[00:00:00] Danielle: You are listening to Episode 193 of the Peaceful Mind Podcast.
Welcome to the Peaceful Mind Podcast, a place for creating the peace of mind you need to be the best mom you were created by God to be. If you want to bring more balance, more joy, and more peace to your motherhood, this is the place for you. I'm your host certified life coach at Catholic mom, Danielle Thienel in the name of the father of the son and of the Holy Spirit, let's get started.
Hi everyone. Welcome back to the podcast. I'm so excited for today's topic. We're going to talk about how to surrender to simplicity, and I have brought on a guest to help us with this subject. And it is Emily McDermott. Hi, Emily. Welcome.
[00:00:59] Emily: Hi, Danielle. Thanks so much for having me. I'm so happy that we've reconnected and yeah, this is just a thrill to be on your show.
So thank you.
[00:01:08] Danielle: Yes. I'm so happy we did as well. Go ahead first, before I tell why the reconnection part introduce yourself, tell us a little bit about your story, obviously your mom. So tell us about that part of your life and you know, what led you to be what you call yourself as a simplicity seeker?
[00:01:24] Emily: Yeah, definitely. So I am Emily and my husband and I have been married almost 15 years, a couple months here, we have two boys, they are five and seven, my youngest just started kindergarten. So I'm kind of exploring this new phase of motherhood, which is really exciting. Thank you. And actually my story for Seeking Simplicity was because we struggled to get pregnant.
So we were kind of wanting to have kids, but not right away. And so when we were trying, unfortunately, we suffered kind of an early miscarriage. And the reason I'm bringing that up is because when we went to try to get some medical help, they said, well, You know, you, you had a miscarriage. So at least that means you can get pregnant, which is not necessarily what you want to hear.
But what we learned is we had something called unexplained infertility, which meant there's nothing physically wrong with you. It's just that you have a hard time conceiving. And at the time I was working full time. Taking on all of the things, saying yes to everything. I'm the chronic perfectionist people pleaser.
I just, you know, wanted to do right in my career and volunteer activities and everything. And I realized that this was not sustainable. If we wanted to be able to conceive, I needed to be able to find a different way. And I actually started a habits. Coaching program that I was in and found out about this concept of minimalism, simplicity, decluttering, and I recognized that in order to make that physical space in my home, but also the emotional space to be a mom, which I had.
Always wanted to be, I felt like God had created me to be a mother. So it was very important to me. And I realized, wow, this stuff in my home and my calendar and my head, it is really impacting my ability to be able to receive. This gift from God. So I started on that path and we were lucky to conceive my young, oldest rather via IVF.
And then God said, well, you're doing so great. I'm going to surprise you and give you a, a baby that you weren't expecting. And then I had two under two, and that's really when the. Foundation of simplicity and decluttering served me quite well, but then it was more, which I know we're going to talk about the decision fatigue of having to make all of these decisions and just wanting to then simplify to kind of So for self preservation really for my mental load, cause I had postpartum anxiety and that was kind of playing into things.
So in all stages of my motherhood, simplifying has really helped me and it continues to help me. And now I have a podcast where I help overwhelmed moms and I help them declutter their homes, heads and hearts. So that's where I am now. I love,
[00:04:21] Danielle: I love this story in just. And just saying right now about how God works, right?
Where he can take something, you know, that's so challenging for you and see how it has You know, impacted and led you to go down this path of, you know, surrendering to simplicity and the gifts that have come out of that, not only for you, but now for other moms that who get to reap the benefits of what you've learned through seeking simplicity.
So I love that part. I did want to back up and say, cause we said like, for you and I reconnecting and just to let everybody know that you are a friend of mine and obviously a fellow busy mom and just say like, we met a few years ago when we joined a program and we found each other when we sought out an accountability partner, right?
Yes. So I just, I, I actually wanted to just bring that up because before we dive in to the simplicity part, because you know, just. My mom, the moms out there just letting them know like the importance of accountability, right? And when we go to to kind of surrender to simplicity in our lives Most of it's like we're gonna have to be accountable to ourselves Right, but why did you want like?
When you were going through that program, why did you want an accountability
[00:05:38] Emily: partner? Well, a couple of different reasons. First of all, I don't know if you're familiar with Gretchen Rubin, but she has this idea of the four tendencies and it's how you deal with internal and external requirements or requests.
So for me, I'm what's called an obliger. So I do very well when there's an external request from me, but internally, sometimes I have a hard time. Doing what I say I'm going to do. And so for me in all areas of my life, I've always sought external accountability in order to check in with someone and kind of keep me on track.
And that's really helped me reach my goals. And now I'm, you know, helping moms more on the decluttering side, but I feel like when it comes to simplicity and. Decluttering, it's actually kind of a counter cultural idea, because we're told that more is better. Having your kids and all the activities is better.
You know, we want to keep up with the Joneses, so to speak. And so the cultural norms and messages are that you need to keep getting more and more and more and more is better. But then we want to be able to seek out accountability when we're going against Those cultural norms and really doing more what God has called us to, which is to not be seeking those things, but to be seeking other things that aren't the material things or being able to have our schedules.
Full of all of these things that aren't really serving us and allowing us to serve God. So accountability has been so helpful to me in all areas. And I find that it really helps moms too, to feel less alone. And then to really get that cheerleader that is like, what you do matters, like every little bit of what you're doing to serve your family and to serve God, it matters, and we're here to cheer you on and support you.
[00:07:31] Danielle: your explanation was way better than mine. So I'm just going to say ditto to all of that. And I'm just remembering back when we met and then we reached out. And of course we had synergies in you know, being a mom and similar to our story about feeling overwhelmed in some point in loving you know, to get organized and declutter and live more simple, simplified life.
And then of course, our, you know, the Christian aspect. And so I know that that with accountability for me, just in general, what I want moms to like, realize is that is to take away that, like, that thought of, I, I should be able to do this myself. Kind of thing. Right. And, and to realize that that's not how we were made and created.
We were made and created for community and fellowship. And he gave us each other to help each other. And we were all given different strengths and weaknesses and You know, we're not all the same. And so finding a match for someone who has like, you know you know, has some knowledge that you might not, and then hold holding you accountable.
This is what I love about being a coach and having, you know, my clients that they know. That they are going to, you know, be able to show up for themselves and when things get hard, they'll have someone to get them back on their path and stuff and, and I feel like we totally did that for each other in that, that program that we were in.
And so, yeah, okay. Well, I just wanted to touch on that part. This is why we're re reconnecting here on the podcast today, but let's get these are the subjects I. I definitely you mentioned some of them that I want to dive in and and help my listeners to be able to again, the word I've chosen is surrender to to lean into to hand over less control of or.
Maybe even to like, just dive in deeper to having a more simplified life. And I want to know if first we can talk about your biblical case, like from the faith side of why we would want to leave, live a more simplified life. I definitely want to talk about that decision fatigue and how to help my mama's combat it a little bit more.
Yeah. And then just when they hear what, you know, you have to say where to start with it all. If someone is like, I just, that, that feels good to me. I want to do that more. Where can I start? So tell me, what do you want to tell us about what the, the Bible has to say about minimalism, simplicity, decluttering?
[00:10:00] Emily: Yeah. So when you read the Bible, you don't normally think about those things, but I'm actually my second way through reading it on a daily basis. I'm doing the Bible recap. So I'm on day like 485 or something. And I'm very proud of myself for keeping up the streak. But just because of what I. Teach on and coach on and talk about all the time.
I started looking at the Bible through this lens and there's a lot to say about simplicity. And also it kind of goes back to this abundance versus scarcity mentality. And people kind of think it's funny when I say, Oh, you have a scarcity mentality. They say, have you seen my house? I don't have a problem with scarcity.
I have all this stuff. That's the problem. Like, no, no, no. It's a little bit different than mindset. So the verse that I usually go to, which is very well known John 10, 10 the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I come that they may have life and have it abundantly to the full. There's different translations, of course, but we have been kind of culturally conditioned, especially United States to have this very.
Competitive scarcity mindset. There's only so much. And so I have to get like my part of it. There's only so much to go around. Our self worth being determined by our performance for constantly comparing ourselves to others. And of course, moms feel this very deeply as well. And just that our Security is found in what we own, the roles that we play, the things that we do.
You know, as Americans, we're always like, well, what do you do? What do you do? That's how we're kind of judging each other. And, you know, if, if you Danielle are successful in coaching moms, that means there's less moms for me to coach. So it's like having that scarcity mentality rather than that collaborative.
View. And so in an abundance mentality, we're looking at who we are as children of God and whose we are, that we are belonging to him, that he is our father, that he is our generous provider and that our identity is flowing from Christ. And so that's where we're getting our worth from, not from what we have or what we do.
And that we're able to, first of all, have gratitude for what we already have and the gifts that we've been given. And then our generosity flows from that because we're able to let go of what we no longer need and the excess that we have. And so that is one of the verses that I usually go towards for that, that Mentality.
And then my other is a, a man of mindset. So I don't know if you have any comments on the scarcity versus abundance before I move into that one. Well, I just
[00:12:46] Danielle: it's interesting when it's, it's something that I definitely find in my mom's a lot where, but, but how I teach about the different parts of our brain, that lower brain is, was created to help us like in emergency.
So there is this natural. Fight or flight and to think that, Oh, no, something's wrong and our brains go towards the negative. So I get that they would immediately go to the scarcity because of the way that our brain is and to try to keep us in survival mode. Right? So I do always remind them that there's also another part of our brain that we can, we can then question that, that has us stepping into questioning that like scarcity, like, is that true?
Is that true? You don't have enough. Is that true that it's not going to come through? Isn't, is it true that you won't be able to figure out? And my favorite question is always to remind them, like, cause we always want to say that we are trusting that God's got us and he'll provide and take care of them.
Yeah. And I'm always like, so tell me where in your life when he didn't provide for
[00:13:49] Emily: you. Yeah, I like that. And it's like,
[00:13:53] Danielle: you know, you come up with never. Right. Like he's always. So then I like, that's all we have to do is remind ourselves. So so yes,
[00:14:04] Emily: I would say also one of the main things that I hear from people about holding on to things is I might need it just in case, right.
Just in case is sort of this aspirational future that might happen if certain things, you know, were to happen, which is pretty unlikely. And so when we're holding on, I always say when you're holding onto your stuff with these closed fists, then you can't. Open your hands to receive what God has for you.
So we want to have this again, surrender posture. The surrender posture does not mean that we are holding on to all of these things tightly, but we're able to release and then surrender to something better. Which is what we've been called to. And that also kind of flows into the, the manna mindset, which is coming from Exodus when you have Moses, that's explaining what this manna is, and this is what you're supposed to do.
You're just supposed to take what you need. And so then so this is Exodus 16, 19. And Moses said to them, Let no one leave any of it over till the morning, but they did not listen to Moses. Some left part of it till the morning and it bred worms and stank. So when we are not seeing God as our provider and we're like, no, God, I got this.
So I need more. So I'm going to make sure that I have enough and I have, you know, What I think that I need than the excess is breeding worms and stinking. And I talk a lot about the science behind decluttering as far as what it does to our bodies and our brains. And it impacts our physical health. It impacts our stress levels, our cortisol levels.
It increases our anxiety. It impacts our focus and attention. There's a ton of science out there to talk about what it does to us. So the breeding worms and stinking is sort of my equivalent of the extra is not neutral. All of this excess is not neutral. It is actually negatively impacting us. And it's showing us that we are not trusting God to be able to provide.
So that's the other. Bible verse and that man, that man, a mindset that I like to think about. Yeah. I'm not going to
[00:16:08] Danielle: forget that one for a while. I just, I'll be picturing like the stink. Oh, good. Okay. So you brought up a good question or a good point when you're talking about when people are thinking I'm like.
Like if they're going to do less or want to live a more simpler, simpler life or to get rid of stuff so that they can, you know, make room and step more into the trust, right? The, the, the, what the brain will tell them is like, I might need this later. So in that moment, and this is when they have to make a decision.
Yes, and really, if we all saw like at the end of the day, if we got like a printout receipt list of all the decisions we made in one day as moms, as busy moms, multiple kids tasks, a home, you're working, you know, your marriage, your family, friends, your extended family, your church. I could just go on and on about how many decisions that we have to make.
And so someone there, if you, so let's, let, let's go ahead and talk about the the connection or how, how we can combat that decision fatigue, especially when they're want, somebody wants to focus on. Living a more simple life and we could actually just hone in on actual stuff, right? Yeah. Yeah, sure.
[00:17:28] Emily: Sure.
So supposedly we make 35, 000 decisions a day. You can find different numbers just like how long it takes to form a habit. There's different numbers, but that one is one I have found and I'm like, okay, well for moms, Then you just take your number of kids and then you just multiply it because we're having to, depending on their age and stage, we're making decisions for them as well.
And so when you think about that huge number, it seems kind of mind boggling, but I like to bring it back to the connection between the stuff that we have and that we're making choices between those things initially. So here's an example that you get up and everyone's getting dressed in the morning, right?
And if you go into your closet and you have 50 shirts and 30 pairs of pants and a hundred pairs of shoes. Your ability to get dressed is going to be more difficult than someone that has 10 shirts and five pairs of pants and 10 pairs of shoes because of the numbers. There's just more choices to make between that stuff.
And. We pride ourselves, especially United States of wanting choice. So if I went into a restaurant and they're like, you can have a hamburger or cheeseburger and you're like, what, this is boring. Like, I want more choice. However, then if you go to someplace like the cheesecake factory and it has like a menu, that's the size of a book, then it's overwhelming.
Well, it's overwhelming because there's something called choice overload, which is a psychological term for some choices good, and it causes us to feel happier. But then when you get too many choices, then the happiness goes down dramatically because you have analysis paralysis, you can't make a decision, you have to buy your kid's socks, and then you read all the Amazon reviews, and you're in this black hole of like Amazon reviews, and then you don't end up.
Buying the socks. were you were my, were you with me last night when I was shopping online? Exactly. Or maybe it's like, what are we gonna watch for a movie tonight, honey? And then an hour later you still haven't decided because there's like a billion options for what to watch. You for sure are in my house,
Something's. But we don't, we don't think about, you know, the exponential amount of choices. Well, the problem is we have to make decisions among more choices. So the way that we can combat this decision fatigue, which is the deteriorating quality of decisions over a given period of time, let's say a day.
And it's the end of the day. And your husband's like, honey, I want to talk about the taxes. You're like, nope, go away. I don't want to talk to you. I just want to relax because I've made so many decisions today. Well, that's because of decision fatigue. And if we're able to simplify our stuff and simplify our space and simplify the decisions that we are making, what unnecessary decisions can we remove?
from our lives. Maybe it's what we're eating, what we're wearing, our exercise, our activities, the list goes on. But if we're able to simplify our stuff, there's less choices among the stuff. And then we can start simplifying our activities and kind of move into those areas. So yes, I'm a big proponent for asking what unnecessary decisions can I remove from my life?
And then being able to, at least for a season, experiment with less decisions and see if you're able to feel less of that decision fatigue, you have more energy and more focus because you're able to preserve some of these, what I call most precious resources of time, focus, energy, and attention. And if you experiment with less and experiment with those fewer decisions, I feel like you'll notice a big difference.
[00:21:08] Danielle: good. You just said two things right, two phrases right there or a word that I want to reiterate that I think is really a good point for moms to understand. You said for a season. So a lot of times when we take on this new endeavor of being more like leaning into simplicity, then we think that the decisions that we're making or the changes that we're making have to be forever.
Right. And I want, I always am trying to help my moms come back to that. You said for a season to my phrases at this stage of motherhood, right? Because when, you know, your stage of having young kids around and what you like, what literal, like, I don't have any toys in my house anymore because my kids, you know, are older.
So it's like, Yeah. You just have to know what you want to revisit, right? Think like, I'm going to try this simplicity on these things and not have to make so many decisions. Maybe you do decide to have a capsule wardrobe while your kids are small, but doesn't mean that when you're older or another stage comes or you change your mind, you decide you want to have more clothes to choose from like that.
And then the other word you said is experiment, because I'm like. It doesn't like we don't know if you want to go something you don't know what's going to work for you or not. So just, I love that word. Just think, I'm just going to try it out and see. I mean, you can always go back, right?
[00:22:34] Emily: You can go back to having a lot of stuff if you want, you know, but just experiment.
Yeah. And then also it doesn't seem so like restrictive. Like I feel like experiment has a more positive connotation. And also one of the things I recommend You know, to the mamas that I help is like, I'm never going to tell you what to get rid of. It's based upon what matters to you most. And that depends on the person and the values of that person in their family.
And so I use this concept of an out of sight, out of mind bin, where if you're not comfortable. Getting rid of a certain thing, you can kind of put it in there, but you need to make sure you put a date on it, and then you put that reminder in your phone. And so that way, it kind of lessens that, Oh my gosh, I don't know if I want to get rid of this, it seems like really scary.
Well, put it away, and something that you can't see through, put that reminder on your phone, and I bet that in 30, 60, 90 days, you're going to totally forget. What's in there because yeah, that's one of my biggest tips to help people that are seeing this decluttering or simplifying is kind of a restrictive thing and really have that experimenting mentality about it.
[00:23:47] Danielle: Well, I think that I think that what you just said, it feeds into that last question because I was going to say you know, I always are like, moms are like, Oh, this sounds amazing. Now, where do I start? And one of the questions when I interview people on the podcast, I always want to say, what's like, One action that you can tell, because again, I wanted you to get into the experimentation, get into action, get a result, if what you hear today sounds like something that aligns that you want to take on in your busy mom life, and so I think you answered that for me because that example of getting again, tell me what the name of the bin is out of sight,
[00:24:23] Emily: out of sight, out of mind bin.
Yeah. And I would also recommend starting in the most unsentimental, unemotional places in your home. You don't want to start with your grandmother's China or the onesie that you brought your baby home from in the hospital, you know, starting your car, which is you're like, what? Your car's not in your home.
Well, exactly. It's a small contained space filled mostly with trash. And then bathroom is usually the second one. I recommend expired expired medication makeup. You don't remember when you got it samples of who knows what, get rid of those. And you're like, oh, wow, this feels good. Like I can do this. Your fridge.
If you have gross stuff in your fridge, that's decluttering. You're getting rid of the stuff that, you know, talk about mold and stink. You know, you just reminded me,
[00:25:12] Danielle: you just reminded me when my kids recently, when we like, they, they go after looking at expiration dates way more than I do. And they, sometimes it is like really embarrassing.
They're like, mom, I cannot believe you have this from 2014.
[00:25:30] Emily: Oh my gosh,
[00:25:31] Danielle: 2014 seems like yesterday that I'm like, oh
[00:25:34] Emily: yeah, it's like almost, oh wait, almost 10 years ago. Yeah. So you, you definitely want to kind of build those decision making muscles to be like, okay, I feel comfortable with making decisions about expired medication.
You know, like that's an easy. Easy thing to get rid of. And then you can start moving into some of the other areas. And the only other tip I have is to create artificial boundaries around the categories of stuff that you want to keep. So this works well for toys and is teaching our kids. Boundaries, which is very important.
So, you know, all of those junky things that kids get from like McDonald's happy meals or birthday parties or whatever, my kids have shoe boxes that are called their treasure boxes. I'm using treasures and air quotes here because I think it's a bunch of junk. But anyway, they're able to keep all that within that amount of space in their room.
And then every so often when it gets full, we have to make decisions about what comes, you know, what stays and what goes. And at a very young age, they're able to make those decisions. And so you're teaching your children a better relationship with stuff, which in some cases is kind of breaking generational patterns of what people have experienced with their own parents.
And holding on to stuff. So we're able to say, okay, this is the artificial boundary for this kind of shirt in your closet or this toy or these books, you know, bookshelves. We want it to say, okay, we're going to start filling it with what we use, what we love, what we read. Then we make decisions on what we're not sure about.
And then maybe use that out of sight, out of mind bin if you need to. So that's usually how I, yeah, suggest you start.
[00:27:14] Danielle: Love all of those suggestions. And I know my listeners will too. And there's even more goodness because you have brought along a we call them a freebie, but some where people can download and access to also help them get on their way to surrendering to simplicity and.
follow through and take action and start experimenting on all that you've offered here today. So just tell us a little bit about that.
[00:27:37] Emily: Yeah, sure. So I feel like when you're going on this path to surrender to simplicity, there's a lot of self inquiry and self reflection involved. And I know that with the work that you do, Danielle, you really support that as well.
And so I have something called. 50 questions, minimalists ask, if you don't feel like you're a minimalist, you can swap that out for simplicity seeker, but it's just being like, okay, before I buy something, what are some questions I could ask myself while I'm decluttering? What are some questions that I could ask?
What are some things that can help me with my mental clutter? And so I have five different categories, 10 questions each, just depending on kind of what you're experimenting with, that you can start asking yourself some of these questions. And then that can help you in that decision making process.
[00:28:26] Danielle: Thank you for that. And thank you, Emily, for coming on the podcast and talking to us. And so I just really urge everyone who is wanting to surrender to simplicity. And, and again, I'm going to say, become a simplicity seeker. You might have to re listen to this episode again, maybe they jotted down some notes, but definitely download that 50 questions minimalist ask.
And again anything last you want to say. No, thank you so much for
[00:28:55] Emily: having me. Yeah. I really appreciate it. And I hope that this blesses all your mamas. I know
[00:29:01] Danielle: it will. All right, Emily. Thanks so much for being here. Thank you, Danielle. Okay, Mamas, we will see you and next week and peace be with you always.
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Until next time, peace be with you
[00:30:50] Emily: always.