197 Embracing Slow Living and Wellbeing with the Crock-Pot Lady, Stephanie O'Dea

Embracing Slow Living and Wellbeing


What if you could live a life filled with harmony and well-being by simply embracing a slower pace? Join me as I chat with Stephanie O'Dea, the "Crock-Pot Lady," who went viral years ago after cooking dinner in her crock pot every night for an entire year and blogging about her journey. Stephanie shares her story, from her humble beginnings to hitting the New York Times best-sellers list, and the most rewarding part of her journey - connecting with other moms who have been touched by her slow-living philosophy.

In this conversation, we discuss the benefits of living a slower life, reconnecting with ourselves, and ultimately improving our well-being. We also explore the importance of guided journaling and how having a prompt can be a valuable tool for getting started. Stephanie talks about her thoughts on the popular Instant Pot and how it didn't align with her slow-living philosophy.

Listen in and learn more about Stephanie's mission to help others slow down and embrace a life of harmony.


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Megan 00:00
Hey everyone. I have a celebrity of sorts here joining us on the podcast today. Stephanie O'Day went viral years ago when she made the commitment it made a New Year's resolution to cook dinner in her crock pot every single night for an entire year and was blogging about it. And it's got picked up and she was on Rachel Ray and other TV shows. But what I'm really excited to have you guys learn about here today is not so much that journey but how this idea of slow you know, using a slow cooker now translates into her life, of just living a slower life. And this is what she is on a mission to help others do, which obviously is in complete alignment with everything that we talk about here on the Work + Life Harmony podcast. So, without further ado, I cannot wait for you to meet Stephanie.

Welcome to the Work + Life Harmony podcast. I'm your host, Megan Sumrell. I'm the creator of the top program and top planner, teaching all things time management, organization and productivity for women. I'm also a mom and wife and, just like you, I'm juggling, #allthethings while running multiple businesses and a family. Guess what? You don't have to feel constantly overwhelmed, exhausted and stressed out. There is another way When you have the right systems and tools to plan and manage your time, you can live a life of harmony. This is your show to learn from me and other amazing women how to master your time, planning an organization to skyrocket your productivity so you can have Work + Life Harmony. If you're ready to stop feeling overwhelmed, this is the show for you, and if you're new here, I'd love to get you started with my Work + Life Harmony assessment. All you have to do is DM me on Instagram at Megan Sumrell, with the word harmony and my team will send it right over.

Hey everyone, welcome back to Work + Life Harmony. I have, I guess, that I have been just waiting all week to have the opportunity to finally talk to Stephanie person to person, even though we're online. When I first stumbled on her, I was obsessed with her story. I can't wait for her to share it with you and really dive into our topic today of how do we slow down. So, stephanie, i'm going to go ahead and let you introduce yourself, and I would love if you would share your story, particularly of your crock pot and everything that happened with that, and then we'll dive into some tips on how people can start slowing down today.

Stephanie 02:31
Absolutely, megan. Thank you so much for having me. It's just a joy, so I've been following you from afar, so I feel very honored to thank you very much. I'm Stephanie O'Day and I am best known online as the crock pot lady. In 2008, I made a New Year's resolution to use my crock pot slow cooker every day for a year and write about it online.

Megan 02:51
Okay, so everyone, every day for a year with your crock pot. That's one fact of a resolution.

Stephanie 03:00
So I really do love my crock pot. I really do. I had there's a picture of me wearing glasses and pajama pants in front of the Christmas tree, hugging my crock pot. that went viral And that really is how I felt at the time, because I had teeny tiny babies in the house And in order to feed them, I had to do it in a way that made sense to me, and I'm a morning person, so the idea of cooking dinner when I'm still highly caffeinated and coherent and pushing a button and walking away was just a no brainer for me. And I've got great kids. I love my kids, but from four to six pm they were cranky heads, is there?

Megan 03:39
any child, that's not I mean. I call it the witching door.

Stephanie 03:42
That witching door is a real thing. I mean the idea of cooking dinner and like wielding a knife and sauteing on the stove with baby scrap to my chest. It just wasn't for me. So I really did love the crock pot, so that was a no brainer. But I had to work. I had to find a way to make money from home.

I always wanted to be a stay at home mom that my husband's like yeah, so we live in San Francisco, so that's not actually a thing. So I figured this out. So I sort of really wanted to challenge myself, to make something from nothing, and I started poking around. I learned about SEO. I did do some freelance work for blog her And that was this women conglomeration of mommy bloggers. But I didn't want to share like personal stuff about our family. I didn't want to talk about the poop diapers and I love my husband. So even if it would have been funny, I didn't really want to disparage him on the internet. So I liked the tight, focused niche of a food blog, but really I didn't cook, I only use the wrong one. So that's how the resolution came about And I liked the idea of an exit plan.

I was gonna do this for a year, tap out, move on, maybe write a book telling people how to stick to their new year's resolutions. But the universe had something else in mind. The universe was like, nope, you're gonna write some cookbooks now You're gonna do these things. And it worked. I'm extremely lucky, very blessed. I loved every single second of it. I ended up on the New York Times best sellers list, i ended up on Good Morning America and reach array.

But what I really loved and what fed me inside were emails from people and other moms just connecting like I never thought about it this way, or, oh, you're right, i could do it this way, and it doesn't have to be super stressful or complicated, let's just kind of shave it down. So, using sort of the metaphor of the Crock-Pot and keeping things as simple as possible, I started sharing other kind of lifestyle tips and tricks and home organization ideas. I am very much impressed with your program because our brains are quite similar And that we don't have to reinvent the wheel here, like just plug and play, like it's gonna be okay. We don't have to make everything as complicated as the world makes it seem And we also don't need to be the best of the best of the best. I just wanted to feed my babies. I didn't need it to be Michelin star. You're just trying to get people to organize their homes and their lives. It doesn't need to look like real, simple magazine. This is real.

Megan 06:30
It needs to be sustainable, realistic, all of that. So when, after you had been doing your Crock-Pot for every day for a year, at what point did you hit that crossroads where they asked you to kind of pivot what you were doing?

Stephanie 06:46
Yeah, so 2016,. The Instant Pot hit the market and it took the world by storm, and it looks like on Black Friday, i think that, 2015, 2016 cusp Amazon sold 70 million units or some insane number, maybe I don't know. Maybe there were 70 million pages, i don't know. It was a lot, it was insane. And so all of my publishers and my literary agent were really asking me and pressuring me to use the Instant Pot, and so I bought one and I goofed around with it And I just didn't like it. It didn't sit well with me. The idea that you can cook a frozen chicken in 45 minutes is neat like that's great technology but it didn't fit with my life or the life of my family, and it just wasn't how my brain worked.

Megan 07:37
So I tried. It's interesting even looking at the two different names, right? I mean, another name for the Crock-Pot is the Slow Cooker, right, slow Cooker Instant Pot. And I had never really thought about that till I was reading about your past and everything And I was like, yeah, that really is asking someone who is used to a slow cooker lifestyle to now say put on your track shoes and let's start sprinting everything right.

Stephanie 08:04
Yeah, it didn't fit well with me And it was tricky because I was told I was leaving money on the table and I should reach for the low hanging fruit. And I get it. But it just felt phony baloney And then I also started to really sort of question what it is I wanted to be when I grew up and what I wanted to be known for. The idea of writing recipes after a while started to feel fake to me, because all you have to do is change an ingredient and slap on a new name And the internet thinks it's a brand new recipe and your publisher thinks it's a brand new recipe. But after a while how many pot roast recipes really need? But like how many?

Megan 08:48
I love when you said that you're like I just couldn't write one more pot roast.

Stephanie 08:51
I know I just couldn't. It just didn't fit well to me. So I took some time off the internet and I really kind of went within and I started asking myself open-ended questions, and that is a huge benefit of living a slow life. So I like the acrimony of simply look only within, because anything you're looking for you will find. This fancy machine box will give you the answer to anything, right, this very, very second, but chances are you already know what. The next best step to take is Just unplug for a little bit, go within, go hike, spend some time in nature and then just ask what am I looking for? What am I searching for? And chances are it's not another pot roast recipe. Chances are you can probably live a really good life.

If your spice cabinet isn't alphabetized Like you're searching for something, i feel violated because that brings me such trouble. I know Well, if you scroll Instagram or Pinterest for long enough, you're gonna find all the things you're doing wrong And that doesn't feel good in your body. What feels good in your body is climbing into bed at the end of the day and knowing you did a good job. You fed the humans, you honored yourself. Maybe you moved your body. You drank your water, you took your vitamins and you gave it your all, but you didn't burn yourself out because that's not sustainable. So that hamster wheel of go, go, go in the hustle mentality that the internet feeds you. And it's tricky, because I live my life on the internet and I know you do too. But we don't all really want six pack abs. We really don't.

Megan 10:34
Or we don't wanna use our time in a way that it would require to develop Six pack abs. I'd love to have them, but not. I don't wanna spend that many hours of my day For everybody listening right now that is thinking, oh my God, that sounds amazing. Yes, i wanna go reconnect with myself, but then they're also looking at what they feel is the reality of the stage of life that they're in right now, which is maybe they're at home with three young kids like under the age of six And they're going when the heck I can't even go to the bathroom alone. When am I supposed to find this time to slow down and reconnect, when I truly? I mean, we've all been in that stage and you're gonna get reconnected to the bathroom alone.

Stephanie 11:17
I used to nurse my oldest on the toilet with me because I was so scared to put her down that I thought if she cried, cbs would call. So I get it, that sort of brantic feeling that you can't slow down because there's too much to do and not enough time to do it. It really starts from giving yourself a big hug and knowing you are doing a great job already and sort of tuning out the noise that you have to do all the things right this very second or you're falling behind and you're not, if we're lucky. Life is really long And that's what we're trying to do in the here and the now is set yourself up for sustainability. So when you are in your 70s, 80s, 90s, you have a healthy body and you can crawl around on the floor with your grandchildren and you can garden and you can do yoga and do the things that you've been sort of shoving aside because you're too busy doing the things that you think you have to do.

Megan 12:25
Oh, i think that you nailed it right there when you said doing the things that you think you have to do instead of maybe recognizing everything isn't a have to, which is so hard in the moment. It's so hard in the moment when we're feeling like everything on our plate is a have to. Yeah yeah.

Stephanie 12:43
So if you have infants and toddlers in the house, they are your have to's. You have to feed them, you have to care for them, but you don't have to also organize the world's best bake sale and be the head volunteer at Friends of the Library And win every single promotion they have at work, right this second. So really choose right now, right in this season and stage of life, what is the most important And chances are it's your family, your health and your sanity, and then everything else. Just sort of put it aside and realize you are not gonna always have a six month old and a two and a half year old. You're just not. That's not how the world works. And it's okay They will go to school, that you will have more time, but you will be forced to slow down if you don't actively choose, on purpose, to do things in a sustainable way. Now Women write to me all over the time And all of a sudden they get sort of diagnosed with these adrenal fatigue.

Megan 13:54
I know it was at the top of the list. I went through that a lifetime ago, but it's not uncommon.

Stephanie 13:59
No, it's not uncommon And adrenal fatigue can manifest in different ways. So, again, when you take the time to slow down and just sort of sit and ask yourself am I sleeping okay? Am I actually eating protein? When was the last time I drank something that wasn't wine or coffee? So just asking yourself these questions, because if you're constantly either fueling with caffeine to get yourself going or then some sort of nemming agent to turn your brain off, you're not giving your body what you want And adrenal fatigue isn't fun.

So I, too, went through that in kind of the 2016 to 2018 year, when I was trying to figure out what the next step was, and then also I was caring for my grandma who was ailing, was trying to keep up with the internet, which you can't because that's the nature of the beast. Right When you figure out Facebook, they're gonna change the algorithm on you. So it just a lot of it is knowing that you're only human and humans have been humaning for quite a while, and really we need the basics. We need food, shelter, love, companionship. We don't need fancy purses, probably, and so just hiding what, on purpose, is really valuable to you and your own needs And then kind of shelving the other stuff for a while.

Megan 15:30
So when you were first starting, you're slowing down. What were some of the initial things that you recognized weren't a have to anymore PTA, and it's not a not have to forever. Right, it can just be. No, no, it's not.

Stephanie 15:48
It's actually interesting Because I have my day in an elementary school right now as their school state secretary, so I get to give out hugs and band-aids all day long and they pay me and there's health benefits, so that's great. But I almost didn't have this idea Like why am I sitting in a meeting in a cold gym at seven PM at night to help the children, when my own children were home and my husband was scrambling to give them bath time and bedtime? Like, i do want to help the children, but I need to help the children in my own house first, and that was kind of a wake up call. And then also I tend to be a very empathetic person. So when I was coaching and doing things, i was pouring my all into other people and I was forgetting to get up and go for a walk around the block and do the Pilates and do the yoga and the things that I wanted to do, and so it sounds very self-centered and women in general are not raised with that idea of putting their needs first.

And so I sort of now look at myself in the scientific way that I'm the nucleus And I really do have to care for myself first in order for all of these other beings to orbit properly. And now I'm looking at it as a way that when I do take the time for myself and I'm an early riser So I have an hour or two to myself every day before my kids wake up, the dog wakes up before life happens where I am completely unplugged, it's me and my yoga mat and a journaling worksheet that I have And I just sort of brain them and then prioritize. But if I don't give myself that time, i'm not as productive and I don't feel as grounded, because when you are grounded and centered first, you're not reacting, you're just sort of responding because you're already centered. So bring it on. Otherwise, if I'm getting up at the same time as the kids are getting up and I'm trying to make myself coffee and also sign homework papers and do this stuff, it's already this kind of frazzled state.

Megan 18:13
You know for everyone listening that's gone through my master year morning workshop. I love that you shared what works for you and what grounds you in the morning, Because one of the things that we go through in that is people uncovering like what are the activities that allow them to feel center, grounded, fulfilled, serving their own personal needs before turning around in service to others. And the fact that you talk about yoga, mat and journaling but also doing brain dump work, I'm like, ooh, I can see exactly where you fall on the morning routine personality grid And it's so cool because it gets to be different for everybody, whatever it is that Yeah.

Stephanie 18:48
So if any sort of yogi master was to watch me, they'd be like yeah, that's not yoga, but I'm in my flannel PJ Pants on the yoga mat and I do light a candle, because I really like candles, and I have my coffee and journaling. So I'm doing all of it all at the same time, which to some maybe it looks like I'm a crazy multitasking mom, but it helps me. If I'll do some stretching, i get an idea. Let me write that idea down. I don't need to then go find my journal, find the pen it's all just right there And it's so good.

Megan 19:22
So for everyone listening that is wanting to slow down a little in their life, what would be the first step that you would give them.

Stephanie 19:33
Yeah, so in the slow living podcast I teach the five steps to slow living, and the first is to declutter, which ties very well into you also, but decluttering doesn't have to be physical things.

It can be but it can be decluttering your calendar, it can be decluttering your brain, it can be figuring out what works for you, learning how to say no. So and take some time with that And also really think about it. If you're not having a hard time keeping your house and the stuff working, tuesday, there's just too many things, and so it really is quite validating to walk around and physically declutter, and I think you'll find that instantly your mental load is relieved as well.

Megan 20:20
Yeah, it's interesting I noticed a lot of women tend to start either with the physical and the decluttering or the calendar slash mental, but I have yet to meet anyone that does one really, really well without also doing some of the other, because once you start in one area of your life, it does just start to turn It does.

Stephanie 20:44
It's so gratifying because you can see the momentum build in the snowball getting bigger and bigger. It's wherever you are now. Just trust and have faith that if you take teeny, tiny baby steps every day not huge leaps Do you know the noise and the nonsense of the marketers online who are like have 10 minute abs? No, just teeny tiny baby steps and you will get there. Then I'll quickly run through the five steps, just in case. The first was to declutter, but then the second is to know where you're headed and have that vision in mind.

We touched on where do you want to be when you're 70, 80, 90. Me, i want to do yoga and garden and crawl on the floor and still have my body working. That's my end game. Then we work backwards from there. Three is trust and stay positive that you can get there.

And the negative thoughts They will creep in and tell you that you're behind or you're not good enough or it's a pipe dream. Just acknowledge them. You don't need to ignore them because that doesn't really work, but acknowledge them and then still take your teeny, tiny baby steps, which is four is just constant, keeping your eye on the ball and trusting that you can get there. And then five is you're tweaking and you're modifying as needed. I love the idea of setting your kind of metaphoric GPS and the road can be under, you can get a flat tire, but it doesn't mean you turn your car around and you go home, you just keep going and you're tweaking and you're modifying.

And again that phrase if we're lucky, life is long, and don't sort of fall for that FOMO and YOLO sort of messaging. So with my kitchen clients we use a rewrite of FOMO which is figure only myself out. Oh, i love that. Yeah, because everyone is trying to sell you on something. But I really want you to go within because you know what your own version of your best life is And it's probably not going to look like the lady down the street, because you know your life, your marriage, your children, your house, your big kind of internal dream that you're scared to let loose.

Megan 23:07
Yeah, Oh, so good, Stephanie. Thank you so much. Now you mentioned the Slow Cooker podcast. Although I did, I get the name right.

Stephanie 23:16
No, so the podcast is the slow-living podcast.

Megan 23:19
Slow living. Okay, I was like I know I said that wrong.

Stephanie 23:21
So when that feels fun. So now you unwrap your meat and you throw it in the pot.

Megan 23:29
Yeah, unwrap that. No, where can people tune into the Slow Living podcast?

Stephanie 23:33
Sure, so that's on any of your favorite podcast apps. My main home is Stephanieodaycom And if I do have a one-page journaling worksheet, if you're interested in learning how to kind of slow down And that's at Stephanieodaycom, forward slash daily You can get an instant download. If you haven't learned how to journal, having sort of a guided fill-in-the-blank to get started is a really good way.

Megan 24:00
Yeah, I agree, when I was first being introduced to journaling, I was like what am I so strong? I'm just trying to work, and having a prompting journal is a really, really nice way to help you get started, if you're kind of unclear, and we'll have links to all that in the show notes as well. I can't thank you enough for spending your most precious commodity your time here with us today, stephanie. Thank you so very much, thank you.

Stephanie 24:26
This was a joy.

Megan 24:30
Getting on top of all things time management, organization, and productivity doesn't have to stop just because this episode is over. If you want one-tap access to all of my training and current top podcasts, go to the app store or Google Play and download the Pink Bee app. It's one word, the Pink Bee. It is jam-packed with simple yet powerful tips and strategies to get you out of overwhelm and end to harmony. And if you have a question you want me to cover on a future episode, go to iTunes and ask your question in the podcast review section. And while you're there, don't forget to leave a five-star review.


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