Interested in trying out minimalism without committing to downsizing all of your stuff? This week, author and minimalist lifestyle expert, Courtney Carver, shares her insights on the benefits of living with less. We dive into how simplifying our lives creates time and space and discuss the basics of Project 333, a minimalist fashion challenge that allows people to get started with living simply without over-committing. Whether you're new to the concept of minimalism or looking for inspiration to continue on your journey, this episode is packed with valuable tips and resources to help you create a life of abundance with fewer possessions, work smarter, not harder, and experience the life-changing power of simplicity.
In This Episode:
- Courtney’s journey to a simpler life
- How to get started with Project 333
- Living with less creates both time and space
- Deciding whether to rent or own
- The power of virtual communities
Links and Resources:
- Join The Simplicity Space online community
- Soul & Wit Podcast
- Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin
- What Should I Do with My Life by Po Bronson
- Tiny House Engage online community
Courtney Carver is the author of SOULFUL SIMPLICITY & PROJECT 333, The Minimalist Fashion Challenge That Proves Less Really is So Much More. Be more with less is about simplifying your life and really living. Living with less creates time and space to discover what really matters. Through decluttering, and focusing on the best things instead of all the things, you can create a life with more savings and less debt, more health and less stress, more space, and less stuff, and more joy with less obligation.
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Soulful Simplicity was Courtney's first book
Courtney's online community has helped many, many people
Project 333 started as an online challenge over 13 years ago!
Courtney Carver [00:00:00]: I recommend that you kind of shop your own wardrobe, use the things that
Courtney Carver [00:00:04]: you already have, because what you think
Courtney Carver [00:00:06]: you want and need in your closet is going to change by the end of the three months and certainly by the end of two rounds at the end of six months.
Ethan Waldman [00:00:17]: Welcome to the Tiny House Lifestyle podcast, the show where you learn how to plan, build and live the tiny lifestyle. I'm your host, Ethan Waldman and today we have a very special guest with us, Courtney Carver, author of Soulful
Ethan Waldman [00:00:29]: Simplicity and Project 333 and the author
Ethan Waldman [00:00:32]: of the very popular and long running
Ethan Waldman [00:00:35]: Be More with Less blog.
Ethan Waldman [00:00:37]: Courtney's work revolves around the idea that less is more and that by simplifying our lives we can discover what truly matters. In this episode, Courtney shares her personal
Ethan Waldman [00:00:46]: journey of decluttering and embracing minimalism, leading
Ethan Waldman [00:00:49]: to more time, less stress and greater joy. So get ready to be inspired and learn how to create a life of abundance with fewer possessions on this episode
Ethan Waldman [00:00:57]: Of the Tiny House Lifestyle podcast with Courtney Carver.
Ethan Waldman [00:02:34]: Right, I am here with Courtney Carver. Courtney Carver is the author of Soulful Simplicity and Project 333, the minimalist fashion challenge that proves less really is so much more. Be More with Less is about simplifying your life and really living. Living with Less creates time and space.
Ethan Waldman [00:02:50]: To discover what really matters through decluttering.
Ethan Waldman [00:02:53]: And focusing on the best things instead of all the things you can create a life with more savings and less debt, more health and less stress more space and less stuff and more joy with less obligation.
Ethan Waldman [00:03:03]: Courtney Carver, welcome to the show.
Courtney Carver [00:03:05]: Hello. Thanks for having me today.
Ethan Waldman [00:03:07]: Yeah, you're welcome. It's been a while since I've seen you.
Ethan Waldman [00:03:11]: I think we were at the same Tiny House conference in Texas a few years ago.
Courtney Carver [00:03:16]: OOH, that would have been a long time ago, right?
Courtney Carver [00:03:19]: I don't know time anymore.
Ethan Waldman [00:03:21]: Yeah, I know. Forget time. Well, I guess I want to start.
Ethan Waldman [00:03:29]: A lot of my listeners well, I think all my listeners are interested in
Ethan Waldman [00:03:32]: tiny house living, or they're living tiny in one way or another. And for a lot of people I
Ethan Waldman [00:03:39]: know, that kind of getting rid of
Ethan Waldman [00:03:41]: stuff and trying to live more simply.
Ethan Waldman [00:03:44]: While it is a goal and a result of tiny house living, people really struggle getting there, even when they know they want to live tiny. It can be really difficult. I've experienced this in my own life too.
Ethan Waldman [00:03:55]: Like, I live pretty small and it's.
Ethan Waldman [00:03:58]: A constant battle of trying to live more simply.
Ethan Waldman [00:04:01]: So I was just curious to hear, maybe you could tell us your story.
Ethan Waldman [00:04:06]: Of how you simplified and what that was like for you back when you did it.
Courtney Carver [00:04:11]: Sure.
Courtney Carver [00:04:12]: Well, when I started simplifying, gosh back in 2006, I wasn't really interested in simplifying or simplicity. And I had never really heard of.
Courtney Carver [00:04:23]: the term minimalism in terms of a lifestyle.
Courtney Carver [00:04:26]: And I certainly didn't know anything about tiny house living.
Courtney Carver [00:04:29]: So none of that was really on my radar or interesting to me at all. But I was interested in making some.
Courtney Carver [00:04:40]: Headway in terms of health and wellness.
Courtney Carver [00:04:43]: And creating less stress in my life.
Courtney Carver [00:04:47]: I was diagnosed with MS in July 2006. And building up to that, it was
Courtney Carver [00:04:54]: just like what I kind of thought as the normal American lifestyle in debt, too much stuff, working too hard, not enough money at the end of the
Courtney Carver [00:05:08]: month oftentimes, and just this constant grind
Courtney Carver [00:05:13]: of do more, do more, do more. But I realized after this diagnosis and
Courtney Carver [00:05:20]: feeling sick for a while that I
Courtney Carver [00:05:22]: didn't know why I was doing more.
Courtney Carver [00:05:25]: I didn't know what the more was for anymore.
Courtney Carver [00:05:27]: And I wanted less.
Courtney Carver [00:05:30]: I didn't know what I wanted less of exactly. Except for stress.
Ethan Waldman [00:05:34]: Yeah.
Courtney Carver [00:05:35]: And when I started to create less stress in my life, it was by removing the most stressful things.
Courtney Carver [00:05:42]: So removing debt, removing clutter, eventually removing a job that ... I had a boss.
Courtney Carver [00:05:48]: who was just always reminding me that we all do better when we're under stress and pressure.
Courtney Carver [00:05:53]: And he loved to put that to the test and he was wrong. That's not how it worked for me at all. Yeah, but in any case, I noticed that throughout all of that time when I was removing things, I was living
Courtney Carver [00:06:09]: more simply and creating a simpler life.
Courtney Carver [00:06:11]: And that's when all the dots connected.
Courtney Carver [00:06:14]: The stars aligned, and I got really interested in simplifying.
Courtney Carver [00:06:19]: Nice.
Ethan Waldman [00:06:19]: And so is that when you started.
Ethan Waldman [00:06:23]: Your website, Be More With Less, to
Ethan Waldman [00:06:25]: kind of start writing about these things?
Courtney Carver [00:06:27]: Probably.
Courtney Carver [00:06:27]: It was in 2010 that I started BeMoreWithLess.com and started doing my
Courtney Carver [00:06:33]: fashion challenge that was really attractive to
Courtney Carver [00:06:37]: a lot of people who wanted to
Courtney Carver [00:06:38]: sample simplicity without having to go all in. And it was in that period of time where I had spent a few
Courtney Carver [00:06:47]: years kind of getting used to my changing lifestyle. I definitely had a long way to
Courtney Carver [00:06:56]: go, but I was ready to start sharing and connecting.
Courtney Carver [00:06:59]: Yeah.
Ethan Waldman [00:07:01]: And the Project 333, the fashion
Ethan Waldman [00:07:03]: challenge is really fun and it's been
Ethan Waldman [00:07:08]: around for a while now, and I
Ethan Waldman [00:07:09]: feel like it really has staying power.
Ethan Waldman [00:07:13]: I remember reading it a while back.
Ethan Waldman [00:07:15]: And seeing the revelation that you can
Ethan Waldman [00:07:17]: wear the same sweater, the same outfit, to work over and over again and people don't notice.
Courtney Carver [00:07:24]: Yeah, it's pretty funny because in the
Courtney Carver [00:07:26]: early days, like 2010, when I started
Courtney Carver [00:07:29]: talking about it, there was a lot
Courtney Carver [00:07:31]: of feedback about how this was a
Courtney Carver [00:07:33]: fad and it was just this fun little thing that was going to go away.
Courtney Carver [00:07:37]: And here we are 13 years later, and it's still the number one reason
Courtney Carver [00:07:44]: people find me online.
Courtney Carver [00:07:46]: Yeah, and it's still something I do all the time.
Courtney Carver [00:07:49]: I dress with 33 items or less every three months just because it makes
Courtney Carver [00:07:53]: my life so much simpler and I
Courtney Carver [00:07:56]: Don't have to think about things that I don't care about.
Courtney Carver [00:07:58]: Like, "Should I wear this black shirt?
Courtney Carver [00:08:01]: Or this black shirt?" I don't care.
Ethan Waldman [00:08:05]: So I think that one really cool
Ethan Waldman [00:08:08]: thing about Project 333 and also
Ethan Waldman [00:08:10]: about just simplicity in general, is that you don't have to live tiny to do it.
Ethan Waldman [00:08:15]: Living tiny or living small certainly can
Ethan Waldman [00:08:17]: force you to do it.
Ethan Waldman [00:08:19]: But this is something that somebody with
Ethan Waldman [00:08:21]: a 5000 square foot house could try.
Ethan Waldman [00:08:24]: And I think that my listeners might be really interested. Could you give us kind of an overview of what's Project 333?
Ethan Waldman [00:08:33]: How would somebody do it?
Courtney Carver [00:08:34]: Sure. So basically what you're doing is just
Courtney Carver [00:08:38]: limiting your simplicity and living with less
Courtney Carver [00:08:41]: to your closet as an experiment, as
Courtney Carver [00:08:44]: a way to sample simplicity.
Courtney Carver [00:08:46]: And so what I recommend and for
Courtney Carver [00:08:49]: some people, this might not be a fit, maybe you don't have a lot
Courtney Carver [00:08:52]: of clothes in your closet, but if you're anything like I was, you shop
Courtney Carver [00:08:56]: a lot for clothes. You have a lot of clothes in your closet and probably in other spaces in your home. And so this is an invitation to dress with 33 items or less for three months, including clothing, jewelry, accessories and shoes.
Courtney Carver [00:09:11]: You don't count things like underwear, sleepwear, workout gear. So if you are a skier or
Courtney Carver [00:09:19]: a hiker, you wouldn't count those clothes that you use exclusively for those things.
Courtney Carver [00:09:24]: There may be some crossover. I have clothes that I wear hiking
Courtney Carver [00:09:27]: that I also have in my 33 item wardrobe. And then for that three months, you
Courtney Carver [00:09:34]: kind of put a shopping ban in place. So you're not buying new things, you're not paying attention to sales or clothing related things. And you just see how that goes.
Courtney Carver [00:09:46]: And with everything else that's not in
Courtney Carver [00:09:48]: that 33 item wardrobe, you just hide it. Just get it out of sight. Don't worry about figuring out what to
Courtney Carver [00:09:55]: donate, what to sell, because a lot
Courtney Carver [00:09:57]: of times I think that gets us
Courtney Carver [00:09:59]: hung up on moving forward.
Ethan Waldman [00:10:02]: Yeah, absolutely.
Ethan Waldman [00:10:03]: So during during this three month time, if you're like a first timer doing this, you're not actually getting rid of everything but the 33.
Ethan Waldman [00:10:10]: You're kind of putting them aside.
Ethan Waldman [00:10:12]: You're putting them in storage, like, what's happening with them?
Courtney Carver [00:10:15]: I would just hide it.
Courtney Carver [00:10:16]: So whatever that looks like for you, I mean, for me, I was just putting the extra stuff in a box or boxes, as the case was, and
Courtney Carver [00:10:23]: putting it in my garage. And then every three months, I would
Courtney Carver [00:10:28]: kind of go back and rotate items in and out seasonally and then start feeling more comfortable letting things go.
Courtney Carver [00:10:37]: Because what happens when you separate yourself from your stuff, that emotional attachment you have fades pretty quickly.
Courtney Carver [00:10:46]: Like, you think you love everything in
Courtney Carver [00:10:47]: your closet or you think everything is
Courtney Carver [00:10:51]: worth holding on to until you don't see it anymore and you don't even remember it and you realize, "Oh, maybe it's not that important."
Courtney Carver [00:10:59]: Right?
Ethan Waldman [00:11:00]: Yeah, I experience that every year. I live in a space that's small
Ethan Waldman [00:11:04]: enough that, you know, and in Vermont,
Ethan Waldman [00:11:06]: where, like, winter clothing needs are, like
Ethan Waldman [00:11:09]: quite large and puffy.
Ethan Waldman [00:11:12]: And so, like, you know, we put
Ethan Waldman [00:11:13]: away our winter clothes, you know, when it comes to be about this time of year. And, like, I love kind of taking
Ethan Waldman [00:11:21]: them back out of the boxes because it feels like I went shopping and I'm like, "Oh, yeah, that sweater, I didn't even remember owning it, but that one's great. I like it." It's kind of fun to get to almost, like shop through your own clothes once again.
Courtney Carver [00:11:35]: Right.
Ethan Waldman [00:11:36]: And then I like to take that
Ethan Waldman [00:11:37]: time when I'm switching over to kind
Ethan Waldman [00:11:39]: of think about what never went on
Ethan Waldman [00:11:41]: my body during the last season. Why put it up in the closet?
Ethan Waldman [00:11:46]: Let's just sell it or donate it or all those different things. So Project 333
Ethan Waldman [00:11:54]: Ethan Waldman [00:11:56]: I guess when I saw it, it
Ethan Waldman [00:11:58]: was like an online challenge.
Ethan Waldman [00:11:59]: Is that how it started?
Courtney Carver [00:12:01]: It did.
Courtney Carver [00:12:01]: It started as a bit of a challenge, for sure. It was more of a personal challenge. Like, I really did think it was
Courtney Carver [00:12:09]: going to be a three month thing. And then I wrote about on the blog, and then that would be the end of it. And it took off for a lot of reasons.
Courtney Carver [00:12:19]: One, because it was really working in my life and making such a big difference, and the things I was noticing weren't things I was expecting.
Courtney Carver [00:12:27]: Like, for instance, I worked full time when I started this, and I thought
Courtney Carver [00:12:33]: for sure someone in my office would say something about the fact that I was wearing the same things over and
Courtney Carver [00:12:40]: over again and no one ever noticed. And I thought, "Everyone's not thinking about
Courtney Carver [00:12:46]: me all the time. That's so weird."
Ethan Waldman [00:12:48]: Yeah.
Courtney Carver [00:12:49]: Imagine now that I know that perhaps I don't have to worry about what
Courtney Carver [00:12:53]: other people think about other decisions I'm making in my life.
Ethan Waldman [00:13:00]: And so you've published it as a book, right?
Courtney Carver [00:13:05]: I did, yes.
Courtney Carver [00:13:06]: So it's my second book that came
Courtney Carver [00:13:09]: out on March 3, 2020.
Courtney Carver [00:13:13]: Nice.
Courtney Carver [00:13:14]: Just word of advice, like, don't publish a book the day before the pandemic starts.
Ethan Waldman [00:13:19]: Oh, no.
Courtney Carver [00:13:21]: In any case, yes, it came out in March 2020 and it's kind of the Project 333, everything you've ever wanted to know or every objection you've ever had to it.
Courtney Carver [00:13:34]: I speak to that within the book.
Courtney Carver [00:13:36]: Okay.
Ethan Waldman [00:13:39]: How much would you say because you said before that you kind of still do it every three months you go through.
Courtney Carver [00:13:45]: Yeah.
Ethan Waldman [00:13:46]: How much flux are are you experiencing
Ethan Waldman [00:13:49]: on an every three month basis?
Ethan Waldman [00:13:51]: Like, is it, you know, one or
Ethan Waldman [00:13:54]: two things that you're getting rid of
Ethan Waldman [00:13:55]: and changing, or is it like, big
Ethan Waldman [00:13:57]: changes every three months?
Courtney Carver [00:13:59]: That's such a good question. So in the beginning it was because
Courtney Carver [00:14:02]: I really didn't know what I was
Courtney Carver [00:14:04]: doing, and I had so many items
Courtney Carver [00:14:06]: I was rotating in and out quite
Courtney Carver [00:14:08]: a bit, like more than 50% of the wardrobe.
Courtney Carver [00:14:11]: And now it's much less.
Courtney Carver [00:14:13]: It depends for me on a few different things.
Courtney Carver [00:14:17]: But just this past six months, I experimented with instead of doing it for
Courtney Carver [00:14:23]: Three months, starting in October, I was going to do it for five months
Courtney Carver [00:14:26]: and see what that felt like.
Courtney Carver [00:14:28]: And then I just naturally extended it to six months.
Courtney Carver [00:14:32]: And now I'm in the 7th month. I haven't changed anything yet. I live in Salt Lake City, so
Courtney Carver [00:14:38]: we do have a four season state.
Courtney Carver [00:14:40]: But we've had an exceptionally long winter, like just wild amounts of snow up.
Courtney Carver [00:14:47]: Until last week, actually.
Ethan Waldman [00:14:48]: Yeah.
Courtney Carver [00:14:49]: And now I'm starting right now to
Courtney Carver [00:14:52]: think we're having a couple of 70 degree days. So I'm thinking about what my spring
Courtney Carver [00:14:57]: summer wardrobe might look like.
Courtney Carver [00:14:59]: So I'm probably leaning towards only switching out items every couple of a couple of times a year.
Ethan Waldman [00:15:06]: Okay, interesting.
Ethan Waldman [00:15:10]: Could you describe Project 333 as like a capsule wardrobe, or is that a different thing?
Courtney Carver [00:15:16]: Yeah, no, I think that's exactly what it is.
Courtney Carver [00:15:18]: It's just a different way to approach it.
Courtney Carver [00:15:21]: Okay.
Courtney Carver [00:15:23]: And again, I recommend that you kind of shop your own wardrobe, use the
Courtney Carver [00:15:28]: things that you already have, because what
Courtney Carver [00:15:31]: you think you want and need in
Courtney Carver [00:15:32]: your closet is going to change by
Courtney Carver [00:15:35]: the end of the three months and
Courtney Carver [00:15:36]: certainly by the end of two rounds
Courtney Carver [00:15:38]: at the end of six months.
Courtney Carver [00:15:39]: Yeah.
Courtney Carver [00:15:40]: You just really start to understand.
Courtney Carver [00:15:42]: And it's almost just like admitting that
Courtney Carver [00:15:45]: you wear the same things over and over. Because most people, even though they have
Courtney Carver [00:15:49]: closet full of clothes, they're still
Courtney Carver [00:15:51]: wearing their favorite things, only a handful of things.
Courtney Carver [00:15:54]: But then they feel bad about not
Courtney Carver [00:15:57]: wearing the other things because they don't
Courtney Carver [00:15:59]: fit or they spent too much money
Courtney Carver [00:16:02]: on them, or someone gave them clothes that they don't wear.
Courtney Carver [00:16:05]: And so all of those other clothes
Courtney Carver [00:16:07]: that you don't wear just kind of
Courtney Carver [00:16:08]: taunt you every morning, and you don't know this is happening until you remove
Courtney Carver [00:16:15]: them, and you just feel so much more at peace.
Ethan Waldman [00:16:19]: Yeah, I've experienced that, especially when traveling, because you have created an ultra minimalist
Ethan Waldman [00:16:27]: version of your wardrobe.
Ethan Waldman [00:16:28]: And just the ease of getting dressed
Ethan Waldman [00:16:31]: and just the simplicity of it is
Ethan Waldman [00:16:36]: striking more for me when I get
Ethan Waldman [00:16:38]: home and I'm, like, faced with all
Ethan Waldman [00:16:41]: the other clothes that I didn't bring.
Ethan Waldman [00:16:42]: And like, oh, yeah, there they all are.
Courtney Carver [00:16:47]: Right.
Courtney Carver [00:16:47]: You were never on this great trip thinking, "Oh, I wish I brought more stuff."
Ethan Waldman [00:16:54]: It's usually more just like, "I wish I brought this thing instead of that
Ethan Waldman [00:16:57]: thing," like, I didn't choose well. So your other book, Soulful Simplicity, I'm
Ethan Waldman [00:17:08]: I'm less familiar with it. Is is that more applying minimalism and simplicity out kind of beyond the wardrobe and into other aspects of life?
Courtney Carver [00:17:17]: Yes. So Soulful Simplicity was my first book, and there was a chapter about Project 333 in the book, which led to the Project 333 book.
Courtney Carver [00:17:27]: But Soulful Simplicity is more about my
Courtney Carver [00:17:31]: story and how I started out simplifying and things that I learned along the way.
Courtney Carver [00:17:38]: Got it. Okay.
Ethan Waldman [00:17:40]: And then are you working on a third book?
Courtney Carver [00:17:44]: I am working on a third book. I just started, actually, last month writing it, and nice.
Courtney Carver [00:17:52]: It's not due out until 2025, so.
Courtney Carver [00:17:56]: Maybe you'll invite me back when it comes out.
Ethan Waldman [00:17:58]: Sure.
Courtney Carver [00:17:59]: Okay.
Ethan Waldman [00:17:59]: Yeah.
Ethan Waldman [00:17:59]: Hopefully if I'm still doing the podcast in 2025, then you're always welcome.
Courtney Carver [00:18:04]: It sounds like a long time away.
Courtney Carver [00:18:06]: But it's not that far.
Courtney Carver [00:18:08]: Like, if you think about it, just a couple of years ago was 2021. That feels like yesterday.
Ethan Waldman [00:18:13]: Yeah, it sure does. It sure does.
Ethan Waldman [00:18:16]: So you've also created an online community, and I apologize because I don't have the name of it right in front
Ethan Waldman [00:18:23]: of me on my notes.
Ethan Waldman [00:18:26]: Tell us about the community that you've created.
Courtney Carver [00:18:28]: Sure.
Courtney Carver [00:18:28]: So in 2020, once my book tour was cut very short and I came
Courtney Carver [00:18:35]: home, I was hearing from a lot
Courtney Carver [00:18:38]: of people kind of in the be more with less community, that they wanted more support, more connection, and a place
Courtney Carver [00:18:45]: to gather, since we weren't gathering in real life anymore.
Courtney Carver [00:18:51]: And I created a membership program called
Courtney Carver [00:18:54]: The Simplicity Space, and it's a combination of interviews with Simplicity authors and advocates,
Courtney Carver [00:19:04]: coaching calls with members and other Simplicity
Courtney Carver [00:19:10]: Resources, plus live calls and a community,
Courtney Carver [00:19:14]: a place in Mighty Networks where people
Courtney Carver [00:19:16]: Can actually chat and connect and meet in real life. Now they're doing that, which is fantastic. So, yes, that was born out of the pandemic and is going strong today. So I really enjoy that and the kind of people it attracts.
Ethan Waldman [00:19:35]: That's really fun. And it probably creates a place where people can really support one another and kind of take maybe some of the
Ethan Waldman [00:19:45]: stress off of you in feeling like
Ethan Waldman [00:19:47]: that you kind of need to be
Ethan Waldman [00:19:49]: there for everyone in your community.
Courtney Carver [00:19:51]: Well, they certainly learn more from each other. I'm sure they have because they're experiencing different things than I experienced, so I can't really speak to every situation.
Courtney Carver [00:20:01]: And a lot of times I'm sure
Courtney Carver [00:20:04]: you've experienced this and people in your
Courtney Carver [00:20:06]: Community where you really want to make
Courtney Carver [00:20:08]: a change in your life. But the people around you, as much as they love you and support you,
Courtney Carver [00:20:13]: Don't really get it and aren't on
Courtney Carver [00:20:16]: board or ready to go and ready to declutter or try Project 333 or research tiny homes, whatever it is.
Courtney Carver [00:20:24]: And so to find people who have
Courtney Carver [00:20:27]: either done it or are doing it
Courtney Carver [00:20:28]: and get it, it makes a big
Courtney Carver [00:20:30]: difference in terms of the success of your journey.
Ethan Waldman [00:20:35]: Yeah, absolutely.
Ethan Waldman [00:20:36]: Because sometimes the people around you aren't
Ethan Waldman [00:20:39]: thinking the same way or they don't have the goal of being living more
Ethan Waldman [00:20:45]: simply or minimalism or any of that kind of stuff.
Courtney Carver [00:20:49]: Yeah, it'd be weird if we all thought the same way. All the people around us.
Courtney Carver [00:20:54]: We kind
Courtney Carver [00:20:55]: of have to go find our people.
Ethan Waldman [00:20:57]: Yeah, absolutely.
Ethan Waldman [00:21:02]: Have you downsized your own living space
Ethan Waldman [00:21:05]: as a result of your simplicity journey?
Courtney Carver [00:21:07]: Yeah, our living spaces have changed a
Courtney Carver [00:21:10]: handful of times since we started. And what's happened is we started simplifying
Courtney Carver [00:21:16]: i a 2000 square foot home with
Courtney Carver [00:21:20]: A big yard, a garage, an attic,
Courtney Carver [00:21:22]: and a big storage shed in the backyard. Those are pretty common where I am.
Courtney Carver [00:21:29]: And so that was already in the yard when we bought it and we were happy to fill it with all of our crap and then that's where it all started. And so when we started decluttering, it got to a place where we were
Courtney Carver [00:21:42]: decluttering entire rooms and they were just empty.
Courtney Carver [00:21:46]: And so from there we downsized to an apartment that was 750 time.
Courtney Carver [00:21:55]: It was 2013. It was myself, my husband, my teenage daughter, a dog and two cats and
Courtney Carver [00:22:04]: it was in the city which we had never lived before.
Courtney Carver [00:22:08]: Everything was really different and I loved it. It was such a blast. I thought to, number one, live in.
Courtney Carver [00:22:17]: An apartment, number two, rent, because we had been owning. So it was just so nice not to own anything for a little while.
Courtney Carver [00:22:25]: We were debt free for the first
Courtney Carver [00:22:27]: time in our adult lives and it just felt really nice not to have
Courtney Carver [00:22:31]: that obligation of fixing the roof or
Courtney Carver [00:22:35]: replacing the dishwasher or all the things
Courtney Carver [00:22:38]: that happen when you own a house. And then in 2020, through a few different things that happened, including the pandemic, a big earthquake out here and some
Courtney Carver [00:22:52]: other things, we decided that we wanted
Courtney Carver [00:22:54]: To be in a house again and
Courtney Carver [00:22:57]: have a little more space to ourselves and not be directly in the city. And so we bought a house at
Courtney Carver [00:23:02]: the end of 2020 that was about, I would say a little more than
Courtney Carver [00:23:08]: half the size of our first house. So we had a really clear understanding of what we were looking for, what was important to us, how we wanted
Courtney Carver [00:23:17]: to finance it, and since we weren't going into it broke, it made a
Courtney Carver [00:23:25]: big difference in how we felt about home ownership. So as I talk to people about this, because I know there is some
Courtney Carver [00:23:32]: controversy over what's the best decision, renting or owning, I would say just don't make the money part, the only part.
Courtney Carver [00:23:40]: Because that's not the only way we're compensated. It just changes based on your lifestyle and the stage of your life and what you're interested in. And it can't all be based on the market. Like, we probably sold our house at the worst possible time and then we bought a house. It was a really challenging time to buy a house in 2020.
Ethan Waldman [00:24:02]: Yeah, but it's like you get so
Ethan Waldman [00:24:05]: much more back from it.
Ethan Waldman [00:24:07]: More than just the money.
Courtney Carver [00:24:09]: Exactly.
Courtney Carver [00:24:10]: It can't be the deciding factor. And I understand that money is important.
Courtney Carver [00:24:14]: I'm just saying it can't be the only factor for sure.
Ethan Waldman [00:24:18]: Yeah, I feel like there's so much
Ethan Waldman [00:24:20]: societal pressure both in the house buying
Ethan Waldman [00:24:24]: process, but in everything.
Ethan Waldman [00:24:27]: Scrolling, Instagram, listening to a podcast, you
Ethan Waldman [00:24:31]: just hear so much pressure to accumulate more possessions.
Ethan Waldman [00:24:34]: I'm curious, like, how can you know
Ethan Waldman [00:24:37]: how can people overcome that?
Ethan Waldman [00:24:39]: Or maybe they can't overcome it, but how do you fight against that in your own personal life?
Courtney Carver [00:24:45]: It really all comes down to trusting yourself and what you want for your
Courtney Carver [00:24:50]: life and really feeding and fueling the person you are, not the person you
Courtney Carver [00:24:59]: think everyone else wants you to be. And I know that's not the easiest thing to do, especially the trusting ourselves
Courtney Carver [00:25:06]: part, because I think that we forget that we can consult our inner voice, like who we really are first, because
Courtney Carver [00:25:16]: all of the other voices are so loud. We've got so many other voices in
Courtney Carver [00:25:20]: our ear and they're voices that are
Courtney Carver [00:25:23]: happening right now on social media. They're voices from our past with people saying things about us or making judgments
Courtney Carver [00:25:28]: about us or having goals and expectations for us.
Courtney Carver [00:25:33]: All that gets really noisy and then we pile on like the busyness and
Courtney Carver [00:25:37]: the striving and the pursuit of passion
Courtney Carver [00:25:41]: and all of the other things.
Courtney Carver [00:25:44]: When does it get to be quiet so that we can listen to ourselves? Because we can't trust ourselves if we can't hear ourselves.
Courtney Carver [00:25:53]: So I think it's really about carving out a little bit of time, a little bit of quiet every single day
Courtney Carver [00:25:59]: where you can come back to yourself and just check in. Because that is when all of that other stuff feels less like friction and
Courtney Carver [00:26:11]: more like just outside noise that you
Courtney Carver [00:26:13]: can shut out anytime you want.
Ethan Waldman [00:26:16]: Interesting.
Ethan Waldman [00:26:18]: Now, you you shared in the beginning
Ethan Waldman [00:26:21]: that the simplicity journey for you was in part prompted by health and physical health.
Ethan Waldman [00:26:30]: Did you find that or do you
Ethan Waldman [00:26:33]: find that living more simply has had an impact on your health?
Courtney Carver [00:26:38]: Of course.
Courtney Carver [00:26:40]: I was diagnosed with MS in 2006
Courtney Carver [00:26:42]: and the lifestyle changes that I've made with the work I do with a conventional medical team, a neurologist, and a
Courtney Carver [00:26:54]: lot of support in the medical community. I haven't had a relapse since 2007
Courtney Carver [00:27:00]: Late 2007, and barely any symptoms, if any at all.
Courtney Carver [00:27:07]: Wow.
Courtney Carver [00:27:07]: So I would say for sure it's helping and I have to believe it's fueling other things too, not just MS.
Courtney Carver [00:27:15]: And I know that just from the
Courtney Carver [00:27:18]: way that I feel and how I
Courtney Carver [00:27:20]: sleep and how I move through the world, it for sure has impacted my
Courtney Carver [00:27:26]: mental and physical health in a positive way.
Courtney Carver [00:27:30]: Nice.
Ethan Waldman [00:27:31]: So this is kind of a question for me. Well, they're all questions coming for me. But I'm like this one's kind of
Ethan Waldman [00:27:37]: selfish, which is running an online business as you do and as I do
Ethan Waldman [00:27:43]: Can be very stressful and not that
Ethan Waldman [00:27:45]: simple, because it's like you're this one
Ethan Waldman [00:27:48]: person and you're kind of responsible for email marketing and hosting your community and doing all this other stuff.
Ethan Waldman [00:27:55]: And so I'm curious, how have you
Ethan Waldman [00:27:58]: applied your kind of values of simplicity and minimalism to your online business?
Courtney Carver [00:28:03]: Well, I had to ask the same
Courtney Carver [00:28:05]: questions that I ask of myself in my day to day life. And some of those questions are like.
Courtney Carver [00:28:10]: Well, what do you want more of?
Courtney Carver [00:28:12]: Do you want more time or do.
Courtney Carver [00:28:14]: You want more money or do you
Courtney Carver [00:28:16]: want what do you want less of?
Courtney Carver [00:28:18]: And how do you want to feel?
Courtney Carver [00:28:20]: Like all of those questions I have
Courtney Carver [00:28:21]: to always be asking, and it's why
Courtney Carver [00:28:24]: I've hired people to help me. So certainly not in the beginning and
Courtney Carver [00:28:28]: not for the first many years, but for the last, I would say five
Courtney Carver [00:28:35]: to seven years, I've had a team of people who help. So I have somebody that helps me
Courtney Carver [00:28:40]: with the community, someone who helps me with some social media stuff.
Courtney Carver [00:28:46]: I use Schedulers for Facebook. I mean, social media has changed so much since so much when we were starting out. You were really social on social media.
Courtney Carver [00:28:57]: Yeah, and that's not how it is anymore. I don't use it for social reasons
Courtney Carver [00:29:04]: in my own life. And so it's more for me, just like sharing content.
Courtney Carver [00:29:10]: And that for me, makes it okay
Courtney Carver [00:29:13]: to schedule and post and I respond as I can.
Courtney Carver [00:29:18]: But I don't feel like that's my
Courtney Carver [00:29:21]: first job is responding to everything.
Courtney Carver [00:29:24]: Right.
Courtney Carver [00:29:27]: It's still about letting go. There's always more to do. So it's still that more, more is there. And I always have to just ask
Courtney Carver [00:29:35]: myself because I love what I do.
Courtney Carver [00:29:38]: So certainly I could do it more.
Courtney Carver [00:29:40]: But why?
Courtney Carver [00:29:42]: To what end am I going to
Courtney Carver [00:29:44]: do more of it?
Courtney Carver [00:29:45]: So for me, it's about working less, having a good team of people to work with, and just constantly reevaluating and
Courtney Carver [00:29:56]: being intentional about why I'm doing what I'm doing.
Courtney Carver [00:30:00]: Got it.
Courtney Carver [00:30:01]: That's a great answer. Oh, thanks.
Ethan Waldman [00:30:04]: Yeah, you're welcome.
Courtney Carver [00:30:06]: Yeah.
Ethan Waldman [00:30:07]: I wonder how long has the have you done the online community? Oh, you said it since the beginning.
Courtney Carver [00:30:13]: Yeah.
Ethan Waldman [00:30:14]: So was that a big decision for you? Because doing an online community, even with
Ethan Waldman [00:30:21]: help, it's a big undertaking. It's a lot.
Courtney Carver [00:30:24]: Yes, it is.
Courtney Carver [00:30:25]: And we're still thinking about, like we've made some shifts. We make some shifts every year and we're thinking about another one now to
Courtney Carver [00:30:34]: make it more accessible, meaning more affordable and what that looks like and how to streamline things. Yeah, but prior to that, I was
Courtney Carver [00:30:45]: often doing new online courses and things like that, which took time to build.
Courtney Carver [00:30:50]: And I don't do those right now. In fact, before the Simplicity Space started, I canceled a lot of things that I offered and wasn't sure that I
Courtney Carver [00:31:03]: was going to do any of it anymore and then enter the pandemic and were home all the time. And it only made sense to do that.
Courtney Carver [00:31:11]: Yeah.
Courtney Carver [00:31:12]: Things are always changing and I want
Courtney Carver [00:31:13]: to be open to that and not
Courtney Carver [00:31:16]: Get too stuck in my ways or think this is always going to work the same way. Because it doesn't happen like that.
Courtney Carver [00:31:25]: Of course.
Ethan Waldman [00:31:25]: Yeah.
Ethan Waldman [00:31:26]: You kind of have to roll with
Ethan Waldman [00:31:27]: the reality, not whatever you think is going to happen probably isn't.
Courtney Carver [00:31:32]: Correct.
Courtney Carver [00:31:32]: I try not to make plans too far ahead.
Ethan Waldman [00:31:38]: That is wise. Trying to think what else I want to ask. You've been so generous with your with your advice.
Courtney Carver [00:31:47]: Oh, well, I'm happy to share. I mean, it really is like I feel like I'm always still figuring things
Courtney Carver [00:31:52]: out, but I've gotten to a place where, like, I know I'm not I
Courtney Carver [00:31:58]: Don't care if I know everything.
Courtney Carver [00:32:00]: In fact, I'd rather rely on support
Courtney Carver [00:32:05]: From people who know things better than I do than trying to figure it
Courtney Carver [00:32:08]: all out on my own.
Courtney Carver [00:32:10]: And that's how a lot of us have to start.
Courtney Carver [00:32:12]: We're like looking up, we're Googling how
Courtney Carver [00:32:15]: to's and looking on YouTube to figure things out.
Courtney Carver [00:32:18]: And it takes more time, for sure.
Courtney Carver [00:32:22]: Yeah.
Courtney Carver [00:32:22]: But eventually I think that kind of settles down.
Courtney Carver [00:32:26]: I did start a podcast just in 2019, the end of 2019 with my daughter.
Ethan Waldman [00:32:32]: Oh, fun.
Courtney Carver [00:32:33]: Yeah, it's really fun. And it's called Soul & Wit. And I was just thinking about all the things I don't know, and podcasting is definitely one of them that I
Courtney Carver [00:32:43]: still think we've been doing it,
Courtney Carver [00:32:45]: I think we have about 160 episodes and we still aren't really sure about what we're doing.
Ethan Waldman [00:32:50]: Nice. So it's like a mother daughter conversation
Ethan Waldman [00:32:54]: about it is about simplicity and minimalism.
Courtney Carver [00:32:56]: No.
Courtney Carver [00:32:56]: It's about everything. So we talk about for instance, we
Courtney Carver [00:32:59]: just recorded an episode about Daisy Jones
Courtney Carver [00:33:03]: and The Six, which is the new Amazon series based on the book by Taylor Jenkins Reed. But sometimes we talk about simplicity, and
Courtney Carver [00:33:11]: then other times we talk about lots
Courtney Carver [00:33:14]: of other things, and it's really fun. Bailey my daughter is such a blast to listen to.
Courtney Carver [00:33:19]: And it all came from these morning phone calls that we have, where we
Courtney Carver [00:33:24]: get our coffee and we're on the phone and we're just gabbing away and cracking up.
Courtney Carver [00:33:29]: And I always thought other people would enjoy this.
Courtney Carver [00:33:33]: We need to bring these morning phone
Courtney Carver [00:33:35]: calls to a podcast.
Ethan Waldman [00:33:38]: And it turns out that people do like it.
Courtney Carver [00:33:40]: They like it. It seems they like it.
Courtney Carver [00:33:43]: Not everybody, of course.
Ethan Waldman [00:33:44]: That's really fun.
Courtney Carver [00:33:46]: I've yet to do anything that everybody likes, but that's fine, right?
Ethan Waldman [00:33:52]: If you're trying to do something that
Ethan Waldman [00:33:54]: everybody likes, you're not going to really do anything.
Courtney Carver [00:33:56]: You'd be tired.
Ethan Waldman [00:33:58]: Yeah, you'd be tired.
Ethan Waldman [00:34:00]: So people can find Soul & Wit, I'm guessing, like, anywhere. Anywhere they listen to podcasts, including wherever they're listening to this podcast.
Courtney Carver [00:34:07]: That's right. Nice.
Ethan Waldman [00:34:10]: So I'm curious what resources you would recommend for somebody who is listening to
Ethan Waldman [00:34:17]: this and is dreaming of a tiny house, kind of wanting to start minimalizing and downsizing? Do you recommend starting with Project 333?
Courtney Carver [00:34:27]: Ethan Waldman [00:34:28]: Or do you have other resources that
Ethan Waldman [00:34:29]: you kind of offer as, like, Getting Started guide?
Courtney Carver [00:34:34]: I mean, I have a gazillion blog articles that I'm sure could be helpful.
Courtney Carver [00:34:38]: But I think when you're starting out
Courtney Carver [00:34:40]: on a journey like this, instead of
Courtney Carver [00:34:43]: going for the how to read a couple of books that really help you feel a conviction for what you're doing.
Courtney Carver [00:34:53]: Okay, so I think Soulful Simplicity would
Courtney Carver [00:34:56]: be a great start. Older book called Your Money or Your Life.
Courtney Carver [00:35:02]: Wow.
Courtney Carver [00:35:03]: That just will change the way you think about why you spend money, how.
Courtney Carver [00:35:10]: You make money, what you're really spending. They have a formula in there. It's been so long since I've read it. But I think it's a formula about
Courtney Carver [00:35:19]: like, let's say you're going to buy a pair of shoes.
Courtney Carver [00:35:22]: Instead of saying, these shoes are $100, you think about or you do the math to see what time, how long it took you to earn that money. And then you're like, I'm paying for
Courtney Carver [00:35:34]: these shoes with two days of my
Courtney Carver [00:35:37]: time or 3 hours of my time, or whatever it is.
Ethan Waldman [00:35:40]: Yeah.
Courtney Carver [00:35:41]: So that's really compelling.
Courtney Carver [00:35:43]: There's a book by this is, again
Courtney Carver [00:35:46]: as an older book, but these two books I recommend all the time. It's an older book by Po Bronson
Courtney Carver [00:35:51]: called What Should I Do With My Life? Okay. And it could be really outdated by now.
Courtney Carver [00:35:57]: So if it is, I'm sorry, but I think it is also really a lot about, like, what's my purpose? Why am I here?
Courtney Carver [00:36:04]: What do I want for my life?
Courtney Carver [00:36:05]: And can I do something that's super
Courtney Carver [00:36:07]: unconventional to feel fulfilled in that way?
Courtney Carver [00:36:12]: Cool. Yeah.
Ethan Waldman [00:36:14]: I love that we're talking about, like, really old books. I just I looked them up while you were talking. Your Money or Your Life is from 2008. And What should I do with my life was 2002? Yeah.
Courtney Carver [00:36:24]: Time flies.
Courtney Carver [00:36:26]: Sure does.
Courtney Carver [00:36:27]: Nice.
Ethan Waldman [00:36:29]: Well, Courtney Carver, thank you so much
Ethan Waldman [00:36:30]: for being a guest on the show today. It was really fun to catch up and to chat.
Courtney Carver [00:36:34]: It's my pleasure.
Ethan Waldman [00:36:37]: Thank you so much to Courtney Carver for being a guest on the show today. You can find the show notes, including a complete transcript over at thetinyhouse.net/265. If you like what you heard on the show today, I would really appreciate you leaving a review in Apple podcasts.
Ethan Waldman [00:36:54]: Or wherever you're listening.
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Ethan Waldman [00:37:05]: And as a bonus, share this episode with a friend who you think would benefit from it.
Ethan Waldman [00:37:10]: I think Courtney is super inspiring, and.
Ethan Waldman [00:37:12]: I know that her work was pivotal
Ethan Waldman [00:37:15]: for me in my own tiny house and minimalism journey. And I would just appreciate you getting the word out about this episode. Thank you so much to our sponsor
Ethan Waldman [00:37:24]: this week, ATOMIC Tiny Homes.
Ethan Waldman [00:37:26]: Make sure to check them out at ATOMICTinyHomes.com/THLP. I'm really excited about the homes that they are offering. I think they are really good quality
Ethan Waldman [00:37:36]: and just really innovatively built.
Courtney Carver [00:37:39]: Again.
Ethan Waldman [00:37:39]: That's atomictinyhomes.com/thlp.
Ethan Waldman [00:37:42]: Well, that's all for this week. I'm your host, Ethan Waldman, and I'll
Ethan Waldman [00:37:45]: be back next week with another episode of the Tiny House Lifestyle podcast.
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