How Tiny Living Changed Me

Life’s so joyous, so sad, so ephemeral, so crazy, so meaningless, so goddamn funny. This is paradise, and I wish I could give you some.
— Robyn Davidson

What were you doing a year ago? I'll give you a few seconds to ponder where you were living, what kind of adventures you were going on, your relationship with a significant other, friendships, career, lifestyle, etc. Now think of where you are today. Are you a different person in these aspects of your life?

Tiny living has changed me as a person, as a lover, as a friend, as a working professional, as a homeowner, as an explorer ...

When Greg, Blaize and I started this journey eight months ago, we had every intention of building a tiny house. That's what we thought we wanted to do. That's what our friends and family thought was best as well.

Living in a camper trailer does more than prepare you for tiny living. It challenges you to have deep conversations with yourself about what kind of life you want to lead, who you want to lead it with and what's possible.

Aspire to BE an Outlier

When I look in the mirror, I see a happier, healthier and more energetic version of myself. A girl who is less anxious or apprehensive before going on wild adventures. Sometimes I don't even recognize her.

I thought I wanted that big house "with a white picket fence" in the suburbs. (Writing that sentence almost made me throw up.)

We walk through life following what others do or say because we're afraid to take the lead. We assume others have it all figured out. The truth is, none of us do. But there are things we can do to make ourselves stand out and not get lost in the chaos.

Don't forget to tell yourself that, 'You are good enough!'

Just because you might be doing something that other people have done before, doesn't mean it's not unique. You are doing it in your own way. It's your style, your interpretation.

The things you do are yours and yours alone, so own it!

I used to also be a negative person at times. If someone wasn't sticking to "the rules" or what society said someone should do, it made me uncomfortable.

On an episode of Last Man on Earth, I watched one of the characters demand that the other person wear a seat belt in the car (even though we are to assume they are the only people left on Earth). No, I'm not telling you to not wear a seat belt! This helped me realize that there's a time and place for rules and sometimes it's okay to break them if it doesn't injure other people.

That dare devil in me has always been there, but I just thought the crazy stories of traveling and exploring belonged to other people. I thought that maybe I wasn't an expert enough to backpack into the woods, ski between the trees or conquer that handstand pose.

If you want to be doing something, go do it!

Always be Happily Lost

Photo Credit: BAMPhoto

How did a city girl like me get tangled in this tiny web? Simple. I met Greg and I am thankful every single day that I did.

I was the girl that challenged him on all aspects of tiny living and he remained calm the entire time. Perhaps he knew I would be thanking him later.

Tiny living takes time. The first month isn't going to be easy and every month after probably won't be a piece of cake either. But life isn't easy, so make sure you're going through it with someone that complements you and encourages you to be a better person.

On the daily, I bump into Greg, overhear him on his phone calls and ask him to grab something for me because he's in my way.

If you can live in 140-square-feet with someone, you can most likely, live with them anywhere.

This kind of experience prepares you to travel for long periods of time with your partner without anywhere to escape to. It helps you realize why you need that other person in your life (others might realize the opposite).

I embrace our small space and each other as a reminder that life is too short to "sweat the small stuff."

Square footage is overrated. Love is not.

Open Yourself to New Connections

I used to think I had just the right amount of friends, so why bother making new ones. Then I would scroll through Instagram and see amazing photographers, yogis, slackliners, rock climbers and other badass people, and think, 'I want to be doing those things! I want to get to know these people.'

Don't be afraid to reach out to your role models and connect. Ask them to share tips on how they got to be so amazing at what they do. Ask them to show you how to be better at what they're good at. They are real people too, and most likely, they will be flattered you want to learn from them.

We are always changing and our friend groups should be expanding to meet those changes.

The people I surround myself with spread positivity and are doing creative things with their time and energy. These people want to change the world. They want to drive down back roads and hike new trails. They don't let the weather stop them from doing the things they want to do.

Question, But Don't Over Question

I know a lot of people my age are always asking, 'Am I in the right job? Am I making enough money? Is this what I should be doing with my life?'

These are the questions we should always be asking. Challenge yourself to find a career that matches what you enjoy doing. As an added bonus, make it something that inspires or educates others in a positive way.

If you can't find the passion in your job, try finding that passion on your own time.

We can't all have that perfect 9-5. Don't exhaust yourself searching for it. Spend time in your personal life fulfilling your talents and exploring your interests.

The more you practice your passions (whether at work or outside of work), the more people will notice. For example, if you enjoy doing yoga, you might look into being a yoga teacher. If you are artistic, you might explore starting up an Etsy shop to make a little extra cash. And if you decide these are the things you should be doing instead of the 9-5, pack up your office and find a way to make these things your daily grind.

Home is Better on the Road

I grew up thinking that home could only be in one spot. When my family moved out of that one place I called home, I felt like it would be hard to find another place to start over and begin new memories.

When you played the MASH fortune-telling game as a kid, was a tiny house an option? How about a tipi, a van or a camper trailer? We grow up thinking that a home must look a certain way to be a home.

But the truth is, our home is wherever we want it to be.

One of the best ways to be a nomad or live a life on the road is to start removing yourself from your attachments. Sometimes a tent brings us all the comfort we need for the night and a backpack has all of our essentials.

Home is more about people than it is about location. Once you start thinking less about home as an actual structure and place, and focus more on spending your time with people you love, you will realize that you can live just about anywhere.

Remain Calm in the Chaos

Let me let you in on a little secret: This might be the hardest thing to do.

Here's a little exercise:

Think of where you live right now and the people you share that space with. Now add a few more people, a few more animals and some more stuff. Are you getting stressed, yet? Now take away all of those things and you're left with what you currently have. Life in the present looks pretty good, right?

The key to remaining calm is to stay focused in the now.

Don't get too ahead of yourself thinking of the future, and there's no good in dwelling on the past. If you say something you regret, stop to apologize and then move forward. Check in with yourself each day to set an intention for yourself.

Each of us will have different methods of checking in. Some might leave sticky notes on the mirror to remind them of the things important in their lives. Some might meditate, do yoga or go for a walk. Sometimes the toughest thing might be to put away your phone, turn off your computer or TV and just be present with yourself and the people you love.

Whatever it is, try to give yourself a little bit of it each day. We might not be perfect at it, but we can strive to get a little bit better. Try to spread positivity and leave the negativity at the door. Step aside from others to have yourself a good cry, go on a self reflection walk or write in a journal, and then come back to the chaos with a more appreciative and loving outlook on life.