Monday, January 18, 2016

the big tiny

We all have moments in our lives that make us rethink our future and what we want that life to look like. For Dee Williams, this trigger was a diagnosis of congestive heart failure in her early 40s. Pondering her mortality lead her to examine what was truly important in life and how she wanted to spend her time. The result? She built an 84 square foot home (yes, 84) on a trailer where a decade later, she still happily lives full time. Her journey to a tiny life started when she came across a magazine article about Jay Shafer, a major player in the tiny house movement, while waiting for medical tests to be done. So not only did her health condition give her the trigger for changing her life, but also the answer to how to achieve the simpler life she wanted. (Watch Dee's TEDx talk here.)

I've been interested in mobile tiny houses ever since I saw an article about Jay myself at least a decade ago, but I'd already lived in a few interesting places myself. During my years in Alaska, I spent time living in a couple of cabins without plumbing. One of those was barely bigger than Dee's home with the addition of an arctic entry which doubled as closet and storage. I loved that little log cabin with its loft barely tall enough to allow me to crawl across my mattress to sleep. I can vouch for the vaulted ceiling making a small space feel more open. :-) I spent a few years working a travel job that left me living in hotels around the country about 90% of the time. While I still had a home base, that experience taught me just how little I actually needed to live with on a daily basis since everything had to fit into what I could take with me on a plane while leaving room for my work supplies as well. I had a "capsule wardrobe" long before Project 333 existed. Before buying my current home almost 2 1/2 yrs ago, I spent over a year living in a 28' class C rv. Having minimal possessions wasn't a problem  - I had what I needed - and I loved feeling more connected to the outside world. The real downside to that was sharing the space with cats. My little dog did great and we both got plenty of exercise with a few walks a day, but the kitties really needed more space. I know a lot of tiny housers share space with a cat or two, but I'd never do it again. My two cats are both around 13 now so as much as downsizing and living tiny is still intriguing to me, the possibility is years away yet.

While Dee is happy installing her tiny home in a friend's backyard and staying put for years, what draws me to these tiny houses is the mobility. This is what drives me crazy about owning a standard home. I like my house, but I feel stuck. It's not that I think I would travel constantly, but the ability to move to a new location and bring my home with me is enticing. The added bonus of building a tiny house versus an rv is that it's completely customizable (and could be built without all the toxic materials). I know I could live tiny again. Will I go so small again? Time will tell. But for now, I just aim to live simply and lighten my impact as much as I can while living on a larger scale.

Overall, this was a really interesting book to read. There was a time in the middle when Dee was telling the story of building her tiny home and the mishaps of building alone that I wanted to scream, ask for help! But we all have our issues. If you're interested in tiny houses or just learning about how someone else is simplifying their life, check it out. My local library once again has a copy available. :-)

Have you ever considered going tiny? Or could you never imagine living in such a tiny space?

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