Courtney Carver is the founder of and minimalist fashion challenge Project 333. Her book Soulful Simplicity was published by Penguin Random House.

456: Relisten: Soulful Simplicity (116) 

Courtney Carver

Do you feel overwhelmed with all of your stuff and responsibilities?

Do you ever wonder that the lifestyle of too busy and too much might be making you sick?

In this episode, I talk with Courtney Carver, author of Soulful Simplicity, who tells her story of the damage and stress too much can cause and the healing power of slowing down and simplifying. 

Relisten: Soulful Simplicity - Courtney Carver (116) [456]

Read the Transcript 🡮

*This is an auto-generated transcript*

[00:00:00] Hunter: Hey there, it's Hunter, and welcome to Throwback Thursday. Most Thursdays, we are going to re release one of my favorite episodes from the archives. So unless you're a longtime listener of the show, there's a good chance you haven't heard this one yet. And even if you had, chances are that you are going to get something new listening to it this time around.

[00:00:18] Courtney Carver: You know, I hadn't made it to the ride yet, but, and I never did because I was too dizzy to barely walk, let alone get on a bike. But to get that diagnosis. while raising funds for MS was, I was shocked, of course.

[00:00:40] Hunter: You're listening to the Mindful Mama Podcast, Episode 116. Today we're talking about soulful simplicity with Courtney Carver.

Welcome to the Mindful Parenting Podcast. Here it's about becoming a less irritable, more joyful parent. At Mindful Parenting, we know that you cannot give what you do not have, and when you have calm and peace within, then you can give it to your children. I'm your host, Hunter Clarkfield. Thanks for tuning in.

We'll see you next time. I help smart, thoughtful parents stay calm so they can have strong, connected relationships with their children. I've been practicing mindfulness for over 25 years. I'm the creator of the Mindful Parenting course and I'm the author of the international bestseller Raising Good Humans and now Raising Good Humans Every Day, 50 Simple Ways to Rest, Pause, Stay Present, and Connect with Your Kids.

Thank you so much for being here, my friend, today. I'm really excited about This episode, you're going to really like Courtney Carver. She is the founder of BeMoreWithLess. com. and Minimalist Fashion Challenge Project 333. Maybe you've heard of that. Her new book, Soulful Simplicity, was recently published by Penguin Random House, and it's a beautiful, beautiful book.

If you're interested in simplifying and Decluttering, but you're not, you don't want to call yourself necessarily a minimalist. This is the book for you, like this is about deeper aspect of that and about her story and about ways to simplify, though, not only your home and your exterior, but, uh, to have a more soulful experience of your life.

So I'm really excited about it. We're going to talk about how change doesn't happen overnight. And how, you know, stuff, just like this desire we have to get more stuff, this whole thing like fails to deliver again and again. So I think you're really going to get a lot out of this.

Courtney, thank you so much for coming on the Mindful Mama podcast. I'm so glad to have you here today. I'm happy to be here. Thanks for the invite. Yes. So your story is really fascinating and you have so many things going on and I've just been loving the book, Soulful Simplicity, and I definitely want to talk about.

That whole Project 333, because that reached my attention before other things. I had a friend kind of invite me to try that in my life, which I didn't, but I'm, I want to hear more about it. But your book is really fascinating because it takes us beyond the science. idea of minimalism or simplicity as this like kind of, I don't know, this kind of like trend or meme or thing and brings us into a real deep, heartfelt story.

And it's more than just your story, but a real deep, heartfelt approach to life. And I wonder if you could start us off by telling us how you've You got sucked into this sort of life of too much that you had before.

[00:03:52] Courtney Carver: Yeah, I, well, it's interesting. I always thought that I got sucked in and that it just happened to me, but I really did create it.

And once I was able to kind of see that, yeah, this is the life I made, it was much easier to think about creating something new and different. Um, but I was deep in debt my first year of college and between student loans and credit cards. I mean, I think by the time I got out of school, all I cared about was, you know, what job is going to help me make ends meet.

I wasn't really concerned with what job am I going to enjoy? It was just like, how am I going to pay the bills? And right from that, from that moment, I was just, you know, off in this, again, life that I thought was sort of happening to me where I had all this debt. And so I needed to work harder to make more to pay the debt.

But every time I would make more, I would just spend more because I had to treat myself for working jobs. I didn't enjoy, and it was just this crazy, vicious circle that went on for And add on to the debt, um, all the stuff that I was purchasing, uh, for reasons far beyond, I need this, but I want this. I deserve this.

This will make my life better. This will make me happier. All those different stories I told myself. Um, but added onto that was a lot of busyness and just like a jam packed schedule from wake until sleep. And I held on to all of that, all of that stuff that was really removing me from my life, removing me from myself.

But because everybody around me seemed to be on the same path, it felt quote unquote normal. And yeah, so it all started for me really, the debt is what kind of started the whole snowball of. Everything.

[00:05:53] Hunter: So, do you think that when you were, when you were a kid or with the way you were raised, like were you, it's interesting because I think this is like in some ways so normal, right?

Like this is what everything tells us to do and pushes us to do in our culture is like buy more and be dissatisfied and then buy more to take care of your dissatisfaction, right? Like, yeah, it just seems like it. This was this pattern that started as you were in college and just kind of kept going from there.

I love that you said, I created it, you know, that taking responsibility at this point.

[00:06:27] Courtney Carver: It took me a long time to get there, by the way. I didn't, I didn't think I did that in the beginning, but yeah, and if I'm really thinking about it, of course it went even before that, like, obviously I had to have that kind of model of okay, credit cards are okay, it's alright to spend beyond, you know, your means.

It was just, just felt like second nature to me.

[00:06:48] Hunter: Yeah, you have a chapter in Soulful Simplicity called Shopping Away the Pain. And, you know, I work with people with mindfulness about helping moms particularly be able to sit with some of our discomfort and some of our feelings of discomfort and things that arise.

And shopping is one of the ways We alleviate some discomfort. As I was telling you right before we talked, I'm doing this sort of weird year of not buying things and one of the things I've noticed is Is how much now it's been a couple months and now I've noticed how much still even in the last few months, like I realized, Oh, one of the things I was doing was looking at to maybe get a new thing because I was having a sense of discomfort, even at this point in my life.

So could you talk to this, this idea of shopping away the pain?

[00:07:42] Courtney Carver: Yeah, so for me, it was shopping, sometimes it was eating or drinking, but just something to remove myself from the pain of whether it be boredom or disappointment or heartbreak or sadness, something to relieve, like a pain reliever where I didn't have to sit with that discomfort, I didn't have to figure out why I was feeling like that, I could just put it to bed by just buying something or adding something.

And when I stopped doing that is when I really noticed that's what I was doing. When I stopped shopping, I noticed that pain would still bubble up, but I didn't have an easy fix for it. I couldn't shut it down right away. And that was really powerful because I learned that It all passes. Like, it all passes.

Even the good stuff. Like, I'm super happy today, that might pass by three o'clock this afternoon, you know? The good news is that when I'm really down, I know that's going to pass as well. And I can now use some of that time to explore, you know, why am I feeling like this? What might solve the problem moving forward?

I know, That when I am in pain, my body isn't saying, let's go shopping. It's saying, will you please take care of me?

[00:09:06] Hunter: And to your credit as a human being, you know, we aren't taught that. We are taught, you know, we are taught don't cry, don't feel sad. Whenever a child has emotions that are uncomfortable for the child or uncomfortable for the parent or whoever's around that child, the go to response in our culture is don't cry, don't feel that, here's a way to feel better, have a lollipop, you know what I mean?

Or whatever, you know, to you, you were in that, you were in


[00:09:38] Courtney Carver: Yeah, or at least don't feel that now. Yeah, don't feel that now. Like, let's Ease the pain right away and then deal with it later. And then we don't deal with it later. We just fall into that same pattern. And until we say, okay, this is what I'm doing.

And honestly, like most of the things that I realized I was doing, I didn't realize until I had. Stopped for other reasons, like I didn't stop shopping so I could have this big awakening about how I ease my pain. I stopped shopping to stop bringing stuff in the house and to pay down my debt. But all these other amazing benefits happened as a result, and that's been my experience through simplicity from the very beginning.

You know, anytime I think, well, I'm gonna have such a nice, clean countertop, lo and behold, I also have. A lot of attention to bend on people that I love, like something extra seems to always come from it.

[00:10:32] Hunter: Yeah, all the stuff we bring into our house is like, as you start to go down this path of simplifying some things, I've started to look at the things that I bring into my house as like, each item is care and responsibility and a place.

[00:10:50] Hunter: You know, it's like I see it more as like the burden of ownership, right? Like that, that this will be another thing I have to take care of then. I guess. Do you own the object or does the object own you? Yeah. Yes, exactly. Like, how do you have enough room in your storage room for this item? You know, like this, I don't know, whatever it is, this, Folding chair that's going to make your camping trip amazing.

So you started down this path of simplicity in some ways because of the debt, but you had a big, big health event happen.

[00:11:25] Courtney Carver: Yeah. I would say I did not start down the path of simplicity because of debt. I was ready to ride that out for ever. I need a lot of, uh, big wake up calls. I'm a slow learner evidently because I had a lot of little wake up calls over the years, but all easy to, to squash, kind of like we were talking about with the pain.

I could just make my life a little bit noisier, a little fuller and just keep going. But in 2006, after months of debilitating fatigue and vertigo and tingling in my hands and face. and countless visits to the neurologist and different exams. I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and that, I couldn't ignore that.

I mean, I, I had to make a decision. Was I going to figure out a way to live well or at least try to figure out a way to live well with MS or just run myself into the ground? And that's when I decided to eliminate as much stress as possible from my life. And as it turns out, what that looks like was simplicity.

I didn't know it at first, but as I was making these different changes, I realized, oh yeah, the thread, the common thread here is simplicity. I'm simplifying every area of my life.

[00:12:46] Hunter: Wow, you were like training for an MS run or something like that, right? When you got your diagnosis?

[00:12:51] Courtney Carver: A cycle, an MS cycling event.

Yeah, they, uh, I was working for a company and the owner had MS. And I was riding to raise funds for the Multiple Sclerosis Society and training and, you know, I hadn't made it to the ride yet, but, and I never did because I was too dizzy to barely walk, let alone get on a bike. But to get that diagnosis of MS while raising funds for MS was Ironic, yes, but also just, I was shocked, of course.

[00:13:30] Hunter: Stay tuned for more Mindful Mama podcast right after this break.

That's like the cosmic slap in the face.

[00:13:40] Courtney Carver: Yeah, it kind of was.

[00:13:42] Hunter: Wow. I can't imagine how scary that must have been. And it sounds like you honed in on your stress in your life pretty quickly as something that was adding, something that was adding to the problem with this diagnosis.

[00:13:58] Courtney Carver: Yeah, I mean, all the research that I did pointed to stress as something that didn't necessarily cause MFs, but contributed to relapses and exacerbations.

And, and I knew my life was full of stress. Um, so interestingly enough, that cosmic slap in the face turned out to be an enormous blessing because I'm much happier and healthier than I was prior to that diagnosis.

[00:14:24] Hunter: Wow, that's amazing. So your daughter was really young when you got this diagnosis, right?

[00:14:31] Courtney Carver: Yes, she was,

let me think, I want to say she was 10 or 11.

[00:14:32] Hunter: Wow. And so, I mean, I'm trying to imagine myself in your shoes and this life going crazy full and the busyness and then so I get this diagnosis and then I imagine you must have been scared that you weren't going to be able to see her grow up.

[00:14:55] Courtney Carver: I mean, I was scared that I would not be able to hike or ski with my family.

I was scared that I would have cognitive decline to the point where I wouldn't be able to help her with her homework or, or know what was going on. I was afraid that I would wake up Blind. There's so many different, different things, different symptoms and side effects from MS and you're never really sure what your path is going to be.

And yeah, I was definitely scared, but talking to her about it, especially, you know, early on, I didn't want there to be any secrets or her worrying about something that wasn't happening or not knowing what was happening. So sharing with her. Like I really knew things were going to be okay or that I was going to do everything in my power to make sure that they were.

And that's when I started making changes and they didn't happen overnight. They actually took quite a long time, but I was happy for that too, because if I had tried to change everything overnight, I feel like that would have just added more stress, which was the thing I was trying to get rid of.

[00:16:02] Hunter: So the changes didn't happen overnight.

What were some of the first changes you made?

[00:16:06] Courtney Carver: The very first change that I made was to my diet. And I'm not a nutritionist or a doctor, so I don't recommend this for people. But for me, I had to figure out, you know, what, what foods might be causing stress in my body. And with the research that I did, that pointed to animal meat.

So I eliminated that from my diet and most animal products. And then I made a switch to my medical team. I fired my neurologist and hired someone who was willing to work with me instead of just tell me what I had to do. Uh, I wanted someone who believed in not only the power of traditional medicine, but also the power of lifestyle changes.

And I found someone who fit that. So that was a huge change. And really the first time I felt. Empowered, I guess, and, and became my own advocate.

[00:17:05] Hunter: Was it, was it hard to find somebody who was open to both of those routes?

[00:17:11] Courtney Carver: Uh, it was hard to, to realize that I had a choice because I kind of knew who I wanted to work with, but he wasn't on our insurance and so it was going to be very expensive to do so, but he was willing to work with me in the beginning and then eventually take our insurance on, which was fantastic.

Wow. Cool. But I hadn't forever. I had worked with doctors who some I liked, some I didn't like, but I always thought they were the boss. Yeah. So to speak, I feel like there were so many times where I felt intimidated, too intimidated to ask questions or say, Hmm, that doesn't sound right to me. I think I should try this instead.

Uh, but once I realized that I knew my body better than anyone else and had a voice, you know, it was my life after all that I started becoming more vocal and more. Experimental in terms of, you know, I wonder if I don't eat cheese, will that make me feel better? And then giving that some time and, and constantly questioning that over time.

Like even today, I mean, it's been 12 years, about 12 years, and now I eat, Still don't eat most animal products, but I do eat some seafood because I feel better when I do. So I'm, I'm going to always question that. Like what, what makes my body feel good? Because my body's changing all the time. So I have to be curious about that.

And then even though the doctor isn't saying, yes, eat this diet, he is open to and supportive of that journey, I guess.

[00:18:43] Hunter: That's cool. That's cool. So you got your diagnosis, you started with diet, you started to change your diet and bring in, I imagine, a lot of greens and obviously take out the animal products.

How did you, is this when you started blogging? How did you start getting to the simplifying your life and stuff and debt and all that stuff?

[00:19:04] Courtney Carver: Yeah, I didn't start blogging until 2010 and that was four years after the diagnosis. But a couple of years after I'd started to Work on my debt, and work on the clutter in my house.

You know, recognizing these things as major sources of stress. And I was noticing progress, and I was getting inspiration from other blogs, and I thought, why not share my own journey and And see what happens. So yeah, that started in 2000.

[00:19:38] Hunter: I imagine that must've been a really, and I imagine for people who think, you know, maybe the listeners thinking to themselves, like, I have some debt.

It might be insurmountable. I have clutter in my house. It's like too much. I can't even deal with it. How did you get started? It sounds like, you know, you said your changes didn't happen overnight. 

[00:20:02] Courtney Carver: One at a time. That's, that was the secret. I mean, I know it's not like groundbreaking advice, but prior to that it was always like all or nothing.

I'm all in or I'm all out. And this was a very slow and steady approach to change. And it was one thing at a time. Until that thing felt like, okay, I've got this. And then I would add the next thing. So the diet, when the diet felt like the new normal, and I felt ready to look at the next thing. And I was like, what's the next most stressful thing in my life?

And it was consumer debt. And. My husband and I started talking about, you know, what would it be like if we were debt free? Something we had never considered before. And then what would that actually take? I mean, something we had never put on paper before because we didn't want to see the reality of what that was gonna look like, but we did it.

And once we looked at it, as horrifying as it was, it was okay. You know, we were taking the first step. So, for me at least, I knew that I wasn't going to, because I was always feeling bad about it. And now, even though I would still have it for some time, because it was going to take me a few years to pay off, I didn't have to feel bad about it anymore, because I was taking care of it.

It didn't have to be a source of stress. And during that time, you know, when, when that started to feel like the new normal, it was the stuff, you know, all the stuff around me that, was this constant reminder of my debt and discontent. What, what could I do with that? What would it look like to live with fewer items in the house?

What if I only owned what added value to my life? And so yeah, that was it. One thing at a time for as long as it takes. So there was never like, all right, by January 31st, we have to be completely out of debt or anything like that. It was, this was going to take as long as it takes.

[00:21:57] Hunter: I love that. So you're really talking about the middle path, you know, before you were all in or all out.

And this was just, this is the middle path. How do I just take one step in that direction? And then what is the next step in that direction? And just slow and steady wins the race, I guess, right?

[00:22:14] Courtney Carver: Yeah. I mean, it is, it's the middle path, but with heavy doses of curiosity and asking the question, wouldn't it be crazy if That, that question changed our lives in so many ways.

Um, you know, wouldn't it be crazy if we sold our house and downsize to a small apartment? Wouldn't it be crazy if we became completely debt free? Wouldn't it be crazy if I quit my job? And, and while there were never immediate answers, they were conversation starters. Those questions were conversation starters and actually opened the door to changes in all of those arenas.

[00:22:52] Hunter: I love this idea, this, this living in the possibility, right? Of saying, okay, we are here and this is what's reality, but this doesn't necessarily have to be reality. What are our possibilities? And I, I love that you looked at the way our world is and, you know, with this lens of possibility, you didn't necessarily, you know, buy into the platter that's handed to us.

You know, I can, I can really relate, like actually my husband and I have done our numbers and we are going to, you know, have paid off our house in two and a half years. We're working on that. And so we're really excited to be, you debt free in that way and, and working towards that, but that, that idea of possibility and like, we looked at this possibility of like, well, what would it be like for him if he just worked part time, you know, and maybe this, his corporation, big corporation would allow that.

And you never know until you ask. And sometimes you're very positively surprised. I love this. I really love this question. Like, wouldn't it be crazy if, because I feel like there's so much advice out there about how to fit it all in, like how to squeeze this thing in. And that's a lesson I have had to learn again and again and again.

Like, it's a commandment for me. It's like, thou shalt not squeeze. And I, and I really have to learn it again and again because it's pressure to go the opposite way. in our world is just so relentless. It's really interesting. Yeah. Wouldn't it be crazy? So it sounds like you did get to a place where you did.

Did you quit your job? I'm curious, Courtney, did you? 

[00:24:39] Courtney Carver: Well, yeah, yeah, in 2011. So it's been some time. It was about 16 months after I started the blog. I quit my job and now I work full time for myself.

[00:24:52] Hunter: That's so cool. I love it. You're, you're inspiring me and I'm sure you're inspiring the listener. So tell us a little bit about, as we talk about, you know, kind of the problem and I want to talk about also the, you know, this motif you come back to in the book again, again, the hands on your heart, but kind of underlining the problem of where we are for many of us with.

Too much stuff and, and too much busyness and squeezing everything in. Talk to us a little bit about decision fatigue and, and what are some of the problems that arise with just too much stuff if you, even if you're not like, you don't have a multiple sclerosis diagnosis or you're not in piles of debt.

[00:25:35] Courtney Carver: Yeah, like you want me to expand on decision fatigue?

[00:25:38] Hunter: Yeah, and some of the, you know, what are some of the problems with our culture of too much?

[00:25:43] Courtney Carver: Yeah, I mean, well, just think about the choices we're making before we even leave the house in the morning. So what are we going to wear? I mean, that in itself can drive people crazy.

They try on different outfits. They will wonder if it's appropriate. They wonder if it looks okay. They wonder what other people will think. I mean, even though you're not, may not be voicing those questions out loud. You're making a thousand little decisions about what you're gonna wear before you walk out the door and then you add on breakfast to that.

What's for breakfast? What am I gonna eat? What am I gonna feed the kids? Uh, there's a thousand more little decisions that you're making and then all the regular decisions you're making all day long. It's no wonder that by midday, you're tired of making decisions. I mean, I think this is what feeds into takeout more than anything else for dinner is that we just can't make one more decision about, you know, what we're going to do.

So what's for dinner? I don't know. Let's just order something. That's going to be the easiest thing. And I know that's of course not the case all the time. And sometimes it's just fun to order in. However. We need some, some more space to think about things and to make decisions that really matter to us.

And I think we can do that by streamlining some of the easier decisions. Um, the ones that really don't matter to us. I mean, yeah, we want to look nice. We want to wear clothes that fit us. But do we really care? Do we really care about clothes in relationship to how much time and energy and money we're giving them?

If you were to add up what you spend on a year, time trying stuff on, buying things, deciding what to wear, taking care of clothes, all that time, I mean, all the money that you spend not only buying the clothes, but dry cleaning and taking care of it. Whatever. And then all of the attention you give it and all the thoughts during the day that you're giving it, you know, watching for sales and paying attention to the trends and looking at magazines at, at cute things that you're never going to buy, but you're giving it your attention anyway.

How, how much time is that? I've never added it up, but how much time, attention and money is that? And what would happen if we only spent a 10th of it on the clothes and the rest on something that actually mattered to us?

[00:28:07] Hunter: Yeah, yeah, that's what I'm discovering with my year of not buying anything is, I was just kind of amazed at how much time I spent thinking about that before, you know, like I, cause now it's totally off the table.

And I'm like, I am just realizing that my days feel sort of more spacious and more and freer. I mean, not that I sound like, I mean, probably some people are thinking like, Oh my gosh, Hunter must have this crazy closet and spent a lot of time and money on clothes. I actually didn't like shopping that much.

So that wasn't a big deal for me, but just to take it off the table. It's interesting for me as an experiment to see how much time I did act attention. I did actually. Put on those things. So you are absolutely right. Like sometimes I think about women in general and how much energy. is spent like for half the population on and attention, energy and mental energy and all of that on things that, you know, what if we could harness that energy in ways that for things we cared about more?

I mean, that, that could be incredibly powerful. Yeah. Yeah. And so you did Project 333, which before I ever, I, I didn't know anything about that. I just share with you my own story. I had a friend who was, you know, maybe about. three or four years after my daughter was born. So maybe around 2011 or something like that.

And, and she said, Oh, Hunter, you should do this challenge with me. And I was like, you're crazy. And a year later I did, I did Marie Kondo as my closet. But so tell us what Project 333 is, cause this thing had a big life of its own,

didn't it? 

[00:29:50] Courtney Carver: Yeah, it still does actually. So it's a minimalist fashion challenge that I created.

because A, I couldn't find anything out there and I needed something different than my slow and steady approach to change for the closet because my closet was just out of control. And not just my closet, but drawers, boxes, like clothes I've just been holding on to forever for, for what I have no idea.

But I wanted a challenge. I wanted something to, to learn more about what I wanted and needed in my closet. And so I created some rules. Decided that for three months I would dress with 33 items or less, including clothes, shoes, jewelry, and accessories, and not counting underwear, sleepwear, and workout clothes.

Although workout clothes have to work out, so they're not like just extras in the wardrobe. And yeah, I put it out there on the blog and people really resonated with the idea. And I think the very first day I wrote about it, there were a hundred people that wanted to try it too. At least those were the people that commented about it.

And then fast forward to today. And I mean, tens of thousands of people from all over the world have tried it. And I still keep my closet compared down to 33 items or less every three months. Uh, because Because of that, of the things that I learned during that challenge, it wasn't just about what I wanted and needed in my closet, but how it impacted my other, the other parts of my life.

Just like we were talking about with not giving all my time and attention to clothes. Once, you know, the three months starts, I know that shopping is off the table, so I don't even have to think about it. I have what I need. And if I didn't, then I would pick it up, of course, but that hasn't happened to me.

I've had what I needed and have been able to let go of so much stuff. I mean, especially over those first three years that I did the challenge, every three months, I'd go back to all the stuff that I had kind of hid away. I didn't want to get rid of it all and have that panic of what if I have to go buy all this stuff again?

But every three months I would revisit. and have less emotional attachment because it had been in a box for three months. Uh, and it was much easier to let go of.

[00:32:13] Hunter: Stay tuned for more Mindful Mama podcasts right after this break.

And I can imagine how freeing that is because I actually remember really loving being pregnant and having maternity wear because you just had, I just had these like, these tiny number of outfits that I could wear and I was like, it's so relaxing. There's nothing to figure out. I just wear these things and then I'm done and there's, that's it.

You know, I can really imagine that. Yeah. So people now, thousands and tens of thousands of people have done Project 333. You continue to do it. Yeah. So this is part of going down that, that path of simplicity. And, and I'd love for you to tell us a little bit, you talk in the book about kind of referring back again to the why for all of this, this idea of the myth of ownership.

You have a chapter called that and this idea of like, If I blank, I will be blank. Can you tell us a little bit more about this idea?

[00:33:18] Courtney Carver: Yeah, I think you're talking about maybe aspirational ownership. Like, if we think that certain things are going to give us a life that we don't have. So, if I own the right, Luggage, I'm going to travel more, or if I have the perfect workout shoes, I'm going to go to the gym every morning.

I mean, we've all done the gym thing. Like I'm going to buy all the fancy gym clothes and then I'll be inspired to work out, but it just doesn't work like that. Our stuff fails to deliver over and over again, um, what we really want. So we have to ask ourselves, are there other ways to get it? You know, are there other ways to get what we want?

Rather than using stuff as a, a conduit, I guess. And look, I'm not saying that we should own nothing. Less isn't nothing. I mean, there are certain things that do add value and something that would add value to my life might not add value to your life. So it's a very personal process of figuring out. What you want and need in your home, and it's different for everyone.

[00:34:18] Hunter: Why don't we figure that out? Why, why is it so rare that we actually realize or face the fact that our stuff fails to deliver again and again and again? Why do you think that is?

[00:34:30] Courtney Carver: I think we forget we have a choice and it's the easiest way to Ease the pain, as we were talking about. It really is. So do we want to do some soul searching or do we want to spend 20 bucks at Target and be off the hook for a little while?

[00:34:48] Hunter: Yeah, I guess so. Yeah. In some ways this, this sort of path of least resistance in our culture though, you know, that it leaves us uncomfortable and unhappy sort of again and again and again. So then you talk in the book about the other ways to get what we want. So for you, what were the other ways you explored to, to find the comfort in the moments of discomfort to, to ease your stress without shopping?

What were these other meats?

[00:35:19] Courtney Carver: Oh, well, first and foremost, there wasn't always immediate comfort. I mean, there was a lot of discomfort and a lot of just trying to fix it, just sitting with it. Yeah, it's not fun at all, but it's fun. Also okay, like it does pass. But then it was a lot of self care and still today is.

So taking really good care of myself when before that was sort of an afterthought. Like, I'll take really good care of myself. I would take really good care of myself when I got sick. And probably not even then. I probably still went to work and tried to plow through a cold or whatever. But now I try to do it on a more consistent basis.

So eating really well on a consistent basis, sleeping really well, taking time out for walk or yoga for things that actually make me feel good and that have a lasting effect. You know, even if I don't do an hour yoga practice a day, I can do five minutes. I can do 10 minutes. Um, and that, that keeps me connected to the practice and it keeps me connected to myself.

And I think that's really where all of the taking extra good care of yourself leads is, you know, getting back to yourself and to, to remembering what really does make you happy and, and looking at the things that you are trying to, the pain that you are trying to soothe. Where's it coming from? And. What we can, what can we do to eliminate the source of that?

And I know we can't always do that, but maybe in some cases we can.

[00:36:54] Hunter: Yeah. Through all your journey, your daughter is growing up, she's going through adolescence and she's shifting and growing and I imagine you're having conversations. What does your parenting look like on this journey? I'm really curious.

[00:37:10] Courtney Carver: A lot of showing versus telling. So she was involved in the conversations we were having about our debt, about how we got there, about how we're getting out. You know, we would talk about some of the struggles that we had in front of her, and not in a preachy way to her, but just letting her listen.

Because Really, I think that's how kids make the biggest, have their own big aha moments as they grow up. It's not from what we tell them, but from what we show them. If we're walking the walk, you know, are we, if we're telling our kids to, for instance, get off their digital devices, are we telling them while we're on ours or are we taking some breaks too?

And then we're talking about the bigger picture as well. So it's not just like, okay, we have to pay 300 to this bill. It's What are the benefits of being debt free? Of never going into debt in the first place? What are those benefits? What does that life look like? And just having those conversations, I think that really made a big difference for her.

But never, like, for instance, I think about the clutter or Project 333. I never said you have to do Project 333, or you have to declutter your room, or you have to let go of all your stuff. It was mostly her watching us pare back and seeing what was on the other side of that and then making those decisions for herself.

Like, if she wanted to get rid of some things, she could. If she wanted to sell some of her stuff at the yard sale, she could keep the money. And now, of course, she's an adult, so she gets to make all of those decisions for herself. Even now, I see how our journey from total chaos and excess to a simpler life really impacts her decisions.

You know, choosing an apartment that has a low enough rent where she has money for other things. Not getting a credit card, traveling, you know, different things like that, you know, really thinking about the life she wants to live versus the things she wants right now.

[00:39:12] Hunter: Yeah, that's beautiful. It's exciting that she got to, to witness that journey for you with my, my own journey towards simplicity.

I read Simplicity Parenting was really seminal for me when my daughter was like around two and, So it was, it's funny because some of the first things I started simplifying and decluttering was like, were her spaces for her sake in a lot of ways. And then it spread throughout the, the house in that way.

But she, to see my oldest daughter now actually really values Keeping things sort of neat and clean. And it's a little hard to tell if that's maybe it's my husband's inputs because he's sort of, he could live in like a, you know, a Japanese house with, you know, futons that roll up and get put away. And I, as far as I come from a cluttery kind of artist background.

So, but it's really, it's really interesting to see that. So tell us a little bit more about the idea. Now we've talked about like a stuff we've talked about how to, you know, different ways to find that comfort sitting in the discomfort. And self care. What about time? What about busyness? How did you start to move away from that?

[00:40:18] Courtney Carver: Yeah, I think busyness is almost worse than clutter when it comes to stress. And my life was just crammed from morning to when I fell asleep at night. Like there was always something on the books and not enough time in between. I was constantly late for things and just, I don't know, I, I felt like I was always running behind, catching up.

There was always more to do, and again, I didn't realize that I had created that for myself. I thought it was just the nature of the beast, like work demands, life demands, I have to be there for everybody all the time. And it all kind of came to, I guess I started rethinking it in a big way in the car when I was driving my daughter home from work one day, or her from school, me from work.

And I was still working. I was still on my phone as I'm driving her home and she's trying to tell me about her day. And I'm checking voicemail and returning emails and barreling down the freeway. And yeah, I mean, that was a normal day for me. And this, for whatever reason, on this one particular day, I pulled into the driveway, into the garage, and I watched her get out of the car.

And I realized I had not heard a word she said. Not only that, but I had risked our lives because I couldn't remember the ride home. I didn't remember how I got from point A to point B because I was so wrapped up in my busyness. And thankfully we did and no one was hurt. And all of those times I was driving distracted, but in that moment that I decided no more phone in the car, I wasn't going to miss an opportunity to connect with my daughter.

And I wasn't gonna put our lives in jeopardy anymore, the people around me. And I mean, this was back in, I want to say, like, 2000. 7, 8, or 9, somewhere in there. I'd have to check notes to see, but today, like, I think many people have come to that conclusion that talking on the phone in the car is a bad idea, but it was, I mean, definitely part of my work culture.

We were all on the phone all the time. And then again, I still see a lot of people when I'm out driving on their phones in their cars. So maybe it's not, it hasn't come as far as I think, but I just refuse. There, there'll never be a reason where I need to check a text at a stoplight or make a phone call, answer a phone call, check email.

Come on. I mean, it was just, a little crazy making.

[00:42:51] Hunter: Oh my God, my, I'm calling you out, Mom. My son thinks I'm crazy because I, well, I don't want to talk to her when she's on the phone in the car. I'll be like, are you trying to, Mom? And she'll admit it. It's really dandy. My mom, she's listening. She listens to everybody.

[00:43:10] Courtney Carver: What's her name? Donna. Donna, you have to stop using your phone in the car. Your daughter's worried about you. It's really dangerous and it might even be illegal where you live, so check that out. Here's what made me excited about even cutting out more busyness is that nobody noticed that I wasn't returning email at lightning speed.

Nobody noticed that I wasn't on my phone in the car. So all of that trying to outdo everyone was all on me and it didn't matter. It didn't make anything, I didn't have more work to do. And from there, I just started pulling back everywhere.

[00:43:48] Hunter: So what would you, what would you say, I would love for you to just And as we wrap up, to like paint a picture of the possibility for people who are wrapped up in busyness and the people who are wrapped up maybe in stuff or somewhere along that line of, of what is possible, right?

Like what does your life look like now? And That is different from this picture you've created of before and, and what nourishes you about it now?

[00:44:17] Courtney Carver: Uh, well, for starters, I love, absolutely love my work and what I do, writing and speaking and helping people tell their own stories and, and do work online. I'm crazy for it.

But I'm also, I think part of the reason I like it so much is that I schedule it in such a way that I have time for, you know, a healthy morning routine. I can break for lunch, take a walk if it's nice outside. I don't work at night or, and rarely on the weekends. You know, if I'm involved in a big project, I might work a little more, but then I might take a week off.

I have a lot of flexibility in, in what I do. And because of that, I also have the presence and attention to show up for the people that I love. And before, kind of like driving my daughter home from school, letting her talk to me and not hearing anything. I did that in lots of conversations. And I think a lot of us do that.

You know, we're thinking about our to do list or the next appointment or what's in our inbox. It's hard to stay in conversation and really be there. I get to do that now and it really makes a big difference in my relationships.

[00:45:30] Hunter: Yeah.

[00:45:30] Courtney Carver: So, I mean, if, if anyone's curious about it, you know, I don't think you have to jump right in and start decluttering and, and doing all the things to get there.

I think if you can just take a few minutes every day, five minutes, and call it like a full stop to all the things for five minutes, and just, Just be with yourself for a little while and eventually start asking yourself, wouldn't it be craziest and start having some good conversations about what might be next because simplicity isn't really the goal here.

It's not, we don't want a simple life. We want a life. So what do you want your life to be like?

[00:46:06] Hunter: Yeah. Yeah. Are you really paying, you know, investing the time and the attention and the energy into the things you really care about? And when you're able to pay attention to your relationships and your conversations, you're really there.

You know, Tiknot Han says, how can we love if we are not there? You know? Yeah. Amen. Amen, sister. So, this has been wonderful. Everybody, go out and buy Courtney's book, or borrow it, as I have done. It's at lots of libraries. Lots of libraries. And, and check out her, her work, and where can people find you?

[00:46:53] Courtney Carver: at bemorewithless.

com and then my Twitter and Instagram are also at bemorewithless. I do have some giveaways of the book over on Instagram, so that might be a good place.


[00:47:04] Hunter: Well, cool. Courtney, I really appreciate your, your honesty and your self awareness. Soulfulness in your writing and your sharing and the way, even the way you're speaking, the way you're slowing us down and helping us to remember what's truly important.

And I, I think that's really hard work and it's needed. Um, so I really want to thank you for what you've been putting out in the world. Thank you.

[00:47:32] Courtney Carver: Well, thank you. I am glad we had the time to chat.

[00:47:43] Hunter: Isn't Courtney amazing? I hope you really enjoyed this conversation as much as I did. I really loved Courtney and that's it, I think, for today. I hope you are subscribed, you leave a rating, all that stuff, but I really hope you take some of these lessons and meanings and those conversations to heart, you know, like let these water your seeds.

of how do you want to live your life? Let, let your actions match your aspirations. Yeah. And, and let yourself enjoy being in this beautiful world. Maybe you're in the spring as I am, or you're going into the fall in the southern hemisphere. And I just wish you a moment today and tomorrow and this week where you're really like, you're really there with the, the nature around you.

Maybe you hear some birds or you see plants coming up through the cracks in the sidewalk and you just notice that you notice the abundance of the universe, the life that's there. Just bursting through at all the seams like you see the beauty and Practice to be there be present with it and appreciate it and and I appreciate you I appreciate your ears and I really appreciate you when you write those Wonderful letters, emails I've been getting, and those reviews.

I read every single one. They're so, so amazing. Thank you so much. So wishing you a beautiful week, my friend. Namaste.

I'd say definitely do it. It's really helpful. It will change your relationship with your kids for the better. It will help you communicate better. And just, I'd say communicate better as a person, as a wife, as a spouse. It's been really a positive influence in our lives. So definitely do it. I'd say definitely do it.

Okay. The money really is inconsequential when you get so much benefit from being a better parent to your children and feeling like you're connecting more with them and not feeling like you're yelling all the time or you're like, why isn't this working? I would say definitely do it. It's so, so worth it.

It'll change


[00:49:52] Hunter: No matter what age someone's child is, it's a great opportunity for personal growth and it's great investment in someone's family. I'm very thankful I have this new connection.

[00:50:01] Hunter: Continue in your old habits that aren't working or you can learn some new tools and gain some perspective to shift everything in your parenting.

Are you frustrated by parenting? Do you listen to the experts and try all the tips and strategies, but you're just not seeing the results that you want? Or are you lost as to where to start? Does it all seem so overwhelming with too much to learn? Are you yearning for community people who get it, who also don't want to threaten and punish to create cooperation?

Hi, I'm Hunter Clark Fields, and if you answered yes to any of these questions, I want you to seriously consider the Mindful Parenting Membership. You'll be joining hundreds Discover the path of mindful parenting and now have confidence and clarity in their parenting. This isn't just another parenting class.

This is an opportunity to really discover your unique, lasting relationship, not only with your children, but with yourself. It will translate into lasting, connected relationships, not only with your children, but your partner too. Let me change your life. Go to mindfulparentingcourse. com To add your name to the waitlist so you will be the first to be notified when I open the membership for enrollment.

I look forward to seeing you on the inside. MindfulParentingCourse.


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