The decision to build a tiny house was a relatively easy one. It financially makes sense, it appeals to my creative nature and the gift of time maintaining less than 300 sq.ft. will afford is enticing. Putting the tiny house into motion is where the tough decisions began.  If you’ve ever made a major move in your life you become hyper aware of what you own. Having to touch every item in your home, down to the last pencil rolling around under the couch, is what makes moving such an exhausting experience.

My downsizing began with a divorce, don’t misread, the tiny house idea has surfaced years later and was not the driving force of my divorce! The emotional rollercoaster of dissolving a relationship that has spanned decades was the first line of business at hand, especially when it is not a shared goal with the parties involved.  The truth is that I was the driving force in my divorce, this was not something my ex wanted or anticipated.  We had a lot of years together spanning from our beginning at a Colorado ski resort, to the end raising three kids in a 3500 sq.ft. log home on 5 acres that we had built in Idaho.  Divorce is not for the faint of heart and I believe that many stay in unhappy marriages because the other option is overwhelming. This was not a decision to be taken lightly, divorce hits the family hard and has long reaching tentacles that touch extended family and friends.  The day I left with a moving truck and my three kids in tow was one of the hardest days ever.

I moved into a rental that a close friend of mine owned and they allowed me to bring my dogs and live with a month to month lease as I couldn’t think further out as to what my future looked like.  It was one day at a time and I left with only what we needed. Beds, a couch and a chair, a table to eat and do homework at, dishes, clothing and a few items that had sentimental value.  Everything else stayed at the log home.  We were adjusting from having a large house with lots of outdoor space in the country to living in under 1000 square feet with a small yard in town. The kids struggled and the dogs barked … everyone voicing their displeasure at being uprooted from the only home they ever knew.

This was my first small space and I loved that little house. As a family we were forced to deal with each other as there wasn’t room to disappear like there was in the big house.  Our lives were in chaos but that little house felt cozy and safe.  We spent a winter in the Forest Street house and in the spring moved into another slightly larger home where we currently still live.  Over the last few years we have settled into the Pine Street house, and the 1600 sq. ft. has worked well for us.  The house can be cleaned top to bottom in a couple of hours and the yard is a breeze to maintain as I have removed all the grass from the narrow yard.

The small backyard that requires no mowing!
The small backyard that requires no mowing!

We have definitely acquired more things than we originally began our “new normal” life with.  The emptying of the log home was a long and arduous process over the last several years. The house had closets that still contained the kids belongings, sports equipment, furniture, a library full of books, holiday decorations, photographs, artwork, an office filled with paperwork, and lots of curriculum and supplies from the years of home schooling. There is also a two story shop behind the house that was completely filled with tools, building supplies and anything else that couldn’t be stored in the house.

The log home that housed our lives for 15 years.
The log home that housed our lives for 15 years.

The house was slated to be sold and making decisions regarding the belongings that remained was tense.  I understood that my ex was struggling as he loved this house dearly, the construction was a labor of love.  The kids were not spending time out there for reasons of their own and so he was now alone in this big expanse with reminders everywhere of his family.  Wading through the sea of belongings was at times emotional and other times spawned bickering and high emotions.  Slowly…very slowly, decisions were made.  Several years after the divorce the house was finally sold and now a sense of urgency hit to clear out for good.

I couldn’t believe that my ex had actually managed to empty the shop, that was a major undertaking.  He sold household items at an auction house, gave items away, sold vehicles, and made many trips to the dump.  When he blazed out of town in a motor home pulling a trailer his job was done, but the house still had items left behind.  Beds, couches, lamps, outdoor furniture, a gas grill, bookcases, file cabinets, and lots of misc. items still remained and had to go. The trail of belongings seemed to never end.

We rented a 20 ft moving truck and filled every corner of it, and there was still items left behind.  Luckily the new owners were excited and anxious to take possession and offered to deal with the items I still had not moved and would clean the place as well.  That was a HUGE and generous blessing!  I let my oldest son take whatever items he needed in his house and the rest was sold off the back of the truck in my driveway.  A major hurdle had been overcome.

The winter months are closing in and I will be making tiny house decisions and continuing to downsize while the snow flies. I have an 18 month timeline to build and prepare for a minimalist lifestyle.  My tiny house model is giving me a sense of space and a bigger understanding of what I will actually be able to own!

Playing with space, finishes, and fixtures in my future tiny house.
Playing with space, finishes, and fixtures in my future tiny house.

Looking at my future life inside a little box, I realize that everything must have a purpose and/or meaning. Drastically reducing your footprint isn’t for everyone and there are days that “this is a crazy and stupid idea” thoughts take over and I have to remind myself of why this choice appeals to me, that the trade-off will be greater financial freedom and new experiences.

I would love to hear feedback on your own life inside a box and your feelings about the belongings contained within.

Until next time, keep on keeping on …

Hillary D.

 

8 thoughts on “Tough Decisions

  1. Wow Hillary. This is a very touching blog. How brave of you to so honestly “put it all out there.” I admire your courage. We all live in a world of excess. At the end of they day, only your heath truly matters. I know I don’t need to tell you that…obviously you have your priorities in order. Looking forward to your next entry. Take care and thanks for sharing.

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    1. Hi Allison! Thank you for the encouragement, this journey into something new has been difficult and a real opportunity to take inventory of what is important. There are so many factors that have influenced this choice of minimalism and I look forward to sharing the story from the beginning ideas, to the building process and life in a tiny house.

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  2. Disa and I can so relate about the accumulation of stuff… having moved 2X’s in the last year… from a home we kept for 21 years… there is an old saying that makes more sense today… “3 moves is equal to a good fire…” I think you’ll get the idea. Keep the faith!

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  3. I really appreciate you sharing your story of how you came to downsizing to a tiny house! For me, I’ve only ever lived in studio apartments as a city dweller (well, since moving out of my parent’s house after college) but I still have downsizing to do in preparation for the tiny house! I’m currently doing the same thing as you, as I clean and do laundry I create a pile of items that I not longer plan to keep, then after a week or two take them to good will. I’ve also started putting aside (physically and mentally) some things I’d like to sell. For me, this process has a lot to do with the financial freedom and home owndership it will provide me. I haven’t taken the plunge into the “sentimental” items yet. Baby steps! I read the “Life changing magic of tidying up” a couple years ago, and while it’s not for everyone I’m eager to go back to it and seriously do the process this time. Christmas break = downsizing extravaganza for me! Good luck 🙂

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