I’ve been back in my tiny now for nearly 3 weeks. And now it’s “our” tiny, as my new husband is here with me as well. He remarked the other day that while he had been standing at the sink a few days ago, brushing his teeth, that it occurred to him that when I built and organized this house that I never contemplated sharing it with anyone. It’s true. I built this house solely for me – my sacred space. But I was quick to assure him that I am glad he is here.
But a design for one explains some organizational features… my hanging clothes closet is very small, my bathroom door is merely a curtain, the fridge is tiny and the loft is an extremely cozy space. I’m a “floor person,” so there is a distinct lack of living room furniture. (Jay Shafer who designed this house used to ask me to put in 2 small chairs with a small table between them like he has in his, just to illustrate that it can hold furniture! I always declined…) I like having “flex space.” Without hard lined furniture it’s easy to unfurl a yoga mat, or spread a project out on the floor, or access under-desk cubbies. Without furniture I can do all of those things without rearranging other things. It worked beautifully for me, that open floor space with a couple of pillows, and it was visually uncluttered.
When people ask me what about living small surprised me – something I wasn’t expecting – my answer is always the same: It’s a slower-paced life. “Slower-paced” is different than “simple.” Slower-paced literally means slower. Everything takes a little bit longer than it used to. When asked to elaborate on that, I explain that when you’re in such a small space, things must be tucked away – you take them out to use them, and put them back. We don’t have expanses of kitchen counter space to line up appliances like soldiers, waiting to be set to task. (Nor do we have an army of appliances; we have a toaster oven, a single induction burner, and a VitaMix.) We don’t have rows and rows of hooks for clothing and jackets and bags – they are rolled and stowed, or stacked in layers. We push things aside to access others, we take things out, retrieve what we need, and put the others back in place. I’ve found that once I learned that new pace, I embraced it. You cannot text on your phone or read email while you are doing things – you need both hands to move objects.
I am also back to hanging clothes on the line rather than putting them in a dryer – pleasing for so many reasons! It’s good for the environment, it’s a bending/stretching exercise, the clothes smell & feel better, and it raises our consciousness of how many pieces of clothing we are wearing and laundering – and that awareness has it’s own set of benefits! And speaking of awareness, since we are still catching our gray water in buckets (every day I announce it’s the day gray water will be connected…alas not yet, but still hope for today!! LOL) we are hyper aware of the amount of water we are using. It’s just a good mental check, you know? I’m also really really happy that we aren’t needing air conditioning. We have it, but I hate using it. We are extremely fortunate to be parked in the shade. That along with with great insulation, window coverings and fans we’re super comfortable and are saving energy – plus it’s quiet!
When I cook, I first place the board across the sink to expand my counter space. Then I pull out the induction burner from under the counter and place it on the counter. To do that, I may have to move the coffee pot – I need that 8 inches. Cutting boards get used, then wiped off and replaced before measuring cups come out. Today I’ll be making Unribs (vegan BBQ ribs) for a party on Friday night. My mother in law questioned if I’d be able to make those here, and John remarked that he’d have to “see how I do that!” Will it take me a little longer? Sure. Is it doable? Absolutely. I’ll do it incrementally, in stages, probably washing dishes and wiping down surfaces as I go. Intentionally.
Those focused tasks – those methodical movements – give me mental space to observe my actions, and to think. I have beautiful green wooded views out nearly all of the windows and the front door. It’s late spring and the trees are still fully leafing out – the shades of green and the shapes of leaves are endless. Then the sunlight dapples them and the make noise as the wind tumbles through them – they’re breathtaking! And so many birds! John has helped me observe patterns with the bird songs; which birds awaken first, and which is next, and whose song we hear at the end of the day. (When I lived in northern California I swore the area roosters had a competition of who could crow first and last each day!)
As possessions continue to settle into their spaces and we continue to settle into our days, I can feel myself becoming grounded once again. I’m able to enjoy the small tasks as well as my work. I’m not harried and stressed and crabby because I am frustrated about all that is on my plate. Sure, I have a robust to-do list – I am still part of a household that chooses to cook rather than dine out, we have a dog, and I choose to work 2 jobs – but I don’t feel like I am spinning my wheels, never getting a leg up. It’s nice. I’m getting great pleasure out of nesting. One of my favorite things about using my or observing others’ small spaces is all the nooks & crannies to tuck things away. Finding just the right place for something and tucking it in there is satisfying in some way.
Sometimes I look at my life since I went tiny, and I laugh with other tiny house friends about our lack of the so-called “simple life.” But I realize that if I chose not to be an tiny house advocate – if I chose to just quietly live the lifestyle — that it really would be simple. But I’m not quite there yet. I toy with the idea of laying low… and I expect that day will come, but the balance of this year isn’t it. John is great about reminding us to create time for us to have fun together and to plan outings and entertainment. He’s a good balance for me, because left to my own devices I would be such a homebody and be flying by the seat of my pants even more that I (still) do! I am extremely content to stay around the house, puttering, cooking, reading – going to sleep by the stars and awakening with the sun without a set schedule. I adore the quiet, rarely playing music (I don’t even really talk to myself – I don’t think…) I could be a killer domestic diva given the opportunity! LOL The main reason I have my part-time job downtown Nisswa is to be sure that I have a reason to leave the house. To you that probably sounds crazy – that I would be perfectly content in and around our 78 square feet – but it’s true! Having that job gives me a reason to hop on my yellow bike and pedal into downtown. I meet people, and interact with them, and observe the downtown happenings – it’s fun! It’s not about the money – it’s the color it adds to my days. My other job I can do from home – all I need is my computer, the internet and my phone. It’s dangerous for me… : )
So far I’m mostly achieving what I set out for the summer to be: a time for personal restoration and recharging, to enjoy being a newlywed, to work hard but to also spend time doing things that could be characterized as “lollygagging.” I have unbridled glee to be back in my tiny, even with it being a different tiny – where things are jumbled out of their usual places and a wee bit crowded. Life is good, and I am grateful every day.