Tiny House Family got all made-up last week for the Anderson Cooper daytime talk show. (Show airs Monday, April 9th–check andersoncooper.com for channel and time.) The whole experience was a lot of fun. I especially like how the video of our tiny house turned out, and how I am on camera with no makeup (okay, a bit of powder foundation) for the video;
then on stage at the show after two hours of hair and makeup, I look like a different person. TV is made up of real people with amazing hair and make-up artists. I enjoyed the OUTRAGEOUS differences in lifestyle between NYC and our little mountain homestead. The folks at Anderson were wonderful. Thanks for a great time and experience!
In talking with the producers at the Anderson show and preparing to share our tiny house and story with a much larger audience, I have had the opportunity to reflect on what we are now doing and what led us here. The topic of the show is “Outrageous Ways People Save Money.” The word outrageous makes me laugh. We are not outrageous people. Before the show, we brainstormed lists of ways we save money and nothing seemed outrageous. What qualifies as outrageous? When the producer asked me for the second time to name the top three ways we save money, I couldn’t do it on the spot. How could I put my ever-evolving lifestyle into 3 made-for-TV bullet points? I don’t even have a TV! All of it felt surreal and ironic. Could I go on TV and say the top way I save money is by not watching TV, by not having it available for my kids to watch? Thereby keeping our minds relatively free from the wants mass media so skillfully implants. The way we save money is not summed up in three outrageous bullet points.
Unless these qualify:
We’ve known huge debt and truthfully that debt will always be there somewhere in my mind.
Crushing debt has driven some people to take their own lives. The out-of-control feeling is paralyzing. Looking at the mountain of debt we accumulated trying to keep our restaurant alive made me gasp for air. It made me sick to my stomach: the thought of our children growing up with parents struggling to pay a mortgage with no choices. But the truth is, there are choices. There always are. Losing everything and starting over may be the pivotal moment one needs to live a more fulfilled life. The mantra I carried with me for a long time was, “I am not my credit score.” I felt like my honor and dignity were somehow tied to my ability to repay my debts. I had to work to affirm that my worth as a person had nothing to do with my debt. We accumulated this debt working our butts off to create a lively community restaurant. The failure of this dream didn’t mean we were a failure, and I refuse to believe we have no more possibility. We are now dreaming a new dream and finding the courage to tell about our dark times.
What has come from this is a new paradigm–a way of living very simply and beautifully. Living in our tiny house has given us the freedom from a mortgage (BTW, mortgage [French] translates to death pledge), and a whole lot of room to breathe.
When I talked with my aunt about my desire to someday repay her (and all friends/family who came in to help when we were fighting with everything we had to keep our business alive). She said,
“Don’t worry about that. Pay it forward. Someday, you will do something like that for someone else.”–These words soothe my soul.
- Our first commitment on our rebound was to never use credit again. It’s been four years and it feels great!
- We are now paying it forward by talking about our struggles (and rebound) in hopes that we can shine some light on dark times for others.
- We are committed to telling more of our story and documenting the process of slowly building a mortgage-free home.