Monday, January 5, 2015

Meditations on Washing Dishes

I finally arrived home after spending two weeks in Michigan visiting family and friends. We are still in the 700 square foot house near downtown Asheville but we've made this small space as much our home as the tiny house.

After living in another person's apartment for two weeks I found myself taking pleasures in the simple things.

I stood at the kitchen sink with the hot water running. It seared my hands as I lifted each dish into the stream and began to scrub, the soap foaming to my satisfaction. I cleaned off every speck of take out sushi from our dishes. We had it delivered after driving home for 10 hours straight. I scoured the cat bowls that I had snatched up, dirty, and packed when we left my mother-in-law's apartment at 6am. I let my mind wander as my hands moved with the memory of what it was like to wash dishes by hand.

Before moving into the tiny house nearly three years ago we lived, first, in a 2700 square foot home with a dishwasher. After dinner we would pop things into the machine and turn it on. Emptying it was a chore that I hated. It was simple enough, but I made plenty of excuses why I couldn't do it every day. I would pull just one bowl out and fill it with cereal and milk before work and place the empty, dirty bowl in the sink to wait until I felt "prepared" to empty the dishwasher and start the whole process over again.

In an effort to simplify we sold the 2700 square foot house while we were still building our tiny home near Asheville. We moved into an 800 square foot apartment with a smaller kitchen. It still had a dishwasher. For some reasons dishes became even harder to manage here. I would get home from work every day and would pull clean dishes from the dishwasher to make dinner and then pile them in the sink until I had the energy to do something about them. I almost never did. Eventually the dishwasher would be empty because we used all the dishes in it. Then we would put them all back in like nothing every happened. There was practically no need for cupboards.

A dishwasher is a marvelous thing but I quickly found that these modern conveniences didn't actually give me more time. They just made me feel more disconnected with my life. I didn't have to wash the dishes. Once I found the energy to fill the dishwasher I could add soap and hit start. I had to find the energy to empty it again later. And then start over. It was set and forget, which is how I felt my life was going. Everything was on autopilot.

Now, with nearly three years of living a more deliberate life I actually find joy in the simple, tactile task of cleaning my dishes by hand.

These are the reasons I changed my life.

These are the reasons I built a tiny home with my own hands. I needed a catalyst to pitch forward without setting autopilot and expecting things to happen.

These are the reasons I chose to keep my tiny house as simple as possible. It isn't just about dishes. It is about feeling more connected with myself, my life, and everything around me.

I changed my entire life to live more deliberately. I have orchestrated my life to make everything mean something from my job to washing dishes and everything in between.

That is what tiny living means to me.

5 comments:

  1. Hi! Ive been watching many vids on Youtube about Tiny Houses. I am one of the million or so people out here who also wants a tiny house. With no skill, no knowledge, no money, it is overwhelming. I hope to overcome this by watching people like yourself doing this, living this, loving this way of life. I dont know that it is a way of life lol. Anyway, glad to have found you, saw you in a vid and thought I would drop by to your blog! Will check it out often now! Take care! Your home is wonderful! I am in Virginia, so your a neighbor yay!!

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    1. Thanks for reading. I can tell you from experience that you certainly can do it even starting as a complete beginner. Good luck!

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  2. It DOES seem overwhelming Kimberly Rav! But I think baby steps are the way to go. First learn as much as you can (me too) and then figure out where you'd want a tiny house and how you (and me) are going to pay for it....and then look for land...and then..etc.etc. It might take awhile but if we don't start it will never happen.

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  3. We pretty much live in a tiny home with only 800sq ft and four people trying to inhabit that space. The upstairs bedrooms are very tiny and you can only stand up right under the peak. There is one bedroom on the main floor, one bathroom. We do have a dishwasher but we always hand wash some dishes every night. With only two people though I could see not having a dishwasher but add a few more people to your life and it is much easier to use the dishwasher for the bulk of the dishes than it is standing in the kitchen for another 30 minutes after spending an hour or so before cooking supper. While the dishwasher runs I get other chores done and then unload it before bed. I actually like the monotonous chores because they give me time to think and let my imagination roam. I'd really like to get a bigger house so I have a closet to hang my clothes in and sharing a bathroom with three other people can be a nightmare if anyone or more than one person gets sick or the toilet stops working which it has on several occasions. A composting toilet would be good but I always wonder what if someone is sick? Do you just empty it or use something else? Where do you put the sick or the (excuse the ick factor of the question but it's something I wondered about) diarrhea?
    I'd love to have a tiny cabin in the woods to go to but I'm not too sure if I could live full time in one in the winter. It's too cold and snowy where I live to be outside much in the winter and being cooped up in a tiny home during those long winter months may just drive me shack wacky. I love the ideals of simplify, and be mindful that the tiny house movement is all about and work on downsizing my stuff and making my life meaningful every day even if I don't technically live in a tiny home nor really want to.
    I'm really enjoying your blog and Youtube videos.

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    1. Our house is that same size, we are four adults, and never had a dishwasher. When I was a child our home was even smaller, and we were seven (parents and five children). We have wonderful memories, and we were able to cope with financial problems, thanks to the frugallity of our live. All of us went to university. My mother motto was: If there is enough to buy foodand books, we manage.

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