Michelle and JoyGenea talk about the things that we often set aside or don’t use because they are too precious to be used. In business that can be things like ideas, gifts, and digital files. In our personal life that can be things like heirloom gifts, quilts, and photos. Two generations talk about their differences and similarities. Michelle is the minimalist and JoyGenea is the keeper.
02:04 Do you also keep old photos?
02:43 Photos can be easily shared nowadays, considering latest technology
03:14 Do you have a habit of keeping old things?
04:27 When do you become attached to things making them symbolic and with sentimental value?
05:27 Who does not keep their quilts?
06:25 At times, we have the tendency to recycle our pre-loved items
08:29 What is a Digital hoarder?
09:36 How do you keep your team organized?
10:05 Employee hoarding information is not healthy
10:42 An active and positive communication is a must within a working environment
13:21 Are you the type who is very organized?
16:29 Letting go of precious things is a bit challenging
18:30 Some things are too precious to use
20:41 Sort out things you need vs things you wanted to keep
JoyGenea: Nobody knows. It’s going to come out of our mouths in the next 30 minutes but here we go, yay. Hang on for the ride. Hi and welcome to If These Heels Could Talk.
Michelle: I’m Michelle from BadCat Digital.
JoyGenea: And I am JoyGenea from Solutions by JoyGenea. Okay, so this weekend…this is perfect for this.
JoyGenea: This topic comes from a lot of directions for us.
JoyGenea: This weekend in particular, I thought it was great timing we were going to talk about this. I had decided that I was going to attack the piles of in its perfectly organized little holders, the photo negatives from 1980-something.
Michelle: Oh, God.
JoyGenea: Oh, yeah, it’s painful.
Michelle: Wait a minute. Hold on.
Michelle: Can I ask you a question?
Michelle: When you say tackle, you mean pick up and throw away, right?
JoyGenea: Yes, and. Yes, and I did do that. So, it was a two-inch stack or more that was in a binder that lived in my safety deposit box. And I recognized like something needed to happen with that.
JoyGenea: I needed to decide. I was at that point in my life. And so I’m like… Okay, I brought it home, and I started to scan a few of them and realized, to do two little strips of negatives takes 10 minutes, total. I did the quick math on two inches of this and each strip held about seven of those options. So, when I did the math on this, I’m like, “I’m not giving up five weeks of my life.”
Michelle: I’m still back and there was a binder full of photo negatives in a safe deposit box. How did they get there? Why?
JoyGenea: Oh, I put them in the… Because I’m very…at the edge of me is a very organized person who does not want to lose her past.
JoyGenea: Partly because I don’t have a great memory. I don’t want to lose my past. And so I was-
Michelle: So they are your picture negatives?
JoyGenea:They’re my picture negative.
Michelle: So, presumably, you have the images also saved somewhere.
JoyGenea: Right, and they were in the safety deposit box because if there were ever a fire, that was my backup. That was my plan B.
Michelle: Oh, I see.
[00:02:04] Do you also keep old photos?
JoyGenea: For my memories. Because pre-digital, this was it. Like, you had negatives, and then you had the hard copies. And so the negatives lived in the safety deposit box as my plan B, if something were to ever happen to the real copies of it.
JoyGenea: But we don’t live in that…like, time evolved, opportunities changed. I’ve probably scanned most of these photos, truly the hard copies.
Michelle: So you have digital copies now of the photos?
JoyGenea: A lot. So, that’s what I wound up. That was the first swath I went through with it. I just looked through it and looked, luckily, of course, had headers and dates. And I just started deciding that I didn’t need… I’m like, “I don’t need to scan all these. I know I have these photos. These are okay.”
[00:02:43] Photos can be easily shared nowadays, considering latest technology
So, I’m now down to…this weekend. I was down to about three-quarters of an inch worth. And I said, “Okay, these are the, I, graduating from college, like I know, I don’t have these pictures probably anywhere else, and I want these scanned.” And so I did, actually spent two solid days. I’m talking about 12-hour days. So, completing that task and then throwing them away. All the negatives went away. They’re digitally scanned into…and shared, actually. I actually shared that.
Michelle: Well, that’s awesome.
JoyGenea: It is.
Michelle: So do you feel, like, lighter?
JoyGenea: I do feel lighter.
[00:03:14] Do you have a habit of keeping old things?
JoyGenea: And I feel glad to get rid of it. But our topic today is about when things are too precious to get used to or when we’re burying something and keeping it forever.
Michelle: And this one, in particular, is a challenge for me because there’s almost nothing.
JoyGenea: This is good.
Michelle: There’s almost nothing that I think about that.
JoyGenea: Which is extremely helpful.
Michelle: It could never…it would never occur to me to save a binder. First of all, to save negatives. I saved the pictures. Like, when I was in the highschool and you had to get pictures like…
JoyGenea: Yes, every year, the elmo.
Michelle: Yeah, like you had film and you had to get things developed. I would take the pictures to get developed. I would pull out the five that were good. And throw the rest away and the negatives away, right then. So, it never occurred to me.
JoyGenea: That’s entirely not how I’m wired. I’m wired for plan B, plan C, and there might even be a plan D.
Michelle: There’s something in that though, like, what is it about the thing that is so important that there has to be several plans to have access to the thing?
[00:04:27] When do you become attached to things making them symbolic and with sentimental value?
JoyGenea: Like I said, when it comes…what I’ve learned is when things are sentimental, so that’s one of the reasons something’s too precious. The environment I grew up in, the beliefs that I grew up around were that memories like that are extremely precious, and so you care for them in that manner. So, one great example is, I had a great aunt, who in her 90s, was still tatting, which is a handicraft and she actually did beautiful decoration stuff.
Michelle: Lace, I mean you that lace. It’s amazing.
JoyGenea: It is amazing.
JoyGenea: I have those still in Saran Wrap.
JoyGenea: Oh, yes, because I was taught, you never use them. You labeled them nicely like an index card. You, like, make the providence about it, and well…or you frame it. Or you frame it.
Michelle: As somebody who makes quilts.
Michelle: I will tell you that we want you to use them.
JoyGenea: I don’t know that every person that makes quilts wants people to use them.
Michelle: You’re right.
JoyGenea: I challenge that.
[00:05:27] Who does not keep their quilts?
Michelle: You’re right. You’re right. Not everybody does. Not everybody does, there are some people… And, in my experience, the ones that are the most precious about the quilts are the quilts that are least worth being precious about, but that’s not the point.
JoyGenea: I so agree.
Michelle: The point is that it is an object to be used. It is not there to wrap in cellophane and put in a closet. It is there to bring joy and bring comfort, and that’s why we make them. We make them because making them brings us joy and comfort. What somebody does with a quilt, what do I do with a quilt when it’s done, I mean, the quilts are better in tatters.
Michelle: And they’re still on our bed because there’s nothing wrong with them. But I made both of all… Well, there’s three. I made three of them, gosh, 10 years ago. And at some point, coming up here, they’re going to get thrown away.
[00:06:25] At times, we have the tendency to recycle our pre-loved items
Michelle: Because the fabric’s no longer good, the bedding can’t be reused. Like, there’s nothing… I’ll recycle what I can in whatever manner I can. I’m not trying to be wasteful. That’s not the point. The point isn’t to be wasteful. The point is that we have well-used and well-loved those quilts for the last 8 to 10 years. And I’ve got a closet with 20 more in them because I’m a quilter, and that’s what we do.
JoyGenea: And why do you stop making them?
Michelle: And so why wouldn’t I put out the newest and the nicest, and the coolest, and the things I’m most excited about now?
JoyGenea: So, on a past job, when I first started my business, I actually was a professional organizer.
Michelle: Yes, I remember.
JoyGenea: We don’t talk a ton about it, but I did do that. And so I had a lot of conversations with people about things that were too…because there’s…I sit on a continuum. Like, Michelle and I are on a continuum, right?
Michelle: Yeah, and we’re, I’d say we’re on opposite ends of that continuum.
JoyGenea: We are. But I would also tell you there’s extremes even further out for us. Like, there’s center and I’m over here and you’re a little there. But there’s…I’ve been around the…
Michelle: But we’re in what I would consider the healthy range of the spectrum. On either end of the spectrum, there’s a version of obsessive compulsive disorder, one is commonly referred to as hoarding. The other one is what people mostly think of obsessive compulsive disorder where nothing can come in or everything is like, super…
JoyGenea: And if it does, it has its location and it cannot be out of that.
Michelle: Yeah, it’s super specific. Yeah, it cannot deviate. And I don’t think either one of us is there.
JoyGenea: But there lives in that space between yours, where you’re getting that minimalistic, and then the spot where I’m at where, well, we don’t want to lose it. We don’t want to lose the history of it, and those types.
JoyGenea: Like, in there, lives a lot of time and energy.
JoyGenea: And that’s part of our conversation today. And that’s where this winds up leading us into business is the fact that in business, I’ve noticed over the years in talking to people, they can also get really holding onto something that’s too precious to use-
[00:08:29] What is Digital hoarder?
Michelle: Yeah, with clients, we run into the digital hoarders who have pictures of things from 1973 in their archives. And if we say, we need, like a photo file, they don’t even know where to start to give it to us because there’s so much. They’re so many. And then we run into people who don’t know the password to their website, because they either can’t find it, or they don’t remember it, or they didn’t write it down, or they wrote it down and it’s not in any place that’s organized. And so, they don’t really know.
Michelle: And I think about my journey in business and how everything was tied to me for so long. And now that we’re trying to extricate that, all of the vendor relationships and all of the softwares as a subscription, and what card are they on, and I never wrote any of that down. I just bought the stuff.
Michelle: And so, now that we’re trying to unravel it, and by we, I mean somebody on my team who’s extremely organized and very pissed at me, very consistently, very frustrated with my lack of early organization, is now trying to…
JoyGenea: Hey, she wouldn’t have a job without you.
[00:09:36] How do you keep your team organized?
Michelle: But there’s multiple, like, ways that being incredibly… I would say, the more stuff you have, the harder it is to keep organized. The larger your team, the harder it is to maintain a kind of shared organizational matrix. And those things really impact your productivity, because now I’ve spent my time and energy looking for what I need to do the thing instead of doing the thing, whatever it is.
[00:10:05] Employee hoarding information is not healthy
JoyGenea: Perfect example of how in business something is… Well, and this is… so where something can be too precious, I’ve noticed this over the years also, is employees will do information hoarding for fear that they might lose their job. If other people knew about this, then I’m replaceable. They lack some confidence and I’ve definitely seen that.
Michelle: Yes. Yeah, yeah, process hoarding or like, “I’m the only one who knows how to do it this way, so I will have a job forever.”
JoyGenea: And a real, it comes from fear.
Michelle: And I can never go on vacation.
JoyGenea: Right. And if I do, the whole thing needs to slightly crash a little bit so that I’m appreciated.
Michelle: Yeah, invaluable, yeah.
[00:10:42] An active and positive communication is a must within working environment
JoyGenea: So I feel like I’m of value. If you have an employee like this, there needs to be some conversations, and it needs to be unraveled, and it’s going to be slightly uncomfortable possibly, but…
Michelle: And, you need to find a better way, a more healthy way, culturally, to get them the appreciation and the validation that they are craving, because that’s actually dangerous.
JoyGenea: It is immensely dangerous. But that is one way where I’ve definitely seen it’s too precious to like, oh, to share that type of stuff. And it’s like, no, that’s not true. Yeah.
Michelle: And so, how about… So, there’s the too precious, and then there’s the, “Sunday, I might need X.”
JoyGenea: I’ve done that with food. I will totally admit that.
JoyGenea: Yes. I’ve got like some really amazing…
Michelle: Oh, my gosh, my husband too.
JoyGenea: …amazing candy bar, let’s say, or something like that. And then I kid you not, I like to put it in the super freezer zip-locked bag, and then I shove it way in the back of the cupboard. Because I’m like, “Oh, my god, I don’t want to eat this up. Like, it’s so precious.” And yeah, like five years later, I found it, and it’s just nasty.
Michelle: I can’t comprehend having a candy bar for five years.
JoyGenea: I can hide food.
Michelle: But that being said, that being said, let me tell you the story of the tapioca.
JoyGenea: Oh, let me hear about the tapioca.
Michelle: Okay, so tapioca is not just pudding. It’s also, like, these hard pearl things, right?
Michelle: And I moved into my husband’s house. He was already living there. And so when I moved in, I was combining one household with another, which also means combining pantries, because you’re combining kitchen stuff, right? Luckily, he was a single, 40-year-old guy and had very little in the kitchen by way of implements.
Michelle: It was like an egg beater and a pumpkin carving kit. There weren’t really a lot of things like tongs or spoons, or things that you would actually use to cook food on a daily basis. And so I suppose you could use the spoon from the pumpkin carving kit, but I digress. So, but pantries are another thing, right, because pantries will betray you.
JoyGenea: Oh, yeah.
Michelle: Because pantries are when people keep 7-year-old curry that they bought at a global market once and never, like, used because they didn’t know how, but they thought it was cool. So, in my husband’s pantry was a bag of tapioca pearls. It was there when I moved in. It was expired when I moved in. He had lived in the house for like four years, and it had been purchased and put in the pantry at some point in the continuum of those four years but it was at least a year old, because they were expired.
[00:13:21] Are you the type who is very organized?
Now, I’m very non-sentimental, and I’m very non-precious, and I also know that space is…like to me, space and organization is the goal, and keeping the thing is not the goal. Because if I need tapioca pearls for something…
JoyGenea: You’re going to want new ones.
Michelle: I’m going to want new ones anyway, so I’m going to go buy them anyway.
JoyGenea: I can see this.
Michelle: It’s highly likely that I will forget that there’s a random bag of tapioca pearls in the back of the pantry from six years ago and buy new ones. So, what the hell is the point of keeping them there at all?
JoyGenea: Yeah, yeah.
Michelle: So, I throw them away. Nathan took them out of the garbage.
JoyGenea: Oh, oh.
Michelle: Oh, I said his name. My husband took them out of the garbage. And the thing is that he’s like… And I said, “What are you doing?” And he said, “Well, just in case we need to use them.: And I said, “They’re expired.”
JoyGenea: “But just in case.” Did everybody hear this? Just in case.
Michelle: Right, but just in case. And I was like, “They’re expired. We’ll get new ones.” And he’s like, “But these don’t really ever… I mean, what’s going to go bad?” So, that’s the thing, right? Like, I try to use the expired as the excuse because there’s something else going on there.
Michelle: But I’m trying to use the expired as the excuse to just throw the stuff away. And that was not good enough for the tapioca pearls.
JoyGenea: Do we still have the tapioca pearls?
Michelle: Well, let me tell you how the tapioca pearls ended up going to their final resting place.
Michelle: So, the tapioca pearls were a point of contention for the next three years. Three years. Four years? Three years. Oh, no, four-and-a-half years, they were in the pantry for four-and-a-half years and…
JoyGenea: And he didn’t make it, right? Like, they were still…
Michelle: They were still expired.
Michelle: Yes. So, I finally ended up using the tapioca pearls as pie weights.
JoyGenea: Oh, that’s awesome.
Michelle: Because I was like, obviously, we’re not going to get rid of these until they’re used. We’re almost out of rice. And so I’ll use them to weigh down this pie crust that I’m blind baking, and then I’ll throw them away.
JoyGenea: Nice. They got used..
Michelle: They got used.
JoyGenea: They got used.
Michelle: Yes, they got used. But, oh…
Michelle: So, the fact that they got used, does not mean that he was right.
Michelle: It’s the fact that they got used means that I’m creative in my want to throw things away.
JoyGenea: When, back to the professional organizing, key things, food, makeup, and medications.
JoyGenea: Yeah, it was amazing the dates I could find on those types of things. And I really had to negotiate consistently.
JoyGenea: I’m like, “Yeah, but that’s still my…”
JoyGenea: Oh, yeah, makeup can burn you. You can wind up with chemical burns and all sorts of things from makeup.
Michelle: Yeah, makeup is like… Yeah, it’s…
JoyGenea: It holds bacterias, like you don’t mess with that.
Michelle: Yeah, you don’t mess with that.
JoyGenea: But a lot of people don’t realize that. And so I thank goodness for… Again…
Michelle: And it’s like that one red lipstick color was discontinued by red [crosstalk 00:16:19] in 1976.
JoyGenea: Yes. And I bought five of them.
Michelle: And, yes.
JoyGenea: Yes. And so there were a lot of…
Michelle: And I haven’t worn it in three years, but it’s the perfect shade.
[00:16:29] Letting go of precious things is a bit challenging
JoyGenea: And you always have to remember when you’re keeping that “Ooh, too precious” right, because you’re saving it for later, it’s going to probably expire by the time you get to it, which is a really clear…
Michelle: Right, that’s my thing.
JoyGenea: So, you might miss the window. You will miss the window.
Michelle: That’s my thing. So, my mother-in-law, I love her so dearly, she has a collection of candlesticks, and there’s a lot of them. And she really wants me to want them. She doesn’t just want me to take them, she wants me to want them. I don’t want them. I don’t want candlesticks. I don’t need candlesticks in my life. And so this is actually a really common conversation that’s happening generationally right now. As people are downsizing and as people are…they’re like, “But what’s going to happen to my treasures? My kids don’t want them.”
JoyGenea: The dishes. The good, good dishes.
Michelle: The good China, the furniture, like the China hutches and the dining sets, right? Life has shifted.
Michelle: People are significantly more mobile. People are significantly more interested in being very flexible with their spaces, being very mobile with their spaces, and a 1,100 pound China hutch is none of those things.
JoyGenea: And most of the stuff that’s in it.
Michelle: And most of the stuff that’s in it is not those things either.
Michelle: So, I look at it and I think… And again, as a quilter, please use the quilt because in ten years, it’ll be out of style.
Michelle: I’ll give you another one, because I make enough of them to give you another one. And you get some joy out of it. Like, use the dishes, use the crystal, use the China.
JoyGenea: Two things that came to mind as we were building on this.
JoyGenea: One is the fact that, how do you do with fabric? I know quilters.
Michelle: You know, I have a ton of fabric. It’s very organized.
JoyGenea: Is any of it too precious to use? If any of it, like, you pull it out, it would be perfect but you’re like, “I’m saving that.”
Michelle: Okay. So yes and no.
[00:18:30] Some things are too precious to use.
Michelle: Some of it is too precious to use on most things. Some of it is waiting for inspiration. But inspiration does come. I have a collection of a favorite designer, and I was just kind of collecting it over time. I didn’t know what I was going to do with it but I loved it so much. And then I found the perfect pattern for it and I used it.
Michelle: So, yes, there are things that are like, “This is special to me. I’m not going to use this for just anything.” But I also will use it, and I go through my fabric once a year and pull out the stuff that I don’t like anymore,
JoyGenea: Right? Oh, yeah, that’s fun.
Michelle: Because what I did was…
JoyGenea: That negative thing I was doing, it was just like, “This is all that matters.”
Michelle: And what I did was, I set up storage with boundaries.
JoyGenea: Yeah, yes.
Michelle: And so I can’t get new fabric if it’s bursting.
JoyGenea: Yeah. And other people might really be excited about your…My mom is a fiber artist, you know that. And they have, she’s part of a fiber artist group and they literally have a tradeoff.
Michelle: Yeah. They even have an exchange?
JoyGenea: Where they bring in all their stuff and…
Michelle: Kilts do it all of the time and you just put it on a table, and you can take whatever they want…
JoyGenea: Yes, oh, she loves that. It helps her be consistent about letting go and getting into those new fresh types of…
Michelle: Yes. Yeah, because you want to be excited. And this is my point. I want to be excited about the things in my craft space. I want to be excited about the things in my life. I want to be excited about… I want to at least not be hampered by a messy desktop, a server that’s got files I can’t find. I want to…
JoyGenea: Furniture that’s not functional in the office space.
Michelle: Furniture that’s not functional. I want to be excited about things. That’s more important to me than maybe I have to rebuy something once or twice.
JoyGenea: In the end, with a lot of the clients that I was working with back in the organizing days, and this was always true. Fiber firm Marukome had her show and all of that.
Michelle: Oh, great joy.
JoyGenea: Yeah. Everybody was like, “Oh, I’ve seen this.” And I’m like, “I have been saying that for 20 years.” Like, she just got her own show.
Michelle: And she’s got a great accent and really cute clothes.
JoyGenea: Yes, definitely. Yes, this is all true. And I didn’t have those things. But I’ve been saying that to people…
Michelle: You do to some people.
[00:20:41] Sort out things you need vs things you wanted to keep
JoyGenea: Thank you. But I had been saying that for years. I’m like, “If you want to keep this and it’s so precious…” I’m like, “Never having access to it and allowing it to bring you joy, is a waste of everything.” Where do you want this? How is this going to be incorporated into your remodeling? How is this going to be part of your new space? Where does it belong? And that was a lot of fun to watch that stuff come to life, become integrated right into the environment space. Because it has no purpose in a… The doily wrapped in cellophane has no life. Like as I was talking about it, I’m like, “I need to just frame that thing.” Like, it’d be beautiful on my wall, with all the others…”
Michelle: All the tatting would be great in a frame.
JoyGenea: Because that’s the only way I’m going to probably enjoy it if I know that theme from a woman who is literally, all of her fingers arthritically like taped in…
Michelle: Yeah, she did that.
JoyGenea: Because she still did this. It was amazing.
Michelle: As a person who makes handicrafts, there are…especially fiber…and this happens a lot with things that women make over time. It is heartbreaking when I go to a garage sale and I see a hand-stitched handmade quilt for 50 cents or a dollar, or two dollars. It is heartbreaking when I see doilies that are handmade in a pile with free take some.
Michelle: It is like I don’t want the things that I make, that I put hours and hours and hours and hours into, to end up like that. And then the way things end up like that is when they’re too precious to be used. These are intended to be used and consumed and they have a lifecycle.
JoyGenea: They do. They really, really do.
Michelle: And it’s just sad when they’re not allowed to be a part of that. There’s a…
JoyGenea: I just get worn out.
Michelle: There’s a blog post that I’ve found, I stumbled across early when I was learning how to quilt, it was called “Please have sex on my quilt.”
JoyGenea: I love it.
Michelle: And what it was, was, it was a quilter saying, “I gave you this. I don’t care that your kids are using it as a picnic blanket. That’s not disrespectful. Putting it in a closet, in plastic so that nobody can ever look at it, that’s disrespectful. I want your dog to have puppies on this quilt. I want you to wrap a sick child in this quilt. And I don’t care if they puke on it. I want you and your partner to love each other with this quilt, on this quilt, be a part of this.” Because that’s a part of the object story.
JoyGenea: It is. That makes it a story. That makes it part of our…
Michelle: Yes, and that makes it part of our lives. And we honor these things by making them part of our lives. So, I am very non-sentimental about getting rid of things, because the things that are in my life are incredibly important. And I honor them and those things, the things that are important to me by prioritizing them over other stuff.
JoyGenea: Nice. That pretty much sums it up.
Michelle: Yeah. So, all that to be said, clear off your desktop. Give yourself a fresh start this morning. We’ll be…
JoyGenea: What’s lying around the office space that everyone’s been like ignoring and…
Michelle: Yes. I’ve got three boxes in the corner of my office that I just stopped seeing sometime, two months ago.
JoyGenea: They just need to be donated.
Michelle: And they just need to get thrown away.
Michelle: And so let’s get some of this stuff cleared out. It’s spring.
JoyGenea: It is.
Michelle: It’s time to clear the decks. I’m feeling it. I think a lot of people are. It’s winter’s last gasp. It’s the second winter’s last snow.
JoyGenea: It’s coming down. It’s coming down.
Michelle: Not without a fight. It’s not…
JoyGenea: But it does every year. It goes every year.
Michelle: Every year. So, thank you so much for your time this morning. That’s it for us at If These Heels Can Talk. We hope we have brought you some new ways of thinking about things and enjoy your…