Tuesday, August 19, 2014

3 Questions a Tiny House Can Answer, and One it Can't


The "Tiny House Community" was largely non-existent when we started building our house in 2009. We could only reach out to a handful of people doing the same thing, some of whom have since fallen off the radar. Over the last few years the concept has spread like wildfire and has been popularized by an amazing documentary as well as some reality television shows. Tiny houses appear to be bigger than ever.

With the new interest by people of all walks of life there have been a lot of folks asking questions about tiny homes. They want to know everything from how to get started to how a tiny house can change their lives.

My tiny home absolutely, unequivocally, changed my life. 

But maybe not for the reasons you would expect. I didn't know while we were building that a tiny house would become bigger than the building. I had no idea that tiny living was a philosophy and in order to fully embrace everything a tiny home has to offer you really have to dig into parts of your personality that you didn't expect.

So I learned that there were things the tiny house could answer, and one big thing it could not. Let's take a look at what these are. 
  1. A tiny house can make you brave. When we started this process we didn't know the first thing about building an entire house. Sure, we could put two boards together with a screw but that doesn't necessarily result in a livable house. I figured if I had the confidence to learn how to build a house, I could probably do anything. I learned that tiny living is all about risk taking. It is about living outside of your comfort zone, no matter what you think your comfort zone is. 
  2. A tiny house can help with finances. The biggest reason I wanted to build a tiny house was to reduce my expenses and pay off my debt. It did exactly that. However, it wasn't the actually tiny house that helped. It was simply the thing that changed my mindset and got me away from thinking in such cyclical terms. My debt was paid off before we moved into the tiny house. I quit my job before we moved into our tiny house. And that takes me back to the item one.
  3. A tiny house can give you opportunities. I had no idea when I moved into my tiny house that it would affect the way I interacted with my community. I think this has been the biggest benefit so far. Changing from a situation where I got up at the same time every day, drove the same commute, worked the same 9 hours at the same desk, drove home again, and sat on my couch to one where I felt free to schedule my own time made me excited about exploring my community and meeting new people. This has really changed my life. 
But, there is one very important thing to understand that a tiny house cannot do.

The tiny house itself can't fix the things that are broken. 

All three of these things: my confidence, my finances, and my desire to connect with community were already things I needed to fix. The tiny house gave me a new framework (no pun intended) to work on fixing them. But ultimately, I was the one who needed to do all the work. Not the nailing of 2X4s. Not the roofing. Not installing windows. In fact, in some ways, those were distractions. But as it came together it gave me a new perspective. It gave me something to work toward to give me the opportunity to fix these things in my life on my own.

A tiny house is not a magic bullet. 

The second you move into a tiny home your problems will not be solved. It isn't the responsibility of the building to solve them for you. It can be a catalyst for you, like it was for me, but you still have to answer these questions for yourself.

I know it can be done. I've done it. It wasn't easy, but it was worth it. The tiny house allowed me the confidence to do it, but there were infinite ways I could have gone about it. Your job is to pick the things in your life that you want to change most and work on changing them. Only then will the tiny house be a worthwhile stop on your journey.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Camping Festival 2014

I just got back from the annual camping festival in Minnesota that Matt and I take with our friend Cara Schulz, of Martinis and Marshmallows, and a host of other friends.

The flexibility of my tiny house life is what affords me the ability to take trips like this throughout the year. It is very special to me and important. So I went and pulled a bunch of photos off of various Facebook feeds and am unapologetically posting them here. I can't take credit for most of them....

This is our annual 6 course meal. We invite people we want to get to know better. We serve food and wine and offer topics of conversation.

Cara set up tea each morning. It was a great way to start the day.

Our new tent is actually bigger than our tiny house!

And because it was already blue and silver, we decorated it in a Detroit Lions theme. We camp in Minnesota and our friends bring their Vikings tent so this was a direct response.

Our friend Ryan looking pensive...after having neon orange paint smeared on his face by some rogue teenagers.

And Matt played us some music.

And we enjoyed afternoon cocktails with friends old and new.

Awwww...

We all bought tiaras at one of the vendors.

This may be my favorite photo. I don't even know who snapped it but I was tagged. That is my friend Heather and me wandering off to the stage to check out some music.