Episode #8: Self-Help Books That Changed Our Lives

Happy Monday! It’s PODCAST DAY!

Emma had the idea to do an episode devoted to self-help books that changed our lives and it’s a fun one … one of our favorite episodes so far!

You can stream the episode here on the blog or on iTunesSpotifyGoogle PlayTuneInPocket Casts, and Stitcher.

Here are links to all the books we discuss in this episode:

Emma’s first pick: The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy

Elsie’s first pick: I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Remit Sethi

Emma’s second pick: The Success Principles by Jack Canefield

Elsie’s second pick: The Curated Closet (and workbook too) by Anuschka Rees

Emma’s third pick: The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

Elsie’s third pick: Skin Cleanse by Adina Grigore

Other mentions:
Emma loves Rachel Hollis Rise Podcast

Thank you so much for listening to our podcast! If you have book that changed YOUR life, we’d love to hear about it in the comments! XX- Elsie + Emma.

Episode 8 Transcript

Emma: You’re listening to the A Beautiful Mess podcast. Today we’re talking about some of the nonfiction books that have changed our lives. Plus, a new segment that is all about sharing strong, possibly unnecessary opinions.

Elsie: I am so excited about this episode. So when Emma told me she wanted to do a self-help book episode. I was like, oh, no. Oh, God. Like, what do I do? But I actually had so much fun picking which books I was gonna talk about. And I actually like had some that I wanted to share.

Emma: Yeah. So I saw your outline because Elsie and I we were trying to make sure that we aren’t like putting the same book or something, you know? So we emailed ahead and I love that yours, Elsie, are really diverse, like the subject matter is pretty different. So I really like that. It made me feel like, oh man, all of mine are like kind of similar. I really need to branch out, read about some different things.

Elsie: Oh well I can’t wait to hear what yours are. I feel like mine are. They don’t necessarily fit into the self-help category, but they helped me a lot. So…

Emma: I think they do. They’re just they are different than you might think, but. So a little bit of the idea behind why I wanted to do this episode was all of the people I look up to and like podcasts that I listen to. I would love it if they did this episode because I just know that they’re all also people like I love to listen to stuff like, all sorts of things. But one I’ll mention is Rachel Hollis, who does the Rise podcast. I think she is a bad bitch and awesome. And I know that she is constantly working on herself. Her and her husband are both like that. And I know that they have lots of things in their life. You know, that she has shared a lot of those. But I just thought, oh, that’s something that I would love to hear from others. So maybe that’s something that we should share from our perspective. So that’s pretty much it in a nutshell. So let’s jump into it. Do you want to go first? You want me to go first?

Elsie: I want you to go first. I’m so nervous! (laughs)

Emma: Okay cool. All right. All right. So we’re going to share the books and obviously we’re going to link all of these in the show notes. So if you’re driving, don’t pull over. This is all available. Everything’s cool.

Elsie: You don’t need to take notes around here.

Emma: My first one is a book called The Compound Effect. And like the title, you can probably guess it’s very much about making small changes or small habits that over time add up to big wins. So this could be anything from starting an easy but doable workout routine, changing a small thing about your diet like. You know, you hear about people that are like, I stopped drinking soda and I lost 20 pounds. You know, like that kind of thing. It’s small things that add up to a big win over time. So one of the things he talked about in the book was for Thanksgiving one year he spent a whole year writing in a journal of things he was thankful for about his wife.

Elsie: Oh my god. That’s so sweet.

Emma: Yeah. I just thought that was so romantic. And also, he talks about how it gets you in the habit of looking for the good things, because I think naturally we tend to look for the bad things. And it also just kind of like creates a habit of gratitude and love in your heart, which that I don’t know. I mean, that sounds cheesy, but you get it. So I loved that idea. So on my husband’s birthday, one year, I started my own journal and wrote down every single day for a year and I gave it to him the following year on his birthday. Something that I was grateful for that had happened that day or something that I loved about him or, you know, just stuff about my husband. And it was a really good year. But we also kind of had a rough patch that year. And I think that this habit really kind of saved our marriage, at least from my perspective, because it forced me…

Elsie: Wow.

Emma: …yeah I know! It forced me to always be looking for not the thing that I was mad about, not the thing that was going on. That wasn’t what I wanted. But looking at, well, what is he doing that matters? Is he still trying? And the answer was always, yes, he was. And he was doing things. It just wasn’t what I wanted or it wasn’t what I was thinking should be happening. And this habit really forced me to see that. And I was still honest in the journal. There is a couple of times I wrote like I had a really bad day. We had this fight today. But I’m still, you know, thinking about this thing or whatever. You know, I wasn’t doing a bunch of bullshit. It was real. But yeah, I went through a whole year and I have told many friends about this and I have encouraged people to do it. If it sounds like something they want to do because it made such a big impact in my marriage, in my life, and I really think it kind of changed my trajectory of how I view my husband, which I wish I had done in my first year of marriage. It was just such a big thing. Now obviously I gave it to him for his birthday and it meant a lot to him, too. So obviously that was, felt really good and anyone who’s listening, who’s like, oh, I’m not in a relationship or that’s not quite what I’m looking for in my life, I also think this could be adapted to just be like writing something down that you’re thankful for about your life or about yourself or about your job or whatever it is in your life that you might be like. You know what? I really need to grow a gratitude habit in this area. I think that something like this could be helpful. So there is a lot of other great things from the compound effect. But that was one thing that I took from it and that I did. And that really changed my life.

Elsie: That’s amazing, Emma. Like I’m blown away.

Emma: Yeah. Good luck following that (laughs)

Elsie: And doing anything for a whole year…

Emma: Yeah. But it really takes like two to five minutes. Like it’s not it’s really not a big thing. It sounds like really impressive, but truly it’s not a big thing. You just have to remember to do it. And that’s what the whole book is about. It’s like stuff that it’s not a big deal, but you do have to do it. And if you do it over a long period of time, big wins. And it’s just really cool. It’s a cool concept. And I love that book.

Elsie: That’s incredible. Yeah. I really want to read that. I haven’t read the book yet. Okay. Well, my turn! In this book, I actually I haven’t even finished reading this book, but I’ve gotten a lot out of it. Should I not have admitted that?

Emma: No, no. This book has to be on the list. If you hadn’t put it on your list I was going to put it on mine.

Elsie: I talk about it like all the time. So it’s I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi. The book has a lot of homework. It’s like a program that you follow. And that’s why I’m not finished with it yet, because I’m doing one thing at a time. And there’s like a couple things that I’m not ready to do yet in his plan. So, yeah, I will be finished eventually. And I love the plan. All right. So I’m also on his e-mail list. His email list is amazing. I’ve never really gotten a…I’ll just say I’ve never liked being on anyone’s email list before, but I love being on his email list. Like, I have to be in the mood to read the emails, but if I’m in the mood, they’re always a good time. All right.

Emma: So Ramit is a great person to learn about marketing from too, in addition to wealth management and wealth growth and, you know, financial things.

Elsie: Oh Yeah. You definitely learn about marketing a lot. Yeah. And starting a business, it’s a lot about business in the emails. Obviously, the title is I Will Teach You To Be Rich. The title is not…I don’t know if it would have captured me, but Keely told me about it and she told me that her husband’s obsessed with it. And I think I first got into it when I was working on our email list and she told me to read…to sign up for his email list. We’re in love. Now I’m very much in love with him. The things I loved about the book…the big thing is like redefining your values of what your rich life is, is a huge part of the book, and it is one of the most valuable exercises I’ve ever done because I grew up in, I would say, the lower middle class or the middle middle class. I don’t know.

Emma: I don’t know how it’s defined. But yeah, that’s what I would say too.

Elsie: I don’t know how it shakes out, but like I grew out, I grew up like without much money, sale shopping type of, you know, family. And now we have got to a point in our careers where like could be generally considered wealthy, not like super rich, not super wealthy, but like enough to where a couple years ago it started to kind of freak me out. Like I was like, what? What do I do? And am I doing this right? And am I being responsible with what I have? And what if it stops? And you know, am I making the right decisions for my children? Just all those things. And for, you know, several years I had a lot of anxiety surrounding money because I never knew if I was doing “good enough”. So this book helped me so much with that because defining my values of what a rich life is to me and obviously, like I kind of did it with my husband because we’re a family unit and it’s what’s important to both of us. But yeah, it was a beautiful exercise. And I feel like now I have so much more confidence in making a decision either to spend money or to save money. I just kind of know what’s categorically important to us because we went through this exercise together. Another thing is, yeah, it’s life changing. Everyone has to do this because. Yeah. I guess I’ll say one more thing about it. The idea of what you think a rich person is when you’re growing up without much money is so different than being an adult with like a solid, steady career where you know, like you’re technically a rich person, like one time. One of my nieces asked me, Aunt Elsie, are you rich? And I said to her, well, you know, money’s relative. To some people I seem rich and to some people I seem poor and compared to a lot of other countries in the world, we’re all rich. Right. And like, I believe that. But at the same time, it’s like, you have to choose what you think…

Emma: Yeah but she told me you have a Gucci bag so you’re rich. That’s what she said. So…

Elsie: That’s funny. Anyway, choosing what is meaningful to me for money, like what can money do in our life that has meaning to us was life changing. Getting a clear plan with steps of things to achieve. So some of the things in his book, like I didn’t even have a credit card when I started working on this homework like six months ago. So this is some very basic things I needed to do, but also a plan for investing, a plan for automating your money, just like things like that, that it seems really simple and basic, but over time can really add up. Another thing that I love, this is probably the biggest thing that I feel like separates Ramit’s advice from other financial books because like to be just like super honest. I don’t like finance. I don’t really like listening to like financial podcasts and books sometimes, you know, like.

Emma: Oh you don’t? (laughs)

Elsie: I mean, I like when I was super, super young, maybe a teenager still, I like read a couple of Dave Ramsey books. And at that time it really helped me. But then I at some point it like stopped helping me. And the thing I. OK. The thing I like about Ramit that I think is special is that it’s more about like focusing on your big goals and your big wins and less about saving money or creating a budget. Like I don’t really have like a budget. I definitely don’t have like an envelope system budget. But I do have like savings goals that I’m tracking. And it kind of made me feel like it’s okay not to have this like super meticulous budget because I’m just not the kind of person who can keep up with that. I mean, I guess that that limit that’s a limiting statement to say that. But I just don’t want to have a budget where I worry about every little thing. And this just gave me a lot of freedom to focus on the big things.

Emma: I think it’s more of a mindset thing, because there’s nothing wrong with Dave Ramsey stuff, obviously. And I know you weren’t saying that. If that works for you or if that’s where you’re at, that’s awesome. It really it’s everything that’s working, works for you. That’s like what you should do, just like anything else in life.

Elsie: I just always felt like I was failing at keeping meticulous budgets. So like anyone who…

Emma: Right.

Elsie: …is a fan of meticulous budgets, like I’m going to fail on that plan.

Emma: Well, I don’t know if it’s that. I think you could succeed if you wanted to. I just think, like, that’s not necessarily what you need in your life right now. And I think Ramit’s kind of his. I mean, I want to speak for him in any way, I think you should just read his book. But to me, it’s very much like getting you to think differently about money and about wealth, getting you to think about some of those misconceptions you might have around it. Like, you know, I grew up thinking wealth… a wealthy person was kind of like Scrooge McDuck, like a bad guy. And like you put all your money in a vault and that’s what you do with money. And it’s like, well, that’s one thing you could do. There’s a lot of ways to look at wealth, though, and it’s just like helping you to break out of those kind of misconceptions you might have about wealth or like lies you might have been told about wealth growing up. I didn’t necessarily have those. But, you know, some people do. And I think it’s just mindset. He really wants you to think about like, what does it really mean to be rich for you? Not generally, no default, you know, if you get a big paycheck and you go and buy a sports car, but you don’t even like cars, that doesn’t make sense, right? It’s not that it just doesn’t make financial sense. It’s that it doesn’t make sense for you because it has nothing to do with what your wealthy life is, what your rich life could be.

Elsie: It gave me a ton of confidence. And just like a generally more stress free attitude towards money and a lot of motivation to do things like big, big win things. So yeah, I highly recommend it. If this sounds interesting to you all. And I just loved me. So…

Emma: My second book that changed my life is called The Success Principles, and it is written by one of the same people who do the Chicken Noodle Soup for the Soul books.

Elsie: What?

Emma: Yeah, yeah. Jack Canfield. So The Success Principles is a very long book and I actually listened to it on audio. I tend to listen to most nonfiction books on audio, not always, but I read a lot of fiction. So I tend to listen to self-help stuff, you know, kind of like listening to podcasts as a podcast host to an audio book. I toggle back and forth. You get it. So anyway, one, he’s got a great voice, so that’s always nice. But he also really has this very interesting perspective on life. So he’s. Older guys, not old, but he’s he is older and he’s lived a whole life that’s filled with success stories, his own, and then also he’s mentored and met a lot of people over the years who have had success or could have and maybe didn’t go down that path. And so he tells a lot of stories in the book. So that’s part of why it’s so long. So if you buy the book and you’re not listening to an audio and you’re like kind of intimidated by how long it is, I just kind of want to throw that out there. Like a lot of it is stories which I think are very easy to read. Also, you can skip over them if you just want to get the points. Anyway, so there’s a lot of stuff in the success principles. It’s the only nonfiction book that I’ve ever listened to twice. And I also bought a copy…

Elsie: Woah…

Emma: …like a hard copy of the print version because I just. There’s a couple of like exercises and things that it’s helpful to have it in print if you want. I think audio is good too. Anyway, I’m very into this book. So that’s why it’s on my list. But there’s a lot I took from it. But I’m just going to say like a couple things because it would be too long to do it all. So one of the first principles that he lays out is to take 100 percent responsibility for yourself. And I really love this. He goes on to talk about how this is not a way to blame yourself when things go wrong or to say, oh, I don’t have a good life. So it’s all my fault and I’m terrible. That’s not what it’s about. What it is about is that taking 100 percent responsibility for yourself gives you all of the power. It means that you get to decide how your life is going to go. It doesn’t mean that you can control everything. You know, I can’t control if tomorrow it’s raining. I’ve no control over that. But I do have control over how I respond to that. And I always will. You know, and there’s so many things in life that we have control over. And I think it’s easy to forget that. And when there’s difficult times, it’s easy to default into like bad habits or the easy thing to do. And then to kind of blame it on, oh, I was stressed. So I derailed my healthy eating challenge or oh, I was having a bad day. So I just decided to get out of work early. Or, you know, whatever. Like there’s it’s so easy to do that. But it’s like if you’re like, no, I’m going to take 100 percent responsibility for myself. It doesn’t matter from having a bad day. It doesn’t matter if something bad’s happening. I’m going to take responsibility.

Elsie: Damn!

Emma: Yeah. It’s it’s really pretty radical. And I think it’s actually kind of like a little bit polarizing because now and again, I’ve mentioned this to friends and overall, all my friends, you know, spoiler are all super positive, like self-help loving people. So everyone’s in on it. But every once in awhile, I encounter someone who’s kind of like just doesn’t like it.

Elsie: I can see how that would make you feel defensive. Because it makes you feel like you can never mess up and not care.

Emma: Yes.

Elsie: Which, Obviously, like you can.

Emma: Yes, obviously you can. I mean, there’s plenty of times in life for your like, you’re sick. You can’t do as much work when you’re sick or your kid’s sick or you’re grieving something, you know? You had a parent die or you had a relationship end. I mean, you’ve got to have grace with yourself during those times. But also, you know, it’s it’s just like it’s on a black and white thing, like most of life. There’s all this nuance and and gray area. And I just love it because I love the idea that I can make a life that I want. I don’t have to wait for somebody else to do it for me. I don’t have to hope that things work out and just leave it to chance. I can do all the things in my power to be the kind of person I want to be in life and have the kind of life I want to have and see what happens. And I’m just gonna take 100 percent responsibility for myself. And I think it’s worked out great so far. So, you know, I’m into it. And then the other thing about the book is he has a lot of kind of like visualization and meditation type things. So I think you I mentioned that because I think you really need to be open to that to truly enjoy the book if you find that stuff to be a little bit too woo-woo. I get it. But, you know, you’re going to have to just kind of like let it be because he gets into that. In a previous episode, I talked about how I have these index cards and I write my goals on them in the present tense. I say I have written a great work of fiction. I haven’t actually done that yet. But I have a card that says that present tense. And the reason it’s from this book and I’ve had multiple cards. I told you one of them Elsie and I don’t really want to share it, but I said it present tense on the card. And it is true now. It is present tense now. And I just think like I know that stuff is a bit out there and not it’s not for everyone. But…

Elsie: No, it’s powerful.

Emma: I think it’s really powerful.

Elsie: Say, everyone should love this because it’s real and it’s powerful and it works.

Emma: I think so. I’m I’m really into it with limits but yeah, so anyway, Success Principals. Love it. That’s my second book. What’s yours?

Elsie: So my second book is The Curated Closet by Anuschka Rees. And this book, like I mean, it’s a book about clothing. It is kind of similar to I Will Teach You to be Rich. It kind of has like a program of homework that you follow. And I will say you have to do every step. Don’t skip any and don’t do them out of order. And it says that in the book. But it’s very important. It’s like a process. So I’ll kind of describe my life before and after I read the book. It’s probably like the most drastic life change. You know, that a specific book has brought about for me. So, OK, before I read this book, I had like a giant closet. We were still living in Missouri and I had a giant closet full of clothes that I had accumulated over, you know, five to 10 years. Like most people, lots of different sizes, lots of clothes that didn’t fit me like clothes that you consider like, oh, these are my goal jeans. I just want to see if I can fit into these jeans again someday or whatever. Things like that. Also, just things that like I wore one time because being a blogger, like in our early blogger days, we used to sort of do fashion blogging a little bit. And, you know, we sometimes we wore crazy outfits. Let’s put it that way. So I had lots of like colorful clothes that that I just hadn’t worn much. And then, you know, my clothes that I wore over and over were…I kind of defaulted to like the same little handful of clothes, even though I had this gigantic closet. So it was obviously dysfunctional and wasteful. And I even had, I hate to say this because I know how much judgment this is going to rain down on me. But I even would go through and clean out my closet and there would be like clothes with tags on them still. So I had a real problem…

Emma: You were becoming that grandma!

Elsie: Well I was. Yeah, but not anymore more. I heard about this book, The Curated Closet. I actually think she maybe had the same literary agent as us.

Emma: Yes, she did, Lindsey.

Elsie: I think yeah, I think Lindsay sent us this book. I can’t remember exactly how I heard of it, but I read it cover to cover. I did all the homework and I got my closet. First you clean it out and you only keep the things that fit you that you love. And then you do this whole phase of kind of a mood board, which is actually really hard for me. And it took a long time to, like find pictures of like, what kind of style do I want to have and what kind of colors do I like and what kind of things do I want to try that I’ve never been brave enough to try…

Emma: How did you figure that out? Did you base it on what you had kept from the closet clean out? Because I think that’s the hardest part, too. So I want to hear, like, how did you do it or was it a process over time or…

Elsie: Well. OK. This has been a few years. So I know that she like, teaches you how to do it in the book and I don’t want to teach it wrong. But I feel like it’s kind of the same thing as any other mood board, like when you’re decorating a room or whatever, like you fill up a folder with inspiration and then you narrow it down the stuff you really love later. You just kind of like get inspired and then you narrow it down to like an actual, like, shopping list. And then she’s very big on shopping in person, which is weird for me because I like to shop online. Anyway, I did become like a super returner after this. And I do now like return everything if I’m not going to use it. And actually, now I’m on my my one year used clothing challenge. It’s like a little bit different this year. But yeah, this was a few years back when I cleaned out my closet. So anyway, I went from having a giant closet full of stuff that didn’t work for me. And I felt like it was like look at it every day and see nothing to wear to having a smaller, minimal closet. Like I would never consider myself a minimalist. I used to have this like very negative association with it, but now I see it as positive because every single thing in my closet fits and I like it because I took this time to like do this process. And now when I add in new things, they are special and I know I’m going to use them because I understand what I like more. And I mean, I still make mistakes sometimes and bad purchases. Everyone does. But overall, like the shopping habits and the…and how much I love my closet is night and day difference. So, yeah, I can’t recommend it enough. It’s The Curated Closet. You can go on to your next one now.

Emma: My third book that I wanted to mention is called The Four Agreements. So. The last book that I mentioned is very long. And this book is very short.

Elsie: Oh!

Emma: Yeah. So if you’re needing something, just a kapow to the self-help part of your life. Try this one. So one thing I would like to mention in case there are any other audio book people out there like myself, The Four Agreements has a lot of flutes. It’s a very. Feels like something you might listen to while you’re doing yoga. It’s that kind of vibe, which I think is rad. But if you’re not expecting that, you might …it might take you off guard.

Elsie: So just what is it? Like a Portlandia episode?

Emma: Maybe it’s a lot of flutes. Literally.

Elsie: All right tell us what you loved.

Emma: Yeah. So I’m going to tell you what the four agreements are. You can find these online. I’m not spoiling the book. You should definitely read the book. You’ll get a lot more out of it. But these are what they are. And I’m going to tell you, I like all of them, but two of them especially really resonated with me. The four agreements are “be impeccable with your word. Don’t take anything personally. Don’t make assumptions. Always do your best.” And I was actually kind of surprised because someone had recommended this to me. So I was like, okay, cool, I’ll check it out because I’m, you know, a self-help book kind of junkie. So I put it in my queue or whatever. And when it came up, I just wasn’t expecting these as the four agreements. I just thought they would. I don’t know what I was expecting exactly, but this isn’t what I thought it would be exactly. And I really liked it, though, because the more I listened to the book and the flutes, the more I kind of saw how they were connected and how they kind of push you towards being this person that is open to learning, loving, accepting of yourself. Just a lot of stuff that’s very, very deep. And for me, very, very hard at times. So the two that really resonated with me the most, though, is “don’t take anything personally”, which to me kind of has to do with…I a lot of times, when someone criticizes me or even just says something critical, that’s not even about me at all. I think it’s about me. I decide that it’s my failing. And I don’t know why I do that exactly, but I’m the type of person who does. And so that agreement really got me thinking about that more. And think now I try to notice when I’m doing that, I’m like, oh…

Elsie: I love that. That could really help me. And I think a lot of people move ahead.

Emma: Yes. And I notice it, too. Now, when others around me or, you know, other situations, like in other people’s workplaces, if someone’s taking something personal and they really don’t need to, because what it really does is it blocks you from seeing the helpful feedback that might be there and then just moving forward, just like you said. So it’s just a block is what it is. It’s a block and it’s just a bunch of guilt. So anyway, I love that one. It’s definitely something I’m still working on in my life. And I’m not, I don’t like have it all the time. But it was a very…I needed to hear that. And I still need to hear it. So love that one. And then the other one that really resonated with me is always do your best. I feel like I could put that on a poster with a cat hanging off a ledge. And it would just help me every day because I here’s what I love about it. So it’s super simple, but it doesn’t say always be perfect. Doesn’t say that at all. It says always do your best and sometimes your best kind of sucks. Sometimes you’re sick or you’re grieving or you’re tired or your kid kept you up all day or whatever. Like sometimes your best is not the same. Day to day. But if you’re always doing your best, that’s all that’s required. And that’s what that agreement is all about. And I love that because I put a lot of pressure on myself to not be perfect because I don’t believe in perfection. But, you know, I just think I’m constantly thinking I’m behind. I think that every single day, just about. And that doesn’t really make any sense. And I I need to work on and I have been working on, but I’m gonna continue thinking about did I do my best today? And if the answer is yes, then it’s like boom shakalaka, I did it. That’s it. So.

Elsie: Nice!

Emma: Yeah. So Four Agreements…check it out if you need something short. It’s awesome.

Elsie: I haven’t read any of the books that you suggested, so I know I’m going to listen to all of them.

Emma: Get you ready for some flutes.

Elsie: I like your, I like your distinction about listening to self-help and reading fiction. That’s smart.

Emma: Thanks.

Elsie: Yeah. So my last book is Skin Cleanse by Adina Grigore. You guys. Maybe, know, maybe don’t know. Like, I’m really into natural beauty, clean beauty. Like it’s something I’ve been to for about four years now. Super interested in it. And this book is basically my Bible when it comes to that stuff. It’s definitely where I got my start. And I think it’s a great starting point for anyone who’s interested in it. And I will tell you the things I love most about it. So I love Adina. She’s a great, very like personal writer, very casual, very friendly. Like, you know, you feel like you’re best friends. I love that feeling. In an author, so many times when clean beauty, like if you’re reading a blog post or any kind of marketing about clean beauty, it’s like scary thing, scary thing, scary thing. Dot dot dot…buy this. And I love this book. She owns a clean beauty company, but this book is really not product focused at all. It’s more just educating you about ingredients and different types of skin care. What is good for skin? What’s bad for skin? Why just. It’s not selling you anything. And that just feels really good. Because clean beauty is one category that I’ll just say isn’t the best to learn on the internet because usually someone is trying to sell you something which isn’t always bad but is also not always good. She’s uses a lot of fundamentals. It’s kind of like a text book to me, like it’s very, you know, product or ingredient by ingredient. Right? So I felt like I understood more like what to watch out for and what to feel good with. And she’s also like very minimalist about skin care. So her suggestions are to go back to like very basic skin care where you use like just like a straight carrier oil for your skin or like things like that or really make your own like there’s recipes in the book and they’re very, very simple.

Emma: It’s almost like an elimination diet. But for your skin.

Elsie: Yeah. It’s exactly like that. That’s a great way to put it. And then the last thing that I really loved about it was just like her general, like skin and skin care and anti aging, quote unquote, attitude, because she, you know, thinks that anti-aging is kind of bullshit. And I think that as well. It’s just it’s an industry that I don’t know. It’s a marketing direction that kind of makes people feel bad about themselves or like there’s something unnatural about aging. And yeah, it’s it’s really horrible for women and it’s not right. And yeah, skin isn’t always meant to be perfect. Like healthy skin isn’t always perfect. So I felt like the book just had a lot of really positive empowering messages behind it. I’m a blogger and I talk about skin care a lot. So it seems may be kind of weird that I’m saying this, but I just feel like bloggers aren’t always the best person to teach you about skin care. Right? Because it’s like the most beautiful photo, the best lighting, maybe some Photoshop and then, you know, selling a sponsored product. And this book really is just like the polar opposite of what that is. I highly recommend it. If you’re looking for just like a basic education about clean beauty and skin care or you’re just curious about like what does it mean? Like, how I got into it was I had this dinner party and a friend of mine was just basically telling us that every single product we used was bad and toxic and it freaked us out. And like six months later I was talking to my other friend that was there and she had like changed all her products and I had changed all my products. And we had like separately, you know, gone through this, like, long journey. And I kind of wish we would have done it together. And I really wish we would have done it with this book because it is very, very helpful. So anyway, Skin Cleanse. So before we go, we’re going to try one new segment. And this one is called Is it a hell yes or hell no? And so I’m going to ask Emma three questions and then she’s going to ask me three questions. Or they’re like statements? And then you have to say either hell yes or hell no. Emma, give me a hell yes or hell no on this. These are all like sort of home related, by the way. White paint fixes, everything.

Emma: Hell, yes.

Elsie: Okay, good. I agree with that.

Emma: You thought I was going to say hell no. Didn’t you? Nah! I mean, I don’t paint everything white, but it does fix everything. Let’s just get real.

Elsie: If you have a problem, it might fix it. Ok. You can never have too many plants in your home.

Emma: Hell, no? I I kill a lot of plants, so I don’t know, probably from my house, it’s a hell, yes, you can have too many too many plant deaths. But I do love plants and I think if you have a lot, that’s awesome. I will come to your house and enjoy the nice oxygen.

Elsie: You’re not supposed to give disclaimers. You’re just supposed to say hell yes or hell no.

Emma: All right. All right.

Elsie: OK, the next one is the last one is the kitchen is the most important room in the home.

Emma: Hell, no.

Elsie: Whoa. What’s the most important room?

Emma: I mean, probably your bathroom real also, I mean…

Elsie: The bathroom? Which the master bath or the powder bath? Or…

Emma: I mean, obviously, the master bath. What are you crazy?

Elsie: That’s the most important room in the home?

Emma: I mean, think about like, what room do you have to go into every single day? You know, also, though, I would say, like, what room do I really spend the most time in? I mean, in my house, it might be the kitchen, but that’s only because I have a really open floor plan. But nah, nah, I just want to be in the TV room. It’s winter time. It’s time to hibernate. Okay. Here’s mine.

Elsie: You get your opinion. OK, I’m ready. I’m so excited.

Emma: It’s really cool to leave your Christmas tree up after January 1st.

Elsie: Hell no! Absolutely not you. That was an easy one. That was too easy. I didn’t need to.

Emma: I’m just doing them so that people will get mad at you. That’s all I’m doing. Sucker.

Elsie: No. Just take it down on January 1st. If you haven’t yet, that’s still a good day to do.

Emma: No disclaimers. You just say hell yes. No, I’m just kidding. OK. It’s fine if you bring if I bring my own snacks to a movie.

Elsie: Hell, yes. Sometimes you you need to. And also, I mean, I love popcorn, so I’m still going to buy something.

Emma: It’s fine to not wash your hair for more than three days.

Elsie: Hell, yes, for sure. I mean, I don’t know. Like, I do believe in that, like, hair training thing that like the longer like what you are, what you’re used to, what your hair is used to, it’s fine with. And like I can go for four or five days. Espeiclaly if I watch only my bangs.

Emma: Mm hmm. I also believe in the hair training just because we had a mutual friend who didn’t wash her hair for a year and her hair actually did look pretty good. Like I would not have guessed that. Last week I had a really, really, really busy week. And at the end of the week, I realized I hadn’t washed my hair for seven days.

Elsie: Woah. And it still looked good?

Emma: No.

Elsie: Thank you so much for listening to A Beautiful Mess Podcast this week. We will leave all of the books that we talked about in this episode in our show notes at abeautifulmess.com/podcast. And if you think of it, if you don’t mind, please leave us a review. It would mean so much to us.

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  • The Curated Closet is awesome and I agree, the workbook is essential. I first found this when Elsie had a picture of it in an Onstagram post about a year ago. I have never been “stylish” but had written a goal to find my style as a part of building self-confidence and strength. It is work, but changes your life. I’m now looking forward to delving into your other recommendations

  • I LOVE your podcast and how diverse the topics are. I really take advantage of all the tips and tricks that you share and I already added all of these books to the reading list. Looking forward to more episodes!

  • I admittedly avoided this episode because I have yet to get into Self Help style books but I think this might be my favorite episode so far. I was moved by the bit about keeping a gratitude journal and Emma’s experience. I want to read or listen to just about every suggestion. Thanks so much.

  • I read the curated closet book & found it rly helpful, thank you! Tons of creative ways to rethink your wardrobe. I’ll spare you the details but mine was out of hand ???? creating a capsule rly clicked for me & made a big difference. Taking pics felt a lil cheesy but helped me discern things more clearly. Turned my “impossible task” into a productive, positive experience. Great rec!!! I wanna check out the rest too

  • I agree with a previous comment – Nurtureshock is a must for parents and teachers!

  • Another great episode !
    Elsie-I totally get how you feel about budgets and Always felt like I was failing. The finance book you mentioned sounded like it was more an intuitive eating model (vs counting calories) for budgets ha.

  • I have been loving this podcast and this episode was right up my alley! Not to be dramatic, but the Four Agreements saved my life.

    However… when it came to the comment about whether or not to keep up Christmas decor past Jan 1 and the immediate, repulsed tone of the “HELL NO” made me feel immediately ashamed, and then cringe at the judgment. I work a lot during the holidays and don’t get to enjoy my decor and I love cozying up in January (especially during a break from alcohol) and finally enjoying them. Not that I have to defend myself, but it was the tone and judgment that came with the HELL NO to something that might bring someone joy just doesn’t seem like your brand. Especially since several times throughout the episodes you’ve mentioned being wary of admitting something because someone might judge you. You should totally be unapologetic about the things you love! But it’s not fair to judge others for the same thing.

    • I am really loving this podcast and getting to know Elsie and Emma, it’s been really fun. I had to reply though to PB because I too couldn’t believe the HELL NO for no Christmas decorations after January 1. I like to keep my tree up until January 6 to celebrate “the Epiphany” or Three Kings Day. My husband proposed to me on 1/6/alongtimeago – so it’s sentimental to me to leave it up. I did suggest this year to my daughter (she a Freshman in college) and she was appalled that I even suggested we take the tree down before Three Kings Day. LOL.
      Again I’m a huge fan of this podcast and the sisters and love that you both are being so authentic and transparent. Thank you!!

  • Really enjoyed this podcast! I’ll be ordering a few of these books for sure. I’d love to recommend A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle – changed my life (for the better) and my husbands. It will never leave my nightstand. Oprah reviews each chapter with the author on her podcast as well – it is profound!

  • i really loved “essentialism” and “big magic”! recently, i read the first chapter of “atomic habits” – sometimes i love self-help books in small doses, i read a bit and immediately feel inspired to act. shared more here: https://tps-steph.blogspot.com/2019/12/0051-notes-to-self.html

  • Thanks so much for the recommendations! Buying some of them for my husband and some for me!
    A book that has changed my life is actually a parenting book but it’s helped me as person more generally then just with parenting.
    Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline by Becky Bailey. It’s about conscious discipline and is based on brain states. Based on the recs you made I think it will really resonate with you!

  • I am enjoying your podcast so so much! Emma shared about the thankful notes today and I did that after I read Emma doing it a couple of years ago! I did it for my husband’s birthday. It was amazing and very therapeutic! He bawled when he read it on his birthday. I love you girls and will always be an avid fan!

  • I love this! Reading is a passion of mine. Especially books in english, because it’s not my first language, so I can improve my skills at the same time that I’m reading. If I have to pick 3 self-help books that have changed my life I would choose: “The Happiness Project”, “Rich dad, poor dad” and “How to think BIG”. I would recomend them to everyone, you can learn a LOT in so many ways with them!!

  • I really loved this! I am a little wary of most self-help books, but these actually seem practical instead of just “think happy thought and you’ll feel better”. I like how they are for areas of your home and practical ways to make your life more efficient. Thank you for sharing!

  • 3 books that changed my life…
    The Art if Frugal Hedonism
    Nurtureshock (for parents or teachers)
    Man’s Search for Meaning

  • Amazing! I’m going to check these books out. ❤️✨

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  • I’m a sucker for self help books so thank you for sharing your recommendations! I can’t wait to read a few of these xx


  • Loved this episode! These books were really influential for me:

    Emergent Strategy by adrienne marie brown

    Curated Closet (so good!)

    Material Girl, Mystical World by Ruby Warrington

    Slow by Brooke Mcalary


  • so fun to hear your recommendations!! i can’t wait to read (aka listen on audiobooks) to them!

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