March 5, 2020
The simpler my life got outside of my closet, the more apparent it was that there was a problem in the closet. –Courtney Carver
On this episode of the Plan Simple Meals Podcast, I’m really excited to talk with Courtney Carver, the author of Soulful Simplicity. After getting diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2006, Courtney started experimenting, first with food and diet, than in reducing stress. The common thread she found in the changes she was making—simplicity.
It may not seem like simplifying your closet, changing what you eat, and reducing debt have a lot in common, but Courtney talks about changes in all these areas. She realized that so many things that simply felt like adulting, could be easier, different. Simplifying in all these areas and more reduced stress.
One of the things we dive into is clutter, and how decluttering can become it’s own stressful thing. Either it’s something that keeps showing up again and again on your to-do list and never getting done, or you do it and then clutter builds up again. Courtney remembers the five minutes of feeling good when everything was decluttered and in its place before it all fell apart. Then she made a change. She decided to really get rid of stuff and only keep what she really wanted in her house and, the important part, she resisted bringing in new things.
We talk about:
- How the more stuff you bring into your house, the more you want to bring stuff in
- Understanding why you are shopping to help you resist bringing in things you don’t need (and really don’t want)
- The 333 challenge to simplify your wardrobe
- The feeling of space and lightness that comes with releasing clothes that don’t fit you, clothes other people that you don’t love, other clothes you don’t wear for whatever reason—and how this winnowing makes decisions easier
- Noticing the stories we’re telling ourselves and how they keep us hanging onto or buying stuff
- Holding onto or letting go of books
Courtney Carver writes things. She wrote a book called Soulful Simplicity and the simplicity blog, bemorewithless.com. She shares things that make her laugh and cry on Instagram (@bemorewithless). She doesn't know her Myers Briggs Type but she knows she's an introvert because she needs to be free from humans several times a day (cats and dogs are always welcome). Aside from her seasonal wardrobe, she doesn't count her things.
Carver doesn't have an impressive degree, awards, or a big, fancy home full of stuff. Instead, she selectively surrounds herself with her favorite things and people she loves. She does work she truly cares about, goes on adventures (in the world or in her own backyard) and likes chai lattes with almond milk while reading or writing.
Her new book, Project 333, The Minimalist Fashion Challenge That Proves Less Really is So Much More will help you create a capsule wardrobe and a beautiful life.
Doable Changes from this episode:
- NOTICE YOUR STORIES. As you get dressed or flip through your closet, notice the stories you tell yourself. I can’t get rid of that, my mom made it. I might need that suit for an interview. These jeans will fit me again. It’s good to have choices in shoes. What if you changed the story? And notice what you are drawn to, what you wear again and again. Ask: What if I wore these things for the next three months?
- TAKE THE 333 CHALLENGE. Choose 33 items to wear for the next 3 months. Include clothes, shoes, jewelry, and accessories, but you don’t have to count things like underwear, sleepwear or loungewear, or athletic or yoga clothes (if actually worn for that purpose). (For more tips on choosing, see Courtney’s blog and Project 333 challenge or book linked above.) Don’t get rid of your other clothes just yet. Just pack them away for 3 months. See how it feels.
- RESIST BRINGING THINGS IN. Decluttering is great, but so often we cycle through decluttering only to bring in more clutter. Challenge yourself not to bring in new things for the next week, ten days, month … whatever period you want to work with. When you find yourself filling up a cart in Target when you just ran in for detergent or about to mindlessly click the buy button on Amazon, stop. Ask yourself, why you are buying—what do you really need at the moment. Remind yourself why you want to resist bringing things in.