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It’s crazy how fast time has flown by. To think I’ve been in my Tiny House for just shy of two years! I thought it would be a good time to give an update from the home front. I’ve now been through two summers and two winters off the grid with my solar panels.
I think the biggest change to report is that I’ve really stopped thinking about my tiny house as tiny…it’s now just my house. When I first moved in I had worries that it might be too small, not because it felt small, but because I worried that I might grow to feel that way one day. Two years in, and there are times it almost feels big.
With the move to the tiny house I made some pretty big lifestyle shifts. First off I went fully off grid for my power, which has been relatively smooth. My system is large enough that I really don’t think about it most days. Sometimes I almost forget that I’m on solar, particularly in the spring and summer.
Winters are the only time I really have to think about things, particularly when it’s very overcast for days. For this I have my generator that I can run for two hours and the batteries are fully recharged. The combination of less solar exposure in the winter with the higher power usage of heat can be tricky, but last winter I used a total of 20 gallons of gas in my generator, costing me about $45 for heat over an entire winter.
The real challenge is that I don’t use my generator enough. I use it just often enough that it doesn’t make sense to drain the fluids, but sometimes things start to gum up a bit. I know my Honda EU2000i is showing signs of infrequent use and the carburetor needs to be overhauled, but I’m nervous to pull it apart because it’s a fancy two stage (not sure if that’s the correct term) and has a lot more pieces to it; as if I really know enough to do a basic carburetor.
In the kitchen I’ve also made some big shifts since moving to my tiny house. I decided not to put in a microwave, freezer, dishwasher or oven. For some, this would be no big deal, while others couldn’t imagine not having these things. For me it came down to a few things: generally, convenience foods are less healthy for you and primarily come frozen and/or rely on microwave cooking. I like to cook, but I don’t really like baking, so no oven. Finally, I didn’t want to give up the space for a dishwasher and I couldn’t care less about having one.
I think the only things I really miss are easy baked potatoes in the microwave and being able to freeze meats. Freezing meats wouldn’t be an issue if I wasn’t a single person household, but most things at the store are packaged for families. Single person portions options at the grocery store are woefully lacking and I wish there were better options.
Laundry facilities have been tricky, since I don’t have a washer and dryer in my tiny house. In reality, it’s the drying that’s the hard part, because I don’t mind hand washing my clothes. I don’t have time or space to air dry things. In our humid summers, clothes won’t dry very quickly. In the winter it rains too much. I’ve decided to actually double my wardrobe from about 8ish days of clothes to 16 days. Locally there are now two companies that will come to me, take my clothes and then wash/dry/fold them for very affordable rates. Two weeks of clothing means I can have one weeks’ worth at home and another out being washed.
The last and final trouble spot I’m having is I really want a woodshop. It would be great to have a space where I can set up my tools and just leave them set up. Right now when I want to work on a project, I have to drag my tools out of my cargo trailer and then put them all back in. I really want to get into some woodworking projects that take some time, things that I may only work on a few hours here and there, but take a few weeks to complete. I want a big work table to spread out on, to do more complex glue-ups, and have a place for things to dry. I don’t really know what I’m going to do for this. I’d like to avoid paying rent somewhere and I don’t own the land, so building a shop isn’t in the cards.
Another lifestyle change is that I decided against installing Internet at my tiny house. I now own a coworking space, so I have a great office space to do my thing, but I really have to be careful that I allow myself to unplug. I love work. The fact that I get to do what I do for a living is incredible. And therein lies the problem – when you love to work, you have to make sure that you also make time to live life. Not having Internet at my house means I really have time to detach from work, and have time to reflect, be quiet, and enjoy my solitude.
I also don’t have cable TV, but download the shows I want to watch and then only watch what I really enjoy; no more idle channel surfing. I feel like this is the perfect balance for me.
It’s Thanksgiving once again, and we wanted to wish a happy holiday from us here at The Tiny Life to those who celebrate. How can you celebrate the tiny way?
“When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” -Lao Tzu
It’s a funny thing. You work for a long time to make it to living in a tiny house and then, one day, you do. The big question that I had and many of you will have is…now what? While that will be different for each of you, there will be some things that will most definitely happen to you.
1. You will forever be introduced as the guy/girl who “lives in a tiny house” in every social situation
2. Half of people will tell you that they could never live in such a small space
3. The other half will tell you that they totally could live in a tiny house, but you can tell they never really would
4. You’ll begin to ask bigger questions of yourself, your life and its meaning
5. You’ll become way more laid back and find yourself just enjoying the here and now
6. You’ll own a nail gun and aren’t afraid to use it
7. Everyone will compare your house to their bathroom or closet and all you can think is, “I get it, it’s small”
8. You’ll go to the grocery store or farmers market a lot. Tiny fridges only hold so much
9. People will email you telling you what’s wrong with your house and how you should fix it, without you asking
10. You’ll find dinner parties seem way more intimate and interesting in such a small space
11. You’ll notice that conversations with other tiny house people seem deeper, richer and more valuable
12. People will point blank ask you about how you poop or other intimate details
13. Your bank account will grow and it feels good!
14. After taking on building a tiny house, other things just seem easier
15. Trying new things won’t be as scary
16. You’ll still feel like you have too much stuff
17. You might just end up leaving your job to start your own thing
18. Living in a tiny house will feel normal and you might start to feel like your house seems big
19. There will be days you don’t like living tiny and that’s okay
20. Many days you’ll be grateful
This past weekend I had the fortune of watching my sister get married it was an amazing weekend, but the week leading up to it started off pretty tough.
I had been working for weeks to get ready for the Tiny House Conference because once I saw my sister walk down that aisle, I was off to Portland. It meant that I had to have almost everything in order before then. I was feeling good, a little stressed, but good. I had nailed my to do list and was even doing some bonus things when I walked to my car…
The window had been smashed in and quite a few things had been stolen. I had hidden my backpack under the seat, but apparently the thief still spotted it. In that bag was $800 of really important things for the conference, my check book, but thank goodness, not my laptop.
I was angry. I was upset. I didn’t have time to deal with this right now. What I had been working so hard for during the past year felt threatened. Not that the Conference was in jeopardy, but the bag stolen symbolized one thing to me: my tools to write, to podcast, to build the movement. I felt like these tools and what I do were cheapened; what cost me $800 of hard earned dollars to do what I loved, was being hocked at a near by thrift store for a few bucks.
This was compounded by the fact that since I was leaving so soon, I might not be able to get the things I needed before I left and once I left, I didn’t know exactly where to have things shipped. Needless to say, emotionally I was in a bad place. A darker place than I’ve been in for a long time.
This angered me even more, because in the end it wasn’t just money, it wasn’t just the tools for what I love doing, it was the worry, the fear, that I would carry that anger into the weekend where I would not be able to fully appreciate and be fully present in the biggest day in the life of someone who I care about. I felt like that was what was robbed from me.
It was then and there that I resolved myself to not let that person who smashed that window take this amazing moment in time from me: seeing my little sister walk down the aisle.
I had no idea how I was going to do it, but I knew I had to figure it out.
I took some time, of which I really didn’t have to take, to think about this. How do I deal with this anger? How do I deal with this fear? How do I deal with having to spend $800 plus few hundred for the car to be fixed?
I remembered a person from my past who once shared the notion of Paradoxical Gratitude, the idea that when something bad happens to you, you look at the positives of what surrounds it. An example would be: if a loved one dies, you focus on the fact that you have living friends and family that are there to support you in your time of need.
I liked the premise of this and it stuck with me over the years, a tool in my tool box to help me be grateful for what I did have. It was time to use that tool.
I thought to myself:
These were the thing I repeated to myself over the following days. I had to make a concerted effort to push myself out of that darkness and into a place where I focused on gratitude. It was hard. It is easy to fall into a place of anger when we feel like we have been wronged, but I knew the stakes were too high.
Then came the day of the wedding.
My sister and I are pretty different people: She loves clothes and shopping, I buy multiples of the same shirt and hate every minute of it. I went to a liberal arts school that shunned greek life and had no real sport teams; she went to a bigger school and joined a sorority where she went to all the games with her sorority “sisters”. Despite all our differences, we get along well and I’m proud to call her my sister. She would correct me and say “your favorite sister” a running joke because I only have one. So I was very excited for her because I knew how important this day was for her and thus, it was important to me.
I was standing outside, looking down at grounds where the wedding would happen and was mindfully saying what I was grateful for to myself. The wedding was about to start and then something clicked in me. The focus on gratitude had paid off. I was standing with my brothers, my father, the groom and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect; it was a great day!
The wedding kicked off and I saw my little sister, my favorite sister, get married. She struggled to hold back the tears as she said “to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward” and I wasn’t much better.
The night went quickly after that, sitting for dinner, being rushed back out for more photos, going back in for the first dance, and then getting to see so many family and friends. My face hurt from smiling when my head hit the pillow at 3am. A good day…. no, a great day.
So I wanted to share this story to encourage you to live in the moment, to foster gratitude in your life, to making conscious decisions in your life to deal with the anger, the fear, the doubt, the negativity and go to that place of happiness.