Breathe

Mindfulness is the key to living a life of intention. Living in a tiny house inspires us to be mindful of many things, including the waste we produce, how our money and time are spent and each other’s limited personal space.

Making an Intention Flag for 2015

Posted by on Jan 2, 2015 in Breathe, Cultivate Community, Recent Posts, Salvage | 3 comments

Making an Intention Flag for 2015

I love flags, making use of everything, making art out of stuff one step away from trash, letting go of clutter, setting intentions and cultivating community. Making an Intention Flag is a beautiful and simple project that brings all of these loves together. When I don’t know what to do with a stained t-shirt or other worn-out piece of clothing, I usually cut it up for napkins or rags, but sometimes the fabric isn’t absorbent enough, so I stow it in a milk crate for future use. Just before Christmas I deep cleaned the tiny house and found a forgotten basket of fabric scraps in the storage compartment under the couch. Yes, even in a tiny house we accumulate stuff and forget about it. Since I had to make room for the influx of gifts, it was time to use or trash this fabric. Since it is the season of intentions, I decided to make an Intention Flag. Flags dancing in the woods make me happy. I love the idea of the gratitude or intention floating on the wind and permeating the space. The kids and I make Gratitude Flags every year and they turn our woods into a sacred space. Adding not just our intentions but the intentions of our family and friends to the gratitude excited me. I wrote about 10,000 intentions, okay maybe 10, and, man, I still had a ton of fabric left, so I decided to expand the project. I took the basket along with a bag of permanent markers to a few gatherings between Solstice and New Year’s Day. At least forty people added intention to this flag. When my mom was with me for Christmas day, we sewed the scraps of fabric onto strips I tore from an old flat sheet. Hanging the flag in the woods was a beautiful and powerful way to spend Christmas night with Mom. (Read more about our Christmas and other stories in our Winter Newsletter.) My commitment to my friends and family was to create this flag and then to hold the space for their intentions all year. Walking in our woods and seeing the intentions of so many reflect the light in the shadow of my great white oak is pure art. What’s striking about this flag is the similarity of our intentions. We all have similar desires and they’re really very simple. What are your intentions for 2015? Let them fly!   Simply, Hari P.S. Enrollment for the Summer 2015 session of our eCourse, Creating Your Path to Mortgage-freedom is now open. Open enrollment closes on July 15, 2015. Read about the course here! Sign up for our newsletter to be informed of open enrollment for future sessions and receive our seasonal newsletter. Share...

Read More

On Labels and Letting Go

Posted by on Sep 10, 2014 in Breathe, Recent Posts | 9 comments

On Labels and Letting Go

There’s a time for everything. This time has been about learning to live in 168 sq. ft. with my family of four. Three and a half years later, I can tell you that it is possible. I can also tell you that it is sometimes harder than you imagine. I can also tell you that there are times when the thought of not living tiny scares me. I wonder if I’ll see the kids anymore. Will they get lost in their bedrooms? I wonder if I’ll sequester myself in my office or in my super-deep bathtub. I wonder if I’ll have to demand that the kids pile on top of me on the couch the way they do now. I wonder how our lives will change. It’s easy to become comfortable in life the way we know it. Even if it’s part of the plan, looking at moving on can be scary. If I’m not a tiny house dweller anymore, what am I? It came to me during my day of silence as I canned dilly beans this week. You’ve let so much go, and in the letting go, you’ve attached to a label. It’s time to let that go, too. Because of my self-chosen label, tiny house dweller, I’ve found myself judging our decision to build this bigger house, like somehow I won’t exist anymore if I’m not a tiny house dweller. Of course I know this isn’t true, and I know I will enjoy the new experience of ample space for my family. It just makes me think about how closely we humans identify with our labels. How ‘bout we all play dress up with labels? As we move through life, we try them on, and when they don’t fit anymore, we throw them into a big pile in the woods. They’ll be there if we need them again, and in the meantime, they make a mighty beautiful pile. Maybe this dress-up playing will help us to take life’s transitions a little lighter and trust that we still exist even if we aren’t exactly what we thought we were. Care to join me? Simply, Hari P.S. Enrollment for the Summer 2015 session of our eCourse, Creating Your Path to Mortgage-freedom is now open. Open enrollment closes on July 15, 2015. Read about the course here! Sign up for our newsletter to be informed of open enrollment for future sessions and receive our seasonal newsletter. Share...

Read More

Why I Want to Be My Daughter When I Grow Up

Posted by on Jan 25, 2014 in Breathe, Kids'-Eye View, Parent, Recent Posts | 63 comments

Why I Want to Be My Daughter When I Grow Up

Every time I read this post from almost two years ago and your comments of encouragement to our little girl, I want the whole world to read it. I want individuality and creativity to rule and kids like Ella to keep on with their original outfits and ways that don’t make sense to others. It’s the willingness to do things a bit differently that keeps this whole darn experience interesting. I am grateful to my husband, Karl, for being the daddy he is, and for my dear Ella, who is one of my greatest teachers, and for all the students I’ve had in the classroom who share their struggles with me–I wish you a life of creative freedom! April 29, 2012 Last week, I got a text from Karl with a picture of Ella dressed in one of her amazing fashion creations. “Best one yet,” the text read. I was already at school (work) and wondered if he actually put her on the bus in that outfit. I knew he most likely did, as he has been great at encouraging Ella to be herself and not worry about what other people think. I tell her that too, but my actions say otherwise. Maybe because I know what happens at school. I don’t think I would have let her wear that outfit to school. I guess it’s a good thing I am not home for the morning routine right now. But, I got the aftermath. She got off the bus crying. A second grader on the bus called her a hippie. She got weird looks all day. She told me she wasn’t so sure she should have worn the outfit in the first place, and I asked her why she did. “Because Daddy was so proud of me. He even took a picture of me. I wanted to change at school, but I thought I couldn’t change in the middle of the day, that would just show them I care. People who do big things with their lives don’t care what other people think.” WOW! I knew I had to tread carefully, because this was a big moment for her. It’s the first time I’ve seen her devastated by peer pressure. She’s in third grade. She’s kind, smart, creative and full of personality. I cringe at the thought of her having to endure the level of peer pressure at the middle school where I teach. It concerns me that the clever, creative children in our society are often forced into conformity. We live in a tiny house, people know that. We pack healthy lunches and the other kids at lunch ask “What is that?” As Ella eats a homemade burrito. I want my kids to keep their individuality, but not at the expense of their confidence and sense of belonging. When I think about what has been the biggest concern in our drastic downsizing and debt-free lifestyle, it has been that the kids know why we are doing this and that they feel happy and secure knowing we are living a great life. I don’t want them to feel poor because our house is so small. I want them to feel rich, because all of our needs are met and we have each other. I know they know these things, but when they are criticized because they are different from others, I worry that they may equate different with wrong. So, I said “Ella, you have two choices. You can either not wear those types of outfits to school, or you can continue wearing them and pay no attention to what other people say or think.” If it were me, I would never wear that outfit or anything like it again, I know it. Somehow, I have a feeling Ella will make it more dramatic next time. I want to be her when I grow up! *** A note to teachers, Please be inflexible on this rule: Be kind. Enforce it not only within the four walls of your classroom, but on the entire campus. It can be hard to...

Read More

Loving Yourself and Living an Uncensored Life

Posted by on Jan 10, 2014 in Breathe, Recent Posts | 27 comments

Loving Yourself and Living an Uncensored Life

I get up really early to give myself the solitude I need to write in this tiny house. This act of self-love is a newish routine for me, and it’s helping me beat the winter blues. I encourage you to try getting up a bit earlier than usual. Loving yourself and dreaming on paper is fun, and just 15 minutes can make a big difference.    Alarm goes off at 4:00 am. I crawl down my ladder and start the water on for coffee. I enjoy very much my mornings to myself: writing, reading, journaling, drinking coffee, showering, being naked, writing some more, reading some more and dreaming my day into existence is a healing tonic for my crammed body. We stood around a campfire with our neighbors last week and I shared my routine with some friends. Eyes get wide when I say how early I get up, but when I say it’s keeping me sane as I glance up the hill at our tiny house, they totally get it. I am ready for my family to wake up now. Now that I’ve dreamt on paper, traveled the country by bike and imagined myself reciting poetry on stage in a tutu. The waking dreams of early morning are creating my life and it’s a multi-colored adventure. I am falling more in love with myself–a goal of mine. This love is where it starts, this living, this creating, this loving everything else. I love being awake before the rooster; racing him to the punch, I crow loudly in silence. After I play-dream, I write the work. I work to share. I’m excited about our upcoming eCourse. I go to sleep at night looking forward to waking up and dreaming, writing and putting into stories and assignments the steps of our plan. I can’t wait to help others find their own pathway to mortgage-freedom and simple living. When I dream on paper, I’m dreaming up my own future, but it’s not just my future. I imagine all of us dreaming up a better future for our planet. It starts with the early morning dreamy falling-in-love-with-yourself and then it spills out into the rest of your life. You want it. You want it. You run toward this better life. This dreamy life of love and fulfillment. It’s right there. You just have to get up and do it. Here I am sitting at this computer telling you that’s all we do. We get up and do it. The getting up is the part. The part that matters first, but then it’s the I’m getting up to create, not to read Facebook part. I’m sacrificing sleep so that I can be more awake in my day, so that I can share a raw part of my being, a part that only comes out at twilight. A part that crows before the rooster. A loud and tribal dancing tutu fairy who says, yeah, I can read poetry from a stage or bike across the country or weld with the boys. I’m rambling the ramble that happens on lots of coffee and little sleep and a longer morning alone than I usually get. Thank you, sleep, for holding my family in your cradling arms. Whisper my love into their ears as they wake to this freezing and dark morning. Tell them I love them beyond loving because I love myself that way. I love them beyond loving because they are worthy of that love. They are enough. We are all enough. We have it right here and right now. We just have to wake to it. Wake at your own time, but wake to it. I am writing like an uncensored fool. I want to be uncensored. I want to wear stripped socks with flowered boots and a purple tutu because that’s what I wear, and because it’s fun and it makes me want to dance. I am freeing myself with self-love, this overflowing self-love that says, you can wear that. You look fabulous in that. You are fabulous. Yes, Mama, you. The horizon is turning...

Read More

A Cold Winter’s Night in the Tiny House

Posted by on Dec 18, 2013 in Breathe, Parent, Recent Posts, Remember | 24 comments

A Cold Winter’s Night in the Tiny House

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...

Read More

Set the Day in Your Mind

Posted by on May 15, 2013 in Breathe, Recent Posts | 4 comments

Set the Day in Your Mind

It’s been one week since Sarah Beth Jones said “I think writing a daily blog post might be easier because it becomes a habit.” I got up the next day and decided to give daily posting a shot. She was right. A daily post forms a habit, a practice, a ritual. I’m loving this morning habit. I did miss yesterday, but that’s okay.   A dear reader and correspondent, Virginia, (high school teacher for 40 years) wrote to me a few days ago in response to Idea Flow:   Your blogs will be just fine. Just write what you see, what you feel, what you are thinking about.  For example, if I were blogging this morning, I would say that I lay in bed for little while watching the light of daybreak. I told a friend that it was most definitely a summer daybreak, and then I came down and went off the deck and the back porch and smelled the air and looked around and one could tell it was going to be a great morning –maybe a storm in the afternoon. There are millions of people who never pay attention to something like that and the really sad part: these same people are not teaching their children to pay attention to something like that. My mother taught me that ritual as a way to set the day in your mind. Get your flow and you will be just fine.   It’s rewarding to share my ideas with the world from the comfort of my own morning ritual and to hear back from another human, one who so clearly explains the passing of traditions and rituals. I’m happy to return to the knowledge of my ancestors. I hope I am doing for my kids what Virginia’s mother did for her.   We can all revere the simple moments of our lives. No matter where you live, what your work is, or who you are, you can take some time in the morning to “set the day in your mind.”   Here’s how I set today in my mind:   The rooster crows as I move seedlings out of the shed. I write in my head as I walk the path to let the chickens and ducks out for the day. The words flow out of my hose as I water the garden and the sun dances through the new green leaves. The wind wakes the forest. I want to slow the morning down to a slow nothing and walk quietly into my day. I hear bird songs that I can’t name…yet. Back in my office, chickadee wings flutter off from the window feeder. The tasks of the day arrive and I try to ease into the work, to hold onto this rustling wind of daybreak.   Cheers to Virginia for setting the day in her mind and to Virginia’s mother for teaching her to teach hers.   Happy day to you! Simply, Hari P.S. Enrollment for the Summer 2015 session of our eCourse, Creating Your Path to Mortgage-freedom is now open. Open enrollment closes on July 15, 2015. Read about the course here! Sign up for our newsletter to be informed of open enrollment for future sessions and receive our seasonal newsletter. Share...

Read More

Happy Mother’s Day

Posted by on May 12, 2013 in Breathe, Recent Posts | 0 comments

Happy Mother’s Day

A prayer for all the mothers and children. Be well. Be present. Enjoy each other. Simply, Hari P.S. Enrollment for the Summer 2015 session of our eCourse, Creating Your Path to Mortgage-freedom is now open. Open enrollment closes on July 15, 2015. Read about the course here! Sign up for our newsletter to be informed of open enrollment for future sessions and receive our seasonal newsletter. Share...

Read More

Hooray for Progress!

Posted by on Apr 11, 2013 in Breathe, Build, Grow, Recent Posts | 6 comments

Hooray for Progress!

Thank you so much for supporting my work by buying my book! I am enjoying this feeling of accomplishment, and your encouraging words fill me with joy. I am also grateful for the support of other bloggers. Here are links to reviews of my book on Tiny House Blog and Tiny House Talk as well as some link love from Rowdy Kittens. Thanks, guys! Ella was sitting in the garden planting seeds when she said, “Mommy, remember when we didn’t have a fence around the garden?” I smiled at her sitting there in the purple hat she found at a Roanoke yard sale. She is so good at keeping me present and helping me appreciate my life. “Yeah, I remember that. The deer came in and ate my peas and sweet potatoes. We went straight to tractor supply and bought the fence material.”   Archer was on the other side of the fence totally in love with his chicks and ducks. One by one he picked them up and held them to his chest, then held his hands out and let them flutter off. I never imagined we’d have 19 chickens and 6 ducks but we do. Archer says he wants to farm. It’s heartwarming to see him with his animals.   Last week, in the snow, Karl and I walked up into the woods and looked down on the little homestead. He grabbed my shoulders and pointed me at the big house. “Look what we’re doing. Look how far we’ve come.” He remembered his Dad. “That’s one thing my dad taught me. Sometimes, you gotta step back and admire your work.” We were under the giant white oak–I looked up to take in the season–still no sign of leaves, but somewhere in there she’s doing the inner work–getting ready to leaf out. I snapped a picture and then got a text. It was from my cousin, Danny. “I love the book so far. Super proud, for sure.” “Karl, I did it! I really launched my book.” “Of course you did.” On Sunday we measured and cut the second story floor joists for the big house. Karl put them up (on his own–let’s hear it for Latvian ingenuity!) while I spread mulch and planted seeds. We are moving  toward our dreams–one board, one seed, one book launch at a time. It’s important to acknowledge how far you’ve come, even if it’s only a few inches. And, of course, the true mark of success is standing present and aware for the moments of your life. What are you moving toward? What small signs of progress can you detect? Share in the comment section! Simply, Hari P.S. Enrollment for the Summer 2015 session of our eCourse, Creating Your Path to Mortgage-freedom is now open. Open enrollment closes on July 15, 2015. Read about the course here! Sign up for our newsletter to be informed of open enrollment for future sessions and receive our seasonal newsletter. Share...

Read More

My Book is on Amazon! Coming Home: Letters from a Tiny House

Posted by on Apr 3, 2013 in Breathe, Grow, Recent Posts | 10 comments

My Book is on Amazon! Coming Home: Letters from a Tiny House

Today is April 3rd. I marked this day on my calendar a couple of months ago as the day I would launch my book. I picked April 3rd because it is an auspicious day for our family. I birthed our first child, Ella, on this day 10 years ago, and 6 years ago on this day, we opened our dream restaurant, New Day Cafe. April 3rd is a good day for new beginnings like birth, New Days and new books. In late February, when there was snow on the ground, I slipped on the ice moving laundry from the washing machine in the shed up the hill to the dryer in the shed behind the tiny house. As I lay there staring at the starts, that voice–you know the one–that crusty inner critic–spoke loudly, what do you think you are doing? Why would anyone want to read about your mundane life? I sat frozen, and I’m sure you could tell. The blog has been silent for a while now, but I haven’t been totally still. I’ve been editing and birthing this book into the world. It is here–just in time for spring and the letting go I see all around me–the chicks emerge from their eggs, the seedlings crack out of their seed pods, and the ground thaws. We are so much a part of the nature around us. Never have I known this so intimately as I do now, after spending this cold and dark winter in the tiny house. But alas! It’s spring. I imagine my book flying through the air like these sweet birds who’ve returned to my window to eat sunflower seeds. I’m awed by and grateful for this opportunity we all have to share honestly person to person. Who would have imagined that one could publish like this even 10 years ago!? This opportunity we have to really help each other inspires me. So, I’m asking you to help my family by buying my book, Coming Home: Letters from a Tiny House. In turn, I hope it inspires you to come home to your best life! Thank you thank you thank you for the love and encouragement. WE really can build a new world with the choices we make every day. So much love. xo Here is a little excerpt from the book’s introduction: Through my letters, I expose my own vulnerabilities, fears, desires, and dreams. I don’t pretend to have the answers, although reading my letters may lead you to your own answers. Life in the tiny house is still life and full of mundane activities like washing dishes, doing laundry, scrubbing the toilet, cooking, eating, entertaining, caring for kids, and sleeping. It’s true; there’s an outward requirement to fitting in a tiny house: downsize your belongings to only the most necessary. That’s clear at the onset. We all know how to get rid of stuff. Most likely, you’ve done that your whole adult life. What wasn’t clear at the onset was the internal requirement to fitting in to a tiny house; the mechanics of emotion, self-acceptance, and communication were something I didn’t fully anticipate. Our family has gained much from our time in the tiny house: namely a deep connection to ourselves and each other. We’re a stubborn bunch. There are loud moments when we’re neither listening to nor respecting each other. There have been awful moments when we didn’t think we could take another minute of living in such close quarters, but those moments served to propel us into a study of nonviolent communication and mindfulness practice. Archer said it best after closing his eyes and listening to a chime while breathing deep. “I feel a lot of space.” There is infinite space available to us if we know how to turn within to find home. I present my weekly letters as a study of one family’s journey to understand our basic needs—how we stripped away everything else and found joy. Simply, Hari P.S. Enrollment for the Summer 2015 session of our eCourse, Creating Your Path to Mortgage-freedom is now open. Open enrollment...

Read More

Merry Christmas

Posted by on Dec 23, 2012 in Breathe, Recent Posts, Remember | 6 comments

Merry Christmas

What an amazing journey 2012 has been—from the darkness and depression I experienced in January to flying to New York City to share our tiny house with a national TV audience in April, to a summer full of planting, harvesting, and canning to a glorious fall and a leap of faith. Even though so much has changed in 2012, one thing has been consistent: every Sunday, I sat down to reflect on my week, synthesized my experience into some sort of lesson, and sent an email to my letter subscribers. I have been working on my first e-book–a compilation of these weekly letters and photographs. It is exciting and scary to think about sending these words out into the world, and I’m forever grateful to you folks who subscribe to my letters and read my blog posts. It’s incredibly encouraging to read your emails and comments. Thanks to all of you for following our journey. I hope that through our journey, you’ve found some courage and inspiration to live your intentions. We send you warm Christmas wishes and lots of love and courage! Until next year. . . Hari   Simply, Hari P.S. Enrollment for the Summer 2015 session of our eCourse, Creating Your Path to Mortgage-freedom is now open. Open enrollment closes on July 15, 2015. Read about the course here! Sign up for our newsletter to be informed of open enrollment for future sessions and receive our seasonal newsletter. Share...

Read More

I’ve Got the Power

Posted by on Oct 26, 2012 in Breathe, Recent Posts | 26 comments

I’ve Got the Power

I am so excited! This is the first day of my freelance writing career, and we are featured on HuffingtonPost Home. I’ll take that as a great big (((YES))) from the great beyond. Thanks to Amy Marturana for the fun interview! Read her article and tour our tiny house.   These are the power lines at the top of the hill where we live. I don’t love that we have massive power lines nearby, and am thankful to the trees for hiding them from our view, but standing up there last night, I felt gratitude for them. I squinted to see them as they climbed up and down these Blue Ridge Mountains bringing power to all sorts of endeavors. As I soaked in the beauty of the amazing fall sunset, I heard our friend Tracy’s unexpected words, “Wow those power lines are beautiful. It’s amazing what humans have accomplished.” Her words helped me to appreciate the power lines. As the sun sunk behind the mountains and the power above me crackled on it’s way to somewhere else, I visualized myself plugged into it.   Yesterday, was my last day at my day job. I quit my job to be a writer. I’ve been afraid to take this leap for a long time for many reasons, one of the biggest: my fear of not having enough. This tiny life has shown me how little we need, how much we have, and how simplifying and “cultivating contentment” brings happiness. I am grateful and very excited to have the opportunity to follow my bliss and plug into my power! This is a link to a fair companies video of my blogging friend Debra and her tiny house remodel. I love her line “cultivating contentment.” We can so cultivate contentment, and it feels so good. This morning, I wrote a list of intentions in my journal and hung them in my office corner. I intend to read them daily. This freedom is going to take a lot of discipline!   I’ve got the power to. . . Show up for the writing Keep my focus Stick with my intentions Be present for my kids and Karl Say “No.” Say “Yes!” Speak my truth Be kind Be vulnerable Build a house Raise animals Grow more food Walk everyday Create a money-making freelance writing business Finish my ebooks and load them onto the blog Heal Give Breathe Meditate Share Be happy Teach Learn Help Own my story Manage my time Submit widely Live my richly simple life Hyper-save Monitor my social media usage Speak publicly Listen Love Laugh Keep a clean house Cook yummy meals Accept what is while moving toward what I want   You’ve got the power! What are your intentions? Write them down. Share them in the comment section. Post them where you’ll see them. Go for it!   Thanks so much for visiting! Be well. Simply, Hari P.S. Enrollment for the Summer 2015 session of our eCourse, Creating Your Path to Mortgage-freedom is now open. Open enrollment closes on July 15, 2015. Read about the course here! Sign up for our newsletter to be informed of open enrollment for future sessions and receive our seasonal newsletter. Share...

Read More

The Hardest Thing About Living Tiny

Posted by on Aug 31, 2012 in Breathe, Recent Posts | 21 comments

The Hardest Thing About Living Tiny

I’ve been asked this question more than once: What’s the hardest thing about living in the tiny house? The hardest thing about living in a tiny house is answering that question. It’s hard for many reasons, but for everything I come up with, I find the positive side. I’m grateful for the difficulties because they keep us growing as individuals and as a family. It’s still life, really, so it’s hard for me to separate out what is the tiny house and what would be life in any other house. Certain things get easier, certain things get harder, as with any change in lifestyle. One of the hardest things about our lifestyle is keeping the house tidy with kids around–a small pile of shoes makes the entire house messy, but then the easiest thing is it only takes two seconds to clean it up! So really, when asked that question, it stumps me, because I don’t look for what’s hard, I look for what makes me feel alive. Living tiny makes me feel very alive, it forces me to find creative solutions to logistical challenges like: how can I get the space and solitude I need to commit to a daily writing practice? Get up earlier than everyone else. How can four stubborn, headstrong individuals navigate 168 ft. peacefully? Practice non-violent communication, breath deeply, play outside, create together, allow each other alone-time in the woods, let go of expectations.   Some advice to those designing a tiny house: This week, I saw an online conversation among folks who are building and planning their own tiny houses and someone asked, “What about a range hood? Do we really need one in our space?” The comments leaned toward not needing one or a bathroom vent being good enough. I’d like to encourage anyone building a tiny or small house to give a lot of consideration to ventilation, especially if you plan to cook much in your tiny house. We went with a 36” range hood we found on Craigslist. It is larger than our stove. I recommend going with more range hood than less, because getting three to four burners going at once creates enough heat to raise the temperature in the house at least 10 degrees, and quick! This is great in winter, but in summer, turning on the hood while cooking helps keep the house from warming up so much, it also keeps the exhaust from stinking up the house. Many folks don’t cook much in their tiny houses, especially in urban environments, so think through your own lifestyle before heeding advice from anyone. There is a specific right answer for you and only you can find it. For me, I am super glad we have such a large range hood—it actually vents the entire house in a few minutes!   Check out our ireport on CNN! Our friend and talented photographer, Audrey Brooke, the pictures for the story–we love them!   This showed up on LifeEdited, and this on TinyHouseListings. It makes me smile to think that we are inspiring others to design their own American Dream.   Go on, do it!       Simply, Hari P.S. Enrollment for the Summer 2015 session of our eCourse, Creating Your Path to Mortgage-freedom is now open. Open enrollment closes on July 15, 2015. Read about the course here! Sign up for our newsletter to be informed of open enrollment for future sessions and receive our seasonal newsletter. Share...

Read More

My First Blog Post: A Year Later

Posted by on Aug 22, 2012 in Breathe, Grow, Recent Posts | 21 comments

My First Blog Post: A Year Later

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: Making Pesto 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?” “Yes.” “Okay.” 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...

Read More

Slow Down

Posted by on Jul 25, 2012 in Breathe, Recent Posts | 10 comments

Slow Down

I sat on the deck last night and looked west. The sun was casting long rays across the garden lighting up the rain droplets on the butternut squash. The chickens were eating the cabbage worms from the cabbage leaves I spread out for them, and the kids were running around down by the creek. I could hear whoops and screeches as they played with the neighbor kids. The crickets were humming and the birds singing. We just ate dinner on the deck, the dishes still on the table, with pieces of cucumber salad, cabbage and pork stew, mashed new potatoes—the garden is feeding us. I looked at Karl and said “This is my favorite time of year.” Though, I may say that again in fall and winter and spring. Those moments when everything is at it’s peak of the season, and I know it, those are the moments I love. I love the slowing down: hanging clothes on the line and watching it rain on them for two days, the way the chickens know exactly when it’s time to go in. I’ve had a stream of connections with old friends lately. It feels good. We moved to a new town two years ago, and I am in love with it. I love the community and friendships we are developing. I love the hills and trees. I love the farms and music. But, having my old friend, Ellen (from my Freshman year in college), visit last weekend gave me something I’ve been missing. I was fumbling for the word to describe what her visit did for me. I was remembering  a recent article about the regrets of the dying, and one regret was losing touch with old friends. “There’s something having you here gives me, after exploring all this newness, something steady and deep. It gives my life—” “—continuity.” She finished my sentence, like an old friend can. “The work is done, we can enjoy each other.” Yes! That’s it. The acceptance for another that develops over time—when we stick with and make the effort to stay in touch with our friends, is a deep delight, a slowing down. There’s more where that came from! I am preparing to host another old friend, Janet, who helped us open New Day Cafe, who knows me amidst the elation of opening and the despair of losing it all. She’s the one who took the kids for the night without my asking, who bought a vacuum cleaner because we needed one, who gave whatever she had to help us through. Reconnecting with this friend, this time, will give my life even more “–continuity.” Yes! Simply, Hari P.S. Enrollment for the Summer 2015 session of our eCourse, Creating Your Path to Mortgage-freedom is now open. Open enrollment closes on July 15, 2015. Read about the course here! Sign up for our newsletter to be informed of open enrollment for future sessions and receive our seasonal newsletter. Share...

Read More

A Year of Tiny House Living

Posted by on Jun 20, 2012 in Breathe, Recent Posts | 15 comments

A Year of Tiny House Living

It is the solstice. Sunna, our sweet puppy, is barking large, fast circles around the property. I am up early to write from the garden, strong cup of coffee in hand. The sun is rising over the ridge and together with the forest paints designs on the wet soil. The bird songs are many and harmonious. Our woodpecker makes its echoing sounds trailing off to silence. The air is cool with a tint of warmth that tells me this will be a hot day. Summer solstice is here. I am happy to report that we’ve made it through a full cycle of seasons plus six-weeks in the tiny house. Has it been easy? No. Has it been worthwhile? Yes. When I look back through my journal, I see growth. The cycles of nature give me a lens through which to view my own patterns. Living in a tiny house has brought me even closer to nature. I love having a view of the outside, no matter which way I look from my perch on our homemade couch, and the way the outdoors are so integral to how we live. Moving in in spring, we had the chance to adjust to our small living quarters while also having the outdoors available as a retreat. It was a time of moving outside, just like the animals, into the sun to find food and sing. I felt joy! We made it to our big goal of living on our land and in our own mortgage-free house. Summer, with her heat and light brought us out even further into the world. We made new friends, had deck gatherings, launched the blog and celebrated. As fall moved in, I felt a need to gather strength. I feared the long shadows, the coming of the dark, the anticipation of cabin fever. But, I stayed with it. I felt the feelings, rather than running from them. We gathered up our outdoor stuff, Karl built a shed, and we cuddled up. Winter sat on me with her darkness. I felt frozen, still. Though our home was warm and lovely, I felt lonely. I was seeking my way out of the darkness. I learned that being honest with myself about how I am feeling is courageous. To share the not-so-pretty feelings with others brings on a vulnerability which makes me feel happy to be alive. I’ve said it before: there are many joys to living in a tiny space, one is that there is nowhere to go. Nowhere to hide from myself, no room to try to fill the voids with stuff (thereby avoiding the stuff of me, of my relationships to my family, to my friends, to the earth). The contemplation and introspection of winter blossomed in spring. The garden was mostly free of rocks and the garlic I planted in fall popped up along with the lilies. Our house got bigger! I finished up a four-month public school teaching assignment and moved to working part-time for a non-profit with the mission of sustainability. I dug and planted and weeded so much that my fingers were stiff and sore when I woke up. Now, it is the solstice, the longest day of the year. I am able to reflect on the sun’s dance across the sky and watch myself dance with her. It is at times an inward dance and at others an outward dance. All of it holds the glory of being alive. Simply, Hari P.S. Enrollment for the Summer 2015 session of our eCourse, Creating Your Path to Mortgage-freedom is now open. Open enrollment closes on July 15, 2015. Read about the course here! Sign up for our newsletter to be informed of open enrollment for future sessions and receive our seasonal newsletter. Share...

Read More
Google+