Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 in the Tiny House

Unlike last December, this year marks the first full year for our tiny life. We moved into our tiny house in May of 2012. I thought I would recap my 2013 and talk a little about our next year in the tiny house.

I keep a Happiness Jar. Throughout the year, I add tiny slips of paper on which I have written the things that have happened that make us happiest. It can be a small thing like enjoying ice cream at the park or something big like a new job. I looked through my happiness jar and wanted to share just a few things we did in 2013.

Deek Diedricksen in Wilmington, NC
April 2013
Speaking Engagements! This year, we spoke at a Deek Diedricksen workshop in Wilmington NC, an Earth Day event in Spartanburg SC, a festival in Minnesota, a high school in Flat Rock NC, and a Dan Louche workshop here in Asheville. I am looking forward to doing more of this next year, including the first ever Tiny House Conference in April. (BTW, you can still get $50 off until the clock strikes 2014, so click on the link in the sidebar if you're interested in attending!)

In other tiny house community news this year I also started as the co-host of Andrew Odom's Tiny r(E)volution podcast, the r(E)vo Convo. We also partnered with fellow NC tiny housers Ryan Mitchell and Steven Harrell to form Tiny House NC. It is still barebones, but we have some ideas for the future.

Kristie Wolfe

We also got to meet and hang out with Kristie Wolfe of Tiny House on the Prairie when she rolled into town on the Big Idaho Potato.

I had some professional accomplishments this year. I received a lot of additional work from my two biggest clients. I now earn almost as much as a freelance writer as I did when I left my recruiting position in Atlanta. I also picked up a part time job at my favorite laundromat that is also a bar, Bar of Soap. It is so much fun.

Probably the biggest news of my life in 2013 was the publication of my first book 120 Ideas for Tiny Living

Matt won a Fat Tire bike in a raffle. That was pretty neat.We also traveled to New Mexico and Arizona to visit some friends. We went glamping in Minnesota with some other friends. We made our annual trek to Atlanta for Dragon Con. We celebrated Asheville beer week. Some friends came down to visit us. It was a really great year.

So, what am I looking forward to in 2014? This is the point where a lot of people make resolutions. I do want to exercise more and be more healthy, but I should just do that anyway not just because it is a new year.

A friend and colleague likes to create themes for each year. She picks a word that encapsulates that theme and works toward living that value every day in the new year. I think that is a great idea.

My theme for 2014 is Hospitality!

This year I want to host friends at the tiny house, show them around Asheville, and welcome people into my life. I want to make more local friends. I want to engage more with others. I want to give of myself so others can feel welcome and comfortable. That is my goal for 2014.

What things are you most proud of from 2013? What do you want to accomplish in 2014?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

We Can't be All things to All People

I can't be all things to all people…

And I have to be okay with that. 

Since we began building our tiny house in 2009, I have been writing about our experience online. Once we moved in, I needed to alter my message a bit to be about living in a tiny house. In that time we have also been asked to speak at various events and to provide one on one consultation with others interested in making this big change for themselves. 

Of course, this kind of life in the semi-public eye means that not all of the inquiries or requests are kind or even civil. 

Recently I got an email from a reader who made the following statement:
"To me you all sound like a lot of idealists, who don't really consider this as a permanent home. I am looking to build or at least inhabit a permanent home!"

This isn't a question nor is it constructive. This reader is simply taking his frustration about what he perceives as the lack of support in the tiny house movement for individuals looking for a solution. 

And once again I have to take a deep breath and remind myself that I can't be all things to all people. 

I can't be an expert on retirement in a tiny house. I am nearly 40 and I intend to live in this tiny house for as long as physically possible, but I have no idea what my life will look like when I am 60 or 70 or 80. 
I am also not a professional home builder or designer. I am an individual who built a house to have a shot at a different kind of life for myself. 

I can only hope that my story can serve as an example for others also interested in living their life more deliberately. But I cannot be an advocate or an expert on every possible aspect of tiny house living or building. 

I do have to say, though, that I'm not sure I take the label "idealist" as an insult. Oh, I know that not everything is perfect but I also want to live authentically and genuinely. I want to be in control of my own life and my own time. If someone wants to call that an "idealist" that is fine with me.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Big thanks to Andrew Odom of Tiny r(E)volution for writing this and offering it to the greater Tiny House Community to share!

Just because you live in a tiny house does not mean you have to downsize your holiday expectations too! In fact, some of your favorite tiny housers have decorated their homes with BIG style preparing from Hanukkah, solstice, Christmas, and just the winter holidays in general. With an open mind and the right amount of creativity the merriment of the season can be showcased in even the tiniest of corners, the tops of tables, loft railings, and front porches, with simple decorations like vinyl adhesives, miniature Christmas trees, strings of lights, homemade garlands, paper snowflakes, and the like.

Below are a few of tiny house dwellers you may know and their inspired tiny house holiday looks.

Homes included in the virtual tour above:




Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Preparing for The Holidays

We are getting ready for our annual trek up to the great white north to celebrate the holidays with our families in Michigan.

We are the only members of our immediate families who moved away from the state so every year since 2003 (when we moved to Georgia) we traveled north to spend a week or in Michigan.

When I was working my full time job, the holidays were always extremely stressful. I was part of a small company and since I always needed to travel for Christmas, my vacation request was a source of tension with my coworkers. I completely understood their frustration but I was between a rock and hard place.

The weeks leading up to our trip were always difficult and I hated the way I felt stressed during a time when I should be celebrating. It always manifested in the quality of my work, my relationships, and my attention to detail.

Last year, after we had been living in the tiny house for 6 months, we did something drastic. We went to Michigan for two months. It was nice to be close to friends and family, but I also felt disconnected and homesick. I didn't have the same kind of stress but I wasn't entirely happy either.

This year, we are leaving this coming Sunday and spending two weeks in Michigan to see friends and family for the winter holidays.  I feel 100% stress free. 

Making such a big change in lifestyle had really helped me manage my stress levels and has put things in perspective.

This is part of my desire and my plan to live more deliberately. The holidays shouldn't be a time of stress and yet it is for so many people. It was so hard for me to see beyond my own discomfort and really be able to relax for the season.

Here are just a few things I do now to reduce stress and enjoy the holidays.

1. Shop early and mail it directly. Our car is not big and we have to fit ourselves, our cat, and everything we need for two weeks away from home in it to travel. We realized quickly that we wouldn't be able to pack presents, too. As much as I would have liked to do local shopping, this year I bought online and had everything shipped to Matt's mom's apartment where we will be staying. In some ways it will be like two holidays because I get to open everyone's presents before I wrap them!

2. Make plans. Two weeks is not a long time and there are a lot of things we need to accomplish while we're there. I talked with friends and family to determine a schedule so I don't feel like we're pulled in too many different directions. It also helps for me to stick to my editorial calendar for my writing work so I don't get side tracked by other things.

3. Focus on the fun. While we are up in Michigan we are going to make cookies, go out with my best friend, see a favorite musician's annual Solstice concert, and Matt will go into the recording studio. We are going to spend time with our families. We may walk up to the nearest neighborhood bar a couple of times.

What are your holiday plans and how will you make them stress free and deliberate?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Presentation on Tiny Houses and Sustainability

Yesterday, Matt and I had a chance to speak at East Henderson High School near Asheville, North Carolina.

We were very impressed by the questions that the students asked us. They wanted to know everything from how our bathroom works to whether or not we thought people could help the environment with small changes to their lifestyles. One kid was excited to learn that we were real humans who play video games and go out with our friends rather than just hermits on a mountain.

I also shared with them the story of Sicily Kolbeck and her tiny house. They were very impressed by a fellow 14 year old's quest for independence.

Here is the PowerPoint presentation we used to facilitate the discussion.

Tiny Houses and Sustainability from lmlavoie

We hope to do more similar presentations in the future and are really happy that teachers and their students are interested in learning about alternative housing and sustainability.  

Monday, December 2, 2013

Tiny House Conference in April 2014

I love this time of year. I love all of the holidays from Halloween to Thanksgiving through to whatever Winter holiday you choose to celebrate. I love time with family and friends, decorating our homes, celebrating with delicious food and drinks, and picking out the right gifts for everyone on your list.

I don't want to wish the rest of the year away, but I am also really excited form some fun stuff happening in 2014!

April 5th and 6th next year is the Tiny House Conference in Charlotte, NC. I will be there along with a huge list of tiny house people from all over the country.

The best part about the Tiny House Conference is that it is a perfect holiday gift for anyone interested in downsizing and simplifying their lives.

Consider buying someone a membership for someone looking to make a major life chance and live deliberately.  

It can also be tricky when others ask us for what we'd like, particularly when we are making our way to living small in a tiny house! If your thinking of something to put on your won list, think about the Conference. Tiny house people, and those looking to change their living situation, recognize the value of experiences. It is one more avenue toward learning and pursuing our dreams so why not give or receive a gift that does all of that? For the holiday, Tiny House Conference is taking $50 off when you use promo code: TL2013. Click here to get your tickets! 

Consider tickets to the biggest tiny house event!  The Tiny House Conference, April 5th and 6th 2014!