Minimalism Your Way

Minimalism looks different for everyone. When Christine Platt found minimalism she expected it would involve moving towards an all-white, barren aesthetic. But in search of an intentional life, she has built a home and lifestyle that is unique to her individual needs and culture. Christine, also known as the Afrominimalist, encourages us to search for our "why" and create a home and life that is true to us.

Find Christine Platt online:

What makes me happy? What do I want in my house? What do I want to wear in my closet? You know what I mean? Like in, and we just so many of us just try and fit ourselves into these ideals that have been, um, presented to us and, and it's, you know, results and a lot of excess, but a lot of debt, um, a lot of, you know, acquiring a lot of things that you don't need. Um, and it's, you know, I really want to challenge people, you know, think outside of that box.

Hi, this is Denaye. I'm the founder of Simple Families. Simple Families is an online community for parents who are seeking a simpler, more intentional life. In this show, we focus on minimalism with kids, positive parenting, family wellness, and decreasing the mental load. My perspectives are based in my firsthand experience, raising kids, but also rooted in my PhD in child development. So you're going to hear conversations that are based in research, but more importantly, real life. Thanks for joining us. Hi there, Denaye here, that is the voice of Christine Platt otherwise known as the Afrominimalist. Christine just released a brand new book, the "Afrominimalist's Guide to Living with Less".

Today Christine shares a little bit about her story and how the aesthetics of mainstream minimalism, the simplified white spaces with the Scandinavian style furniture. Wasn't the kind of home and life that felt right for her. Instead, Christine decided to do things her own way. And for her that was curating a life with less influenced by the African diaspora. I truly enjoy Christine's book. And as I share in this episode, I found it to be both a window and a mirror. It was a mirror in that I saw a lot of myself in her story, but also a window as Christine opens the door to her culture and community as a black woman, to help us understand how minimalism can look different in marginalized communities. I know that you're going to be inspired by my chat with her today. Before we get into this episode, here's a one minute word from today's sponsor.

The sponsor for today is Prep Dish. And I know I've been talking about prep dish for a couple of years now, but this year has been a big year because they have transitioned into providing super fast meal plans. Every week. These meal plans are my lifeline right now, prep dish has a special offer. If you sign up for a subscription before the end of June, you get a free bonus menu. And this bonus menu is what they're calling the fastest meal plan ever. And I will attest it is in fact very fast and simple. And among the other things, my family was a huge fan of the shrimp tostadas for me. Meal planning was so overwhelming and Prep Dish has changed that it has made it easy and simple and almost entirely stress-free. So try it out, go to prepdish.com/families. You'll get two weeks free that's prepdish.com/families. Thanks again for tuning in and supporting the sponsors that keep the show running. I hope you enjoy my chat with Christine today. Hi Christine. Thanks for chatting with me today.

Christine: Hi, happy to be here.

Denaye Barahona: So I have heard you say a few different times that you are not a grown woman. You are a growing woman, and I love that

Because yeah,

We're just changing all the time. Right. And it

Christine: Takes so much pressure off, you know, it's always like, oh, if you're grown, you should know how to do this. Or if you're grown, you should understand that. And it's like, actually I'm growing. Like there's still so much to learn so much to, you know, acknowledge and understand about the world. And so, yeah, I like saying that it just takes a lot of pressure off that I'm always like, may I always be growing? I want to, yes. I never be fully grown, you know?

Denaye Barahona: Right. And since I heard that, I've been thinking every time I say grownups, that termed my kids who are five and seven. I always, I don't really like saying that anymore. Let's go with adults first. We've got it all figured out. And we just don't. I love your new book. Your brand new book is out. Um, tell us about that. It's not your first.

Christine: It is not, but it's so funny. Everyone says, is this your first book or how many books have you written? And I'm like, uh, over two dozen and they're like, what? Um, but those are all children's books. Um, and most children's books are in series. Um, so for example, uh, the "Ana and Andrew" series, uh, was one of my, my last babies, my last little book babies. Um, but that's 16 of the books right there. Okay. So, um, the Afrominimalist Guide to Living with Less is my second adult work and my first adult nonfiction. Great. Well, congratulations. Thank you. Thank you. I'm very excited.

Denaye Barahona: So I, one of the things, when I was reading your book that I identified with so much, um, which I do want to say that for you, with your book, I very much saw myself in a lot of it. Um, I saw you were, you were a mirror for me, but also a window because I love how you tell your story. And so much of that resonated with me, but I also learned so much about black culture and how you see and view minimalism in a different way based on your culture. So I love that but I think the thing that I identified with first and foremost was your love of the deal. Yeah. Very true to me. I think that was, oh my goodness. I got

Christine: So many of us. Right. And, um, you know, that's, that's how I came up with my little mantra. It's not a deal if you don't need it. Like, I literally have to say that to myself when I'm in the store sometimes. But yeah. I mean, I think, you know, like anytime we pause and just sort of reflect on like, okay, why am I buying this? Like that pause is just so powerful. Um, because, you know, without it, we do are like, oh, I'm getting a deal or, oh, look at this. Right. Um, and so learning to pause, learning to, um, you know, have mantras, like it's not a deal if you don't need it. Or my latest one is what's the why behind the bike, Christine. Right? Like a lot of self-talk, you know? Um, and I think like when you pause to just ask yourself, uh, ask yourself those questions, you know, you realize like I don't really need lists, right. Or like reminding is, is it, am I really getting a deal if I don't need it? Where am I spending unnecessarily? Right. That pause is so powerful to just sort of think, think about, you know, why am I making this purchase? Which is why for me, minimalism is so less about aesthetics and so much more about just being a conscious consumer, you know, being very mindful and intentional about what you buy and what you welcome into your life. Yes.

Denaye Barahona: Now I spent my first adult years out of college in Washington, DC, which is where you live. And I very much remember I spent a lot of time at filings basement. Do you know filings?

Denaye Barahona: It's not around anymore. Right. There are still a few left. I think I saw one at Annapolis a while ago, but yeah, I know exactly what you're talking about. Right. So if leave leads basement

Denaye Barahona: For anyone that's not familiar is kind of like a much grander TJ Maxx, it's bigger and better, and the deals are very hard to pass up. Um, and I acquired a lot of stuff because I just found too many deals that I could not pass by. Um, and I, I I've reflected back to my own childhood and tried to figure out what was that about. But I think I always viewed sort of this natural progression of life as you study hard, if you do go to college, you get a good job, you make a lot of money and then you buy a lot of stuff. Does that resonate with you?

Christine: Yeah. I mean, I feel like that is, you know, a more popular version of the dream that so many of us have been, you know, sold, right. Um, you know, throw in, you need to be married by this age and have kids by this age. And like that is like the classic American life, or even dream for some people. Right. Um, and I think once you do sort of as self-discovery and do a little inquiry, you know, I do have some guided questions and stuff in the book, you start to realize, what am I doing out of familial or societal pressure versus what I want to be doing. Right. Like, what is my authentic version of life? What do I want for myself? What do I see for myself? And I think for so many people, it's just not something that they've been encouraged to do, or if they tried to do it, you know, their dreams were shut down.

Christine: Their ideals were like, you're ridiculous. Right. Um, and I think, you know, for me minimalism and has been ofcourse learning to live with less, but also just learning what makes me happy. Right? Like independent of what society says, independent of what, you know, family and friends think I should be doing. Right. Like what makes me happy? What do I want in my house? What do I want to wear in my closet? You know what I mean? Like, and, and we just so many of us just try and fit ourselves into these ideals that have been, um, presented to us and, and it's, you know, results and a lot of excess, a lot of debt, um, a lot of, you know, acquiring a lot of things that you don't need. Um, and it's, you know, I really want to challenge people to, you know, think outside of that box. That's so many of us, um, have either been put into her or walked into unknowingly. Yeah.

Denaye Barahona: And that path is not linear, which you share in your book, your career path has been anything but linear tell, tell us about it. So you're not just an author, right. You're a lawyer and a historian and so many things.

Christine: Uh, yeah. Yeah. I mean, but you know, I think so many people are right. I mean, you know, I, I, I think it's so important to reinvent yourself as many times as you want to. Right. Like when we were, again, going back to like growing and that grown, right? Like you grow out of things, right. You pursue new interests and passions. Um, for me, I, you know, majored in, uh, African-American, uh, history and studies and undergrad, as well as in grad school. Um, I then went on to law school and I remember coming out of law school and our country was not in the space that it's in now. Right. It was in the space of like, what are you going to do at a black studies degree? You know? Um, and I remember, you know, having to sort of structure my resume that, you know, have it focused more on my social sciences aspect of the degree rather than black studies.

Christine: Right. Or moving things around so that, you know, it's like, let's focus on your law issues. So people won't, you know, and all of that, it just felt so inauthentic at the time. But, you know, it's like, oh, I guess this is what I have to do to, you know, get a job, um, and then, you know, you get the job and then sometimes you're really unhappy. Right. And one of the things that most people do to mask their unhappiness is buy things. Cause things can bring us a sense of immediate gratification, instant gratification. Right. But it's rarely lasting. So even like by scoring a deal and being excited about my gosh, getting a deal, it's like, by the time I got home that throw had worn off and that stuff would just sit in my closet, you know? So yeah. I encourage, you know, as many people as possible to not feel that they're like stuck in this space, um, literally or figuratively. Right. Um, like really getting them to understand that it's okay to reinvent yourself. It's okay to keep growing. It's okay to say, you know, wow, this job no longer serves me the same way. This outfit no longer serves me. Right. And being willing to do and take the necessary steps, um, you know, to, to move on to something better that that's. Yeah.

Denaye Barahona: I read this article last year, I guess it would have been in January during, um, was it January of this year that Harry and Meghan announced they were departing from the Royal family? Was that 2021? No, that was 2020.

Christine: I feel like that was the year before

Denaye Barahona: I remember reading this article around 2020, I read this article where, um, someone wrote, Meghan got the dream job, right. Princess, the dream job. And then she found out that the job sucked and she didn't want it anymore. And she's choosing a new job. And I just love that because I thought, you know, even the jobs that people could only dream of, don't always turn out to be what we want them to be. And we're all allowed to pivot on any level we are allowed to pivot.

Christine: Absolutely. Um, and not only that we should, right. I mean, I think that's part of the growth that people rarely talk about. That pivot can be hard. It can be uncomfortable, you know, you are, there's always people that are like, what are you doing? Don't pivot, don't leave, you know, you, you have a six-figure job or you're the princess, right? Like how could you leave? Um, and again, it goes back to that the end of the day, you really have to do what is best for you. But unless you do sort of that inquiry and self discovery to sort of figure out your authentic self, um, you know, you will keep fitting yourself into, you know, other people's dreams, ideals of what should of what your life should be like. Yeah.

Denaye Barahona: Yeah. And I think a lot of us feel like by the time we have kids, we should have that all figured out. And that's not the case. I think that growing, I mean, kids just add to that growing. Like they push us to grow even more than we were already growing. Probably.

Christine: Yeah. I mean, I think that, you know, children, you know, I'm a mom and my daughter is getting ready to go off to college, which is wild. Um, but you know, parenting just taught me so much about myself, right? Your children are mirrors. Um, they are recorders, they are all the things. Right. And, um, you know, I, I think, you know, this idea that you will have it all figured out by the time you're a parent is just unrealistic because parenting is going to present a new set of responsibilities and obligations, then, you know, wonderful experiences for you to again, keep growing and growing grow into. Right. Um, and so, yeah, I always laugh when people are like, I'm, you know, I'm having, I'm grown, I'm having my first baby or whatever. And I'm just like, oh, you have so much to learn. You know,

Denaye Barahona: I love it. You talked about when you went to law school, got a job in law and you were working long hours and you wrote, of course I felt like the worst mother in the world when you were working long hours. And then just three pages later, you talk about how you quit your job to be a full-time creative. And you were determined to be a fully present mother and wife and you fail miserably at all of it. Oh

Christine: My gosh. It was awful. It was awful.

Denaye Barahona: And I think it's so powerful to hear other women say this, that, that balance is never perfect. Right.

Christine: It's never, ever, ever perfect. Right. And I have friends who, I mean, their sole responsibility is, you know, being a full-time parent and partner and even then, right. So it's not even the competing priorities. Right. There's always going to be something. And I think for me, I had romanticized all of it. Right. I had romanticized what it would be like if I wasn't working and I could just write whenever I wanted to write, I had romanticize how much, you know, smoothly our mornings and evenings would be. If I, you know, didn't have to go into work and I could stay home and I could make dinner. And like, I just had this whole vision and fantasy that was like, so not what I was able to do. And like, so unrealistic in retrospect, um, I mean, my creativity did not comply with my ongoing to write between nine and 12.

Christine: It was like, oh, you think so it doesn't work. It doesn't work like that. You know? Um, there would be evenings where I would like just be getting into the rhythm of, of writing, um, you know, this, this novel that I was working on that was so challenging for me. And I'd look up and I'm like, oh crap, like it's timeless start dinner. Right. Like, there's always, there was this, it was such, um, an awakening for me. Um, especially as someone who, you know, I know type a is not really a thing, but I mean, I just pride my pride myself on being like very structured and regimented. And like, I'm going to knock this out of the park. I'm going to be the best writer and mother and wife ever. And it was like, actually you're not,

Denaye Barahona: But you were the best mother and wife for your family. Right. And I always like to remind myself of that. Yeah. Yeah.

Christine: I was the best for my family. And more importantly, like I was the best for me at that time. Right. Um, and of course, I didn't look at that. This is all in retrospect. I mean, you know, when you go through these things, often in a moment, it just felt like a total failure. Right. And it, it just was not true when I look back on that time and I'm just like, I can't even believe that I did everything that I was able to do back then, but in a moment, you know, it just felt like, oh, you know, the one time you don't stop writing in time enough to make dinner, you know? And they come in and like, oh, I'm sorry, dinner, isn't ready. You know, like in hindsight, like no one even remembers those moments. Yeah. Those are not the moments that your children remember. Those are not the moments that your spouse is remember, you know? Um, and so, yeah, I'm big on extending, extending ourselves some grace through all of it. You know, I love that. And so you

Denaye Barahona: Found minimalism around the time that you had decided to shift to being a full-time creative and that was becoming overwhelming or wasn't quite working out the way that you wanted it. Yeah.

Christine: I mean, I think what happened, I mean, when I started the minimalist journey, I mean, I was still romanticizing, you know, it was, it was starting, I was starting to become clear that it was a fantasy, but I was still like, ah, it's gonna work out. You know, but I remember what it was for me was really, it was the first time that I had spent that much time at home, you know, because when we were both working, um, you know, you'd get what a few minutes in the morning, you're out of the house all day. You know, you pick up the kids, you're, you know, back home, homework, dinner, you go to bed. So we spent like most people, we spent most of the time outside of our homes than we did in our home. And, um, so it wasn't until I was not working and home all day that I realized, like, there's just so much of this house that we are not using.

Christine: There's so many unnecessary things in this house. And that's sort of what, like prompted my journey and started my journey. And then when it became very clear that my writing and creativity was never going to conform to a structured schedule and that I actually was not a big fan of cooking dinner every night. Um, I started to focus more of my energy on, on, uh, minimizing our home as opposed to, um, trying to pursue these other endeavors, which were the reason why I had left work in the first place. You know, it was just, yeah, like a comedy of errors. You know,

Denaye Barahona: I actually found minimalism when I was supposed to be writing my dissertation and decided that, that I needed to minimize everything that I owned before I could write a dissertation.

Christine: That's so funny. Yeah. I mean the project back on it. I know. I know. So, yeah. So that's how that happened. And then, um, you know, it really, you know, it's really what prompted me to, like when I was working on this book last year, just thinking about what do I wish that I had had known, right. What would I have done differently? And, um, you know, really having a holistic approach to decluttering I think is so powerful. I mean, I did what most people do, you know, like I look at the beautiful images on Pinterest, you know, long enough for me to say, that's it, I'm going to, you know, make my house look like that. And then, you know, next thing I knew, I was just standing in front of a large pile of stuff and there was piles over there and there were piles over there.

Christine: And I just wish that I had, you know, had this process of like, let's talk about how to acknowledge your over-consumption first. Right. Let's really, let's really talk about that. Let's talk about forgiving yourself, you know, no one ever talks about all of these emotions that come up in your decluttering. Um, you know, and, and then like, then you can jump into letting go. And then also I wish someone had told me, you know, what to do with my donations. Right. And so that's how I came up with step four, paying it forward. Um, but yeah, I went through all, I went through a lot during that time. I mean, I really thought it could be a weekend warrior mission and it is, that is just not the case.

Denaye Barahona: Yeah. And I think in some point in Marie Kondo's famous first book, she says that you declutter once and then you won't have to do it again. And I always raised an eyebrow at that, because for me it has felt like this ongoing process and ongoing.

Christine: Yeah. I mean, I am five years in. Um, and yeah. I mean, I feel like it is an ever evolving process. Again, it goes back to the growing. Right. Um, and so, yeah, I mean, you never want to go through that first. Like that first round is always the worst. Right. Um, but you know, in terms of like never wanting to do it again, I, I don't, I don't see that. Right. I mean, I, again, as our lives keep changing and evolving, um, you know, you'll, you'll have other rounds. It'll never be like at first. Yeah. At first acknowledgement process, I get that part. Um, and what I do agree with though is that you'll never, what you'll never do again, is allow your space to get to that level. You know what I mean? Like you'll, you'll always, like, I'll always remember how I, how I felt standing in front of that big pile, looking at all the other piles, thinking of all the other closets and drawers and everything that I had to go through. And I'm like, I know I will never allow myself to get to that place again. You know,

Denaye Barahona: And that shame that comes with seeing all the waste that you have created right in front of you, you know, the, the money you wasted, the resources, all of that.

Christine: Yeah. But you'd have really, I've been trying to find ways to really shift that language, you know, especially when we talk about forgiveness, um, you know, I, I have star, I, cause I used to say, oh, I used to, I used to waste so much money or, oh, I made so many mistakes, you know, and now I'm more like, you know, I made some, you know, probably not the best choices at the time or, you know, I had some experiences that taught me valuable lessons, right. Like even just the shifting of that language allows us, um, just some freedom to, to again, extend some grace to ourselves and forgive ourselves. Right. I mean, you really can't hold yourself, um, you know, as accountable for what you didn't know. Right. But it's like once, you know, and once you have the knowledge and once you have the tools, right.

Christine: It's like, okay, I know better. Now I'm going to do, I'm going to do something different. I forgive myself or, you know, the choices that I made in the past and I am committed to making different choices going forward. Right? Like that's so much more powerful, which is why I, you know, I felt it was so important to when we talk about minimalism to talk about the emotions that come up and how you will have to forgive yourself and others sometimes in order to move forward. Right. Because you can stand there in front of that pile of stuff with your emotions and having all the guilt and shame and anger and think about how much money you wasted. You can do that for a long time. I did, you know, um, and I had to forgive myself. That's the only way to move forward.

Denaye Barahona: I remember thinking, you know, I spent my first 30 years accumulating all this stuff I didn't need. And now I get the opportunity to spend the next 30, 40, 50 years doing better and making better choices. And you can only move forward. Right. You can't go back and change

Christine: Time. That's it, that's it. Right.

Denaye Barahona: You found minimalism and you started, you know, seeing all of the idealistic images with the white walls and black furniture and very, very simplified spaces. You had felt like that didn't, that wasn't going to work for you.

Christine: Right. Well, I thought it was going to be wonderful for me. It was actually quite shocking that when I, you know, married these images that I saw online, that I had just habited so much. And I was like, oh, this really feels sterile. This doesn't feel like home. This doesn't feel like me. Right. And that's when I was like, oh, I'm going to have to do minimalism my way, if this is ever going to work, right. Like I need color. I need textures. I need, um, you know, elements of, of, uh, you know, ancestral things that ground me, that uplift me. Um, and so that's how I came up with, you know, from minimalism, I was like, it's minimalism, but with an Afro twist, this is my thing, you know? Um, but in retrospect, what I was doing was, you know, what I encourage so many people now to do, which is, you know, create a minimalist practice and lifestyle that works for you.

Christine: Right. My biggest thing is, you know, you always have to choose authenticity over aesthetics, okay. Because the aesthetics of mainstream minimalism and, and, you know, understandably there's, the images are so beautiful and simplistic. And it's what initially draws so many people to even consider it as a lifestyle. But, you know, it really is just an aesthetically pleasing version of, of minimalism, right. It is not a version that is going to work, um, for most people, right. For some people it will work. They want their all whites stark Scandinavian decor, and it is like their dream. Right. And that's great that works for them. But you know, you have to figure out what is my authentic style, what, in terms of decor, in terms of, in terms of my wardrobe, right. And you can't really do that until you go through the process of letting go, what no longer serves you.

Christine: Right. It's how I discovered my affinity for jumpsuits and dresses. Right. Like it took me widdling through all the stuff in my wardrobe and me realizing, like, I don't really want the responsibility of having to think about what top of my pairing with what bottom. Yeah. I just already have so many things to think about during the day. Um, and I was like, oh, so my authentic style is definitely more one piece ensembles. And that is what the majority of my closet is. And it, it helps me to like when I go out and I see, cause you're undoubtedly, I was going to see something beautiful. I'm like, oh, what a beautiful top? Like, yeah, you don't want like pairing tops and bottom. So, you know, like it's. Yeah, yeah. Whereas before, you know, when you're in that sort of this mindless consumption space and always trying to get a deal and, you know, just all over the place, but in terms of like your spending habits and behaviors, you're more inclined to get the shirt. Yeah. You know what I mean? Like, oh, it's a great shirt, so cute. It's on sale. Next thing you know, you have the shirt, you don't have a bottom, uh, you know what? I could see those cute pair pants. Right? Like it cumulates so fast. Um, you know, and so again, that's why that power of pause is it's pretty powerful, you know, what's this, why what's the why behind this by. Yes.

Denaye Barahona: And I really, I appreciate your emphasis on understanding your why, and not just maybe diving right in and getting rid of stuff, but really understanding how you got to be where you are. And for you, you have a big emphasis and understanding of how consumerism is different in the black culture than it might be in the white culture. And I really appreciated learning more about that in

Christine: Your book. I'm glad you did. Yeah. I mean, you know, as I stated, like the, for the culture pages are just for marginalized communities, some additional considerations that, you know, mainstream minimalism just does not acknowledge. Um, and that's primarily because there are just not a lot of marginalized voices, uh, in, in that space. Um, but you know, I also wanted those statistics and facts and that information to be there for other communities as well. Right. And it makes you just more aware of, you know, targeted advertising and marketing, right. It makes you so much more aware of, oh, this is why, you know, this community, even it could be like right near you, right. Like this is why this community looks different. This is why the ads in this community look different. This is like, it's, it's very startling and shocking. Um, and of course for my community, I just want them to be much more conscious and aware of, of how, um, they are targeted as consumers.

Christine: And they are one of, you know, the largest population of consumers with, um, the lowest income levels. Right. And, and earning potential. So, you know, it's, it's just time to really, you know, shift this conversation and narrative, uh, about minimalism beyond just things and decluttering. Right. Because it's so much more than our things, right? Like it's so much more than our things. It's, it's the why it's the, you know, really figuring out what aspects from my childhood have I brought into adulthood, how am I giving into conspicuous consumption or mindless consumption. Right. Like it's so much more than just let me figure out which tops and bottoms I don't want. Right. Um, you know, in order to really, really, uh, achieve and maintain this lifestyle, you have to know yourself, you have to know yourself. Yeah.

Denaye Barahona: One of the things that I read that I didn't know, which is giving me some new perspective is that people in marginalized communities have unhealthy relationships with credit and are often preyed upon by financial institutions. And for me as a white person, that's not something that I've been impacted by in the same way. And I just have had no awareness of it. And that, and how that factors into consumerism is just fascinating to consider.

Christine: Yeah, predatory lending is really, um, it's, it's gotten better, but it's still pretty prevalent in, uh, marginalized communities. Uh, it definitely was even worse when I was growing up. Um, you know, as I shared in the book, man, I was born in 1976. Right. So I was like seen everybody. I remember the first video game and the first microwave. And so we didn't have the internet. And you were just kind of, um, beholden to what was going on in your community. Um, yeah, very, very targeted, um, forms of predatory lending from, you know, offering money for, you know, a property that seems like it's worth nothing, but they know that the, you know, land area is going to be used for, let's say a waterfront development. Right. Um, like there's so many things that I just even saw in my lifetime. Um, and that actually happened, uh, in my, in my childhood community.

Christine: I remember going to college and being like, I mean, we would, we had so many credit cards because all you had to do is just, uh, you know, every Wednesday they would be out at our local little market area, offering you a free t-shirt or free water bottle and, you know, you'd get your plastic card of money. You have no job, it's the best, you know, and like I said, in the book, like I cringe thinking about how many 25 cent wing nights were charged to a card with interests, you know? Um, but yeah, like there, that sort of, uh, you know, those forms of predatory lending, um, really have a lasting, uh, impact on, on communities of, uh, you know, marginalized communities. And so I do think it's important to understand, uh, and acknowledge that and take all those things into consideration. Um, you know, and when we think about, you know, financial equity and, and things of that nature, so yeah, I'm really glad you found that informative. Um, I've had a couple of people tell me that as well, Courtney, Courtney, Carver, and I were in conversation last night and she told me the same thing. She was like, I just did not know, like all these statistics, this is like, she was just so shocked. Right? Absolutely. I think

Denaye Barahona: From the cultural perspective too, there's something else that you wrote in one of your further culture pages that really struck me, you said from our ancestors being stolen and once owned as property to our need to have things so that we feel we are in control of something in our lives that people have a different, deeper relationship, our belongings, and that that's, I've been reflecting

Christine: On that one too. Yeah. You know, it's, I always, uh, like to use the analogy of, um, or I guess the example, rather of a person who has two Bibles, right. A black person who has two Bibles, a regular minimalists practitioner will come in and say, you don't need two Bibles. You only need one Bible. Why do I have two Bibles? Um, and you know, a black person would say, this is my great-grandmother's Bible. And it's very important. And sometimes I look through it and I look to see what passages she highlighted and what sustained her throughout her lifetime. And then this other Bible is my Bible. So Bible, I take to church, it's the Bible that I'm highlighting my own passages in. Right. So it's just like cultural considerations that again, have to be addressed when we're talking about, um, this being a lifestyle that's accessible to all, it's not as simple as going in and picking which Bible you want to keep. Right. You need both.

Denaye Barahona: Yeah. And I think coming up with any kind of one size fits all for minimalism, I think it devalues that

Christine: It really does. And I honestly don't know where that came from because literally like every minimalist I know, I mean, I feel like I know quite a few now, um, and not, not just, you know, minimalists who are black, right. White minimalists, like everyone has color. Everyone has like, I have no, I it's just so fascinating to me how, you know, this 19, what fifties art design style became the face of a lifestyle. Um, I don't understand because most minimalists practice being mindful, intentional consumers, they're not subscribing to a certain aesthetic, you know? So yeah. I still don't know where that came from. I think

Denaye Barahona: It can be easy to get caught up in this idea that, you know, you see this picture online and you just need to replicate that picture. Like you need that sample and that piece of art, and then you will have that life, if you can just replicate it. And that seems almost like the easy way. Some in some aspects, I mean, if

Christine: You have, yeah, well, it seems like the easy way, but again, you run the risk of doing that and then discovering that looks great in that picture, but it doesn't feel good in your home. Right. So like, that's how it was for me. I did the whole, I mean, I remember like I had white walls in my bedroom. I had white bedding, I had white curtains and I just walked in and I was like, oh, I just walked in one day. Like I can not do this. It looked beautiful in the photograph. Right. But it just, it just did not feel good to live in. And so I really caution people, you know, to, to subscribe to a certain minimalist aesthetic and make that their ideal and that their goal, right. I'm going to declutter so that my home can look like, you know, Josh and Ryan.

Christine: Right. Um, I love the minimalists. They're great. Um, right. And it's like, you are not Josh or Ryan, so it works for Josh and Ryan and may not work for you. Right. And now you're stuck within aesthetic and things that you don't like, you know? And so it's so important to again, figure out that why. Right. And then figure out what is my authentic style in terms of my decor in terms of, you know, my wardrobe and, you know, minimalism, I tell people all the time, it's really a gateway to living with intention because there's no way that you can just be intentional with your wardrobe and, you know, uh, your belonging and not have intention trickle into every area of your life. And so, you know, these are lessons and being intentional. Right. So, yeah.

Denaye Barahona: And sometimes we don't see it coming. I mean, I know I didn't, when I started decluttering my closet, I had no idea that once I made it made my way through every closet in the house that I was going to start, de-cluttering my calendar and my style and my brain and all the things that just, it wasn't part of the plan, but I don't think I get to make the plan. Right. Just Nope. And it happens, but now there's no looking back. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Christine: It just kind of happens. Yep.

Denaye Barahona: So tell me, what's on the horizon for you after the, after this book. Um,

Christine: So I, I have two projects, uh, and it's so funny. Uh, all of them started during the pandemic, so wild. Um, so I wrote the Afrominimalist Guide to Living with Less, um, during the pandemic. So within a year, um, I have a new children's series that will be coming out in spring 2023 called Frankie at Five. And Frankie is a little news reporter. She's so cute. Um, both of her, uh, while her mom is also a reporter. And so what she likes to do is have a, she has her own little news show, and it's just a way for me to, you know, talk to kids and teach kids about journalism, um, a way for them to see news through their eyes and their perspective. Right. Because breaking news could be, you know, a missing tooth, right. Like breaking news. Right. Um, so that's really fun to write a Frankie at five.

Christine: And then just recently, uh, me and one of my dearest friends, uh, Catherine Wigingtongreen, um, we just signed a deal to write, uh, a, I don't even know what John really call it, but it is fiction it's adult fiction. Um, but it's called Rebecca not Becky. And, um, it's centered on, um, two moms, one who's black and one who's white, like me and Catherine and, um, just how they manage, um, their lives and their families and in the midst of a racial reckoning, uh, in this country. And, you know, we both work as anti-racism, um, trainers and facilitators and have for a very long time. And this is just such a wonderful opportunity for us to, you know, get folks to see themselves and to like, again, just like the minimalism, like let's have some real conversations here, you know, like I feel like we're all just like dancing around the issue.

Christine: Right. And it's just like, let's have some real conversations about our own biases and prejudices. And like, let's talk about all of the things that we're not talking about or that we're talking about with our friends, because we're scared to say it online because we don't want to be called racist and, you know, like, it's just, yeah. So we're having a lot of fun. Um, so writing that's a novel, it is a novel. Yeah. I can't wait. And what is that? What's the timeline for that? Um, that is also 2023. So that will be coming out in January, 2023. Um, yeah. And it's really fun writing a book with your friend and yeah, it's just been great. And, and again, we just have so much, um, you know, we're both moms, we both worked in the anti-racism space for a long time and we just have so much, um, in so many ways that we can teach. Um, I'm a big fan of, uh, teaching through fiction. It's just easier for people to accept and see themselves and, and, you know, find things relatable. So, so yeah. Yes.

Denaye Barahona: And you mentioned teaching through fiction and I have to say that teaching adults through children's fiction and children's just literature in general is a real thing that I never realized until I was an adult. And I have learned so much through my kids' books. So I feel like not only kids, but you're definitely reaching a whole generation of adults who may not have otherwise sought out the adult version of these.

Christine: Yeah. And, you know, I, I first discovered it, uh, actually in law school and my legal research and writing class, uh, it was our first assignment, uh, was to read about the three little pigs, that whole story, but from the Wolf's perspective. Right. I remember, yeah. So funny, but you know, like getting us to understand how you can have the set of facts, the same people be there witnessing it and having very different experiences. Right. Um, and so, yeah, I love, I love children's literature. Um, and I love, I love writing fiction. I, I just think it's a really powerful teaching tool and

Denaye Barahona: The Ana and Andrew series is that complete now, as you're starting the new one,

Christine: It is, you know, I, and it's I say it like that because I just, I feel, you know, it's hard. I mean, you, you grow with your characters, you grow with your young readers, you know, I have a wall just full of like beautiful cards and pictures and letters that, you know, little ones have sent to Anna and Andrew and I, oh, it's just like, oh, but I just keep telling myself, okay. They can read, you know, Frankie at five, you know, most of them will have aged up to that book by then as well. Um, but yeah, so it's, it's bittersweet. I love them. I mean, 16 bucks for that series is wonderful. Like, yeah. It's like, what more could I do? Um, but yeah, I really love that series. And you know, that, that was also a teaching tool for parents and adults.

Christine: I mean, I heard from so many parents who are just like, thank you for writing about this, you know, in this way, thank you for teaching history, from a place of joy, thank you for, you know, allowing us to have just the language and tools to answer some of the questions that we may be asked, you know? Um, and so, yeah, it's, it's a very special series to me. Um, but Frankie at five is as well. I am, I love Frankie. I got to see my first sketch of her the other day. And I was just like, oh my God, I love her. So yeah, I'm excited more fun coming.

Denaye Barahona: Thank you. So how much, I'm going to put links to all of your books in the show notes. And I can't wait to see what, what is to come in 2023 for you. And hopefully you take some time off in the rest of 2021 and 22.

Christine: I wish, you know, actually divine timing. I mean, my daughter has off to Penn state in the fall and you know, it's going to have a lot of time on my hands to just fill it with stories and, um, yeah, no, I love, I love the life that I live and I just feel incredibly grateful, um, to, to be able to do what I do. So no, no break breaks like that, but I will definitely make time to take care of myself. And as you know, nap, I love napping. Thank you so much. Thank you. Have a good one.

Denaye Barahona: Thanks again for tuning in, and I hope you enjoyed this conversation with Christine. You can find her online at the Afrominimalist and her books can be found on Amazon Barnes and noble, or even better at your local independent bookstore. If you've been interested in trying out the mental unload, which is the program that I run three times a year to focus on mental clutter, you're in luck, we're starting again on July 15th. So put that on your calendar. You can get on the wait list at simplefamilies.com/unload as always thanks for tuning in and have a good one.

Denaye Barahona

Dr. Denaye Barahona is a loving wife and mama of two. She partners with families to tackle the challenges of raising children. Denaye is a minimalist who claims to be a decluttering expert (don't let her near your closet). She loves to travel, talk health-and-wellness, and give unsolicited advice. She has been featured on the likes of The Today Show, The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, The Minimalists, Motherly, Becoming Minimalist, and numerous other media outlets. Denaye holds a Ph.D. in Child Development and is a Clinical Social Worker with a specialty in child and family practice.

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