I’ve sifted through thousands of words I wrote since moving into our tiny house in preparation for my upcoming ecourse–a step-by-step guide to dreaming, planning, and designing a mortgage-free lifestyle. I came across this essay I wrote last winter.
Winter is a real challenge in a tiny house, and I am grateful for it. In the darkest time of year we can most clearly see our own light.
These years in this tiny space are healing us. I’m happy to say, the pain I wrote about in this essay isn’t as intense as it was then. Being honest with myself and others about the pain is an important part of healing. Opening the restaurant wasn’t stupid, it was a leap, and we gave it our all. I’m proud of us for that.
With the distance of time, I can accept that things don’t always go as planned and see that the adventure continues.
I share these words because I want to keep it real, and maybe someone out there is feeling something like this. You are not alone, and you will heal.
February 17, 2013
I was falling asleep last night and thinking of my week. Karl reached for my hand.
“Maybe I’m depressed, Karl.”
I have had a hard weekend. The temperature dropped and the sun went away and the kids are bickering like dogs. I want quiet and calm, but finding that means I have to raise my voice ’til it hurts. That’s not what I want to do. I feel tired of sharing so deeply. My kids see it too.
“Mommy, you have to get up so early and you’re grumpy. Do you like doing it?”
“Yes.” But I don’t know. Maybe I don’t. I want to share from a deep and honest place and sometimes I have no wisdom about it.
The rooster is crowing. It’s 17 degrees outside. Up the hill stand giant power lines. They crackle with static and electromagnetic force. The crackle is loudest when it’s humid. Sometimes it sounds like a waterfall.
Last night, the kids and I were trying to decide what to do. Ella really wanted her best friend to come for a sleepover, but I couldn’t handle that, my friend posted a picture of a giant pile of pine debris on Facebook. “Let’s burn this. If you can see this, you’re invited.” I love standing next to fire, but leaving the house with temperatures in the teens to stand outside in a field where winds howl was enough to make us turn up the heat and stay put.
Ella grabbed a note pad to brainstorm. Okay, we have these options: board game or yoga.
We decided on yoga and the kids scurried up to their loft to grab yoga mats and dove into their cabinets to find the perfect workout attire.
Archer had this zip-up v-neck shirt and he kept pulling it down to expose his chest and making a serious-guy workout face. Ella looked like a messy yogini leaping around like a ballerina.
It felt so good to laugh.
“Someone’s yoga mat has to be in the kitchen and someone has to be on the couch. I’ll be in the living room.”
They didn’t listen and arranged all three of our yoga mats in the living room. “They fit, Mommy.”
“But what about when we need to stretch our arms or kick our legs?”
“Oh, we can make it work.”
So we did modified yoga: one arm stretched and one reaching up the wall. We kicked each other in the head and dropped our legs sideways onto each other’s bellies.
“I told you we needed to spread out.” But they just kept going like there’s nothing wrong with doing yoga in a pile. Kids are so good at being present. I love that. They know how live in the moment and enjoy it for what it is.
Me, I work hard to stay in the moment. I’ve lost the natural ability. When did it leave?
I held Karl’s hand and told him how sad I feel and he said, “Life has been a real struggle for us, Hari. We’ve had some hard blows. It all goes back to the decision to open that stupid restaurant.”
Okay, I guess I should admit it was stupid. We shouldn’t have done it. It was more than we had in us. It was a risk and it didn’t turn out how we had hoped. We’ve been struggling ever since.
I think now the healing is beginning. It’s such a process: going through bankruptcy and foreclosure. The first part is getting back on your feet, the second part is getting over the guilt of not being able to pay everyone back. The third part is healing the ache of not being able to make it work.
With my youth, I had a surefootedness and confidence that maybe got me here in the first place. Now, I feel weary from all the trying.
Ella says, “I hate the tiny house. Why do you think it’s so great?”
I ask, “Why do you hate it?”
“Because Archer and I are fighting and we can’t have friends over because it’s too crowded. And whatever a mortgage is maybe we should get one and move out of this house.”
Oh my sweet Ella, you are so present to the feelings and I love you for that. Yes, last night it was the tiny house that said you couldn’t have a friend over. Last night was the only night for you in your moment of frustration. But there are good times with friends. There will be more good times with friends. We just have to hold on to each other in this giant pile of yoga poses and get there.
Karl says, “Life’s hard. We’ve had it especially hard. I know we have it easier than some, but yeah, we live in a tiny house with two kids approaching their pre-teen years. We’re building a bigger house with $10,000 to our name.” For now, I think.
I toss to my side, close my eyes and hold his hand. I breathe in faith, breathe out love, and a tear falls onto my nose.