Piles,” she identified three main pain points in her life:
- Wanting success in the world
- CHAOS – “Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome”
- Her relationship with husband
Growing up, Lori knew she wanted to make a positive influence in the world. She started in the finance industry, and while she was experiencing success there–traveling, making lots of money, meeting important people–her heart wasn’t in it. She made the difficult decision to follow her heart instead of the money.
She went back to school to become a nurse. Her husband later told her that he loved her so much more for choosing to follow her heart. Unfortunately, it was when she was working as a nurse at a hospital that the migraines began to really kick in. She couldn’t continue to work.
And everything began to unravel. Her son was born five weeks early, and the migraines felt constant. She would lie in bed thinking, “I’m such a loser,” feeling like she was letting down her family. She knew she had something to offer, but couldn’t offer it.
In her home, stuff was everywhere. They would miss bill payments because they couldn’t find them. Laundry was always building up. And cleaning just couldn’t happen – not with all the stuff.
Lori felt such guilt, being home all day doing nothing, while her husband worked and her children were in school. And she felt judged, labeled as “lazy” or a “hypochondriac.” The mess was “her fault.”
But her biggest pain point was her relationship with her husband. Lori felt like she wasn’t equal to her husband in her marriage. And it scared her. He had become the caretaker, and she, the patient. She wanted to support him in his career as a musician, but was unable to attend hardly any of his gigs, because the increased stimuli are so likely to cause migraines.
It was like he had become a single parent but worse, because he had to care for her as well. She felt frustrated, depleted and discouraged at her inability to contribute to her family’s needs. Her family was working so hard around her, and she felt like she was a drain on them. She honestly thought her family would be better off without her.
There is a hopelessness there that you just don’t know how to get out of. She didn’t know what to do. And when you can’t see any options, it’s torture to sit in that feeling.
Lori was in her room, sitting in the dark and quiet, scrolling through Facebook, when she chanced upon our free class, “How to Finally Stop Drowning in Piles.” In our free class, we teach people four simple steps to get out of “piles” and overwhelm. At this point, she felt like she was grasping at straws–sure that this wouldn’t work, but hoping that it might.
She said, “I was just drowning in hopelessness.” But she chose to listen with an open mind. And that’s when she first felt truly understood.
“It’s been a lifeline, just listening to just your voice when I had nothing else to do…You were not judgmental, and you were so compassionate. And it really felt like you were talking to me directly, everything you were saying. I was like, ‘Yes, that’s me! How did you know? That’s me!’…and then I cried, probably through the rest of the video…
I wanted to say thank you for understanding and for caring. Why would you even care about us? I couldn’t figure it out.” – Lori
My Story of Living in Piles
I want to pause here to answer Lori’s question.
I grew up in piles. I have a great mom, a great dad. But growing up, we just didn’t know what to do with stuff. I would shove things under my bed, just trying to clear a space.
I remember my mom trying so hard to keep the house clean. And sometimes it would get clean, but it always ended up back in piles again. We had piles of paper everywhere – on the kitchen table, on the piano. When we invited friends over, I remember putting the piles into boxes and moving them onto her bed–and then as soon as the guests would leave, we would bring the boxes back out, so she had room to sleep.
As I grew up, I watched her at least 1-2 times a week look around the house, and just groan at the piles. I could see how it depleted her, physically, emotionally and mentally. And that’s what I saw growing up–my mom being drained by the piles.
When I finally learned how to get rid of the piles as an adult, I went back to teach her. I was so thrilled to share what I had learned, to help her find relief from the pain she was experiencing–but by that point, she had developed Alzheimers. She couldn’t learn it.
I never got a chance to help her learn how to get out of the overwhelm. And so, while I didn’t consciously realize it, I began this mission to help others get rid of their piles. Thinking that if I helped other people out of their pain, maybe somehow I could retroactively help my mom.
I don’t want anyone to have to go through the pain that I watched growing up. I feel it. I get it. And I believe in you! I’ve seen–thousands of times over–how people really do have the power to pull themselves out of overwhelm.
Lori’s “Desk of Hope”
Lori’s first “homework assignment,” was to clean off a space. She remembered feeling like she couldn’t do it. She said, “You had complete faith that we could do that one assignment. You had faith in me, when I didn’t have faith in me.”
And so she decided to try. At home, all by herself, she went downstairs and found the place with the least amount of piles – one little desk. She took all the piles off, found the furniture polish and SHE DID IT. She cleared that space. And then she cried again, because she could feel the power in her own success!
To this day, she keeps the desk clean. She thinks of it as her “hope desk,” because it became the turning point in her life–from being hopeless to having hope.
Real Tools for Change
Lori shared three principles from STEP that really made the difference in helping her to move forward:
Having ONE landing place for your most important papers
When Lori started putting her most important papers in one place, it really helped her family as a whole. When she had a migraine and someone would ask her, “Where’s the field trip form?” or “Where’s the bill?” she knew exactly where to send them. The most important things were together for others to find, if she wasn’t able help.
Sometimes when life is going smoothly and we are doing well, it’s easy to function with the mentality that says, “I have a mess, but I know where everything is.” Unfortunately, when your system is all in your head, others can’t help when you NEED help.
Using microbursts of 5 or 10 minutes to have small wins
With her intense migraines, Lori often felt like she couldn’t do anything. And even when she was feeling well, the mess could still be paralyzing. But she could do a microburst – 5 or 10 minutes, just do one tiny thing for a quick win. Whether matching socks or paying bills, she didn’t have to look at all the big piles as a whole. Microbursts aren’t paralyzing.
This is a valuable tool to learning to work with our reality. So many of us can really benefit from breaking tasks down into 5 to 10 minute chunks, whether it’s because we only have small bursts of energy or because we are in the midst of life with young children. Microbursts help you to know where to go and what to do with your time and energy, when it pops up.
Relying on a community of supportive people
For Lori, having the STEP Facebook community gave her such a boost. She loves having a safe place where everyone is in the same boat and she can be vulnerable.
Community can be a powerful source of hope and encouragement in your own journey to creating change. When you can feel like no one is judging you, but rather celebrating your successes, you don’t feel alone. And truly – you aren’t alone! We are rooting for you!
Eliminating Pain Points by Getting Rid of the “Piles”
Before she found STEP, Lori’s pain points consisted of wanting to feel like she was making a difference in the world, feeling the shame of not being able to have people over because of the mess, and most importantly, feeling “less than,” in her relationship with her husband. But once she had the tools and the hope to make a change, she dove in and really turned things around.
Lori was excited to show her husband the processing flow chart from her STEP program, because she knew this would help her learn to process her piles into her Command Central. While her husband didn’t totally understand the chart, he could tell it mattered to her and that this process was behind many of the positive changes he had seen. He could see how STEP had stabilized her life.
Lori now feels more equal with her husband. She is finally seeing what he sees in her. She feels like a normal person. She feels important, like she can contribute to their family.
That has made a huge improvement to their relationship. Now they can just read the paper together and talk about it, and it feels like a date. Even going grocery shopping together on a Monday morning feels like a date, because they are spending time together. She still can’t go to most of his gigs. But she can be there when he gets home to hear all about it.
And her husband could see how she’s changed. “If I was happy, he was happy.” Lori couldn’t remember the last time she laughed, because she was always depressed–but they’ve started laughing together.
As for finding a way to change the world, Lori had a mindset change after listening to our podcast, “How to Prioritize a Life that Matters – With Greg McKeown and April and Eric Perry.” Greg McKeown talked about asking ourselves, “What is my legacy?”–not what people will say at your funeral but what they will say ten years after that. What will your grandchildren remember about you?
Lori remembered her grandmother. She and her grandmother had a special way of expressing love: her grandmother would hold her hand and squeeze it. And this meant the world to Lori.
She says, “I want my grandchildren to have that. And all the sudden, I realized that it’s okay that I’m not a success in the world and changing the world – I don’t even want to do that anymore…I’ve had my whole life of feeling guilty, and disappointing God…It doesn’t even matter anymore.” She wants this relationship with her grandchildren.
Lori can rock a colicky baby for hours. That’s a gift she can give to her son. She can care for her granddaughter. And those are the things that matter. She is feeling less guilt about only being able to do little things, because those are the things that will be her legacy.
Lori’s efforts to get rid of the the chaos have also made a difference. Even though she still has piles in some rooms, she has totally cleared others–to the point where her one year old grandchild can come and play without worry!
Instead of leaving messes for her children and grandchildren, she will be leaving a legacy of love. She has already created an environment where she can love them.
Overall, it’s like she’s become a new person. She wakes up and just feels happy. That wasn’t happening before STEP. It sounds corny, but STEP completely changed her emotions.
You Are Not Alone
I asked Lori what she would say to someone drowning in clutter. Someone who is thinking, “Maybe it works for others, but you haven’t seen my house.” And here is what Lori said:
You are not alone. You may feel powerless and scared – but you are not alone! And you don’t have to go through this alone.
Be gentle with yourself. Lori felt guilty for so long. Let the guilt go. Change can be hard to go through. Feel the compassion and faith that we have for you. Just doing little things can lead to your success. Lori lived in chaos for so long, she never thought she would have the peace of living without piles – but now she does!
The part of Lori’s STEP journey that surprised her the most was how this process gave her dignity. She didn’t even realize she didn’t have it before. Dignity means being worthy of honor and respect, being valued. And Lori has started to feel her own value. As she began to eliminate her piles, she realized she wasn’t “less than” anyone, and no one is “less than” her.
And while life naturally has ups and downs, when she is feeling down, she knows she can look at her “desk of hope.” She knows she can be reminded of her value as she sees the word “dignity” written on her mirror in lipstick. And being reminded of her value–and the success she’s already had–helps get her out of that slump and get going again.
Hope From Lori’s Story
It is so easy to see our own weaknesses. Our own reality isn’t fancy, which makes it so easy to see where we are failing! But hearing other’s successes can bring hope.
As I have shared the principles of the STEP program with thousands of people, I’ve come to realize that this works–this process helps people. People are drowning and want to get out. It’s easy to for me to get stuck wondering, “Am I helping enough?” But it’s not about helping everyone. It’s about helping someone.
My mom didn’t podcast. She would have been terrified to speak in public! She worked behind the scenes. But every time I called, she was there. She had eight children, but when any of us called, she would listen to us talk and cry. She didn’t have a lot of physical energy, but she prayed for us and loved us. And she made a difference.
I’m not what my mom was. I spend so much time doing technical things, I know I’m not as available as she was. Sometime, I look at the work I do, sitting at the computer, and it doesn’t feel as important. But daily life rarely is glamorous. And my mission is different.
Each of us is unique. Not everyone is going to hold babies. Not everyone is going to record podcasts and create online programs. Your mission in life isn’t the same as my mission. But when enough of us live our unique missions and come together – that’s how we change the world.
Lori has such a beautiful soul. I feel so privileged and honored to be such a small part in her life. Now, I don’t know who all is reading this. I don’t know who needs what we have to offer here at LearnDoBecome. But what I do know is that it is my calling to help you to get out of your overwhelm–so you can live your mission!
I know how it feels to wake up and not feel excited. I know how it feels to not even know if you have what it takes to make the day happen. But I also know how it feels to get out of that. And I want to share that with you, if that’s where you are right now.
Learning, doing and becoming is a continual process throughout our lives. This is how we can live our purpose.
If you are thinking, “Okay, maybe I’m ready to make this change,” we have started a movement to help build a Command Central on every desk. I am completely convinced that the world would change if everyone knew how to get rid of all that clutter and move forward with dignity.
If you want to attend the same free class that Lori attended, you can find it here:
Do you have a friend who is going through that downward spiral? If you would like to share this episode with them and give them some encouragement, click this link to share on Facebook.
Also, if you are reading/listening to this during the month of June, we have a unique opportunity coming up to help you get a jump start on building your Command Central.
This next week, June 11-14th, I (April) will be walking through the parts of the Command Central that work like “magic” to get your system up and running right away! All members of our STEP Mastery program will be able to join me live in the daily trainings, and then have the opportunity to ask questions.
If you’re reading this LATER, no problem! All the content will be inside the new Module 1 of the revamped STEP program. But if you want this information now, and you want to work with me personally to set up your system, I would love to have you join our Boot Camp – click here or on the image below to find out how you can join!
Whether you join our formal program or not, we are so glad to be serving you. We love learning and being inspired by your journey.
What are some seemingly small steps that you’ve taken that have been key to changing your life? Share in the comments below!