What It's Like To...

What it's Like to Be a (Wannabe) Minimalist

August 03, 2022 Elizabeth Pearson Garr Season 3 Episode 7
What it's Like to Be a (Wannabe) Minimalist
What It's Like To...
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What It's Like To...
What it's Like to Be a (Wannabe) Minimalist
Aug 03, 2022 Season 3 Episode 7
Elizabeth Pearson Garr

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Do you ever feel overwhelmed by your stuff?  A lot of us have gotten to the place of feeling pretty comfortable living with clutter--even if we don't like having a bunch of extra clothing, gadgets, books, toys and trinkets around, it's easier than getting rid of our things. In this episode, Deanna Yates shows us how to start.  She also explains that minimalism is a mindset; you can make a change without being extreme. There is no need to feel like you live in a storage unit! Little habits can make a huge difference in decluttering.  

Although it may seem overwhelming, decluttering is possible for anyone, whether it's a change in your wardrobe, or the birthday presents you give your kids. This conversation with Deanna will inspire you to grab some bags and boxes and get started.

In this episode:

Inspiration for going minimalist (4:20)
How to start (8:35)
What is a capsule wardrobe? (22:17)
Advice for kids: the big buyers (26:04)  
Why is it hard to get rid of things? (32:46)

Want to know more about Deanna?

Want to know more about The Experience Podcast?

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Show Notes Transcript

Send us a Text Message.

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by your stuff?  A lot of us have gotten to the place of feeling pretty comfortable living with clutter--even if we don't like having a bunch of extra clothing, gadgets, books, toys and trinkets around, it's easier than getting rid of our things. In this episode, Deanna Yates shows us how to start.  She also explains that minimalism is a mindset; you can make a change without being extreme. There is no need to feel like you live in a storage unit! Little habits can make a huge difference in decluttering.  

Although it may seem overwhelming, decluttering is possible for anyone, whether it's a change in your wardrobe, or the birthday presents you give your kids. This conversation with Deanna will inspire you to grab some bags and boxes and get started.

In this episode:

Inspiration for going minimalist (4:20)
How to start (8:35)
What is a capsule wardrobe? (22:17)
Advice for kids: the big buyers (26:04)  
Why is it hard to get rid of things? (32:46)

Want to know more about Deanna?

Want to know more about The Experience Podcast?

  • Sign up to be on our Insiders' List to receive our newsletters and insiders' information! Go to theexperiencepodcast.net (sign-ups are at the bottom of the page)
  • Follow us on social media:

Support the Show.

Deanna  0:08  

I don't necessarily think that minimalism is only about your stuff. I think it's about your mindset. I think it's about questioning what it is that you're bringing into your home and into your life and into your relationships, and what you're using your time for.

Elizabeth  0:29  

If you're feeling like your life is a little chaotic or overwhelming, my guest on this episode of The Experience podcast has an interesting suggestion. The problem may be your stuff. Yes, all the actual things in your house and your closet and your garage and your attic. I'm Elizabeth Pearson, gar and my guest, Deanna Yates says she's not an extreme minimalist, but her experience helping people be more clutter free pays off in more ways than you may expect. Oh, and if you're anything like me, you might want to take notes. 

I'm so happy to have you here. Thank you for joining me on the podcast, Deanna.

Deanna  1:10  

Oh, Elizabeth, I am thrilled. Thanks for having me.

Elizabeth  1:13  

So many people that I talked to when I said that you were going to be on and what your field of expertise is said, can she come to my house? So your reputation precedes you.

 Thank you. 

So can you tell me how you got going in this field? Did you just always have a passion for organizing and decluttering? Or how did you get going?

Deanna  1:35  

Well, I definitely would say I'm self taught. And I do think I've always had a little bit of this. In me though, it's something I've always been interested in, I would not have ever called myself a minimalist, I came from a regular 80s household with all the things filled to the rafters. And I always wanted my room to be neat. But I wouldn't have necessarily said I was particularly organized. And I think that's what led me to the decluttering part. Because I found that the more stuff I had, the more overwhelmed I felt. And with all that overwhelm, it was harder for me to keep it organized, it was harder for me to find my stuff, it was harder for me to keep on top of those things. There are several points in my life where I was like, Oh my gosh, like, I just have to get it together. So anybody that feels like they're not living really how they want to be, or they just feel like my life's kind of chaotic, don't worry, we've all been there too. I used to lose my keys all the time. I used to be like that person rushing out the door. And so those are really the points where I was like, Okay, I've got to figure something out. Because I can't live like this. Like, this isn't how I want my everyday life to be. So,

Elizabeth  2:52  

you know, there's that old phrase, our messy desk is the sign of a messy mind or something. And I don't know that everybody subscribes to that. But I feel that way. Like I feel with my kitchen island is a big mess. I just feel like I can't really think clearly. And I don't know if that's kind of a metaphor for life in general. Like, I think for some people, when things are just out of place, everything feels kind of out of control.

Deanna  3:13  

Yes. And I do think that that is very common with moms, especially, because we feel like it is our responsibility to keep the house clean. And we feel like it is our responsibility to have things in order so that our kids can live their best lives. And I think that that is really just kind of this false thing that society has been pushing on us that we can do it all and we can have it all and it's just easy. Look at all these people doing it. Look at Instagram, look how wonderful these people's lives are. And it's just a perfect, okay, this isn't reality. And so, you know, I definitely don't ascribe to the Pinterest perfect or Instagram worthy houses. And you know, I like my stuff. Neat, but I definitely haven't organized house. I do not have an Instagram like Pinterest. Perfect house. We live here real life happens here.

Elizabeth  4:08  

Nobody probably has it. Instagram, perfect house. Those are curated photos up there. So you knew you had an interest in this? And then did you just start helping friends out? Or how did you create a business around this interest?

Deanna  4:22  

Yeah, so it came from traveling really. When my daughter was six months old, we kind of decided we wanted to travel. So we spent the next six months selling all of our stuff. My husband and I had a business at the time. We've always been very entrepreneurial. So we had a business where we were helping landlords, we had a software and we could do it from anywhere. So we thought why not do this before she started school and we have to settle down and all those things right, quote unquote, settle down. So we traveled and we thought, well, we could be travel bloggers. I don't know why I thought I could run a business, be a new mom and be a travel blog. Great Ones. But needless to say it all failed. So the business did okay, you try Oh, yeah, we tried, we let the travel blogging go, because turned out that ended up being more work like it made travel feel like work. And that was never the point. But the thing that came out of it was everybody was so curious as to how I could travel for months on end with just a carry on. So that trip, we actually I think did have a full sized suitcase. But later, we did travel again for a year and a half in Europe. And that was when we had just the carry on suitcase. And people just couldn't understand how I could travel for so long with such little stuff. And so I think that's really where it started. It started from this capsule wardrobe idea of putting pieces together. And how were we able to travel? Well, we were able to travel because we didn't have so much stuff, it was easy, we could put it in a pod or two or three. And that could just go into storage. And then that pod we could order it to go to wherever we were. And being able to travel and seeing that we didn't need all our stuff that really got people interested in like, What in the world are you doing over there. And so at that point, I just started telling people like, here's what we're doing. And I was blogging about it for a little while. And then the blog turned into the podcast. And that has led to the business, which is really just the podcast, and I have an online course that people can take.

Elizabeth  6:32  

So it's all about living, clutter free, minimalist, you don't need so much staff around you.

Deanna  6:39  

Yes. And so it really is living that clutter free life. So while I would consider myself a minimalist now, I call my show the one to be minimalist, because it's taken me a while to get here. And I still think that there are a lot of people in the world that probably wouldn't call me a minimalist, they wouldn't think that I measure up to their level of what a minimalist is. But I don't think because

Elizabeth  7:02  

they are so much more minimalist.

Deanna  7:05  

Yes, and I don't necessarily think that minimalism is only about your stuff, I think it's about your mindset, I think it's about questioning what it is that you're bringing into your home and into your life and into your relationships, and what you're using your time for, versus I have 100 personal items to myself, and that's going to make me a minimalist, I think that we can make a difference without being so extreme. And I think it is personal. Because some people have a really low tolerance for clutter, and they don't want anything around them. And other people don't ever see it, and it doesn't bother them. So I think we have to live within our own values. And whatever those values are, that really determines what you need to have in your life and what you want in your life. And then just to live that out, instead of just living with what society tells us. We need, you know, we're just living by society, all the marketing messages are coming in, day in and day out, we get hundreds of marketing messages a day. And so it's turning off the television, being intentional with how much you're on social media, trying not to compare yourself to other people understanding that what's put out in the world, on their public persona isn't always what's happening behind closed doors, and just really having that discerning eye and just taking a pause and questioning before you buy something. I think those are really my guiding principles.

Elizabeth  8:35  

So it must start with getting rid of things decluttering before you can start living as a minimalist. Right. Yeah. So what are some of your tips for that? And particularly, I'll speak purely hypothetically, in a family where some of you like to live neat and more tidy with less. And some of you like to keep things and are maybe not as tidy purely hypothetically, of course

Deanna  9:04  

100%, I get that question all the time. So it's very common. I actually like to start the process from stopping the influx of stuff. So the way I almost look at it is like a boat that has a hole in it. If you are in the middle of the ocean, and you are in a boat that has a hole in it, you better stop the water coming in before you start to bail it out. You want to put a pause on the things that are coming into your home, if you can, and if you can start to get that part under control. And a lot of this is mindset and figuring out why you buy things if you have a buying trigger. If you are really into like impulse buys if that happens a lot so we got to kind of figure out what that part is first and then see if you can put a pause on it. A lot of people will do like a no spend challenge. They'll be like okay, I'm not gonna buy anything outside of groceries or consumables. Hair products, things like that for a month or a week, you know, like, if you have a hard time and you're going to the store every day, if you could stop and just go once a week, that would make a huge difference in your life. Because you start to use up the things you have in your house, you start to realize, like, okay, maybe I didn't actually need that thing, I found something else, our brains are incredibly creative. If we don't have something, we will substitute for something else. And it's really easy to do. Like, here, I'm having water right now, out of a red wine glass, like a stemless, red wine glass cup. I drink out of this all the time, I'm not drinking red wine all the time. But it's like, we don't have to have very specific things for the one use that they're needed for. We can mix and match, we can use things in different ways. There's all those kinds of little swaps that our brains will automatically do if we don't allow ourselves to hit the buy button on Amazon for one week. So just take a pause. So that's kind of number one. And then we can have these quick declutter sessions, because decluttering is a lot of work. And we don't want to do the work, and I get it, life is hard, or going through COVID Were going through like getting back into the world, things have been really stressful. And so I think we need to cut ourselves a little slack, not too much slack, because we definitely want to make a change. So we're not just gonna sit on the couch and watch Netflix and bury our head in the sand. But it doesn't feel great all the time when we're going through these piles. So a lot of people will want to start like, Okay, I'm excited about it, we're gonna go to the garage, you know, I'm gonna go through the boxes and medulla stuff. And about, I don't know, 3040 minutes in, you're like, oh, my gosh, what did I do? You have this panic moment of like, I have opened Pandora's Box. I've opened this can of worms, and I don't know what to do now. And I'm so overwhelmed. I'm never gonna get never gonna get through it. You start to feel bad about yourself, because you're like, why did I buy the stuff? Why do I have this stuff? Look at all this money I wasted look at how much time this is taking. So we're not going to do that. For starting off with the cluttering Yes. There are a few things I want you to gather, we're gonna do 15 minute sprints. So you're gonna have your timer, which is your phone, you're getting out with these things, you're gonna grab your phone, you're going to grab a bag, like you're just a plastic trash bag, a box, we all have a box, we've all bought something from Amazon recently, just grab the box and use it for donation. And then you're going to have your laundry basket. So if you have a plastic laundry basket, those are great, because they've got handles, they're real sturdy, they can hold a lot of stuff. If you don't have a laundry basket, just grab an extra box. So you're going to pick one place in your house, it could be the corner of your living room, it could be your entertainment unit, it could be a drawer, it could be your dresser could be your nightstand, pick something that's not super big, and not emotionally charged. So we're not going through pictures, we're not going through family heirlooms, we're doing something that has a purpose. That's pretty simple. And we can make some progress in 15 minutes. Take a before picture. Because oftentimes our brains like oh, well, it doesn't look that much different. But if you look at the picture before and after, you're going to notice there was a huge change in just 15 minutes. So set your timer for 15 minutes and start and then just go through that one space. Do not leave that space for 15 minutes. Anything that's worn out, not usable, not in good enough donation condition, or you just don't want it anymore, put it in the garbage bag. If it's in decent condition, and it can be used by someone else, but it's not being used by you. Please challenge yourself to declutter it even if it was expensive. Even if it was a gift. If you're not using it, you don't love it. People in your house are not using it because we're not decluttering their stuff. So make sure no one's using this. If you don't love it, let it go. You're not going to miss it.

Elizabeth  13:56  

Do you subscribe to that thing of like, if you haven't worn it in X amount of time, like a year or two years or something? It's time to go?

Deanna  14:02  

Generally, yes. Okay. There are a few things in my closet. Like I have one nice black dress that's like for my go to weddings. Yeah, I haven't been to a wedding in three years. But I'm not going to get rid of that. Because if something comes up, I can wear that. It's very classic. It's got it easy little black dress. But yes, especially if it's on trend. And it's something that you keep passing over. There's a reason you keep passing it over. And if you're not sure about it, take it for a test spin, put it on, wear it, wear it for a day and see how you feel in it. Because you might realize that you really liked it. Or the second you put it on you might be like, What was I thinking? And honestly, if that's your feeling, then why would you ever keep it? So take it for a test drive and see how you feel in it. That's been one of my favorite ways to go through old clothes and see if Yeah, that's

Elizabeth  14:54  

a great idea. Thanks. I have a box of spring summer clothes that I brought down in the Spring. And I never unpacked them. And I thought, well, if I haven't unpacked them, and it's already July, that's a pretty good sign that I don't want any of those clothes. A few things I've taken out and I've wanted to wear and the rest, I think, I think those are ready for donation. Now.

Deanna  15:14  

I love that 100% Yes, if you're not using it, you're not going to miss it. You know, you probably don't even know what's at the bottom of that box. Yeah. And so it's not going to make a difference in your daily life. But it might make a difference in the closet space that you're going to be able to free up and kind of when you look in there have a moment of Ah, okay.

Elizabeth  15:35  

And then I feel like it could make a difference in someone else's life. Absolutely. Someone else could be wearing these things that's just sitting in my box. Yeah,

Deanna  15:42  

absolutely. Our homes are not storage units, there are places for us to live. And if we're not using the things absolutely let them go be used by someone else. Let me go back quick to that 15 minute declutter session. So we've got the bags, trash goes in there, donation box, stuff goes in there, your laundry basket is for where you find stuff that goes somewhere else in the house. So let's say you're working on your entertainment center, and let's say you knit and you find a remnant of yarn and a pair of needles, I don't actually knit. So I'm not sure exactly what you'd have. But let's say you do, I don't know why that popped in my head. But that stuff probably doesn't belong in your entertainment unit, right. So go ahead and put it in the laundry basket, then when that 15 minute timer goes off, you're going to take that laundry basket with anything that's in there, and you're gonna go put it where it belongs, and then take your after picture. And then you can compare the two and in 15 minutes, you're going to make a big difference between the two before and afters.

Elizabeth  16:40  

And then you have such a sense of accomplishment. Yes, anytime you can feel like you finish that task, and you're giving things away, it feels so great. Yeah.

Deanna  16:48  

So then yes, you finish it up, put the garbage in the trash can get rid of it, put that donation box in your car, get it out of your house, don't pile it by the door, put it in your car and put it on your calendar in order to get it out. So that's kind of the quick and dirty declutter session.

Elizabeth  17:06  

And then you just kind of do these every week or something.

Deanna  17:10  

Yeah, it kind of depends on your schedule, on your energy level. If you have extra time, summer can be one of those times where it's fun to have these quick little 15 minutes, especially if you have young kids that are home on summer break. You can do this with your kids, you can have them help you turn it into a game race around and see like, who can find the most stuff to put in their donation box in 15 minutes, and you're competing against each other in friendly competition works really well, in our house, there was something else you wanted to talk about. And that was with people. If you're the declutter happy person, and you have someone in your house, that is not a declutter happy person who

Elizabeth  17:50  

likes to keep things

Deanna  17:51  

who likes to keep things. So this one is a challenge. And a lot of people deal with this. So this is not for those hypothetically asking this, you are not alone in this dilemma. What I say is that you should have zones in your house that are specific clutter, free zones, and then specific clutter zones. So let's say it's a husband and wife, and the wife wants to have a clutter free area. And the husband is like, I don't care. It doesn't bother me, right, we were talking about this different clutter thresholds, we all have them. One of the things that works really well is to divide the closet in half. And if you like to have a clutter free space, well, you get to have your closet however you want. If you want to have 40 items in your closet, and that's it, and you have an empty shelf, or all this white space between your clothes, and they're not crammed together, fantastic. If the other person isn't that way, has all of their things and has never thrown anything out and has t shirts from college. Okay, we're not going to make a judgement about that. We may think they've seen better days, but they get to keep whatever they want on there half of a closet. The trick is that they have to agree to not come over to your half of the closet. Just because you have that empty shelf does not mean that they get to fill it, that's your half. So if somebody has a hard time with that, a good thing to do is either to put like a picture frame there, or a mirror, you can put other things in that space that's not necessarily close or something that kind of says like, This is mine. If you want to be really crazy about it, get a prickly cactus and put it there. You know, you can get really snarky if you'd like. But this way, it's kind of a hey, hands off. This is my side. This is your side. You get to keep whatever you want. I'm gonna stop nagging you about getting rid of stuff, but you don't get to put stuff on my half of the closet.

Elizabeth  19:48  

It sort of reminds me of when my kids were just tiny like newborn and two years old and I just felt like the whole house had exploded with toys and diapers and unfolded laundry, and I just couldn't keep anything tidy. And it was driving me crazy. And at one point, I was just staring into the kitchen cabinet. And my husband came up and he was like, What are you doing? And I said, this is the one place that looks orderly. I have the plate here and the balls here, it just makes me so happy to look into the kitchen cabinet. Vicki thought I was a little crazy. And I probably was. But it gave me a little moment of calm.

Deanna  20:27  

Yeah, we judge no one when they're dealing with young children. That's true. That's a tough time of life, for sure. But what works well, for that, then to our zones. So like, this is my zone where the kids stuff is kept. And this is my zone, maybe this is where I keep my books. I mean, the closet is a zone, that's where I keep my clothes, the kitchen is a zone, you're not going to store your bedroom pillows in the kitchen, and you're not going to store your forks in your closet. We have these zones for things already. We just have to take that to the next level and make sure that we're giving these other things that can tend to get out of control their own zones as well.

Elizabeth  21:06  

So you were mentioning people who are like minimalists. And there's kind of a spectrum of people, some who say like, you just need 100 items. And I've read about these people. I think some people do it as like a political statement. It's an anti materialism kind of thing. Right? And some people might just do it as practicality or budget. I'm no, you're not on that end of the spectrum. But what's your experience of just living in your more clutter free environment? Do you find that it's just a more peaceful way to go through your life? Or how would you describe your world compared to maybe how it was prior?

Deanna  21:45  

I think it's room to breathe. I think that's what it feels like. Things don't feel as much of a struggle, there's less decisions to be made, because I think the decision was made at the beginning. So there is some front loading, like I definitely live with a capsule wardrobe. And I don't really care if people notice I'm wearing the same thing. I have like two hats. I wear them all the time. I'm sure people notice. I am that person that has one pair of jeans that I like, can

Elizabeth  22:14  

you describe what that is? Not everyone might know what a capsule wardrobe?

Deanna  22:17  

Oh, sure, sure. So for me, a capsule wardrobe is where most of my clothes, I'm not gonna say most, I'm taking that back, all of my clothes mix and match, I have a color palette that I work within. So for me a capsule wardrobe. Some people will say it is a specific number of things, you need 33 items, and not mix a capsule. Other people will say, it doesn't matter. As long as you know you like everything, you wear everything in it. And it all mixes and matches. I'm kind of in between. When we traveled, I think I probably had way less than 33 items, I have a PDF on my site that's super popular. And it shows you how to make 72 outfits out of 12 pieces. So we don't actually need that many clothes as long as they all go together. And we can look really put together. So I am one of those people that doesn't have a lot of clothes, but they all mix and match. The way that I did that was by creating a color palette. Black is my base color. So I don't have anything that's Brown in my closet. Now I do have camo because camo goes with black. But if I had brown items, I couldn't wear black shoes, or vice versa. So I picked one. So generally a good base color is black, brown, or navy. And that's going to be a really great way for you to ground all of your items, it cuts back on the number of shoes you need, it cuts back on the extra colors that you have in your closet. So I do a lot of neutrals, I do a lot of just black, white, grey denim, and stripes, I do have some green and coral, you'll see those are kind of my signature color. But that's it really, I don't have a lot of yellows or reds, I don't think I have any yellows or reds or orange. So those colors just don't make it. And that makes it much easier when I'm shopping. Because again, I now don't have the entire store at my disposal, I only have the colors that fit within that color palette. And then I only pick things that are going to mix and match. So I think it just helps me not have to be overwhelmed by all the decisions that we have to make in the world like we are bombarded with these decisions every day. And being able to live with less clutter kind of cuts down on those questions I have to ask myself, and so it cuts down on all those decisions that I have to make. So instead of saying like, Oh, I love this shirt, well, if it's in yellow, I'm not going to buy it and put it in my closet. It makes it easy for me to say that is a beautiful shirt. And it's going to look fantastic on somebody, but it's not going to go my closet.

Elizabeth  24:48  

I remember reading that President Obama, I think he only wore one color of suit or something and he was navy. Yeah, because he said I have so many decisions as president that he had to make Every day that deciding what to wear was one he just couldn't waste any time on. So it would be like navy suit, white shirt and one of the ties. So it's sort of a similar thing.

Deanna  25:11  

Absolutely, I do sometimes get jealous of men's wardrobe choices, because they are a lot more limited. So in some ways, they're unlucky, because they don't get to branch out and show their personality necessarily in what they wear. But on the other side, it's like how nice that they only have so many options to choose from. So I think a capsule wardrobe gives us that ability to limit that for ourselves as women, and they're always selling you new stuff. So that's the other thing, it helps you avoid all these trends, because that is their job, their job is to make money. And they don't really care how you look, as long as you just keep buying the stuff. So I do try to kind of look at stuff with a discerning eye, I try to buy higher quality things if I can, because I have less in my closet, it's easier to spend more per piece. And when you do that your clothes generally last a little bit longer as well.

Elizabeth  26:04  

So that leads me to my next thought, which is especially sort of adolescent and teenage, usually girls, some of them can want to be a little more materialistic and buy more things. So how would you deal with that people who want to acquire more,

Deanna  26:21  

I think it's helpful if they buy it themselves. So I'm not quite here myself, my daughter is only nine. So we're not quite at this stage in our life. But she gets a weekly allowance and outside of the two major gift giving holidays, so Christmas holidays, and then her birthday, but she's responsible to buying things that she wants. So if she has money in her piggy bank, she is welcome to spend it how she sees fit, because I want her to make those decisions. Now, when they're not really a big deal. Like I mean, I get it that it's a big deal for her. But in the grand scheme of life, she's not going to be homeless if she chooses to spend her money on the wrong thing. So I want her to make those mistakes. Now, while she's still home and under our umbrella, and try not to make judgments on what she spends, she sees the example through us. So I think as long as we are living the example that we want our children to live, eventually, we can give them that rein to go ahead and make those decisions, good, bad, ugly, silly, whatever those decisions are. Because we want them to do that. Now we want them to learn these are learning experiences. And so she can learn how to save her money to spend on something bigger that she wants. Or go ahead and splurge, you know, I really feel like that cookie today and mom wasn't gonna buy me a cookie. So yes, it is hard when our children want to be more materialistic. But if you're facing that, see if there's a way that they can earn that money so that they have to buy it themselves, so that you get to teach them that lesson in the value of money and what it buys. Versus if I just asked Mom and Dad the right way, they'll get me what I want. I think there's a really good lesson to be learned there as well.

Elizabeth  28:14  

You mentioned the holidays, what would your advice be for that because there tends to be a lot of gift giving, especially for littler kids, relatives, friends just want to give so much. And that can just be a time of just an influx of staff into the house. How do you with a more minimalist, clutter free philosophy deal with holidays,

Deanna  28:38  

I'm not going to lie and say it's easy. And I'm not gonna say it's not a challenge. We face this too. We definitely do a big declutter beforehand. That is something we do leading up to these holidays. So we're lucky that basically my daughter's birthday is almost exact split opposite from December. So we have a lot of time and we get to do this kind of two big sessions in the year. And so leading up to the holidays, it's more about giving and like just talking about the whole idea of the season like being with family, being with friends, spending it with our loved ones doing things for other people, we try to spend our time doing things of giving instead of just getting all the time, we also talk about how celebrating with friends is a gift to ourselves. So we try to buy a lot of consumables like if we're giving things so we'll do bottles of wine or you know, we'll bring nice cheese platters over something like that. So I think a lot of it is just communicating and talking about what you're doing. We just say like, Oh, they're going to see it and they understand what kids don't get that stuff. So we got to talk about like, okay, so instead of taking this picture frame, which I might have taken over that's going to give them something that they have to put somewhere they'll feel bad getting rid of it. We're gonna buy this nice bottle of wine to take over because the parents will enjoy that and they get to enjoy the experience of having it. We ask our family for experience gifts. We try to Be pretty intentional on what we asked for. So if she's really into something, we'll say, okay, she will she's saving up for this big thing could you contribute? It's hard–grandparents want to give. But if you can give them something specific that your child wants, or that they're saving up for, or some big experience that you want as a family. In our experience, our parents have been happy to give to that, as long as they knew what it was giving as a way people express their love. So you have to give them an outlet, or a way to do that, that aligns with your values. Museum passes work really well gift certificates to restaurants, or local ice cream shops work really well. Don't just go to the toy store and buy the first plastic thing you see. Here's what we want to do instead.

Elizabeth  30:48  

So that has worked. That's great advice.

Deanna  30:51  

And we as parents don't give much, honestly, I mean, especially when she's going to have a party and all her friends are going to be bringing stuff. We bought her like one thing and we threw her an awesome birthday party. We didn't buy her a bunch of stuff. But we put a lot of effort into her birthday party, we made a lot of things ahead of time, she was really involved in it. And that was our present to her.

Elizabeth  31:11  

You gave her the experience exactly, which I think is so memorable. And one of my daughters always asks for experiences. And I think the gift giver can be part of it. I remember a couple Christmases ago, my sister gave her a trip to Cirque du Soleil. And they went together. And it was my daughter, and she loved it because it was just the two of them, you know, aunt and niece. And she just felt so special that she got to have this day with her aunt. And so I just think sometimes things like that they need so much more than a shirt. Yes, the memories.

Deanna  31:41  

Absolutely. And one of my favorite ways to declutter is actually for that exact season. So take out all your holiday decor, go hog wild, and decorate your house to the max. Fantastic, because if that's how you love it, then keep it that way. But once it's all up, take a look in the box, what's still in there. And if there's stuff still in there, and you've already done your house, get rid of it, you don't need it, it's not the stuff you need, you're not putting it up this year, you're not going to put it up next year, it's just going to sit in there and collect dust. So get rid of the old stuff and keep the stuff that you love. So I'm not going to tell you, you can't decorate for Christmas, you can't decorate for the holidays, I'm not going to tell you that I'm going to tell you, you get to keep the stuff you love. But just get rid of the stuff you don't. Because there is stuff in there you don't need.

Elizabeth  32:30  

By the way, I do have that box that always sits. Okay, that's

Deanna  32:34  

my challenge to you this year. I'd love to know how it goes, I'm gonna put a reminder in my calendar to follow up with you and be like, Hey, thank it's the day after Thanksgiving, don't forget the stuff that's in the box, you're gonna get rid of. Why do you think it's

Elizabeth  32:47  

so hard for so many people to part with their belongings

Deanna  32:50  

and motion mindsets. So there's this big thing called the endowment effect. And it's basically where once we own something, we have a huge attachment to it. There is a famous study called the mug experiment. So they split the students into two groups. And they gave one group randomly these coffee mugs. And they gave another group chocolate bars. Now to the mug group, they asked how much would you expect to sell this mug for? And I think the amount that they wanted to sell it for was on average about $7. But they asked the chocolate bar people because they didn't have the mugs. They said how much would you be willing to buy a mug for? And they were about half the cost, right? They said well, that mugs probably worth about, I don't know 253 50 Somewhere in there. And so students owned it. But it was worth so much more than the students that didn't own it already. There's nothing wrong with us. Our brains want to keep this stuff, the stuff around us and our environment has evolved so much faster than we have. Because we are still dealing with these tribal tendencies. These fight flight freeze these base urges that we've had for 1000s and 1000s and hundreds of 1000s of years. And only within the last 100 years have things started to fill up our lives and only within the last 20 3040 years. Has globalization really taken off. And now we have anything we want. Anything we can think of tomorrow delivered the click of a button. It is in sane how quickly that has happened. And we as humans have not been able to keep up with that change. And so the fact that we can have anything we want it cheap and just comes delivered to my door. This is why it's important for us to just take a moment and pause because once something comes into your house, it is 10 times harder. To get it out than it was to bring it in. Because once we own it, we put all sorts of things on it. We take these inanimate objects, and we shove all these feelings and emotions onto this thing. Because we are craving that connection. And we haven't had this connection with humans as much over the last couple years, we haven't been getting together with people. And so it's hard. We want these things to love us back almost. And it's hard to mean something, yeah, we want our life to have meaning. And so we want the things in our life to have meaning. And it's just stuff at the end of the day, stuff doesn't have feelings, we have feelings, and the memories are in our brains. And if you really struggle with letting go of something, and you think if I let go of that, I'm gonna forget the memory. Well, you can take a picture of it. And studies have shown that the picture of the thing gives you the same memories and the same feelings as actually having that physical thing itself.

Elizabeth  36:00  

I had a friend whose mother unfortunately passed away pretty young, and he was cleaning out her house, and she had so much stuff. And he thought, why did she save all this? To him and his siblings, this stuff meant nothing. It wasn't family photos, or something that they could even understand that it might have had some value. And he thought, What did all this even mean to her? It didn't mean anything to anyone else. It was just stuff. And I think that happens frequently that people move out, especially older people, like move out of a home that they've lived in for decades. And it's just things that they can't get rid of it for all that time. Because it's safety. And it's comfort, I guess, to have those things surrounding you for so long. Yeah,

Deanna  36:46  

we've lost my father in law. And it's really hard to go through this person stuff and say, Well, what did they care about? What do I care about? And you're so emotional already. There's a really good book on it. It's called Swedish death cleaning. So if anybody's interested in this topic, look it up. It's a fascinating topic. And the authors are right, so it's a good read. But it's kind of this concept of like, what is the legacy you're gonna leave behind? What is the stuff you're gonna leave behind? And can we look at it from that lens? And I think it helps us get over that idea. But what if I need this someday? Well, you probably won't. If you haven't used it yet, you probably forgot you had it, you're using something else. Remember, your brain is really creative with coming up with substitutions and new solutions. So if you don't remember, you had it you're using something else anyway. I had these ornaments. They were Disney ornaments. So I was like, Okay, well, who do I get my set to? Because my daughter was not into them. She didn't care. And if she doesn't care, what am I going to hold on to him for. And so I put this out on my Facebook group, I said, Look, I'm giving these away. And I showed the picture of them, this person, just like, oh, I have those same ornaments. And you know what, they're not my favorite either. But I'm just gonna leave them and let my kids deal with them. And I thought, That's so not a nice gift for your kids. Because now when she passes, her kids are going to have this box of ornaments, and mom has kept these for 30 years, your kids are gonna say you've had them for this long, well, they must have meant something to mom, and they're gonna feel so guilty, getting rid of those ornaments. So if you don't like it, do your kids a favor and get rid of it. Because they are going to have this moment I hate to tell you, but that is life. So those are the things if you don't love it, don't make your kids decide to let go of it someday be the one that's brave enough to let go of it now, so that your kids don't have to suffer with it later. Sorry, that one's a little harsh, but

Elizabeth  38:41  

does such a great tip. I have to say that's one thing that my parents have done over the years, they keep cleaning out their basement and their garage, because no one wants to feel like they're leaving. No one wants to be like a drag on their kids. And my parents say that I know this would be such a hassle to you guys. When the day comes that we move out of our house, so they keep cleaning out. And my sister and I are like Thank you. We don't want this job. That's so nice. Well, thank you for all these tips. And I feel like I have so many little 15 minute tasks ahead of me, I'm thinking of some of my kitchen drawers. Honestly, the number of things I use in my kitchen versus what I have in there. I've got so many gadgets, I don't use all that stuff. I don't know why I hold on to it.

Deanna  39:29  

It happens even I have that like I'm looking forward to actually it's one of the things I plan on doing in the next couple of days is taking all my kitchen stuff out putting it on my table, and kind of just making sure like, is this stuff I need? Or is it just stuff that I have? Because I need it at one time and let it go to somebody else who can actually use it. That's great.

Elizabeth  39:46  

Well, thank you so much. I'm so inspired and I've learned so much and I really appreciate your time and all of your advice. Thank you so much really, really helpful and really fun to do. Thank

Deanna  40:00  

you Well, I hope that I can just inspire somebody to let go of their stuff and make sure that you're fully living and enjoying the heck out of this life because we only have one on this planet. And we don't need to be a slave to our stuff. So I hope if I can do anything, I can inspire at least one person to do that.

Elizabeth  40:19  

Anyone else inspired to go grab some bags and boxes and start decluttering. I appreciate not only Diana's inspiration, but also her practical tips. I could have a long list of takeaways from this conversation. Here are just a few. Number one, our homes are not storage units, there are places for us to live to. If you're having a hard time letting go of things, maybe think of it this way. The items sitting in your house that aren't being used or worn could actually be really helpful to someone else. Three, live the example you want your children to follow. For. Be intentional about the gifts you give, so you don't add more stuff into other people's lives. Think about giving consumables like food and wine or plants or experiences you can share together. And finally, number five, the stuff around us isn't what's giving life or us meaning. A big thank you to Deanna Yates for giving me a roadmap to get rid of that extra box of holiday decor, and a lot more. If you'd like to learn more about Deanna and her podcast, the wannabe minimalist show, please go to our website, the experience podcast.net You can also find all of our past episodes and link to our social media there. If you're enjoying this podcast, please follow us and tell a friend. I'm Elizabeth Pearson gar thanks for joining the experience