dreaming of tiny

when simple is enough

Time for the Tiny

Wow…it’s been awhile since I’ve updated everyone on our major life downsize. So much has happened since my last post from over 2 years ago [how is that even possible]. The nickle version is that we completed the move to our small house. We sold the big house. We got rid of a lot of stuff. We don’t miss any of it. We still have more stuff we could let go. We traveled a lot. We bought a truck. truckWe built a rad 2-story garage that we are actually parking in this winter (YAY!).garage It has a currently unfinished space with a great view over the parking that we continue to dream about finishing out. upstairs garage



garage view



There are dreams of replacing windows and siding on the house to coordinate better with the garage, dreams of a screened in porch, dreams of an inviting back yard, dreams of a hot tub, dreams of a walking path through the woods, dreams of…..


planning sketchesBut, FIRST! we are diving into our tiny build!!!! We’ve been talking about it so long that it doesn’t feel real yet. We are finalizing the plans and as I write this, a trailer frame is currently in route to Bloomington that will become the foundation of our tiny house on wheels. What will it look and feel like to be in a 24′ x 8′ space….not everything will fit, that’s all I know for sure. Everything else is yet to be determined.

It’s an exciting time and I can’t wait to get started. Right after we travel a bit more.

Namaste, friends.

And so it begins…

We are moving another step closer to our tiny house dream.  We found a much smaller house to downsize to and have an accepted offer to purchase. SQUUUUEEEEEEEE.  It’s 1,008 square feet and will be a great transition for us. We will be challenged with figuring out what items from the big house (2,600+ SF) we want and need to be happy in the new place. But it has plenty of exterior space surrounded by trees where we will be able to build our tiny house on wheels. Woot Woot.

8180-w-howardFrom the first time I drove up the driveway, there was something about the energy of the property that just sits well with me.  It feels cozy and peaceful and is just what we were looking for.  There is nothing fancy about it except the dining room chandelier (which might actually have to go). There are a few other things we’ll also want to do to it but it’s definitely somewhere we look forward to calling home.

Inspections, appraisals, bank paperwork, etc. is all in the process and we hope to officially call it ours by the end of November.  No, we haven’t put the big house on the market yet. We’re looking forward to spending one last holiday season here and will put it up for sale sometime after the new year. Look for a big moving sale!! I’m envisioning moving only the things out of the house that we will have room for and want to keep and then just opening the doors…

What a fun and exciting adventure we’re on.

Creating Space


Rocky Mountain National Park, September 26, 2016

Creating Space.  That phrase takes on unique meaning, depending on your perspective.  When I think about designing our tiny house, we will be creating a space to live and travel in…creating something that uniquely fits our needs and wants.  When I think about decluttering our big house, we are creating space within these walls that allow us to be more relaxed, with fewer concerns.  When I think about teaching yoga, I intentionally create a space where all are welcomed to try this ancient practice, regardless of whether they think they can ‘do’ yoga or not. When I think of meditation, it creates a space within to just be….to break from the busyness of daily life and just be.

This fall, I’ve taken a huge step in creating space within my life.  I resigned as the Director of Construction for Habitat.  It was a decision I didn’t take lightly…I fought with it for several months.  I traveled on a roller coaster of emotions about leaving an organization that I dearly love and work that is so necessary and valuable.  But, in the end, I decided to create space.  To relieve myself of the heavy responsibility and allow myself to see where this extra space will lead me.  For now, I’m enjoying catching up on things around the house, planning travel to see my son graduate from bootcamp, and making preparations that will take us closer to this tiny house dream we have.  I’m trying not to feel guilty about this extra space and I’m grateful for it every day. It’s ok not to be so busy I can’t think straight….it’s ok not to have regular stress headaches….it’s ok to have time to cook dinner…it’s ok…all is ok.  What a gift of space I’ve been given…very grateful.

The Forgotten R


We’ve used the phrase “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” for years but I feel like most people just associate this with recycling. Maybe it also sparks thoughts of reusing items: donating for others to use or re-purposing an item into something new.  But do we ever think much about the first R, ‘Reduce’?  Seriously…stop and think about it.  The last time you heard that phrase, did you give any thought at all to what that first R means?  How is it that I’ve heard the phrase a zillion times, for as long as I can remember, and I’ve never associated it with reducing anything.  And what does that even really mean?  Like in my day-to-day life, what does it look like to reduce?

I’ll go through a typical day of mine and see what sense I can make of it.  and I’ll apologize in advance if this is TMI:

  • I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that the first thing I do when I wake up is check my phone.  I could definitely reduce the amount of time I spend on that thing. I mostly use it for texting, email, facebook, ebooks, and the camera.  Some of that is useful time spent…some of that is a waste of time.
  • Next I get up and use the restroom.
    • I’ve already been thinking about reduction in this area…several months ago, we noticed that our family goes through a heck of a lot of toilet paper.  So I started paying attention to how much I was pulling off the roll each time and I was mindlessly grabbing too much.  I’ve scaled back on what I pull off but there is a fine line there you don’t want to cross. 😉
    • Another way to reduce in the restroom is with the toilet itself.  I read a statistic somewhere that said 25% of the potable water we have is used for flushing toilets.  25%.  That is mind-boggling, if it’s true. I tried to find it again for this post but am coming up blank.  Water use in general is pretty high per capita and there are statistics you may be interested in here. So what can I reduce to lessen the impact here?  We could install low-flow toilets, if that’s not what we already have.  or better yet, if we weren’t living in a municipality that frowns upon it, a waterless, composting toilet would be the best.  I look forward to learning more about composting toilets as we explore options for our tiny house.
  • Puppy time.  Our little Moya wants to eat and go outside as soon as she hears one of us stirring.  I can’t think of anything to reduce here.  She already thinks she doesn’t get enough food and there’s no water used in her waste.
  • Coffee.  I can’t imagine a life without a hot mug of joe to get my day started. But how we brew might have areas for reduction.  We use paper filters that end up in the trash can each day.  If we used a french press, that wouldn’t be the case.  Or maybe a reusable filter.
  • Getting ready for work.
    • Showers.  Being aware of the amount of time you spend in the shower is step 1.  Stay focused on the task at hand…get clean and get out.  I’ve thought about the fact that if I had to manually haul the water I used for a shower, I would get by with much less. I wouldn’t have it running the entire time I’m in there.  So why is it different, just because I don’t have to haul the water myself?  Why is it totally fine to waste it, since modern plumbing has made it so easy?  Does it make it right?
    • Products.  I have been focused over the past few years on reducing the number of products I use on my hair and body.  Think about what your bathroom closet looks like.  or under your sink.  or in your shower.  How much of that do you really need?  Can you get by with less?  Would you be healthier with less?  I mean, what is in all those bottles anyway?  We have no idea, even when there are ingredients listed…it’s all Greek to me.  That’s why I try to stick with the basics…baking soda, soaps, and oils that I make so I know what’s in them.  I haven’t totally replaced everything but I’m working on it.

      and these are just the tops

      and these are just the tops

    • Clothing. Given the work I do, I rarely need to dress up much and can wear very simple clothes…jeans, t-shirts, fleece jackets.  Working at Habitat, I’ve acquired quite a few t-shirts…sometimes it can’t be avoided but if I don’t need one, I’ve started not taking one.  Also, I recently took several of those older shirts and made a cozy quilt out of them.  But I digress…that is the 2nd R and not what we’re talking about today.  The idea of reduction in clothing is one that could have it’s own post.  It’s own thesis.  Or maybe two.  The impact of the perceived obsolescence of our clothing is something that boggles my mind if I think about it too long.  The fashion industry drives this ridiculous notion that our boots are only in style for a short time and thus must be replaced long before they would actually wear out, just so we can keep up with the latest trends.  And for what??  What is the purpose of all that nonsense? What is the cost of that nonsense….to our planet, it’s people, it’s resources. What if we all stopped buying into it?
    • More clothing. It’s February so I always put on a coat before leaving the house.  In the coat closet, I have 6 to choose from.  6.  It pains me to think that I have 6 and there are people out there with none.  And then there’s the gloves….how many gloves does one family of 4 really need anyway??
  • Transportation. The 3 people in our household all drive 3 separate cars to school/work. Seems like a lot of options for reducing here.  Alex could ride the bus that drives right past our house.  Jim and I could carpool or even ride our bikes more.  What would our household look like if it was a 1 car household?  Maybe we would gain some quality time together, despite the coordination efforts it would take to make it all work.

I’ve barely even got the day started and this post is already getting long.  Do you think any of this is what is meant by the first R?  Add a comment and share what it means to you to Reduce.

Look at Your House in a New Way

For the past few weeks, I’ve been even more focused on clearing out our house…our Habitat ReStore just moved to a fabulous new location on the east side of town and they needed lots of donations for the Grand Opening celebration (and beyond).  One day, I opened my kitchen cabinets and drawers and started pulling out everything that I hadn’t used for awhile.  Some things I had never used….others I hadn’t used for so long, I couldn’t even remember when….and others I had multiples of so I knew I could do without (remember those colanders??).  I pulled things off the walls and out of closets. I was ON. A. ROLL.  I filled up my car with these things….added in the clothes that husband had cleaned out of his closet and I headed east.  The new ReStore is just down the street from the Goodwill, so I was able to kill 2 birds with one trip.  Wait, I don’t kill birds….anyway, you know what I mean.

Those who were at the doors to accept my donations were so happy….they knew how easily they could take these things I no longer needed and sell them to someone who could really use them, and use those proceeds to build houses.  Talk about a win-win. If you don’t know how the ReStore works and why it’s around, I encourage you to watch the short video on our website:

restore logo

I felt so much lighter letting all of that go…there’s more room in my drawers, closets, and cabinets and I honestly can’t even remember what most of it was.  I don’t miss it at all.  I had no real connection to those items….just that I had room in my house and had taken the time to let them go.  That is the danger with me having too much room in my house….I hang on to things.  I let things pile up that I really have no use for.  Now, I have at least a few family members who would argue that I don’t hang on to anything but I disagree.  In this 4 bedroom house of ours, there is plenty of room to accumulate things without even realizing or noticing it.  Every bedroom has at least 1 walk-in closet…and the one in the spare bedroom is so full you can barely ‘walk in’.

A few months ago, I listened to the audiobook The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and the basic message the author reiterated throughout the book was that the stuff in your life should bring you joy.  Everything that takes up space in your life, whether it’s food, clothing, activities, music, friends, or lovers brings energy of some kind to you….it may be positive or it may be negative….or maybe even neutral.  The author’s argument is that you should focus on surrounding yourself with things that bring positive energy to your world….that which brings you joy.  She instructs you to hold every thing you own in your hands and take time to notice what you feel.  If it’s not joy, get rid of it.  The concept has made me look at my house in a whole new way.  Everywhere I look, I think about how I’d feel if I never saw this or that again.  There is so very little of it that sparks any kind of feeling for me.  Pictures of the friends and family and items that have been made for me are usually the only things I can really say make me feel joy. And it’s really not usually the item itself that makes me feel joy, if I get right down to it.  It’s the connection to the person that it reminds me of that makes me feel joy. And I have to think there are ways I could remember those connections without having a house full of stuff.

I invite you to look at your house in a whole new way.  Consider what you would miss if it was gone.  and why.  If you have things that don’t spark a positive response, think about sending those things to your local ReStore.  More donations = more families breaking the cycle of poverty. It’s that simple. Send that clothing over to Goodwill or maybe some local re-sale shop where someone who needs that pantsuit will be over joyed with the find.  Throughout that process of cleaning out and donating your old stuff, I invite you to take note of how you feel.  Notice what’s going on inside and in what ways you’re changed in the process.  Journal it.  Enjoy it.  Celebrate it. It’s fascinating stuff.

Tiny Overload – Is that possible?


Jim and I just returned from our tiny house test drive in Nashville, TN and I am overwhelmed!  We’ve done A LOT of talking about tiny living over the past few days.  There really is SO much to think about!  ladders vs. stairs, loft railings, composting toilets, electrical fixtures and requirements, truck sizes, where to build it, who will build it, etc. etc.  And don’t even get me started on clothing storage.

We have many, many notes about what we loved about this little gem, and what we’d need to modify in our own version.  It was really fun to try it out and actually start to see us in one.  It was also overwhelming to think about how far we need to go before it will be a reality for us.  So, we just won’t think about that for now.  The journey to tiny and the dreaming of tiny is pretty fun so we’ll just enjoy this phase of it for now.

For now, we’ll also focus on a few practical next steps:

  1. Register for a tiny house conference/workshop.
  2. Purge our house of as much our STUFF as we can.
  3. Do some simple research on basic things we know we’ll need to figure out (i.e. what size truck would we need to haul a 26’x 8′ house on wheels anyway?? and how exactly does a composting toilet work).

If you’re interested in doing a test drive of your own, there are a handful of options around the US that I’ve come across…a simple google search should get you there.  And if you’re near Nashville, we recommend checking out this one: http://musiccitytinyhouse.com/Evening Exterior



Local Tiny House Trim Out

Local father & son builders, Dick & Loren Stumpner, & their team have been working on a tiny house for several weeks and it’s near completion. Here is a picture that will hopefully help give an idea of how big (or tiny) this thing is:


Loren & Dick Stumpner’s Tiny House Build

They’re finishing it up to send it out to New Jersey, where the owner is anxiously awaiting his new home.  It is the first time these local builders have attempted a tiny and they’ve learned a lot in the process.

Like if they could’ve shortened the loft by just a few inches they wouldn’t have had to buy that extra box of flooring.


Bedroom Loft Over Kitchen & Bath

And how changing the roof pitch will affect the aerodynamics of travel (hopefully in a good way!). Looking forward to hearing about this from the trip report.


Exterior Siding and Roof Pitch

And how important natural light is to a tiny space.


Windows, Windows, Windows

But the most valuable lesson seems to be that the planning phase is most critical. So, I’ve started my list of the things that need to be considered. And we’ll do our best to plan up front. But I also know that our tiny house build will likely just be a trial run for an even better house later. Why build just one when you can build one, learn a lot, and build another? (Psst: don’t tell my husband that I think this way.)

Sacred Simplicity

As I mentioned in an earlier post…I’m a simple being.  Or at least I think I am. But maybe I just think that about myself because I think I’m supposed to think that way?? Am I as simple as I think I am? To put it to the test, I did a little experiment.  For a week, I jotted down the experiences I had that brought me joy/peace/happiness.

It was a busy week, filled with a lot of activity, most of which I can fortunately say were good. None was necessarily complicated for me. Most were very simple experiences that had to do with connecting with the people I’m fortunate enough to share my life with…friends, family, colleagues. So many great times of connection, with bits of retreat interspersed for balance. That’s the recipe for a good week in my book.

Some weeks are like that…really good. This week had several noteworthy activities but there is one that sticks out in my mind the most. Wednesday I got to have lunch with many of my co-workers to say farewell to Meagan, a beloved member of our team who is moving on to serve our broader community in a new role at a different organization. One of our Habitat homeowners, Pete Mosora joined us with his guitar to share a song. Pete had always been special to Meagan. In fact, she had a framed picture of him on the wall by her computer monitor and it served as a steadfast reminder to her of why she did this sometimes very hard work of Habitat.

Pete’s story is a common one we see at Habitat…for reasons of affordability and safety he and his son had been moving from place to place before they found the Habitat for Humanity program.  It was especially hard on his son because of his disability and his need for stability and consistency. Any parent knows how hard it is to watch their child struggle so, of course, this was hard on Pete, too.  He wrote a song to his son during their house build and it seems to capture the spirit of why we all do this work of Habitat and the difference that a simple, decent, affordable home can make. Please take a few minutes to listen and watch: Hey Chico

It was an especially moving day when I got to see Pete perform this for Meagan at lunch this week. It was a sacred moment of simplicity and beauty and one that I won’t soon forget. An offering of a gift of song to Meagan that wasn’t complicated or costly.

This is what tiny living represents to me…nothing fancy, nothing complicated. Moving toward gaining more simplicity in my life. A welcomed gift to ourselves that we’re realizing bit by bit. I’m grateful for all the ways this lesson is showing up in my life….all the reminders I see in the every day that remind me that I am, in fact, a simple being and take great joy and pleasure in uncomplicated moments.

What are your intentions?


This was a big week for me. For the first time, I got to stand inside a real tiny home….or rather, a real tiny home in the making. A friend of a friend is a home builder and is building a tiny house for someone else. He was gracious enough to take a few minutes out of the build to give me and my friend Beth a tour. It doesn’t take long, after all ;). There seems to be a great group of people working on the project and pouring their energy into creating a really cool home for a really deserving guy. I got to pick their brains about the design process and the build process.  This is their first attempt so it’s a learning experience for them but it’s great to meet some folks face-to-face that are knee deep in something that I am still just dreaming about.

One of the fascinating things about this process is that you really do get to make the house exactly what you want it to be.  This house isn’t exactly what I would want but the new owner is making it exactly what he wants….there is even a full size Jacuzzi tub!  That takes up a lot of space in something so small but if having one of those is important to you, you can plan the rest of the house around it.

This lesson is applicable to life in general and was actually the starting point for Jim and I as we started to look at the next phase of our lives. The kids are growing up, you see, and soon we won’t need this big house. While it’s an average size house for a family our size in this country, it’s so much more than we need. We’ve filled up the space within it simply because we can….and it takes a lot of time to take care of it and all that it holds. So, we started talking about our options. But before we got too far into that, we wrote down all the things we love to do in this world…what makes us happy, where we find joy and peace….and that’s what we’re planning the rest of our lives around. FullSizeRenderSo much of our lives have developed in response to our circumstances. I became a computer programmer because my company offered and in-house training. Jim came to Bloomington as a captive spouse to his first wife. I bought a house and stayed in one place because I had 2 children that needed stability. I’m extremely grateful to have the life I have. All the experiences I’ve had and the people who are in it remind me daily that I live a charmed life. This life has the potential to be even more charmed….not by buying a bigger house or a brand new car or the latest fashions. But by us being intentional about how we design it. By us giving priority to the activities and experiences that bring us joy, peace, and fulfillment.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ― Howard Thurman

“Times of transition are strenuous, but I love them. They are an opportunity to purge, rethink priorities, and be intentional about new habits. We can make our new normal any way we want.”
-Kristin Armstrong, Bicycling Olympic Gold Medalist

Excess-tential Crisis

The concept of excess is showing up everywhere I turn: things, food, drink, guilty pleasures, work, etc.  Why is this such a pervasive concept that has infiltrated our lives?  Why isn’t enough enough anymore?

My husband, Jim, posed a very pointed question to me when I first started talking about tiny houses: “which of our three colanders would you take to a tiny house?”  Good question.  An even better question is WHY DO WE HAVE THREE COLANDERS???????????  They are of different size, shape, style but they do the same basic thing.  Why have we acquired three different ways to accomplish the same task?  As I mull this over in my subconscious, I think we have three because we can.  They were gifts or easily (read: cheaply) acquired and since we had room, in our cabinet there has never been a time for me to consider just keeping one of them.  That time is coming.  And this is just a sneak peak into the many different aspects of our lives that we will be re-thinking, re-designing, re-considering.  For me, it’s an exciting prospect.  I can, too easily, feel lost in our stuff….I can’t find what I need when I need it because all the other ‘stuff’ is in the way.

One of the concepts I learned when I embarked on yoga teacher training several years ago is ‘energy follows awareness’.  It’s true no matter what you consider.  When you bring your awareness to something, your energy also turns in that direction.  My energy is turning toward my awareness of the excess in my life which means, for me, I am making changes…and finding ways to remove the excess.  This is a liberating feeling, even as I am just beginning to embark on that journey.  At the end of the day, I am a simple being.  Most of us are.  I don’t need much to be happy….but I do need to remind myself of that often.  It’s easy to get lost in the ideas of excess so ingrained in this culture we live in.

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