TRANSCRIPT Ep. 282: No Clutter November: Make Space for Your Dreams ft. Denise Duffield-Thomas


Denise Duffield-Thomas: The algorithm kicked in and it started saying, “Do you want this couch? Do you want this couch? No joke, Miriam. I decided to hire a truck and at the end of the weekend, I had 22 of these couches.

Miriam Schulman: What?

Speaker 3: It’s The Inspiration Place podcast with artist Miriam Schulman. Welcome to The Inspiration Place Podcast, an art world inside a podcast, for artists, by an artist where each week we go behind the scenes to uncover the perspiration and inspiration behind the art. And now your host, Miriam Schulman.

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Miriam Schulman: Please welcome, Denise Duffield-Thomas.

Denise Duffield-Thomas: Thanks for having me on this.

Miriam Schulman: So for those who are tuning in because of Denise and don’t know me, I’m Miriam Schulman. I’m also host of the Inspiration Place podcast and the book Artpreneur. And this is Denise, author of multiple books.

Denise Duffield-Thomas: Yes. So my books are Lucky Bitch, Get Rich, Lucky Bitch, and Chill and Prosper.

Miriam Schulman: Excellent. I listened to the original Chillpreneur and now I bought the physical Chill & Prosper. Love it. Love your podcast. Definite fangirl over here. So everyone should listen to it. You know how we go through stages of who we listen to podcasts? Well, right now you’re on my rotation, so. Oh, thank you for joining me.

Denise Duffield-Thomas: Oh! Well, thank you so much.

Miriam Schulman: We are here to discuss decluttering, which is like one of the most important steps for making room for more abundance in your life. And I just went through a huge decluttering because we sold our four-bedroom house and now we live in a two-bedroom apartment in New York City with very little closet space. And it was basically, it really was I called it preparing for the afterlife because it really was a decision between “Do I hold on to this thing or do I really prefer to have this new life?”. So it really became an actual making room for a new life. But I know that you tell your money boot campers to do this and I also did your manifestation course and you also tell them to do that as well. So why don’t you take over and tell us why this is so important?

Denise Duffield-Thomas: Well, I just love decluttering because sometimes when you are working towards a big goal, you don’t always know the steps to achieve it. So that’s why I always say to people, decluttering is the first step because it creates space, gives you forward movement, and is something that you can do even if you don’t know how to move forward on the particular goal. The same thing applies if you do know what the goal is. I think sometimes decluttering is like that seed of faith, saying, “I am moving to New York, it’s happening. I’m preparing for it, meeting the universe halfway.”


I’m going through a big move myself. What happened in December is that Mark and I saw a house that we really liked. We had been talking a little bit about maybe selling our house because, even though it was a massive big dream for us, a massive, big manifestation, it wasn’t perfect, you know? We would sit around and think, “Oh, I wonder if we could build this again, what would we do?” So, literally, I think it was the 24th of December when we saw this house and made a decision. So, we started packing up the house, and my mom had someone over for Christmas. A friend of hers was staying with us, and she was going, “What are they doing?” because we were just packing up boxes and taking things to the charity shop.

And Mom said, “Once they’ve made a decision, they’ve made it.” But the thing is, we couldn’t do anything about it because it was the 24th of December. It’s not like we could go, “Great, we’ve sold our house,” or “Great, we’ve bought that other house.” But we didn’t want to just sit around and say, “Universe, make it happen.” So we literally started thinking, “Well, what’s not coming with us on this next phase of our life?” And I just think it gives you the opportunity to reevaluate. Who am I? Who do I want to be? What do I value? What have I been holding on to? And then there are always some really interesting layers. And I want to hear this about your move, too. I think it starts to bring up stuff from the surface about, “I have to keep this. Somebody gave it to me,” or “I feel really bad that I spent money on this and I’m not going to use it.” And it starts to, I don’t know, uncover some things about money, guilt, shame, blame sometimes. And I’m sure there were tons of things that you… I mean, I’d love to hear, because this is what happens for me: things with tags still on them.

Miriam Schulman: Yeah. I mean

Denise Duffield-Thomas: –declutter.

Miriam Schulman: For me, the hardest thing to get rid of is a gift. And it doesn’t even have to be an expensive gift. My brother gave me this very thick book, and luckily, he doesn’t listen to any of my content. I didn’t want to read it, and I don’t even remember what it was called. I held on to it for years. When you hold on to something because of guilt, you’re basically holding on to the guilt itself because you don’t stop feeling guilty just because you kept it. You feel more guilty because every time you see it, it re-triggers those guilt feelings. So the way I finally let go of it is like I’m going to let go of the guilt. It wasn’t even letting go of the thing; I’m letting go of the guilt behind not reading this book that my brother picked out for me.

Denise Duffield-Thomas: That’s big, right? Because all of our things have meaning attached to them. For me, the guilt is often around the ADHD tax that I pay all the time for buying things that were the wrong size because I didn’t pay enough attention, and then I missed the return window. That happens to me a lot. So, I look at those things, and I think I’m so irresponsible with money, or I’m so forgetful, or I should sell this or whatever. And so I start to go, “Oh.”

What we ended up doing is we often put things out on the street because we’re very–we live right near a beach, and there are always people driving past. All the things we put out always go within ten minutes. But it’s that feeling of going, “Should I have spent the money? Is this a waste?” Also, people who are very concerned about the environment, which I am too, I start to go, “Oh my God, I feel so guilty that I bought this.” So, there are so many multiple layers of that.

Miriam Schulman: And then what comes up for me is like when you when I start thinking about, “Oh, this is going to a landfill”, but then I have to remind myself, but if I keep it, that means I’m treating my home like a landfill.

Denise Duffield-Thomas: Absolutely. And it can be very overwhelming.

***Artpreneur Review***

Denise Duffield-Thomas: So what you were saying about that book, that book being a reminder every single time, you might not even be consciously aware of it every time you see it. But it’s like running a computer with all of these tabs open. Each one is just taking a tiny, tiny, tiny little bit of your life force energy.

And so it’s not about being a minimalist. It’s about things in your life that take up unnecessary bandwidth. It could be things that annoy you, things that don’t work, things that have strings attached to them, things that remind you of, you know, for me, again, a bad thing that I did or whatever. All of those things create bandwidth even if they’re tucked away in the cupboard.

And so that’s why, from a manifesting point of view, decluttering is the first step because it kind of lets you get to a blank surface in a way. It creates space for new things. And it’s not even just stuff. I find that one of the best decluttering things you can do is energy decluttering too, right? It could be obligations, things in your calendar that you’re being wishy-washy on. Am I going to RSVP? Am I not? Things that you are going to that you don’t want to go to, you know, obligations for your time, maybe pro bono work or volunteer work you no longer want to do.

Just all of those things take up so much bandwidth as well. And so` that’s often where I start. You know, recently, I was looking at my calendar, and I’m going, “Oh my God, there’s so many things in there.” So we just made a decision. We’re canceling a filming and photo shoot that’s happening in April because I can just feel it already there, feel it on my back. I’m going to let that go. And that’s okay. Even things like I’ll declutter things off my phone. So if I’m feeling overwhelmed, I’ll go and delete a couple of apps off my phone that I no longer use.

Miriam Schulman: That’s super smart.

Denise Duffield-Thomas: Yeah, it’s so easy to, you know, or I’ll unsubscribe from a few things or I’ll unfollow some things on my social media because I want to just let things go. And recently a big thing for me is I’ve been letting go of things that that cause me unnecessary stress. And I’ll give you an example of something I decluttered recently I bought a Komvbi, you know, those beautiful 1960s 70s vans. So I yeah, they’re beautiful. And I was it blue photo shoot. It was blue. It was like this.

Miriam Schulman: They’re cool.

Denise Duffield-Thomas: Yeah, they’re beautiful.

Miriam Schulman: Was it blue?

Denise Duffield-Thomas: Yeah, it was blue. I used one in a photo shoot about 12 years ago, and I just fell in love with it so much that it became a real part of my brand. So I ended up buying one and restoring it, which took three years. I didn’t do it with my own hands, blah, blah, blah. I had a mechanic who did it. With those old cars, you know, it just takes forever because they’re specialists. They have to get parts from places and all this kind of stuff.

For the last four years or so, I’ve had this beautiful Kombi van that I don’t drive because it doesn’t have airbags, proper seatbelts, air conditioning, suspension, and all of those things. It’s quite dangerous to drive, and every now and again, the brakes will fail. I have to replace the battery every two months because if it doesn’t get driven. It just became this thing of going, instead of being pleasurable for me, it’s become a pain in the butt. So I ended up selling it and thought, next time I want to do a photo shoot, I can hire one. Then it’s not my responsibility. I think I’m in a place at the moment of decluttering unnecessary responsibilities and looking for how I can have the thing without it being my responsibility.

Miriam Schulman: That’s super smart, but okay. There are two things I want to talk about here as you were giving it to us. So I want to address the elephant in the room, which is, I don’t really like cleaning up, so I don’t know about you, but like, I know a lot of ADHD people, we’re messy creatures, especially creatives. And I work with a lot of artists because you can always use something. So we’re very creative in our thinking. We don’t want to get rid of something because it could be useful. You know, I could spray paint it gold, and now it’s going to be something else. So we’re holding on to all this stuff. So what do you say to those people? And I’m one of those people who maybe have trouble decluttering when there isn’t the motivation of something like moving.

Denise Duffield-Thomas: So again, I think it is a great thing to do when you’re feeling creatively stuck is, for me, it’s always about the path of least resistance. Okay, so when we were decluttering and because we’re going, “Okay, we’re moving,” Mark would come up and go, “Are we keeping this or this? Do you want to keep it?” And I’d be like, exactly like you, “but I want to turn that into something I can.” So I kept on saying to him, “Let’s do the known knowns first. Let’s do the known knowns first,” and then we can get to the unknown knowns. He was just he–he was going, “If you say ‘known knowns’ one more time, I’m going to scream,” because I’d go, “I don’t know about that yet, but let’s do the linen cupboard because I do not care about the linen cupboard.” So I actually found that when I didn’t put pressure on myself to think about those things, it was very easy for me to be in the linen closet and go, “Yes. No. Yes. No. Yes. No. Yes. No.” Because I didn’t have the pressure of the expectation and all of the weight of going, “But I might need that box one day. Don’t take that box.” I know exactly what you mean.

Actually, I have a farm, and I have a big barn. So what I actually started doing was almost collecting and hoarding things at my barn a little bit too much because I suddenly had all this space for all of this possibility.

And this is totally an ADHD example, but I was thrift shopping with my friend, who’s my interior designer, and we saw this old couch, a wooden couch with these ornate kind of things. I was like, “Oh my God, I love this couch. Let’s, you know, spray paint it white, and we’ll have it at the farm.” She goes, “Yeah, great idea.” We went into the next thrift store, and I saw an identical couch, and I went, “Oh my God, this must be a thing.” So I looked it up and saw what kind of couch it was. So I ended up with two couches. And then I went home and looked on Marketplace and saw another three couches exactly the same. And then the algorithm kicked in and started saying, “Do you want this couch? Do you want this couch?” And I realized it’s a very, it’s called the Jarvi Lounge or something like that. Some of them have crowns on them, some of them have little claws. And no joke, Miriam decided to hire a truck. This all happened in the space of four days. At the end of the weekend, I had 22 of these couches.

Miriam Schulman: What?

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Miriam Schulman: What was your plan?

Denise Duffield-Thomas: Well, because my farm, I’m building a barn, and we’re trying to get wedding permission to do events. I was going, when people come to events at my farm, I don’t want them to sit on just a chair. I want them to sit on these beautiful couches that are really fancy. And it just kicked in this hyper-focus of going, “Oh my God, I need all these couches.” And then I realized too, there’s a layer deeper than that for me. I feel responsible for things. It was driving me crazy this week because we have council pickup where people put all their stuff out on the street, and then the council comes and picks it all up. Do you ever have that?

Miriam Schulman: Yeah, we do. So that is how we got rid of most of our stuff. Here where I live in New York, we had the Vietnam vets, and we just had to call them, and they would come and pick up clothing, toys, most of the stuff that we were getting rid of, they were happy to collect from us.

Denise Duffield-Thomas: Well, most of the places around here, they do it by suburb. So they’ll say, on the 15th of whatever, everyone put all their stuff out in the street, and they come and collect it all together. So it’s out for a couple of days. I remember as a kid, I loved going in like and finding stuff. Even though I’m very wealthy, there’s still a part of me that’s like, “What can I do with that?” Because I didn’t have a lot of money growing up, and we kind of had to thrift and all that kind of stuff. Now I’m still like, “But no one’s going to love that. I can love that. I can see the potential in that, you know?” And I’m sure so many of your audience can relate to that as creative people. We can see what other people can’t see sometimes, and we can see the potential in it. I feel sorry for it, living there on the street. I’m like, “I can make you beautiful.” I did a massive garage sale, a yard sale at my farm recently. My designer, she made me get rid of some of those things because I was like, “Look at this beautiful crockery set with roses all over it. I need to have that. I need to have that. I need to have that.”

Miriam Schulman: How much of this having trouble getting rid of things actually comes from that scarcity mindset? Because I also grew up without a lot of money. My father passed away when I was very young, and so, you know, we shopped at Goodwill and we never paid full price. So a lot of that comes from that scarcity mindset of wanting something because of deprivation that we had as children. So can you share more about that?

Denise Duffield-Thomas: Well, it’s that classic example of children of the Depression, and we’ve seen that where they’re like, “Well, I have to hoard plastic bags, and I have to hoard food because I don’t know where my next one’s coming from.” So I really do think that’s a massive part of it. But I actually wasn’t allowed to hoard a lot of stuff growing up because we moved so much, and my mom was actually very unsentimental, even to the point where she threw away all my dance VHS tapes of me dancing because she was just like, “We don’t need this. We don’t need this.” Sometimes I’ve gone a little bit the other way, going, “I do need this.”

We’re looking at houses to buy, and every time I go see a house, I go, “I can see what I can do to you.” And I fall in love with the house and I fall in love with the version of myself in that house. I can see it. I can go and see exactly who I would be in this house. And it takes a little while for me to disentangle myself from that creative imagination. Then I have to go, “Hang on, Denise, in this reality, what do you want? Does that make sense?” Because I can see it. I went into a house the other day that was so not what is on our list. We were driving past, and I saw the open house sign, and I said, “Oh, Mark, just stop, stop the car. I’m going to go have a look.” I had a look all around the house and I fell in love with it. They were packing up, so they said, “The owner of the house is coming back. She can show you around.” It was actually her parents’ house that they’d lived in for like 50 years, and it was so old. I was, like, touching the walls and all this kind of thing and was like, Are you crazy? But I went, No, because I can I can see it all.

And so I think when you can see all of the potentials, it’s hard for us to choose a lane. We’re trying to live it all at the same time, and that’s totally fine. And I think this is the thing too, where we go, how can we have the thing but it not create chaos in our life? And so it could be that you rent things, you know, for people who love clothing, maybe you go for one of those rent boxes where they send you new things and then you send them back or that you have a studio somewhere that you can keep things or that you join like a co-op thing. So it’s not like an either or of, you know, we have to live this minimalist life or be, you know, be a hoarder. It’s like, well, what, what do we want and how can we experience those things? I still love thrift shopping, but when we go to a thrift store, we have to donate things first. And the way I’ve gotten my kids to do this is so good because at first I was like, Guys, let’s declutter. And they’re really good at going, yes, no, yes, no, yes, no. But then we have all these piles and then they come out and they shop from each other’s piles and then they take all the stuff back to different rooms.

Miriam Schulman: That’s hilarious.

Denise Duffield-Thomas: It’s a nightmare because they’d be like, “Oh, why are you throwing this out? I’m going to take this”. And so what I’ve done now is I say to them, when we go to the thrift store, everything you donate, you get a dollar credit for, and then you can buy new things from there. And so then I feel like, “Oh, we’re creating this beautiful circular economy now, and I don’t feel as bad about it”.

Miriam Schulman: That’s right. And you’re going bringing it to a thrift shop, which usually a lot of the thrift shops, they the money goes to a cause as well. Right?

Denise Duffield-Thomas: Also, I think there’s something there about allowing ourselves space to be creative, not just collecting creative things. And I’ve noticed that for myself too, is, you know, I love going, “Oh, I can turn this into something”. But then I never given myself space to actually do it. And I’ve been doing that a lot recently of going, “Okay, I am going to paint, Oh, I am going to do that creative project”.

Miriam Schulman: I mean, I do find that in my studio, if I clean it up, I will immediately want to start creating. So it’s kind of like the nature doesn’t like a vacuum. So when you when you get rid of the stuff, it’s easier to fill in the space with your creativity, with your creations, with whatever it is you’re putting out in the world.

Denise Duffield-Thomas: Yeah, I love that.

***Artpreneur Review***

Miriam Schulman: Okay, so there was something else you said about letting go of obligations which made me think of this call here today. So when I was promoting my book Artpreneur, I thought, I’m going to do Instagram lives with all all these artists and whoever. And when I started doing it, people are just not on the platform anymore. Have you noticed that, Denise? I mean, it’s not just the algorithm.

Denise Duffield-Thomas: Yeah, yeah, a little bit.

Miriam Schulman: So I have 25,000 people following me on Instagram. When I go to hit that plus button right before I go live, Instagram tells me how many people are on the platform, not how many people are tuning in live, but how many people are actually on Instagram. And it was never more than 65 people. And to get a portion of that onto live, it was a heavy lift. So I had all these Instagram live scheduled, including you, and I was like, “Nope, we are canceling all of them”. And even though it was like only 15 minutes, it was like several hours worth of time and then a few people like you, I said, okay, let’s if you’re still interested, we can do a YouTube that’s more worth my time. It’s evergreen. But it felt so abundant it suddenly have all this time back. And not to have to interrupt my day for for a 15-minute Instagram live.

Denise Duffield-Thomas: Yes, I think that’s such a smart thing that so many of us don’t do. We kind of go, “Well, I’ve committed, that’s what I’m going to do, and I have to do it now. I’ve made my bed, now I have to lie in it.” Right? There’s so much power in that, right? Going, “Let’s pivot, let’s shift and change. It’s totally okay.” I did that last year, actually. I pushed a launch by six weeks, and that felt like, “Oh my God, I’m allowed to do this.” Yes, you’re allowed to change your mind. You’re allowed to renegotiate. You’re allowed to say no to things, and it might bring up stuff for you. Sometimes we hate saying no. We hate changing our plans if it involves other people, usually. But there’s so much power in that, and there’s always a different, better way.

Miriam Schulman: All right. Denise. I so enjoyed our time together and I’m sure everyone watching got a lot of takeaways from this. So if you want to find Denise, listen to her podcast, Chill & Prosper or get one of her many books. So, Denise, if people want to get started with decluttering, I think you have something for them. Am I right?

Denise Duffield-Thomas: Yes. So if you go to, decluttering is the first step of my five step manifesting process and I love teaching it from a manifesting point of view because again, if you don’t know what to do when in doubt, throw something out.

Oh, actually, here’s a really good tip for decluttering, which works like magic. I always say to people when in doubt, shave your legs because–

Miriam Schulman: That’s so good.

Denise Duffield-Thomas: Yes. And it really works for some reason because, you know, when you’re just going, I don’t know what to do, I’m feeling stuck. And so I just say, go shave your legs, because sometimes, you know, those shower ideas come up. But it’s just symbolic of I’m doing something to shift the energy and it might not be shaving legs for some people. It’s like, go wash your hair. Or like for me, it’s always like, I don’t know, plucking my mustache or something, you know, getting—

Miriam Schulman: Chin hair at my age.

Denise Duffield-Thomas: Same. But it’s that feeling of shifting something really works from a manifesting point of view and from a money point of view too. So and thank you for asking me as well for that.

Miriam Schulman: Okay. All right. So we’re here on YouTube. So in the comments, I want you to share something that inspired you that you’re going to get rid of either an obligation or a physical thing. Comment below what it is and if you like today’s video, give it a thumbs up. Hit subscribe and go find Denise. We’ll put every place you can find her down below. Denise, thank you so much for coming with me here today.

Denise Duffield-Thomas: Thanks, Miriam.

Miriam Schulman: All right. Until next time, stay inspired.

Speaker 3: Thank you for listening to the Inspiration Place podcast. Connect with us on Facebook at, on Instagram @SchulmanArt, and of course, on


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