Category

Tiny

Boxes Remain

The accumulation of “stuff”

We have been living together for nearly five years. We first shared a house with housemates, where we had exclusive use of a bedroom, bathroom, living room, and shared space in the basement, kitchen, and garage. When it was time for a change, we moved into a studio apartment. Before the move, we didn’t think we had very much stuff, especially compared to the average person. However, in the process of packing everything and moving each box ourselves in a pickup truck, we learned just how much stuff we were still holding onto. There are still boxes that we haven’t unpacked. Chances are, we really don’t need whatever is in them. 

We have some experience working on inventorying the contents of houses that have been ravaged by fire. Through these experiences, we have seen the kinds of things that people keep- the things they store in boxes in the basement and attic, the collections they’ve built, the supplies that they hoard. Inevitably we find things that have not been touched in years, and often the homeowner has forgotten about them.

I will be the first to say that I understand living like that. I understand assigning meaning to each object, and the feeling that you need to hold on to everything because you could need it… someday. Growing up, I was a self-described pack rat. I love crafting, and amassed vast amounts of odds and end that I thought I might use for projects… again, someday. For many of those items, someday never comes.

My great-grandmother and great-great aunt had a huge impact on how I viewed stuff. As children of the depression era, they learned that everything has value, can be reused, and should be saved because you never know when you might be able to get another one. They would save the twist ties from every loaf of bread, the plastic bags from every package of deli meat, metal cookie tins, magazines, pens, cotton balls, you name it, they kept it. This survival-based way of living is valid, and it is easy to justify keeping the things that you acquire.

There is also a sentimental quality to tangible items. We might find that keeping a loved one’s gifts or former belongings keeps us closer to that person, and keeps their memory fresh in our minds. Anyone who has helped to clear out the home of someone who has died knows that the process of going through their things is emotionally taxing, and there can be a lot of guilt connected with getting rid of anything.

I kept nearly every school assignment I brought home, from kindergarten on through high school. I kept toys that I had stopped playing with years ago. I was afraid that if I got rid of any of these items, they would be forgotten and have no value anymore.

 

However. There is a tipping point where too much is too much. We have made a conscious decision to simplify our lives, and part of that process is downsizing our belongings. We’re not perfect, and I’m sure we will get rid of some of the wrong things, but I’m willing to take that risk.

The Places We've Been

Learning to Live a Little

Our first conversation about tiny houses was an argument. Normally, I would say that meant the whole endeavor was doomed from the start, but I’ve come to think of it instead as an important starting point.

I discovered tiny houses by watching TINY: A Story About Living Small on Netflix while dog/chicken/house sitting for some friends. I was far from enthused about going tiny myself, but I was definitely interested in what it meant to be living small.

Later that day, I excitedly gave Christopher a brief synopsis of the movie, insisting that he watch it with me with an open mind.

After we watched it together, I was beginning to open up to the idea that tiny might be right for us.

Christopher remained unconvinced.

We spent a long time discussing why space was important, what we use our living space for, and how we envisioned our future family living. I won’t go into all of the details, but eventually, we reached a place of mutual understanding.

Many of Christopher’s reservations were also mine, and we talked through it all.

 

Speed Limit

The road to Animas Forks, Colorado.

That brings us to the name of our blog: Learning to Live a Little. What does it mean to live a little? I think it means that you stop focusing so much on the day to day grind, and start to open yourself to new, beautiful experiences. You don’t accept something just because it is conventional to do so, you take the time to think through your actions. It’s making sure that what you invest your time and money into is really important to you.

So, how do we get to a place where we’re living a little? Well, for us, it starts with building our home. I don’t know exactly what our journey will look like, but that’s part of what excites me. I look forward to sharing the things we learn with you!

Why tiny?

Why tiny?

When we first began telling people a couple of years ago that we were going tiny, no one knew what we were talking about. Now, there are many tiny house shows on television, and most people seem to have some level of familiarity with tiny houses. Now, we get more questions about why we want to go tiny than about what tiny living means.

We have several motivating factors for going tiny. Here are just a few:

-We have always loved the outdoors. Together, we enjoy fishing, hiking, camping, and just generally being outside.  We don’t want to stay inside all day long; we would rather spend most of our time outdoors.

-On a daily basis, we see people working countless hours, multiple full-time jobs, and additional part-time jobs to survive and pay the bills.  We don’t want that kind of life.  We can’t see ourselves working that hard, simply to go to the next job.

-We have lived together for nearly five years. Over that time, we have learned that we don’t need a lot of space. And stuff? We don’t need a lot of that either.  After moving months ago, we haven’t unpacked many of the boxes we have.  What’s the point?

-We are concerned about the environment. We are striving to generate less waste in both our daily lives and in our build.

-We want to explore living in other areas of the country without making a huge financial commitment in any one place. When our house can move with us, we can move around without losing a sense of home.

 

We acknowledge that tiny living isn’t right for everyone, and are totally okay with that. We may decide one day that it isn’t right for us either as our family evolves. For now though, it’s a great adventure!