Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Living Tiny and how Small Changes Mean Big Things

Since my stroke at the beginning of last summer, I have taken a lot of time evaluate what I really want out of life and what makes me happy.  Slowly, I have been making changes and planning for a much different future than I had originally seen for myself.  I would like to share the largest change with you.

This is a video of a tiny home.  And when I say tiny, I mean tiny.  My family has always been important to me but there is nothing like a life threatening event to drive this home.  What I want most out of life is to have the time and the energy to spend with my family.  They are without doubt my entire life.  I don't want my unhusband working until he is dead, nor do I want to be one of the seniors eating cat food to survive.  In our uncertain economic times, just getting by from day to day is getting more and more difficult.

When I sat and thought about my golden years, I knew that I didn't want to have any financial worries. I want to be able to travel with my partner and be there for my kids as they continue to grow. All of the little things that I thought mattered before the stroke really don't.  I started asking questions like how many shirts do I need? How many shoes, dishes, nicknacks, books etc? It turns out that I don't really need a lot.  When I looked around my modest home, I realised that if it were all to be taken away from me tomorrow, there wouldn't be much that I would miss. This started me on a journey on how to pare down and how to live simply because what I love the most actually costs me nothing but my time.

Over the next few years, the unhusband and I plan to build a tiny home in our driveway.  The finished home should be about 300 square feet.  I know that this sounds small, especially for two people, but we are fortunate in that we spend a lot of time in close proximity to each other on a regular basis and get along well. The house will be built from reclaimed and recycled items and hopefully off the grid.  Though neither of us is handy, we plan to do as much of the building ourselves when we can and hire people when we are stumped.  This is going to be a home made from our love for our love.  This will be our retirement home.

Being ill has taught me the value of time better than anything else ever could have.  When I lay there in the hospital bed, unsure of whether or not I would see my children again, and worried about saying good bye to the love of my life, the only thing I wanted, the only thing I desperately prayed for was time.  Time is something we take completely for granted and in fact only seem to consider it in terms of how much we are paid an hour.   Time means the freedom to be with those you love.  Time means the freedom to explore your interests but most importantly, time means the ability to be still and live completely in the moment.

Our little 300 square foot home is going to give us far more than the 2000 square foot home in which we currently reside ever could.  It will cost less to run and maintain. It will be mortgage free, as we are paying for it in cash over time and it will be portable because it will be on a trailer bed.  This means that anytime we get sick of our neighbors, the scenery, or just need a change, our home comes with us.  At first I battled with my classist notions of exactly what a house is supposed to be but in the end, the benefits far outweigh any of the worry about what others will think.  Smaller equals time and freedom and in this case, it comes with the added bonus of being environmentally friendly.

Over the course of this project, I will write occasional pieces so that you can follow along on our journey to live tiny and what it means.  Currently, we have given up looking for building plans after conceding that we could not find a plan we agreed upon and are going to get an architect to draw up plans for us.  In the weeks to come, I am going to build a model so that I can get some idea of our space limitations and what our tiny home might potentially look like.  When this is done, I will post pictures for you all to see.

Our decision to live tiny is not for everyone but I do think it raises the question for others about the difference between need and want. Living this small means moving away from expectations and saying that the problem is not the people, but the race itself. Whoever has the most when they die should not be the goal because you cannot take any of it with you.  Working at soul sucking jobs to pay for shit we don't need is not the answer. Not caring about the condition of the earth and living a disposable lifestyle is not the answer. Something has to change and while my solution may not work for others, I think that for those who can mange it, it is well worth the journey.