by Susan Stacy
I love the Tiny House Blog. I came across it a few years ago when I was looking to downsize and I fell in love with the “Tiny Texas Houses.” I dreamed of having one on my five acres one day here in Texas. I was looking through Craigslist one Saturday about two years ago and came across a small house to be moved.
I decided the idea was crazy at first, but kept going back to look at the picture house so I called to go see it. It is 400 sqare feet and sat in a pasture about a mile from where I grew up. I never noticed it although I passed it each day on the bus. I bought it and had it moved to where I live about 15 miles away.
I put a tin roof on, a porch, and painted barn red over the pepto bismal pink. I tore out a lot of stuff in the kitchen and bathroom, but left the upper kitchen cabinets, painted them, and removed the doors. The exterior doors were in bad shape so they had to go. I love living in my little “Bear Cabin” as I call it now since I have it decorated with bears inside!
By Michelle Boyle
If you’re a Tiny House Enthusiast, you have no doubt heard about all the benefits of downsizing. And if you think about it purely from a logical standpoint, having less stuff means having less stuff to worry about, store, clean, pay for, and maintain. And that makes sense, right?
Have you ever considered the other things that clutter our lives? Like relationships? If you think about it, our lives start out pretty simple and then get increasingly complex as we mature. With maturity comes relationships and, literally, the same logic can be applied to those as well. The more relationships you have the more people you have to worry about, store (keep a roof over their heads) clean (or, rather, clean up after) pay for, and maintain (can you say “New shoes for my growing son, every three months!?”).
Question: So, why is downsizing our possessions touted as one of the first steps towards an increased emphasis on relationships; if they both yield the same end result?
Relationships pay us back by enriching our lives. We share with others, and they share with us. We teach others, and they teach us. We love others, and if all goes well, they love us back. Good relationships feed our soul, give us solace, teach us how to be patient, and how to be empathetic.
Does our stuff provide us with peace, solace, and love?
As people enter our lives they bring stuff. We then start to correlate stuff, to people; we assign emotional value to possessions. For instance, we become sentimental about a painting done by our first grade daughter, and we remember an important life event from a printed program or memorabilia. (This is not a bad thing, by the way.) It’s actually an easy and efficient way for our brains to recall that event. The “bad” part, is that we tend to then become indiscriminate about what possessions we assign value to. Perhaps we don’t trust our brains to remember the “important” events? Or perhaps we want to surround ourselves with things to remind us that we are living a fulfilling life?
The key here is not to assign any value to any things. They key is to use discrimination. And that leads us back to the difficult process of downsizing.
Question: If assigning discriminate value to our stuff makes so much sense, logically, then why is it so difficult?
Answer: Because we are forcing ourselves to re-learn to what and whom we should assign value.
So, how exactly do you decide what goes and what stays when you’re trying to downsize into a Tiny House?
Frankly, I don’t know how it will work for you. After all, downsizing is so personal. It’s an entirely different event for each person, bringing with it an entirely new set of baggage (mine is in a bin, marked “LUGGAGE”). I don’t have the answers for you, but here are a few examples of the thought processes that have been playing, over and over in my head, for the last few months. Maybe they’ll inspire you to begin your own….
I had two small, handmade, clay bowls. They were both pretty, and earthy, and made by the students of someone with whom I once had a close relationship. I attended a fund raising event where I paid $10, per bowl, to fill it with soup and then got to take home the bowls. One, I used for pencils. The other one sat in the cupboard waiting for a purpose that it never ended up serving. As I looked at the bowls I realized I was keeping them because they reminded me of how giving I was. As I contemplated them further, however, I also realized they entered my life as a result of a relationship which was now a painful life lesson. Not wanting to be reminded of that pain, they were both recently donated to charity.
Good feelings return, lesson learned, now moving on…
I was raised in a less than affluent family. I did not have nice, or trendy clothes. I got by with the basics but, as a foster child, I was happy to have any at all. As I matured (there’s that word again) and earned my own money I spent a LOT of it in my early 20′s on clothes and shoes. Even if I didn’t need yet another white button down over sized shirt, I bought one because it was on sale, or because I COULD. In retrospect, I believe that the difference between age and maturity is understanding the difference between things you CAN do and things you SHOULD do. Nowadays, I don’t have nearly the stuffed closet and dresser as I used to; but the feelings still challenge me when I shop. “I deserve it.” “I work so hard.” “I want to look good, so I’ll feel good about myself.” These are all tough life lessons that reveal themselves in how we view our stuff.
These are the same tough life lessons that we are forced to re-learn as we downsize.
Is your stuff a reflection of who you are? A parent, a builder, a daughter, a son, a mentor, a gardener, or a philanthropic traveler? To what extent do you rely on things to remind you of who you are, or are your things on display so others will believe that you are, who you want them to believe you are?
Think about it this way. If you have a 12 foot long wall, full of pictures of your children and grandchildren, does this make you a stellar parent? Or does it reflect more on how you wish others to see you? If you have exercise equipment gathering dust, is this a reflection of the healthy person you want to see yourself as? Can and should you, instead, assign that same sense of identity to a pair of running shoes?
While sketching my elevations, I realize how very tiny my Tiny House really is!
Downsizing is really, really, really, difficult. It is sometimes not quite as easy as the “one bin for donations, one bin for keeps, and one bin for garbage” process. The process of even deciding that you want to, and need to get rid of, the emotions you assign to your stuff, and embracing the mental roadblocks; is what keeps most people from even considering a Tiny House.
After all, where would they (or you) put all their (or your) stuff?
My “stuff” (which is a rather thoughtless and crass description of the treasures that will be left) will be creatively and proudly displayed, and some of it may be stored. But in either case, they will be cherished and/or cared for, and a far more clear reflection of both myself and the relationships I have built along the way of building My Empty Nest.
My Tiny House and everything in it will be a reflection of who I am to myself, and nobody else. And yes, that’s a good thing!
Michelle is an outgoing single mom, published author, speaker, patented inventor, blogger, craigslist stalker, enthusiastic Glamper, and Northwest native. Her interest in all-things-tiny-and-old started when she was only 12 years old when she became fascinated with a tiny abandoned farm house near her parent’s home; and she’s been sketching floor plans ever since. With pencil and graph paper in hand she’s more than ready for the next phase of her life. Her Tiny House, aptly named “My Empty Nest”, is the culmination of a life spent dreaming of a tiny reclaimed space, all her own.
Facebook Page Link: https://www.facebook.com/pages/My-Empty-Nest/494081560700467
Blog link: mytinyemptynest.blogspot.com
This past weekend at Derek “Deek” Diedricksen’s “Relaxshacks.com Tiny House Building and Design Workshop” in Memphis, TN (at the Joe Everson compound of www.TennesseeTinyHomes.com), we worked on FOUR builds: a tiny house, a tiny office cabin, a tree house (future airbnb.com listing), and another full out tiny home from tinyhappyhomes.com. It was the biggest, full-out, hands-on tiny house building workshop that’s ever taken place and a great experience for all.
Beyond that, at this sold out three day camp-out event (65 people in all, including guest speakers such as Steven Harrell, Will Yount, FW Willis, and so many more) we had a side trip to Beale Street, AND some live music on site.
Here is performance by Milwaukee’s King Courteen during one of our breaks from building. This 22 year old is an unbelievable talent, and we’d love to see an undiscovered, independent, very creative, artist do well, so please pass this video on…you never know…our scene could launch this kid.
And be sure to wait for the chorus, even if this style music isn’t your thing…
Also, Deek and Dustin’s next Tiny House and Tree House Workshop will most likely be in August- “Tiny House Summer Camp 2″, which will double one night as a mini, off-grid, folk fest- perhaps with a repeat appearance from King Courteen…
The “Lit by Lanterns Folk Fest” is the name we’re running with…
MORE SOON- keep checking www.Relaxshacks.com
For those of you who have fallen in love with the Rustic Way cabin on the cover of Issue 15 of the Tiny House Magazine, owner Dan Pauly is collaborating with Marvin Dinovitz of Tahoe Tiny Houses and Trailers to bring the structures made from old barn wood to the West coast of the U.S.
Marvin owns Tahoe Tiny Houses and Trailers and has built a few of the Rustic Way designs for homeowners in the Tahoe area. Marvin plans on providing several configurations of the Rustic Way houses to be used as extra bathrooms, saunas, dressing rooms or bunk houses.
“Dan Pauly is an incredible craftsman who lives and breaths old barn wood,” Marvin said. “I’m excited to be working with him.”
Marvin worked for years restoring both large and small boats and has his own company restoring Airstream trailers for use as small housing units. He said that many people have Airstream shells that have fallen into disrepair and don’t know what to do with them. Marvin said he asks vintage Airstream owners to hang onto the interior parts of a trailer because even those can be restored.
His Airstream housing units can be used as guesthouses, art or yoga studios, small homes or backyard getaways. They are still mobile, but need to be connected to the house septic system if they have a bathroom. He incorporates green building techniques, LED lighting and solar panels.
Marvin also plans on restoring a few Airstreams with fun themes—his first is a Gene Autry/Roy Rogers/1950s cowboy theme with barn wood. He estimates a restored Airstream will cost around $25,000.
“I think tiny dwellings in the 300 square foot range are where people are going to head toward in the future,” Marvin said. “Once you downsize to the basics, you don’t need very much.”
Photos by Rustic Way and Marvin Dinovitz