Simple Is A Feeling

Simple Is A Feeling

It is the day after Christmas and I feel content.  My family cooked together, watched Bob Ross paint a winter scene on Netflix (sounds boring but we laughed and laughed and were amazed) stood around a fire in the snow with the dogs, listened to music, attended a candlelit solstice yoga class at Sandpoint Hot Yoga , walked, worked a puzzle, shared meals with friends and enjoyed each others company.  It was a simple and beautiful winter scene.

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Stunning snow covered Lake Pend Oreille;

I am grateful to my friends and family that understood that both my kids and myself don’t need much.  Gift cards, a paid month at the gym, a massage, books, Christmas money and music were some of the thoughtful gifts received.  Nothing needs to be exchanged, and we do not need to find closet space to house a giant haul of gifts. With all the recent purging it feels exactly right.

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A gift of tiny succulents, perfect for a tiny house!

Occasionally here in North Idaho we will experience earthquakes, nothing terribly devastating, just enough of the ground shaking to look at one another and say “Did you feel that?”  It catches your attention, provokes some conversation and we move on with the day.  This week while I was finishing another collection of items for the donations pile, I stopped and had that same earthquake sort of moment.  Suddenly I thought, “I can feel it.”, the house actually FEELS lighter.  The realization stopped my busyness and I thought … this is it …. this is what simplicity feels like.  The house is gaining space, some of it hidden in drawers and behind closet doors, but the open space is there and I can sense it.

I am also noticing that since the house is already free of much clutter, keeping it that way takes very little of my time.  It’s nice to come home and have a tidy space to greet me.  This week my kitchen will receive some attention,  digging into the corners of the cupboards, pantry and fridge. My guy has a habit of dating jar lids when he opens them, which at first I thought was rather OCD, but now I know exactly how long that favorite salad dressing has been sitting on the shelf and really should be tossed!  Sounds like the perfect detox for the new year.

May your season also be filled with simplicity,  the people you love, and the miracles that surround us every day.

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With 2017 right around the corner, pour love and light into your world …

Hillary D.

The Games We Play

The Games We Play

During the cold, dark, short days of winter the puzzles come out, it’s how I avoid the temptation to slip into sleep before 7 o’clock every night because it’s been dark for hours already.  The title of the latest winter puzzle is “The Games We Play”,  and it’s full of nostalgia as I have always loved board games.  This however is not a particularly cozy, happy post.

As I searched for the spinner to High Ho Cheerio, I was listening to the television when a story about the White Helmets of Syria came on.  These are volunteers who dig out survivors after a brutal bombing has occurred. They look for legs or fingers or any other visible body part and begin to frantically dig away at the rubble with bare hands, and time is of the essence to save victims from suffocation.  My Hi Ho Cheerio search became irrelevant as I watched the images come across the screen of the horror that is Aleppo.  I have no reference of suffering at that level and felt overwhelmed to be sitting in a safe and warm home lit softly by Christmas lights, with plenty of food, clean water and my family.

 

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Warm on a cold winter night.

It is always a worthwhile exercise to connect with the suffering of others, it keeps our humanity in check. Life often hangs by a fragile thread and while I cannot change the reality of those living in Aleppo, I CAN be mindful of the energy I put out in to the world.

Today was my test. It was just ONE OF THOSE DAYS.

The kicker was dropping off a mass mailing of report cards (mass mailings tend to provoke tension from the onset), only to have the postal lady call as I was three blocks away that I needed to return because all the envelopes were 20 to 40 cents short on postage. If there hadn’t been half the population of the county waiting in line when I returned I might have had a memorable moment in the post office.  I return to the school, reweigh the envelopes (which the majority were under the 1 ounce limit…thank you very much) and headed home.  My sons friends were listening to their music that tends to set my teeth on edge and sitting at the puzzle.  I looked at their impressive progress and said, “Whatever you do, DO NOT FINISH THE PUZZLE, that is the best part!”  Realizing I need to get a grip I retreated to a quiet room.

I remind myself that my “bad” day is nothing, nothing other than an inconvenience. So I say a small simple prayer for those who are fighting … for Aleppo, for cancer, for loneliness and homelessness, and hunger …  I make my family a delicious vegetable red curry and I feel so, so terribly blessed.

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Peace and Love,

Hillary D.

 

 

Reality Check

Reality Check

Sometimes, the road ahead is blocked, but clearing the way becomes part of the journey. Learn to tell when it’s time to let go, to surrender, to search for another road, a different path, another dream.  But also tell, when it’s time to move forward, through obstacles if need be, because the dream is electric, charged by Divine energy and love.  Melody Beattie

I’ve purged, and purged, given items away, had garage sales and dropped off garbage bag after garbage bag of clothes, books  and random household stuff.  The hard reality is I am not even close to being where I need to be.

Let’s talk clothes.

I am not an aggressive shopper, I like a new skirt or pair of shoes but shopping is not how I fill my free time. It’s why it is easy for me to live in a town that does not have a mall, at least not the kind of mall most of America would consider worthy. Our mall here has ONE clothing store (JC Penny’s) and the boutique shops downtown generally are priced higher than I am usually willing to pay for clothing, as a matter of fact some of my favorite clothes were a thrift store score.

Folding a recent load of laundry the reality set in that I still have way too much clothing for a tiny house closet.  I want plenty of time to experience living in a minimalist fashion before moving in so that I have one less adjustment to make.  Curious as to where I really stand with clothing I took inventory and it looks like this;

Hoodies (9), Fleece (5), T-shirts (30), Long Sleeve T-shirts (20),Sweaters (18), Sweatshirts (2),  Tank tops (16), Shorts (12),  Shoes (27),  Skirts (17), Dresses (3), Jackets (7), Coats (7), Hats (9), Scarves (23), Belts (9), Yoga Clothes (23), Workout clothes (5), Pajamas (5), Jeans (7),  Capris (6),  Slacks (10), Tights (9), Winter Layers (6), Blouses (24), Vests (4), Jackets (7), Coats (7) … God forbid, have I missed anything?

That totals up to 312 pieces of clothing, after what I thought was downsizing.  This has me seriously looking at my lifestyle and what clothing I need to support the life I actually live. Twenty seven pairs of shoes … there is no way I will be able to store that collection in the tiny!

I have to keep coming back, and keep coming back to my WHY. Why am I  taking such a hard look at my belongings and my life.  It is a growth process of figuring out what I value the most and removing anything that distracts me from those values.  I remind myself that minimizing my belongings is not about what is being taken away, but more about what it will add to my life.

It’s the Christmas season and a tough time of year to buck the powerful system of consumerism that is prevalent in our country. I had to take my fast growing teen son out to get some clothes today.  We dropped off bags of our discards at a local thrift store and went inside.  He found 3 pairs of pants that fit perfectly, were stylish, and cost us all of $10. I managed to peruse the racks of clothing and found several items that were loudly calling my name, but I remembered the bags we had just dropped off and the 312 pieces of clothing still in my closet and walked away feeling mighty about resisting the urge to buy.

I am challenging myself to a ban on buying (except for gifts for others), and will let you know how long I last before some material item causes me to spend. It won’t be long until spring and then the tiny house buying spree begins!

Thank you to those of you who are reading, commenting and encouraging me … I need you!  There will be more updates as I to learn to let go (220 items and counting) as I march towards the tiny house.

Enjoy the Trek, and Love Abundantly.

Hillary D.

Fit to Build

Fit to Build

So the plan is that I will build  much of my future tiny house myself, with help from my boys, friends and other skilled people who have offered their talents to the project. I know this is possible because I’ve seen other women in my stage of life successfully pull off their projects with great results. I do however, know my limits.

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One of my favorite tiny house builders,               Karin Parramore .

I do not love heights, and am not convinced it is a fear I wish to conquer, so the roof installation by a professional is probably money well spent.  I would rather not burn the house down, so the expertise of an electrician friend will be much appreciated and I am sure there will be many other instances where I will not be too proud to ask for help or advice.   In addition to books and online forums, YouTube has become a fantastic resource for every aspect of building a house on a trailer. A few of my favorite channels are Ana WhiteLife Inside A Box, and Tiny House, Giant Journey.

I also know my physical, emotional, and mental health need to be in tip top shape.  So I am preparing myself for the rigors well in advance.  I am working to get strong, primarily to avoid injury.  There are a couple of local businesses I’d like to give a shout out to who are integral partners in creating greater strength and wellbeing and are a part of my tiny house journey.

My  favorite place to get centered and sweat is at Sandpoint Hot Yoga.  I decided in October of 2014 that I would actually start PRACTICING yoga and not just dabble in it when my body felt beat up.  I had never done any hot yoga before, and to be honest,  I truly hated it at first.  Sometimes all I could focus on was how much longer will this last, or I’d think about what I had to do that day, or a breakfast burrito sure sounds good, or why does it have to be so hot, and dang … yoga is HARD.

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This looks relatively simple…until you attempt to do it correctly.

I’ve learned to appreciate the different styles of several great teachers but one in particular has really changed my life.  Nicole Murray who teaches Power Vinyasa classes has taken me farther than I believed I could go.  She has taught me how to let go of my ego and more importantly how to breathe, or to remember to breathe, or to breathe in new ways. You would think that remembering to breathe wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but trust me, you forget and breathing makes all the difference.

Starting hot yoga was intimidating for me, I am not the typical lithe thin yoga body. I have boobs, and hips and a menopausal mid-section so stepping into the mirrored room with young bendy bodies didn’t exactly provoke overwhelming levels of confidence.  But, I had made a commitment to keep showing up,  so I did.  Having a teacher that encouraged her class to try and fail and try again, gave me the encouragement to keep challenging my balance and my flexibility, and mental stamina.  Nicole even appreciates the yogi that comes in and just lies on their mat in the heat for 65 minutes, because that is all they can give that day.   I sweat, and I fall (sometimes in a spectacular manner with sound effects and all) and I keep on going.  I listen and persevere with patience and acceptance and have made progress.  Whether I actually achieve my desired poses, I now BELIEVE that I can, and that I can also build a house.

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Someday …

Knowing the materials for my house are HEAVY, I thought it couldn’t hurt to increase my strength so I started working with a trainer that I have known for many years.  Missy Balison  has me sweating buckets while I lift what feels like impossibly heavy weights and she asks for more burpees than can possibly be good for you (wink, wink!)  Missy has a colorful studio, well equipped with a vast array of exercise equipment to keep things interesting. She is another instructor that creates an encouraging environment to explore your limits, not to mention the wealth of knowledge Missy possesses regarding all things nutrition and exercise science. I like the camaraderie of the other women who have also had to get dressed, tie their shoes and venture out into  the still dark morning to tackle their own goals.   If you are reading this from outside the Sandpoint area she also has an active online training program, you can check out her services here or on Facebook.

These teachers and the environments they create are one more building block for my future life that is forming and I want to say thank you with deep gratitude for the knowledge and passion for their craft that they share.  Women empowering women is a beautiful thing.

Trekkin’ and Sweatin’ and appreciating the little things along the way …

Hillary D.

The Scoop on Poop

The Scoop on Poop

A desire to be able to live off the grid without any infrastructure,  brings up a number of logistics that need to be worked out, one of the biggest being water use. Traditional  toilets use an average of 1.5 gallons per flush which has me thinking.  I will not be on a well or city water hookups and will have somewhere around 40 gallons of water in a holding tank, enough for daily use of cooking and dishes and a shower.  I am now practicing the art of a quick shower and have the health club, yoga studio, school or Bill’s primary residence when the necessity for a long hot shower should arise.  If I am flushing a toilet 3 or 4 times a day … that makes filling the holding tank a real and constant chore.

Bathrooms can often be an interesting adventure. The facilities in India were a problem for me, I have bad knees and it was typically an urgent visit!  I never did figure out how the women wrapped in saris were able to gracefully navigate this option.

 

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Troublesome for bad knees!

 

I had close friends who lived off grid and had an outhouse. It was nice to sit there looking out the screen door into the woods. However,  I never made the walk in January,  in the dark,  in a snowstorm. I love to camp, but pit toilets are not my favorite pit stops.

 

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No one loves these.

I’ve never quite understood the desire for a bathroom that rivals the size of a small bedroom.  I’m just not one who has the need to luxuriate for long periods of time in the bathroom. I have a very small master bath now and it suits me just fine, I get in and get out and get on with the day.  My tiny house bathroom will have a shower, a sink and after much research … a composting toilet.

There is a surprising amount of information and talk out there regarding composting toilets.  The Humanure Handbook by Joseph Jenkins is one of the more popular books educating interested off-grid, eco-minded folks on how to install, use and recycle the waste from a composting toilet.

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If the thought of human manure makes you squeamish, trust me, I’m right there with you.  There is a learning curve associated with any sustainable living and this is one of them.  I have read many, many other blogs of tiny house people who are using composting toilets and they all swear that they are easy to use, friendlier to empty than a black water tank, and most importantly … don’t smell.

Some tiny house occupants choose the five gallon bucket/sawdust method while others prefer a Nature’s Head or the Separette  composting toilet.  The manufactured toilets separate the urine from the solids which controls the awful sewage smell that no one wants to scent their house with, especially a tiny house.  The urine is diluted with water and can be used to water the yard (we’ve probably all peed outdoors at some point in our life!) the solids are mixed with peat moss, agitated and have a fan that constantly runs drying things out and venting to the outdoors.

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I can’t say I’m totally sold on this method of waste disposal, but I’ve never tried it either so really I’m just fearful of what is unfamiliar.  With three kids, I’ve changed hundreds of unpleasant diapers and survived those years without lingering trauma as well as digging cat holes in the backcountry, so I am confident it will all work out.  Not to mention, there are PLENTY of modern facilities available everywhere for a traditional bathroom visit.

So that is the scoop on poop.

Keep on trekking … and SMILE!

Hillary D.