TDS 54 How to Preserve What Matters, Interview with Courtney Work and Teri Ernst


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The mention of stuff—from the clutter in the basement and the garage to the pictures and items we treasure but have so many of—can, for many of us, elicit stress as well as guilt. We have baggage about what we cart around in life. Teri Ernst and Courtney Work of Preserved LLC understand that burden well, and work with their clients to gently free them of it while keeping the best of what matters. In this episode of #thedeliciousstory, the two of them talk about the process of decluttering and how you, too, can feel pleasure in the space where you live and the things that surround you!
As the interview begins, you’ll note what a marvelously joyful collaboration there is between Courtney and Teri. The real surprise is how they joined forces to create Preserved and how their differences and similarities have worked so very well together. The two of them began their venture in business in 2018, and since then have enjoyed rapid growth, precisely because of their approach and personalities.
There are many organizing and minimizing gurus to tap into from books, videos, and websites, but for many of us we need a greater push to get things done for real. At no other time can this be more overwhelming than when you need to make some changes in order to age in place or right-size your home.
Our things are all placeholders that mark where we’ve lived and what we’ve seen. And, as we move along in life, we accumulate more evidence, which we find hard to part with later. Those things are all the vessels of the chapters behind us.
When you understand that connection to stuff, is it any wonder we have problems getting rid of things? Courtney and Teri get this, and that’s why they work diligently with clients to keep the treasured part of the stuff—the memories and evidence that are real and valuable, and not truly locked in the general “things” we possess.
Preserved is about helping clients find the balance between the things they and the relevance to their lives right now. Courtney and Teri help their clients flip the thinking from the classic downsize dialogue—it’s not so much about releasing from your past, but bringing the best it with you into your today.
“Out of clutter, find simplicity.” Albert Einstein
I can’t tell you the number of estate sales I’ve seen with tables upon tables of collectable items—antique glasses, bobbles and porcelain figurines, all on display for passersby. At some point, all the possessions around us could become the fodder of such a sale, because the younger generations seem not to be too interested in taking this stuff off our hands!
Hiring pros like Courtney and Teri helps people have the conversation objects with monetary value, and more importantly those with emotional value. It’s interesting how much of the time the two don’t coincide. I think you’ll find Courtney’s story about this issue sums up the point nicely.
As you listen to this interview, I guarantee you’ll start to feel a lightness about the notion of organizing your things. And from there, we segue to food, and the chatter takes a yummy turn. First off, I find it hard to believe that the movie Bridges of Madison is 25 years old. Where has time gone?
I remember guiltily reading the book while my husband jibed me for reading a romance story, but literature opinions aside, the movie, directed by Clint Eastwood, was a good film. Eastwood knows how to focus on the character development and storytelling in a way that helps a movie unfold.
Merle Streep provided one of her stellar performances in Bridges, too, and the scenery of rural Iowa was beautiful. But until this interview, I hadn’t given the food scenes much thought.
Although, I remember that Francesca, a farm wife, was in action in several scenes preparing meals, and most especially the romantic one with Robert Kincaid. I’ll have to watch it again, and you may want to as well, now that you know some inside trivia about the food featured in the film as explained in this interview!
On the subject of memorable meals, Teri shares a lovely one that takes place in Mexico. In these tales, the most delicious aspect of a meal story is what we archive—the place and the people. But it is the extra spark of the unexpected in those meals that really gets us—that realization that the moment is special and it must be remembered. That’s the part I hear over-and-over again.
There was a brief discussion of peanut better BLTs by Teri, too. She insists this is a worthy food combination to try. I’m not opposed, but have not thought seriously about playing out the experiment yet. The idea of peanut sauce working in tandem with the bacon seems scrumptious, though. Bacon is such an obnoxiously tasty food. At moments when I yearn to go vegetarian, it’s usually bacon that pulls me back in.
There was also the mention of chocolate mayonnaise cake by Courtney. I didn’t ask for the recipe, but now I wish I did. If the idea of moist chocolate cake sounds appealing, then you can check out this recipe over at Spend with Pennies.
In writer Wendell Berry’s book “Farming: A Handbook,” he provides a powerful imagery about stuff we gather in a quote, “Don’t own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire.” The things we bring in are supposed to lift us up and provide aesthetic pleasure and comfort. Too many of us, especially those of us who are older, may not feel that way in an overstuffed home of things.
And so long as you’re alive, it is never too late to make a change and remove things for an expansive change of mind. And it’s also okay to know when you need to hire someone in to help make that happen! Especially when they’re as unforgettable a pair as Courtney and Teri of Preserved LLC.

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