A few weeks ago, I taught and spoke at a tiny house building workshop with Dan of Tiny Home Builders. I was there for two days, answering questions about life in small spaces, downsizing, and sustainable building and design. One thing that really stood out to me was that most people assumed that I had ALWAYS been a “tiny” space kind of person. Like I was just born with a sense of simplicity, calmness and an appreciation for small spaces. Boy, were they wrong!
I was living a big, crazy, messy, borderline-hoarder life before I found tiny homes. I had a shopping addiction (yes, an ADDICTION) and I saved EVERYTHING. I had 1500 sq ft of shit in piles and trash bags. Thinking about it gets me anxious all over again. I was the worst of the worst. Everything was so messy, so out of control, so unbalanced – I felt awful and I just couldn’t stop acquiring, buying, and consuming.
Over the course of a few years, I let go of 95% of my crap. I moved into my trailer, the COMET Camper, and then into my Honda Element (that I converted into a “micro-camper” and lived in for 6 months this year). I created the Tiny Transition and Downsizing E-Course to help other people go through the process I went through. I designed the class to help people change their psychology about stuff, to help people create space in their homes and minds and lives for more things they love. Not everyone in the class is going to move into a tiny house, but reclaiming your sanity by downsizing your bills, stress, and crap is a weight lifted no matter how many square feet you live in.
In the class, we use methods that I’ve used in my own journey (and still do to this day!) to simplify, declutter, clear out and manage. When you join the Tiny Transition and Downsizing E-Course, you get 8 weeks of downsizing lessons (bootcamp style), LIFETIME access to a private class-only forum full of others on the same simple journey as you, and the accountability and camaraderie that you need to stick to it and make your smaller life a reality. The next class starts on October 5th, so sign up now to save your spot in the course.
I wanted to address some of the most commonly asked questions that I received during the last tiny house building workshop I taught at. I hope this answers some of the questions you’ve had about living in small spaces!
Why do you live in a tiny home?
A few years ago, I started a practice of writing out and imagining the sort of life I wanted to live. It was full of travel, new friends, faraway places, and delicious food. I diagrammed my basic needs, wants, and goals – and I found that the best way to achieve what I had laid out was to live in a tiny, cheap place. A really basic “home base”, that would allow me to travel freely, spend money on things more important than rent, and just getup and go where the opportunities led me. Also, I have a degree in Sustainability, and in all of my research the only thing that I’ve found we can effectively do to lessen our impact is to live tiny.
How do you go the bathroom?
Ah yes, everyone’s favorite question. We’ve gotten very comfortable talking about our personal hygiene and bathroom habits with curious strangers. We use a composting toilet with a urine diverter. It’s nothing very fancy, we actually designed and built it ourselves. It’s just a waterproofed wooden “cabinet” with a bucket for humanure, and a diverter that empties into a bottle for urine. We re-use both in the garden after composting. When we are living in the Honda Element, we use a bottle and public or campground restrooms. We live in a country with an immense amount of amenities and facilities freely open to the public. People obsess over their private bathroom space. But for us, that’s never an issue. We’ve become extremely casual about all of it.
What was the “last straw” that made you downsize and move into a trailer?
When I was telling our friends at the recent hands-on tiny house building workshop about my history as a hoarder, one lady asked what the straw was that broke the camel’s back: meaning, what made me realize that all this “stuff” owned me and not the other way around? The thing that kicked my butt into gear was totally coincidence and out of my hands. The trailer that would become the COMET camper got dropped off at my house at 2 am on a Tuesday. A friend of mine was in a pinch, needed to get rid of this old 1960s trailer immediately, and I was the one that answered the call. For years I had known I wanted to live in a cute, little vintage trailer. But that was a far-off, 5 years down the road plan at that point. It wasn’t until the trailer was sitting in my yard that I though, “Oh shit. The time is NOW. This is happening, whether I’m ready for it or not”. And so, pretty quickly, I had to get my ass in gear and start downsizing my belongings. I knew that it would cost a bit of money to renovate the trailer, and I had no money. So eventually I put two and two together, realized that I had a bunch of shit that needed to GO, and no money to work on my camper project. I set up an Etsy shop and sold 90% of my stuff (all of my stuff is/was always vintage all the time anyway) to pay for the camper. Now, I had less stuff to deal with and some cash to start the project! TheTiny Transition and Downsizing E-Course is all about starting your tiny journey NOW, sooner rather than later. You can start living the lifestyle right now once you start changing your habits, mindset, and making space.
How do you deal with your family and friends that don’t “get” you and the whole simple living thing?
I say “screw ‘em”. You know why? No matter how much your friends and family “know” you and care about you, they don’t know what YOU need more than you know what you need. And if you see tiny houses and small spaces as a way to escape the rat race, the acquisition addiction, and consumer debt, than you need to honor that and tell your family to keep it to themselves. People in your life, no matter how much they love you, they react out of a place of fear. They are scared because the simple way of living threatens their lifestyle. And they might project that fear onto you. You need to stick to your convictions, explain the benefits of your lifestyle choice, and gently suggest how they might incorporate some concepts of smaller living into their own lives!
What’s it like to live in 100 sq ft with your boyfriend?
It’s a dream! But I know it isn’t for everyone. A lot of people assume we must want to kill each other. We don’t. Even if we were in a big giant house, we would just be snuggled up in the same room all day doing our projects (reading/writing/drawing/art/
I hope that my story makes it clear that ANYONE can downsize their life, no matter how out of control it may seem now. I was a big messy wreck before I changed my relationship with stuff. If I can make this transition, you can too. And you definitely don’t have to do it alone if you don’t want to (it’s not as fun alone!). I hope you come join me and your classmates in the Tiny Transition and Downsizing E-Course. The next session begins on October 5th and runs for 8 weeks, but you can do the lessons at your own pace with lifetime access to the group.
If you’re wondering what other students have gotten out of taking the class, I’ll let them explain:
“In fact, I am more convinced than ever that taking this course to figure out how to ease into the whole downsizing process thoughtfully and gradually was one of the best moves I could have made, especially because of all the incredible support that the group provides in so many ways.” – Jack
“I took the challenge and am so glad I did. Even if you never “live” in a tiny house I found that the course helped me to look inside myself and found out all kinds of things about ME! I am truly grateful for the experience. You will find yourself very proud of what you will accomplish!” – Diane
“This course was fabulous! Thank you for all the time and effort you put into this. This is a lifestyle you clearly feel passionate about and I am very grateful for this valuable information and insight.” – AT
“I think your course is terrific, mainly because it gives all of us out here who are stressed to the max by our STUFF a direction, and a place to start. We KNOW we’re overwhelmed, but we don’t know what to do about it. So being given a coherent plan for attacking all of this STUFF, plus, for some people, “permission” to get rid of the extraneous junk is so freeing. My house now looks like a HOME, instead of a mess of stuff from one end to the other, thanks to your directions. It turned my life upside down and inside out for a while, but it was so, so worth every bit of hassle it took to get this taken care of. I think the money I spent to take your course was one of the best values I’ve gotten for a long, long time. And I can see that now that I’m on the path to minimizing/minimalism, which sort of naturally follows such a life changing event, whether I move into a Tiny House or not, my life has been forever changed for the better. And it’s just going to keep going that way. In a couple of words, THANK YOU. ” – Becky
“This class has single-handedly changed my thinking and life. The email course is rocking my world with the “how” to do this, the access to the associated private group is invaluable. You could lurk and never post with this group and it’ll change your thinking and life. Even if you just want to tread more softly on this beautiful jewel of a planet we live on, you will benefit from this course.
I’ve found my true fun self since I’ve been taking this course. My stuff was burying my life, and I had no idea that I’d done that to myself. The e-course, the readings, and the private class group together make for a powerful inspiration to keep going. The class is already paid for itself in less stress, less stuff, and heck, I’ve even lost weight! All because I’m realizing that I just don’t NEED a lot of things. While we may or may not move into an actual Tiny House, our house of 1,100 square feet is starting to look huge. We have SO MUCH SPACE NOW! I’m looking forward to a smaller house (and a smaller or NONEXISTENT mortgage soon).” – Andrea
I hope to see you in the class, and I look forward to supporting you on this journey!
You can read more about the Tiny Transition and Downsizing E-Course and register here.