If you’re dreaming of a lifestyle change, but aren’t sure where to start, you’ll want to check out our eCourse. We’re Hari and Karl Berzins of TinyHouseFamily.com. We designed and built our tiny house and have lived here for almost four years while continuing to build our mortgage-free homestead. Our course has helped almost two hundred people get started on their own path to debt-free living and several folks have already reached their goals.
So often we get questions like—“Where do I even begin?” That’s what we do in the course. We begin. You begin. Every single day. All the tiny details of how we achieved mortgage-freedom are woven throughout the course—but our story only gives context to the tasks and lessons—it’s all about you and your plan—how are you going to achieve mortgage-freedom?
I had this sense that we needed to tell the whole story the real, trudging-through-mud-and-celebrating-the-milestones story—I needed to share the practices of self-care that make-up the bedrock below the foundation of our homestead, our true money story, our budgeting and saving, our downsizing, land search, and ultimately how we designed and built our legal tiny house. And so we did. And I’m glad we did, because we get notes like this:
Tiny House Living Perspectives by Hari of the Tiny House Family
Last night, I read Alex’s post and the wonderful discussion that followed on “Let’s Face it: Tiny Houses are Not for You.” Rather than downsizing to tiny or some ideal size, imagine right-sizing your life. What space do you need to live happily? More importantly, how can you make the most of where you live now?
We’ve just set the foundation for our “big” house, and we are all feeling nostalgic. For a growing family of 4, we know we need the extra space our “big” house will provide, but we realize that our time in our tiny house is finite. It’s bittersweet.
It’s been 20 months of pure growth! We might live in our tiny house for another year or so; we really could live in this house for the rest of our lives, but the constant compromise on our solitude and creative endeavors doesn’t feel right for raising two creative kids. Knowing we are building our right-sized house feels good and makes our time in this house that much more precious. I imagine the lessons we’ve learned while living tiny will help us navigate our new space with peace.
Photo Credit TinyHouseFamily.com
Downsizing to tiny forces compromise. Compromise can make big things happen, like building a mortgage-free dream house. During the compromise, unexpected and amazing gifts appear. For us, the gifts are deeper relationships and connection as well as a clearer vision of how we want to live our lives. It’s like we’ve been in some sort of therapy–the therapist is a house, and she made us fall deeper in love.
Our ultimate goal: build a mortgage-free micro-homestead.
So, how are you doing with your holiday intentions? Have you set clear intentions? Have you written a wish list? Have you communicated your wishes with your family? Have you created new rituals? Celebrated traditions? Read my first, second and third posts about how we created a meaningful celebration in our tiny house.
We just completed our ritual of deep cleaning before December 1st. This late-fall deep cleaning really helps me to feel grounded and peaceful in our home as we prepare to bring in decorations and gifts. Washing the windows made the greatest impact. In many religious traditions, this season is associated with light, so washing the windows is a sort of ritual. I am amazed at how much more light pours into our tiny house now. I celebrate any extra light at this time of year!
This is the third installment in my series, “How We Created a Delightful Christmas in our Tiny House.” See my first and second posts for the first five ideas.
The holidays sneak up and fly by when we keep a frenzied pace of checking off lists and rushing around for the big day. Growing up, I remember my Grandma, Mom and Aunts saying things like, “I’m done. Now I can enjoy.” Christmas was a chore until the work of shopping was done.
Simplifying our lives has helped us to take a different approach. Like our daughter, Ella, said, “I like the suspense and preparing for Christmas. The actual opening and tearing up of presents is sort-of a let down.” Savoring every part of the process with rituals and traditions, rather than rushing through, helps us to feel content once we are finished tearing up paper on Christmas morning.
6) Create your own rituals and traditions – These may come from your faith, friends, and your own heart as you slow down.
3) Share your wishes with extended family – Once you’ve set your holiday intentions with your partner and kids, it’s important to share with grandparents and other extended family. Every year, Oma and YaYa ask for a list. This used to catch me off guard, and we’d throw a wish list together in an evening. This method (or lack thereof) resulted in random stuff: things we saw in catalogs/TV or thought up off the top of our heads–basically, advertising told us what we’d like. Now, we start our wish lists during the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. As we are practicing gratitude for all that we have, we realize we really don’t want much. Creating a wish list over a period of weeks (months, even) has resulted in more meaningful and useful gifts.
As you are working in your daily life, you may think “These scissors hardly cut. Man, it would be really nice to have a good pair of scissors.” Or “My fingers ache every morning from all that gardening. Maybe there is a tool that will help.” When these thoughts occur, stop everything, and write them down. I find that if I don’t take a moment and write ideas down, I forget them. Before you know it, you will have a meaningful list of items you’d really enjoy.
Hold onto your hat; the holiday season is about to explode in retail stores everywhere. I know it’s still early, but setting your intentions now, will give you the opportunity to design your celebration rather than react to marketing. According to the Gallup Poll, Americans spend between $400 and $800 on holiday gifts. It’s easy to get caught up in the rush of it all, but with a little forethought, you can decrease your spending, increase your joy, and still fit into your home come January 1, 2013.
Last year was our first Christmas in our tiny house. Since Christmas has always brought an influx of things, we approached the holidays with a lot of intention. Even though I didn’t know how we could possibly get a Christmas tree, decorations and presents into our tiny house without totally tipping the scales, I can report that we had the best celebration ever!
Over the next few weeks I will share some of the ways we simplified our celebration, and created one that is just right for our family. I encourage you to try some or all of them, and let us know how it goes. Please, also share your ideas for a simple holiday in the comment section.
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