I am enjoying an online writing class with Tammy Strobel of RowdyKittens where I am reminded of how much courage it takes to click publish and share with the world. Thank you, Tammy and classmates!
It’s been a year since I first clicked publish on TinyHouseFamily, and what a ride it has been. I remember posting about how I’d like to get someone to come over and take a video for me, so the camera wouldn’t be so shaky. I never thought it would be two cool guys straight off a plane from the Anderson show. Or that we’d fly to New York and share our tiny house on national television.
All of this publicity has been exciting and fun, but when I read my first blog post I remember why I started this blog: I wanted to share how simplicity has brought me a deep level of connection and peace.
In honor of bloggers everywhere who are brave enough to click publish for the first time, I share my first post:
As I walked through the garden this morning, I thought about our blog, and how much I think about what to write. I’ve wrestled with where to start. Do I go back to when we had a 1500 sq. ft. house and a stress-filled life? How do I start without telling the whole story? Being present with my vegetables brought the answer: Start Where You Are – a title of one of the few books on my bookshelf. Sure, our story has a past and a future, but as I strive to live mindfully in the present, it makes sense that I should start where I am, standing next to this huge pile of rocks looking at the basil, which is about to go to seed.
I decide to make pesto. I walk through the garden gate, creatively crafted by my honey with salvaged materials and a few leftovers from tiny house construction. That quote I put on our homepage pops into my head, “We are happy in proportion to the things we can do without.” I wonder what feelings Thoreau had when he wrote that, I wonder what he was doing when those words came to him. I like the sound of them. As I spend time in each step of pesto making, I ponder what this quote means to me.
Doing without creates a vacuum, a space for creativity, and being creative brings happiness. Now that the basil is harvested and clean, I need to dry the leaves, but we decided to get rid of the salad spinner. I’ve seen them at yard sales and could easily replace it–certainly would make drying greens easier. But, if I had a salad spinner, I never would have learned to BE the salad spinner. How happy I feel when I wrap the basil in a towel, twist the ends like a candy wrapper, step outside and wind it up like my middle school buddy, Amy, did when she threw a fast pitch. I watch the water spin out, splatter the deck and feel it sprinkle my face. I smile unwrapping totally dry basil. I am happy without a salad spinner AND it doesn’t take up space in my home. Being the salad spinner, I am totally present and enjoying my life. Making do makes me happy.
In the process of being creative making do, I slow down, and settle into mindful being. Slowing down brings joy. Now that the basil is dry, I need to chop it. The recipe calls for a food processor. Looking at my harvest is a bit daunting.
“Chop all of that by hand?”
Now, I become the food processor. I settle into a rhythm: CHOP-CHOP-CHOP, SCRAPE-IT-TOGETHER, CHOP-CHOP-CHOP, SCRAPE-IT-TOGETHER. . . My mind goes to Thich Nhat Hanh’s essay, “Interbeing” in Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life. Looking into the basil, I see the sun shining in the bathroom window warming the seedlings in March, as I anticipate moving into the tiny house and growing a garden. I hear the wind blowing through the kids’ loft knocking the fan out of the window, as it brings mid-May downpours on new basil transplants. I see the factory in China making the scissors I use to cut the basil. I taste the olive oil in Italy after the first cold press. I smell my mother as she holds my newborn self and see my hand holding hers, this hand that goes CHOP-CHOP-CHOP, SCRAPE-IT-TOGETHER, CHOP-CHOP-CHOP, SCRAPE-IT-TOGETHER. . . “We cannot just ‘be’ by ourselves alone. We have to inter-be with every other thing. This [pesto] is, because everything else is.” Doing without a food processor slows me down, and I settle into the rhythm of all of life. I see and feel my connection to everything. It comforts and satisfies me when I connect in this way.
I add the olive oil, garlic, cheese and salt, mix it up, clean up my mess and stick my finger in for a taste. Somehow, I don’t think I’m missing out on anything. Thoreau was right. Today, I made pesto with my hands and tasted the universe. What more could I want?