Down with Shame

Posted by on Jun 18, 2012 in Recent Posts | 37 comments

Down with Shame

Excuse me while I rant for a minute.

Once again, curiosity killed the cat. I read some of the comments under the Yahoo! Financially fit video. It’s strange to read so many comments about our home. It’s like being able to hear all the thoughts of people at Food Lion. The cyber-jabber is floating around me, 60,000 voices crowding my property. Most of them say “Yes! This is fantastic. Americans need to become resourceful. You guys are my heros.” (Thanks, for this positive encouragement!) A few say, “Oh my gosh, you have changed my life. Right here, right now. I have hope—How do I do what you have done?” (We will get to all the emails.) Still others, “You should have bought a trailer. This is stupid.” “No way I could live in a shed.” These judgemental comments are full of assumption. “They don’t buy their kids toys, but they have all the latest gadgets, laptop, cellphone.” Huh? Did I say how old my phone is? And that it has a crack across the screen or that if I didn’t have the phone none of this would be happening, since the mobile hotspot is our only internet connection? Did they see the kids’ loft, where the toys are kept? Nope. Shaming assumption. 
I have been walking around with the voices lurking behind trees, in the fire as I burned the stumps Karl pulled out of the ground to make way for our bigger tiny house. What really loads me with shame is “Saving $3000 a month? How ‘bout paying back what you owe.” Was he trying to stifle our spirit? Our creativity? Our resourcefulness? This comment is full of shaming assumption. He knows nothing of our slow and deliberate efforts to repay and our very careful use of money, except a flat image, a snapshot of our life. He fails to realize that if every American had to repay every bit of debt before they did anything else, our most inventive entrepreneurs might not have taken the risk. If we had to repay the debt right now, we’d be slaving to do so and would probably need government assistance. What would the voices say about that? We repay our debt daily. We live with the shame, we breathe through it reminding ourselves that we’ve always worked hard, we’ve done what was right at each moment. It is right for us to build slowly and small. It is right for us to raise our kids to know that hard work does pay off and living within/below your means is freedom. 
I am concerned about how quickly folks sitting at home will jump to write a negative comment under “A Yahoo! User”. What good does it do to throw around judgement from behind a wall of anonymity. Let’s be real, people. This economic crash is a wake up call for all of us. If our government isn’t going to change its ways, we the people can. We can take back our capacity for independent thought. We can move that to action. We can look at our situation and figure out a solution. We’ve been proactive with our situation. We are rebuilding without using any credit. No one, not even us, knows how we will repay our debts. But we pay them forward every chance we get. We have utmost responsibility to live our lives to our fullest capacity, to not crumble in the face of judgement and shame, to not snuff out our light before it is fully lit. 
How ‘bout encouraging folks with your comments, like Navy Mom (thanks, Navy Mom), who says, “Living in a tiny home requires learning to get along – something this world needs more of! I love what this family is doing; they’re putting their priorities in the right places. We can all learn from them.” Let’s lift each other up with this positive assumption: we are all doing our best.

Tiny house family responds to negative comments

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  1. Bring it gurl….tell those voices to be quiet so you can hear the trees they are hiding behind. I know exactly what you mean. You guys are wonderful and we love you. I know better than any of them what kind of parents you are. You kids know too.

  2. Beautifully put. There will always be small-minded judgmental people willing to criticize others to make themselves feel better. Millions of people have been devastated by our government’s reckless and irresponsible policies. You guys are an inspiration in all of this. Keep up the good work!


  3. I experienced the same thing when the first article was written about us and it was presumed that we didn’t pay taxes, avoided the law, hoped to undermine the government, were radicals, etc. We were even accused of potential child abuse for forcing our daughter to live in such conditions.

    YOU CANNOT LISTEN TO IT. It is the work of the enemy and it is there because there is confusion, insecurity, and malice in the hearts of some. Do not let it hold you back. Let those voices go and wish nothing but blessing and understanding on them.

    Remember, this your y’alls adventure. No one else has to go along if they don’t want to!

  4. No shame, actually inspiring ! We have lived in a 1286sq ft(I think) cape cod for 30yrs, bought and paid for in 2005 by me working 2 or 3 jobs and being away from home while hubby worked 1 full time job and handled everything else at home.I would not trade my family for any riches or material goods.We are fine and so are you! I am a first time reader and will love to see what else you do.Best wishes to you and your family.

  5. Ugh. I know what you mean.

    But what you’ve got to realize is: “welcome to the Interwebz.” I know that you already know all this, but the perceived anonymity of the Internet emboldens some people to say things in ways that they might not in a normal, face-to-face interaction.

    And, some people just criticize because they want to engage you in an argument. “Fight with me; it implies that my point of view is valid enough to warrant response, and that I’m important enough to have an arguement with!” Look up “flame wars” and “trolling.” Don’t feed the trolls.

    We’re not gonna change human nature, I fear. We can only lament it. And, perhaps, look to our own natures and try to get them right. A trick that you and your family have obviously got a huge head start on most of us.

    The overwhelming majority of the comments have been positive; celebrate that! You know you’re doing the right things. Haters are gonna hate. They are utterly write-off-able. Don’t let them stay in your head, or on your property, for even one minute longer! Let the positive people in, instead.

    Love you guys dearly.

  6. Way to go Hari and Carl! I am so very proud of you! Handling this with strength and grace ~ rise above!

  7. I’m sorry for all the negativity. Keep your head up, your tiny house life is fabulous and a true inspiration! Of the few websites I frequently visit, Yahoo typically has a higher proportion of the most negative and hurtful comments.

    I am so thankful that I’ve been able to ignore these comments and continue reading Yahoo or I wouldn’t have found your story. Your family is wonderful and I look forward to following along on your journey!

    Love and compassion to your family!

  8. Just remember that of those negative comments come from fear. People generally need their own choices to be mirrored by the choices of others, and when you go off on your own path, you scare the crap out of these people. It’s a good sign, a sign that you are making a difference and broadening all our horizons. Keep going! You are inspiring change in others – change that is sorely needed. Change is scary, and people acting out of fear look ugly. Don’t let their ugly voices steal your joy in following your inspired path!

  9. How do people think our forefathers (and mothers and children) lived when they settled this country. You think they were ashamed? Negativity is just an example of how a large majority of the spoiled, narrow minded people of this country think. If you don’t live the same way they do, there is something wrong with you. We don’t need everything and need it now. However you chose to live, the important things will always be that your family is together and you are happy. Ignore the ignorant…..

  10. It’s too bad that you have to read the bad comments to get to the good. I bet a lot of the people with negative comments are doing so as a means of justifying their own extravagant lifestyles. (and by extravagant I mean the same lifestyle as everyone in their suburban keep-up-with-the-jones’ subdivisions)

    As far as debt repayment goes, I’m sure the people that invested in you are extremely appreciative that you are working so hard at living an affordable life and paying them back as well.

  11. You guys are inspirational! So many people have tried to live above their means and suffered financial ruin. Why not live happily below and enjoy those non-material things that everyone seems to forget about. People will be negative but just rise above that crap and realize that your teaching your children lessons that will last a lifetime. Bravo to you!

    I’m in the process now of getting my little piece of land and will begin my tiny home soon. We’re going off grid so I’ve got a bit of a fight with code coming but in my conversations with the code enforcement guy he seems pretty amicable to it.

    Keep up the good work!

  12. I’m sorry you had to face that negative criticism…to bring about such lively comments means that you must be doing something right–you’re being authentic, and real and true to yourself–which doesn’t always sit well with others. I think what you’re doing is GREAT and so inspiring. I’ve struggled to find the “good” in this hard economic time, but reading about your journey has helped! Keep it up!

  13. All too often when people aren’t held responsible for their actions (such as on the internet) they act irresponsibly. It is best to ignore them. They apparently don’t have anything better to do with their lives than post negative comments and argue on the internet.

    For those that say they can’t live with less stuff (or space), they are like Jacob Marley in “A Christmas Carol”. They are chained to their stuff like he is chained to those lock-boxes. All that stuff DOES weigh you down every day. They will never know the freedom that having “enough” brings.

    For those that say you aren’t buying your children toys, they are buying their children tooooo many toys instead of spending time with their children. Children need to be raised not just grow up.

    For those that comment about your financial situation, they should take a look at their own. The bank owns their house, the financing company owns their 2 cars. If they lost their income they wouldn’t have any place to live, not even living out of a car because those would be repossessed too. You are teaching your children that there is a better life than running on the “hamster wheel of debt”. There is no shame about slowly digging yourself out of debt. The real shame lies in not being smart enough to get off of the hamster wheel of debt.

    For those that say mean, nasty things just to hurt people, I pity them. They will never improve their lives and will live a life full of bitterness and resentment.

    You and your family are a great example to all of America that life doesn’t have to revolve around debt.

  14. I LOVE ths comment thread. I feel happy to have sparked such reflection and insight from you all. Your supportive and encouraging comments lift me. Thank you!!!

  15. Isn’t it sad that as a society we chose to cut each other to the bone rather than to lift each other up? While I love social media and blogging and being connected to the world, this is definitely a big downside to it. I try to look at it in this light – What kind of extreme pain is this person feeling that the only way they can feel good is to hurt another person? I know personally it is easier to listen to or hear the negative over the positive and it’s something I work on daily. I agree with Andrew – we shouldn’t listen to it.

  16. Yes, so long as this old world remains bi-polar these naysayers will be with us. Hari, you are right “on the mark”, to do our best to live in righteousness moment to moment is our very best cloak of armor against these naysayers. Of course what greater righteousness then to love our enemies, too! Love You!

  17. In my experience, comments on Yahoo for any given subject are closer to the bottom of the barrel than they are to the light, and so I’m not at all surprised by the thoughtless and harsh words you found there.

    Others have said it better, but you have to expect criticism from mediocre people who will only try to pull you down to their level. For the rest of us, you and your family are an inspiration.

  18. You previous commenters have said it well, so…

    I hope this makes you smile regarding some people’s tendency to only leave ugly, non-productive comments. I sew (as you know) and I visit quilting blogs alot–blogs where these creative people share so much knowledge and how-to. Amazingly, there are occasional ugly comments left on these quilting blogs. People!! (Things with sentiments like: I hate the fact that you photograph your quilts with all those #$&@% little children you gave birth to.) I kid you not! So, it would seem that anyone is fair game.

    You go girl!!

  19. I truly understand how you feel. I had so many doubts about this being the best way for our family, and then to have complete strangers give voice to them……

    It was still the best thing for you to do. Thank you for sharing your story, it will help countless numbers of families. It does get better, I promise 🙂

  20. It’s a whole lot easier to be cruel when no one can see your face! Good for you guys for recognizing that there’s a different way to live your life…if only more people would learn the art of just saying no….

    Many Blessings,

  21. My husband and I both lost our jobs within 2 weeks of each other a couple of years ago, and decided to finish our degrees together. I love our little Community College…I took a picture there of a note someone posted. “Be Kind…..for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

  22. Please do not take what some self centered people say to heart. I admire your spirit and resolve. I have a food garden and use it as you do. It is very healthy eating and what our forefathers did to survive. This is a great way to raise a family and gives your children a sense of worth and appreciation of nature and what it has to offer. Living within your means is something all Americans need to look at including the Government. BRAVO!!

  23. Reading the story of your family cut to the bone for me and what my family is also going through. I use to pass by your beautiful resturant all the time, and wondered what happened as it did get such rave reviews. What your family is doing takes such courage and is so inspirational. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story.

  24. Just one more person who wanted to pass on an encouraging word. What you guys are doing is awesome. You’re breaking through all of the assumptions we carry about what is “necessary” and what it looks like to be successful. That’s offensive to a lot of people. You’re challenging their worldview! So you are going to get some strong reactions from the close-minded crowd.

    I don’t live in a tiny house (not that mines huge at 1,500 sq ft – especially for a fam of 6), and I don’t plan to downsize right now, but I admire what you’re doing. You’re redefining life in terms that work for you and your family based on the hand you were dealt rather than going along with what culture tells you that you need and should want. That’s hard, but from poking around your blog it clearly pays handsome dividends, and I admire you guys for what you’re doing. Keep it up!

    • Thanks reading and for leaving such encouraging words, JP! Blessings to you.

  25. I actually just discovered your site thanks to that article from Yahoo! I never bother to read the comments, because as a writer, I learned a long time ago that people can be evil masked in anonymity and everybody thinks they know everything (when they usually don’t).

    I’ve read comments on David Bach’s articles in the past and they were just downright cruel. It’s like people blamed him for taking his advice and making a stupid decision with the advice he gave. He (like most financial analysts) didn’t foresee what would happen to the economy. The stuff he and Suze Orman were preaching to us 10 years ago means absolutely nothing in today’s economy. That is how quickly things have changed.

    I’m very happy that I stumbled upon your life story. I am preparing to buy my first home and I couldn’t help but think about how little space I truly needed. I keep thinking about the things my grandfather used to tell me about the Great Depression and how they lived. I keep trying to mirror that life, because he was eco-friendly long before it was a popular thing to do. The life lessons he taught me so long ago…I see that in what you and your family are doing. I commend you.

    People make mistakes. We see those financial mistakes everywhere today. No single person has been 100% perfect in their finances…not even Donald Trump. It’s what we do while we’re at the bottom that defines us as we take the journey back up to the top. It’s being at the bottom that changes us and either makes us into better human beings, or bitter individuals (like you saw in those comments).

    As for paying off debts, I would strongly like to recommend the site: This is the story about a young couple that wasn’t just broke…they had a negative net worth. This site is their story on how they dug themselves out of that pit, to establishing financial goals which ultimately led to a positive net worth. About 6 months ago, I read their site from their first post to the last post…and they have taught me so much along the way.

    Life is about having goals and realizing that each step you take isn’t always the smartest step, but it’s a step to understanding who you are, what you can live with and what you can do to make it better than it was before.

    I plan on passing your site along to my readers in the upcoming weeks. It’s very inspiring. But most of all, you’re reminding me of what my grandfather taught me was the way to live.


    Michelle Kenneth

    P.S. Stay away from the comment section at sites like that. It doesn’t hurt you if you know nothing about it…just a tip on how to keep your sanity in tact. 🙂

  26. I think what you and your family have done is beautiful. Speaking as one who has been chained down by “stuff” over the past two decades of my adulthood (maybe three, if you count my teen years), I wish I could do the same. We’ve started with small steps, such as donating/selling at least 100 books in the past year, plus piles of linens and clothing that hadn’t seen the light of day in a long while. But we have a ways to go. We have a small, 1-bedroom place that we love; I can’t imagine why anyone would need room after room for just sheer amounts of … stuff.

    • Good for you, Jennifer! It feels good to be free of unnecessary stuff, doesn’t it? I appreciate you taking the time to read and leave a comment. Best to you!

  27. There are so many thoughts going through my head, but one stands out. The way you are living is how my parents lived. They started with a small house, adding on when more children came along and stopping when enough was enough. The house I grew up in was small, had a wonderful garden and great trees, and was paid off! These are important lessons to have learned and to teach. Good luck you guys! Don’t worry about those negative people out there. They don’t and probably will never get-it.

    • Hi Janet! Thanks for reading! Your childhood home sounds lovely. I wonder how growing up in that way affected you? I can imagine, and I hope my kids grow up to value simplicity and living within their means. Our lifestyle is nothing new, just seems our mass culture has forgotten where we came from. I appreciate your encouragement about negative people out there. I remain hopeful that speaking up about the shaming comments may make at least one person think twice before leaving someone else a shaming comment. Ah, ever the idealist. Much luck to you!

  28. I love to see what you have done. My own extended family has asked on more than one occasion when we will be upgrading from our current 900 sq ft home. They’d flip if they realized we would like to downsize. Even our small home built in the 1940s is currently worth less than we owe on it. We are making extra payments and hope to pay it off in 10 years so we can do what we really want. I wish someone had set me down and told me that I had other options when I was starting out. We’re pregnant with twins and I can’t wait to teach them how to be free with less!

    • Hi Jennifer!
      Thanks for reading and sharing some of your story. I wish you much happiness as you bring your children into the world! What an exciting time for you. Paying off your home in 10 years is admirable. Good plan. Be well. 🙂

  29. I love this! Please dont let the negativity of the weak willed deter you from what is so simple and natural.

    • Thanks for reading, Chrissy! I won’t 🙂 But, I had to speak up for kindness.

  30. I’m so glad that you posted this! People criticize what they do not understand, and I think this is a beautiful thing that your family is doing. Our children are all learning valuable life lessons that to me, is irreplaceable with their experiences elsewhere. We share similar plans, however, we can not live in ours full time (husband is active duty military, so we maintain a modest townhouse rental near his military installation and go back and forth). When we’re there, we can work on the land and have privacy (it’s a family homestead and several in laws also live on their acreage). The commute for him, is just out of reach and we do not want to be separated when he is in town (not deployed) by having him rent a room out here on nights he couldn’t commute to the cabin. I suppose it’s technically a ‘vacation home’ but it’s ‘ours’, so we actually consider it our primary though I know our peer group here in suburbia would not grasp that concept! We also went through a financial hardship, our last transfer, we were riding the first wave of military personnel transferred involuntarily during the recession and unable to sell a home. We blame no one but ourselves for purchasing a home while serving, to begin with. However, we had been stationed at that location for over a decade.. manpower shifted and we couldn’t stay. Worst possible circumstances and husband has now deployed 8 times and our family absolutely could NOT be separated as he had over his career, been away more than home to begin with (some folks opt to do that, when they have a house they can not sell..) Anyhow, my family can very much relate to yours! Enjoying keeping up with you guys here and on Facebook. (I just now got a blog up and running again.. I had one last year, and followed several other families but I closed it down) Boy, sure regret that! So, starting from scratch again.

    • Hello, there!
      Thanks for reading and sharing your story here. It’s a story of creativity and staying together. I like that. Thank you for the sacrifices you’ve made to serve our country. Regarding the house, sounds like you made the best decision you could for your family. That’s all we can do–our best! Thanks for sharing your blog with us. We will check it out! I wish your family all the best.

  31. Unfortunately, people will always have negative comment to make. And, a you mentioned, it is easy for people to throw stones from behind a wall of anonymity. I once read somewhere that you should never write something online that you couldn’t say to someone in person. I’m only sorry you had to sift through all the sour lemons to get to the sweet ones! I love that you are teaching your kids to live within their means; we live in an excessive society and its great to teach our kids what is important. Above all, even if your kids and others don’t get this now… know that you are giving them the best thing in the world: a loving, nurturing, caring, giving family that will build one of the strongest foundations for them for the rest of their lives. Love to you all. Thank you for your inspiration! x