Pivotal People

Ep. 50: Author Erin Cuccio: "Unraveled--Finding the Lovely When Life Comes Undone"

April 25, 2023 Season 2 Episode 50
Pivotal People
Ep. 50: Author Erin Cuccio: "Unraveled--Finding the Lovely When Life Comes Undone"
Show Notes Transcript

Erin Cuccio is a writer, speaker and podcast host. She is a wife, a mother of three young boys, and supports her husband in running their family-owned restaurant.

Erin's new book called "Unraveled: Finding the Lovely When Life Comes Undone" addresses the idea of finding purpose in the painful experiences of our lives. When Erin lost her fourth son in early labor, she was determined to find the purpose in the pain.

Maybe you are facing grief in loss, or maybe you're grieving a life that doesn't quite look like you pictured. Erin's story and her wisdom helps readers realize who we are created to be, and encourages us to live with reckless abandon in pursuit of that purpose.

Her stories are insightful and entertaining.  Author Kim Stuart says it best: "Erin Cuccio is the wise and kind friend you want walking with you shoulder-to-shoulder, both on the days that leave you breathless with joy and on the days that bring you to your knees. Just like its author, Unraveled extends a warm and honest invitation to find hope that battles and wins in every season."

Find Erin on Instagram @erincuccio 
Pre-order her book (coming out May 2nd) at book.ErinCuccio.com
Listen to her podcast "Room For Lovely" with new episodes every week

Order Stephanie's new book Imagine More: Do What You Love, Discover Your Potential

Learn more at StephanieNelson.com
Follow us on Instagram @stephanie_nelson_cm
Follow us on Facebook at CouponMom

Host, Stephanie Nelson (00:00):

I would like to welcome Erin Cuccio to the Pivotal People Podcast, and I'm really excited to talk to her today because I just finished reading her new book, which is beautiful. It's wonderful. We're gonna talk about it today. I met Erin almost two years ago at a writer's workshop and we were both aspiring writers. She now has a book, but not only that, she is a speaker. She speaks to many groups and she's also a podcast host. And I would just encourage people to find her podcast if you haven't already. It's called Room for Lovely, wonderful guest. And Erin is truly a professional. I know that you have some background in this because she does sound like N P R <laugh>. Anyway, that's what Bob Goff says, and I have to agree. Erin's also a mother of three boys, so she's busy with boys. She is a wife, she is a co-business owner. She and her husband own a restaurant. She's also an English teacher, which explains why her book is so good. I decided that's the reason. But on top of all of that, she's just a super nice person. So I'm, I'm gonna stop babbling about her cuz I really want you to hear from her. Erin, welcome. Thank you so much for being here. Author, Erin Cuccio (01:11):

Oh, thank you so much for having me, Stephanie. That was such a kind introduction and also reminds me why I'm so tired. <laugh> Host, Stephanie Nelson (01:19):

<laugh>, you should be tired. Let's get right off the ground and talk about how your journey started. You know, I saw you a couple years ago. We all got inspired by Bob Goff, and then you went home. Tell me, how did this all start for you? Author, Erin Cuccio (01:34):

Yeah, I have written for years. I loved writing ever since I was a little girl. And I always said, okay, maybe one day I would like to write a book. And when the opportunity came up to go to the Oaks and to do that writer's workshop, it just felt like a really great opportunity that I was going to be able to kind of gain some clarity about where I wanted to go with my writing. And I did, but I was still really afraid when I came home and I wasn't quite sure what my next steps were gonna be or how that was going to kind of morph into the next thing. And so the next easiest thing was to start a podcast. And so I started there and just kind of got that under my belt and I sort of held my feet to the fire and said, in the spring, I'm gonna get this podcast off the ground in the fall. I really wanna write this book. And so there had been a story sort of brewing in me for quite some time. And I was able finally towards the end of last year to piece it all together in a way that I think only God could do. These are his words, and really pull the thread of the way that he has woven my life together through all of the circumstances that I've been through. Host, Stephanie Nelson (02:42):

And it's a beautiful book because you are just really honest about your experiences, not just recent experiences, but childhood experiences. One of the things I thought, Erin, as I was reading your book, is so many people say, I wanna be a writer. And you said you've always wanted to be a writer, but really a good writer has a lot of good life experience to impart wisdom. Right. And life experience can be positive and we're gonna talk about it. It can also be painful and hard, right. And I think as a writer it's really generous of you to open up to the hard places because even though we all experience different hard things, that is helpful for everyone who reads it. I took all these notes while I'm reading your book. You are younger than me, but you are wiser than me. Author, Erin Cuccio (03:28):

Oh goodness. <laugh>. Host, Stephanie Nelson (03:29):

And I appreciate that you talked about your family experiences and what I thought was fascinating was that you grew up in a town of 1500, 1600 people. What? What was the Author, Erin Cuccio (03:40):

Number? There was about 1500 people in the town that I grew up in. So it was really, really small. Host, Stephanie Nelson (03:45):

And I mean, it sounds like this idyllic childhood. You're with the cousins and the grandparents and your family's all around, and your husband was also from a relatively small town and you raised your kids there and then you picked up and moved. Yes. What a growth experience that must have been. Author, Erin Cuccio (04:04):

Absolutely. You know, being from a small town like that, people just don't move away. It's very unheard of. The ones that do. I think they're kind of, they move away and then they're never heard of again, <laugh>. But for us, we even said, we are never going to move away. And God just kind of had other plans and began to stir something inside of us that sort of called us to a different path than we had originally expected. And now looking back, I'm so grateful that he gave us the bravery to walk that path because I can see so much of his goodness in the move to another state and in just completely kind of up heaving our lives for something totally different than we expected. Host, Stephanie Nelson (04:44):

And then even covid hit, right? So you move, you've got the three kids now all of a sudden. Wow. You made it through that though. Author, Erin Cuccio (04:50):

Yes, we did. And that was kind of a really special time for us. You know, for the bulk of the time that we lived in Louisiana, especially when the boys were young, my husband worked away a lot. And so there was a lot of time where I certainly wasn't a single mother in the sense that he was very much involved in our lives. But in the day in and day out, it was kind of me and the boys a whole lot. And so when we moved here to Texas and we had that experience of covid hitting and the world shutting down and all of us kind of being quarantined and confined into this space, it was really a precious moment for our family because it was the first time in our lives where we were all home and all together as a family. You know, my husband's job, he was still able to go to work, but he was home every single night with us. And we were able to just really enjoy that experience and build a super foundation, su super special foundation for our family, which I think was really important for us. Host, Stephanie Nelson (05:48):

Well, that's neat. And one of the stories I loved was the story behind the title of your book. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, can you share your grandmother's story? I love that. Author, Erin Cuccio (05:57):

Yes. When I was a little girl, my great-grandparents were still alive and they were very much a part of our lives. We would kind of do weekly visits where we would travel the countryside and go and visit at all of my great-grandparents homes. And at the end of all of their beds, they had these crocheted afghans. And so the older generations had woven these blankets and put them at the foot of the bed. And as we got a little bit older, my grandmother decided that she was going to make a blanket for each of the six grandchildren. And she would start by taking the yarn. We each got to pick out the yarn that we wanted with the colors that we wanted, which was really special. But she would start by taking it and completely unraveling the whole entire thing stretched out across the house.
And then she would wind it back up together and she would put it on this new ball where she could work and weave it into something really beautiful. And I remember asking her one day why she did that, and she said, oh, I've got to work out all the knots before I can weave it into something else. And that kind of just stuck with me. And as I got older, I realized that's it. That's what life does. Sometimes we become unraveled, but oftentimes it's through those experiences that allow us to untangle knots inside of us and then weave it all back together into something beautiful. Host, Stephanie Nelson (07:14):

And we can all relate to that. I mean, you talk about in your book and it's unraveled, you talk about the whole idea of pain and joy being able to coexist, which is, I loved your room for lovely being your mantra before you ever even had a podcast. Author, Erin Cuccio (07:33):

Right. Host, Stephanie Nelson (07:34):

You know? And that comes across in all of your communication and your writing and your speaking. Tell the world what room for lovely means? Author, Erin Cuccio (07:42):

Well, it kind of started as a joke, honestly. We have three boys, and I am just a very, very girly girl. And so I'm just a whole lot of femininity bouncing around in this house full of stinky wild boys. And so anytime I would want to make a beautiful table scape or I would bring flowers in from outside or do anything that was just a little bit more representative of loveliness, I would say, oh, mom's making room for lovely. And then it just kind of stuck as a mantra in our home that I was making room for. Lovely. And I realized eventually that that room for lovely is really the way that we've got to live our lives. Because so much of life can be wild and tumultuous and sometimes stinky and hard. But if we look for the loveliness, there is room for loveliness in every single season if we are open to look for Host, Stephanie Nelson (08:33):

It. You know? I love that because I had actually spoke with a woman in a previous podcast about biblical mindfulness and calm and wellbeing, and there was actually a Harvard study that found, if you looked at a bouquet of flowers first thing in the morning, it actually increases whatever those positive endorphins are, it actually creates a feeling of wellbeing. So I said permission, <laugh>, I've started buying flowers for myself every week. And then I'll buy, you know, at Trader Joe's, you can buy beautiful flowers for next to nothing, and then I'll buy a bouquet for a neighbor. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So I'm like, okay. So room for lovely. There's actually a scientific basis. I Author, Erin Cuccio (09:14):

Love that you making Host, Stephanie Nelson (09:15):

Love Author, Erin Cuccio (09:15):

For lovely Host, Stephanie Nelson (09:16):

<laugh>. so now let's talk about the full title of your book is Unraveled Finding the Lovely When Life Comes Undone. Tell me what prompted you to write the book. What were the, Author, Erin Cuccio (09:28):

Well, we talked a little bit about the transition from one state to another, and that was a huge turning point in my life. A huge pivotal moment in my life. But before that, about a month before that we started the transition, I lost our fourth son in early labor. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And I was very, very surprised by that. We had been to the doctor just a week or so before everything was good. And I just ended up going into labor early and we lost him in delivery. And it was through that that I felt that was a catalyst that began to catapult me into untangling some of those knots that I talked about earlier. The book is not so much a book about grief as it is losing Jacob, our son, sort of broke me wide open. It shattered what I thought my life was going to look like in a way that allowed those broken things to rise to the top.
And then I was able to begin to untangle those knots just a little bit. And God was so kind to me in the season of time after that, that little by little layer by layer, not by not, he began to work through things that maybe I thought had been dealt with from years before. That sort of I realized had maybe been stuffed down a little bit because I am a person that likes to just keep a layer of, oh, everything is wonderful, which I think a lot of people can maybe relate to. And God just really used that circumstance to peel away all of those layers and sort of make me become content with who I was and who he created me to be in a way that allowed me to see a loveliness in my life that I'm not sure I would've been able to see otherwise. And so it's the first time in my life that I have been able to feel that I can walk with abundant authenticity, because not of who I am, but because of who God is in me and who he's called me to be, and the purpose that he has for my life. Host, Stephanie Nelson (11:20):

Oh, wow. I hope everyone wrote that down. Abundant authenticity to show you shared a story once what one of your little sons said to you when you started your podcast. And it was something about, or maybe it was speaking, something about people knowing who you were, Uhhuh <affirmative>. And you so quickly said, and Erin, I just stole this from you. I love it. You're like, I'm not concerned about people knowing who I am. I care about people knowing who Jesus is. Mm-hmm. I love that. That is so beautiful. That's a coffee cup Author, Erin Cuccio (11:52):

<laugh>. Host, Stephanie Nelson (11:53):

So one of the chapters I really appreciated was the whole thing that we all, as women and mothers and workers, we have a tendency to try to be everything to everybody. Mm-hmm. And you went to a workshop again at the oaks where you didn't exercise, where you needed to prioritize things in your life. And as you were describing to the group, you were being asked all of the things that you do and all the things you're responsible for. And as you said that out loud, I think if any of us did this, we would understand, you realize how much is on your plate, right? And you really need to be selective because you can't, it's that whole thing about the oxygen mask with the flight attendant. You need to put your own oxygen mask on before you can put it on your children. You have to take care of yourself to be healthy. And if you're running yourself ragged, we're not good for anyone. But you have this beautiful quote, it is this, we must press ourselves to allow even good things to slip through our fingers so that we may hold a firmer grip on the things that matter most. So talk to me about how you manage that outlook in the reality of your life. Author, Erin Cuccio (13:10):

You know, Stephanie, I think it's really interesting because I'm coming to you today in a season of life where I have not managed that really well. It has been a really hard busy season where I've been completely overworked and overwhelmed. But I think the advice that I would give is that it's okay to have those seasons. In fact, we probably are going to have those seasons of our life where we just have to run hard. Right? I'm just at the tail end of writing this book and getting this book out into the world. Well, of course this has not just been the most restful and relaxing season of my life, but we cannot perpetually live like that. We cannot live in a continuing state of running hard all the time, hustling hard all of the time. And so for me, I can see on the horizon, the book is almost out.
I'm almost to the end of a couple of different obligations that I've got on my plate and I can see rest on the horizon. And that's really what is holding me tight to finish running the race that I've got in front of me. But not that long ago, I realized how many hours are in a week, which seems like a pretty simple concept, right? But I realized that we only have 168 hours in the week. And when I looked at it from that perspective, when I fully grasped that number, I thought, surely this cannot be right. Surely there's got to be more somewhere <laugh>, but it, there's not, there's only 168. And so I think it's so important for us to remember that every single time we say yes to one thing, we are pushing something else off to the side. So if you're saying yes to any kind of obligation, any type of commitment, even the good things, you have to be aware of the idea that you are pushing other things off to the side to make room for that. Yes. And if the things that you are pushing matter more than the thing you are taking onto your plate, then you really need to evaluate if that yes is worth it. And that does mean sometimes that we have to let go of the good things. There have been many things even recently that God has pushed me to let go of that are good things, but we cannot do it all. And we will live exhausted and depleted if we constantly try to continue to do it all. Host, Stephanie Nelson (15:19):

I love that. That's exactly right. Because so many times the reason we say yes to things isn't necessarily, at least for myself, I was talking to a girlfriend about this yesterday. It's not necessarily that it's such a good thing, it's that we have a hard time saying no to that person. Yeah. We don't wanna disappoint that person. We don't want that person to think less of us. And you know, the whole thing about boundaries, I love it. No is a complete sentence. Author, Erin Cuccio (15:44):

Right. It Host, Stephanie Nelson (15:45):

Took me years to figure, you can say it nicely, right? But just because someone asked you, or even if they flatter you, you're so good at this, doesn't mean that you need to say yes, which would cause you to miss your son's birthday. Author, Erin Cuccio (16:00):

Right. Host, Stephanie Nelson (16:00):

You know, really, really evaluating. Okay. Is it okay for that person to be a little irritated with me? Yes, it is. Author, Erin Cuccio (16:07):

Yeah, it's okay. And I think even beyond that, realizing that saying yes to things begins to trickle down. And even if it's not as obvious of a consequence as maybe missing our child's birthday, I don't know about you, but when I put too much on my plate, I'm not the best version of myself. I can get very irritable and stressed out, and the people who are dealing with those types of consequences are the people who love me and who I love the most. And so I think it's important for us to realize that as well, that when we say yes to sometimes those abundance of things, it's not just affecting us, but it's affecting those people around us as well. Host, Stephanie Nelson (16:43):

That's right. Oh yes. I've had certain family members mention that to me, <laugh>, I would agree with that. So I hate to, on the heels of what we just talked about, this is not pressure. I love watching your journey. I've watched it over a couple of years. What is next in terms of your, I'm not saying put more on your plate, but what are you looking forward to coming up next? What's the date that your book comes out? Author, Erin Cuccio (17:08):

My book releases on May 2nd, so I'm really excited to get that out into the world. It kind of feels like the end of a pregnancy when you're like, get this baby outta me. And so I'm just so thrilled to finally see it come to fruition in the world and be in people's hands. And hopefully those words will just find their way to the people that need them most. That's the biggest thing. Over the course of the summer, I am just thrilled that I've purposely tried to keep somewhat of an open calendar. And so I'm really looking forward to a small season of rest, but also very intentionally because I can see in the fall some things on the horizon that I'm really excited about. I'm excited about some opportunities coming up, and I want to walk into those not exhausted and depleted, but instead refreshed and ready to do what God has for me. So really looking forward to that as well. Host, Stephanie Nelson (17:56):

Well, good. And you have the boys home this summer? Author, Erin Cuccio (17:58):

Absolutely. Yes. Which is a full-time and a half job by itself. <laugh> Host, Stephanie Nelson (18:02):

Full-time. And how old are the boys now? Author, Erin Cuccio (18:04):

One just turned eight. Our youngest, which I cannot believe, our youngest is eight already. And then the older two boys have birthdays the first week of June, and one will be 13 and one will be 11. So they'll be 13, 11, and eight. Host, Stephanie Nelson (18:17):

Okay. So I, that's a full-time job right there, but okay. <laugh>, you know, Erin, we want people to find you, as I said, following Erin on Instagram. It's just so uplifting. You really need to just find her. It's at Erin cuo. I've told you about her podcast. And I will tell you that I've listened to her podcast and I'll be like, oh man, that person is so interesting and great. And I've contacted him and then they've come on my podcast. I'm like, oh, good. Author, Erin Cuccio (18:44):

<laugh>. Host, Stephanie Nelson (18:46):

You know, just kind people, people with insight just like you. And then your book, tell us how to find your book. Author, Erin Cuccio (18:53):

Yeah, so right now the book is available for pre-order on my website, which is just book dot erin cuo.com. And then on launch date, which is May 2nd, it'll be available on Amazon. And so then everywhere books are sold Host, Stephanie Nelson (19:06):

And it is going to be a huge bestseller. I know that. Aw, thank you. And you know, it's the kind of book I have to tell you I read it, but it's the kind of book you will give to friends as gift because it's what we all need and it's comforting. Okay. It's not stressful, it's comforting, but it's also, as she said, it's authentic. You know, it's not just glossing things over. It's okay. We all have, especially as we get older, we all have difficulties, but pain can coexist with joy. There is room for Lovely. Yes. I love that. Author, Erin Cuccio (19:42):

Thank you so much. Host, Stephanie Nelson (19:43):

Thank you so much. I wish you the best of luck and I look forward to talking to you after launch date to see how everything's going. Author, Erin Cuccio (19:51):

Thank you, Stephanie. I so appreciate it.