Small House ~ Big Style Part III

I think I’ve found my favorite tiny house. 

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Can’t you just see this little guy soaking up the sunlight in the high plains of eastern Oregon? Ahhhh…someday my scrub yard will come to fruition. No mowing!

Tiny home owners Andrew and Gabriella Morrison know a thing or two about design.

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See more of this home here.

Somehow this house doesn’t seem so small—could it be the photography? Or does it really look like I could hold a small yoga class in here?

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I’m so drawn to modern design with these little homes….like this one.  So crisp, bright and clean…yet, where in the world would I put my giant windmill in my kitchen?

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I’m also a bit obsessed with small houses that involve the BEACH of some sort. Small house + hammock + sand = YippdedeeHappiness

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Two things for tiny house obsessed peeps like me:

1) Tiny: A Story About Living Small is out and rentable from Vimeo. ‘Been waiting for this as I usually don’t like to pay 20 bucks to rent a movie.

2) Tiny House Nation is new and looks promising. ‘Got good reviews too!

 

This was my view from our little “drive-thru window” in the Twinkie this week.

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It was a hub/wife trip and we had the best time riding our tandem around the Olympic Peninsula, taking ferries from island to island. ‘Magical time!

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I have to say that I’m totally addicted to living in a small space in the summer. Everything’s within reach and it takes 3 minutes to clean. More time for adventure! I’m thinking that’s what the tiny house folks experience as well.

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This is a “nighty night” from the silver bullet. ‘Hope all you friends are having a fabulous summer wherever you may be.

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5 things from 1989 to better my life

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Is it a bad thing to constantly want to turn the clock back to 1989?

It’s not the cool high bangs look or the colored leather that brings such longing. Nor is it a yearning for synthesizer-heavy tunes, a livin’ large attitude or step aerobics craze. For me, it was the beginning of my “adult years” (ahem, the big 1-8 that year) when I was ready to take on the world and the world at that time was filled with face-to-face conversations, the beauty of being unavailable by phone (no email yet!), written correspondence, rerun city on the boob tube in summer and a general sense that a solid resume and a winning attitude could get you far in a possible career.

What has happened to us?

Yes, I’m a user of the internet. Heck yes, I’m a believer that it makes marketing and making a living easier (especially fabulous when done in PJ’s from your kitchen table). This is a very exciting time to be an entrepreneur in the making. Yet, there’s a flip side too….Who needs Christmas holiday letters when we can keep up with our friends’ dinner plate photos and party plans on Facebook all year round? Why mess with sending thank you cards when a short email will suffice? Teenage breakups are even easier when one can text a jilted lover that it’s over.

I’m beginning to feel that it’s all too much.

My heart is caught between a vice of the digital keep-up and a wedge of comparison to others’ lives. Lives I didn’t even know much about (which turns out was a good thing) before social media parachuted violently into our laptops and smart phones. I feel sheepish for yearning for the days when my home phone would ring and no one was there to answer it—I simply was not reachable. I hate to admit it, but I really, really like being unreachable sometimes. What does it take now for folks to render us legally unavailable? Balancing atop Mt. Everest? Gawking at penguins in the Artic? Somehow I’m thinking these two places might even be candidates for emergency cell service and it makes my head hurt.

I’m also keenly aware that I am part of the problem. I haven’t holed up in a cabin J.D. Salinger-style. I haven’t shunned social media with peacock-like pomposity and a drive to communicate with every person I know over coffee instead of Skype. I’m sitting directly in the center of this lovely glass house, arm raised, stone in hand. Yet there are days when my 80’s nostalgia rears it’s ugly heavily made-up eyes and wants it be different. I know I’m not alone because my spouse and I lament about this like two old ladies regularly over our morning coffee. My teen daughter was overheard saying to her sister, “It was so great that our summer camp outlawed phones. We were all happier for it. There was no FOMO going on while playing Capture the Flag or hanging in the lodge.” Ah, that one made me open my eyes wide, wide, wide. What have we done to our kids?

It got me thinking.

 

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1) Communicate clearly that I’m unavailable.

Hello vacay email and voicemail message. I’m not reachable when I say I’m not reachable, right? Of course, easier said than done for folks who have their superiors breathing down their necks all the time. For a teacher, I admit this one is a little bit easier. But this is my time capsule, yes?

2) Call a cease fire on social media

I’ve gone round and round with myself on this one and finally landed on a happy place of tweeting and FB’ing blog posts only. I don’t lurk or dwell, yet I do want people to read (like you!) about this message, because I think it’s important.

3) Adhere to at-home digital sabbaticals

We’re still working on this, but I’m loving it when we are committed. All phones go in a basket by the door when we have company, too—love that one.

4) Stop the hustle of trying to be heard

As a past photographer who did all marketing through social media and blog posts, I have had to wean myself of the proverbial tap-dance of self promotion. I think this hustle was a huge reason I left my entrepreneurial life for my teaching job. Frankly, I’m was done with trying to get my squeaky voice to rise above the din in the noisy lunchroom that is online networking. I just want to write and then hope that my words are read by and matter to someone. I’m officially subscribing to the JUST DO REALLY GOOD WORK mantra in this cyber world of horn-tooting and me-glorification and hope that it will be what it’s supposed to be. On this topic, I loved this article about more doing, less promoting.

5) Two words: Down time

I love the Italians for their phrase, l’arte di non fare niente, the art of doing nothing. I used to suck at this. I always had to have baskets and baskets filled with the fruits of my labor. And for what? Burn-out and anxiety. No longer is this something I feel guilty doing—it’s my weekend currency and I’m trying to spread this hang-out-in-a-hammock pixie dust to everyone in my clan. It’s important and I want my girls to know what it feels like.

Will they long for 2018 when they’re older? I wonder.

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Anyone else feel anxiety at the mall?

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Limiting one’s desires actually helps to cure one of fear.

~ Seneca “Letters from a Stoic”

Having teens I’m coming to the conclusion that they naturally gravitate to the mall like a fly to stink. I would be a happy camper if I never went into one again and I’ve come up with a list that supports this I’m-the-mom-I’m-taking-a-stand decision.

 

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1) Safety

If you’ve been anywhere near a TV in the last ten years, you know that you might be safer driving through the streets of Watts than trolling the floors of your local shopping center. Such a sad state of affairs. Watching the news with my mouth on the floor (our local mall had a major shooting two years ago) and tears in my eyes has become too common. I don’t know the answer to my daughters’ questions of, “Why would someone hurt innocent people?” Call me paranoid, but if I can avoid being out in the open (with my children no less) when a loon opens fire, I will make that choice.

2) Avoiding the Teen Gimmees

Funny how they don’t surface quite as much when we’re hanging around the house. It’s that whole “out of sight, out of mind” thing. While I was working on this post, Joshua Becker came up with a brilliant list about raising consumer conscious teens. Good, good advice.

3) Fending off my own Gimmees

Funny how I don’t need anything when it’s not in front of my face.

4) The excess makes me anxious and sad.

Simply put, the place makes my heart heavy.

True blog confession here: I had a total freak-out the other day when I was shopping with my kids for much needed summer shorts. Our local mall was crowded and bustling and I was (as only I can do) equating my current view with the sad, materialistic state of our whole country. I was thinking about the broken people who fill the holes in their lives/hearts with buying stuff. I was thinking about women and our totally skewed view of our bodies due to advertisements telling us we need to feel okay. I was even thinking about the many poverty stricken folks in our midst who need us to help, rather than throw our money at things that just don’t matter. I’m not one for anxiety attacks or panic episodes, but in this instance my heart beat faster and I felt more agitation than usual. It was a “what have we become?” moment and I was sad to be a part of it. I had that let’s-move-to-a-cabin-in-backwoods-Montana feeling and it created a darkness for me that’s unusual. What the heck is going on here? Still trying to figure it out.

Does anyone else feel this way?

 

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**Our Twinkie trips are revving up for the summer, so posts may not be as frequent…trying to keep it simple, friends. :) **

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Three tools to help you realize goals & find contentment

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I believe in writing big goals down and reading them each week, if not every day. I believe that if we want something bad enough,we will work to make it happen.

 

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1) LISTEN

Listen to others who are realizing their dreams and listen to folks who you might want to do the opposite of. Then, most importantly, be still so that you can listen to the small voice within who knows you completely.

This voice is always right and is so teeny tiny quiet, that we may not ever hear it’s “rightness”. Meditation, prayer, quiet time..whatever works for you. 5 to 10 to 30 minutes investing in listening can produce some really amazing things. If only we all would take the time to take it seriously enough to give it the time it deserves. My ability to set aside quiet time is improving. I’m realizing that it is a detriment to avoid it and I’m committing to do it even when I don’t feel like it (frequently at 5 am.).

Do you have 2 minutes a day you can sit in the quiet to just listen?

What if it meant the difference between a pretty good life to one filled with amazing happenings and incredible circumstance? 

I’ve been clutching this compass so hard it’s making an indentation in my hand as I bustle about my life in the name of getting things done. There’s really a better alternative…I realize that now.

2) Look straight ahead and own your story

Tap into your own brilliance, even if it doesn’t look remotely like anything you’ve seen out there.

There is so much dreaming other people’s dreams going on in blogland as well as the creative world. First off, I think a lot of folks see something happening for an artist, writer, entrepreneur, etc. and they want what they think is that person’s experience. We have NO IDEA what kind of sacrifices occurred for that person’s success. We have no clue what their day to day is in juggling a career and family life. We just don’t know.  I’ve found it best to not assume anything about anyone’s success, as well as not covet it for my own life.

It’s taken me 43 years to get this, but I believe I really only want what’s best for this vida loca of mine—what’s best for my simplicity quest right now in this moment in my life. It’s forever evolving and changing, but I am honoring the process by not wishing for what is not mine. I’m looking inside for what is yelling out for my attention. 

I know myself well enough by now to be able to release, release, release looking at others’ success for my own growth to happen.

3) Pay attention

I am guilty of getting lost in my own list of to-do’s and errands and hustle & bustle. My children have taught me how to slow down. My youngest, especially, with her “naturalist” ways outside and love of animals has helped me to stop and marvel at the little things. I’m always glad when I do. There is a ton to be seen if you widen those peepers!

This is my favorite recent story about paying attention. I think it says a lot about what’s missing in our lives.


Joshua Bell plays in subway No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition. No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

(text via Pinterest)

How ’bout you? Do you listen to your longings & pay attention to the world around you? What are they telling you?

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On my SIMPLICITY radar

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Lara, meet your local libary. Library, meet Lara.

How awesome is not paying for books?! I’m realizing I’m late to this party, but I didn’t realize how many titles are available. I used to buy so many books used on Amazon and this was not helping my clutter problem. I put the library search catalog on my phone home screen and when I come across a book I want to read, I plunk in the title. Most of them are available in our county system and I can place a hold on a book. It will be sent to my local branch to be picked up and I will get an email alerting its arrival. I love this! This process also forces me to actually finish a book in a timely manner because there’s a due date. How convenient is it for you to stake a claim in your own local library?

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Speaking of books, I had a skyscraper-ish stack next to my lawn chair when we had some downtime in the Twinkie a few weekends ago. Here are some of my current favorites:

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1) Great advice from Dave Ramsey and his daughter Rachel. We are smack in the middle of teaching our kids about budgeting and this book helped.  

2) Love Jon Acuff’s humor and love his outlook about just beginning already. Great words from someone who’s been there.

3) Tsh is a favorite blogger and now a writer I admire. Her story is exciting & amazing, but the practicality of her wise words is applicable to any life.

4) This is an oldie, but goodie. Pierce chronicles the stories of people on their simplicity quest, with lots of little tidbits helpful for the rest of us.

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If this video doesn’t make you want to jump in your portable house and just GO, I don’t know what will. Trying really hard not to covet this fellow Airstream-loving family on their adventure:

Tomorrow Somewhere New from Dark Rye on Vimeo.

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SimpleREV is happening October 3-4 for “simple living enthusiasts and advocates”. ‘Wish I could go. Next best thing, though, is reading the blog and listening to Dan and Joel on their SimpleRev podcast. They’re just so darn likable.

 

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This thing is rocking my smoothie-loving world. I simplified my diet by eating mostly raw foods–some of which are blended each day. I am in LOVE with this thing. I didn’t realize how much I was missing with my blender. Ahhh…the bliss of completely pulverized spinach (no chunks!).

I’ve also been stocking what I call the Food Pharmacy Drawer in my kitchen. These foods are tasty and have helped my tummy and energy level. I”m a believer in being healed with good food.

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This is a great site for green smoothie info. Good new recipes too!

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Also enjoying having these bars for my emergency paleo snacks when I’m out and about. A little spendy, so I hoard them for special occasions–but nice to have at the ready nonetheless.

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I hope you’re having a lovely spring, friends. The sun has arrived in the Northwest and I am one happy camper!

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How I overcame obstacles on the road to simplicity

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When you go to the optometrist for a checkup, you are told to look through lenses at the eye chart (This one…or this one?). At the beginning you will see double, everything a bit fuzzy. Then she tweaks something magical and the image comes into crystal clear focus as one image.

This is the perfect metaphor for what has happened to my life in the past three years.

There were obstacles in the road on this quest to simplify. I didn’t see them before, but now with a new pair of eyes, I hit myself in the head cartoon style and laugh that I didn’t see them before. Looking at this list, it’s no wonder a simpler life eluded me for so long.

1) Time wasting and mindless habits

With each minute I wasted trolling social media or needlessly checking email there was a completely missed opportunity to do the things I love. Read, write, walk, dream, read, converse, de-clutter…did I mention read? That’s the thing about habit (especially the digital kind)—they won’t change unless you mindfully remove the distraction. This is where digital sabbaticals and the release of Facebook came into play for me.

I also noticed that I have a tendency to do things the way I’ve always done them simply because I haven’t taken the time to look at what it blocks from my life. I do not need to spend an entire Saturday running errands and cleaning the house. It’s become a day for family fun, reading, hammock time (weather permitting) and slow cooking.

2) Excessive focus on what others think

It’s a beautiful thing to fully let go of the opinion and approval of others. We’ve always done things a little differently with our family, but I finally realized (wonders of all wonders) that this same principle applies to me. Out of this way of thinking has come a simplified wardrobe, changing my job back to working for someone else, taking note that my interior design style has completely changed and that I don’t want to drive the typical over-scheduled mom taxi. There has been a tremendous amount of freedom that’s come from being brave to just be me, however much I’ve changed over the years.

3) To-do lists that become cement blocks attached to my ankles

There will always be 101 things to do. I never get through the list and for awhile this used to send me into a hand-wringing state of tizzy-fitting. No more. I see now that more than half of the stuff just doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Do I really need to wash the bead board in the powder bathroom today? No one dies if things don’t get purchased, cleaned or organized. Phew. As a teacher there is the list for the day, but I love doing that list. It means wonderful things for little people who depend on me. But even with my constant state of flux in my colorful classroom, I know the difference between right now and in a few weeks.

4) Anxiety about What-ifs and JustInCases

I used to have an ability to turn borrowing trouble into an Olympic event. The good news is that constantly fretting about potential inconveniences and catastrophes really doesn’t change the outcome. If they appear, they appear and as adaptive humans, we learn to deal. I’ve had my share of dealing, believe me. Yet, the fussing and anxiety? ‘Tis best to let go of that rope. Now, for the JustInCases (I love this post!), those are a bit more challenging to release. I’m getting better, but I practice it monthly. This week there is a massive garage sale transpiring at the abode. I’m hoping it will spring forth much needed momentum!

5) A firm grasp on a career I wasn’t loving

If you had told me two years ago that I would be back teaching 3rd grade at this point in the game, I would’ve had a good belly laugh. My photography studio and book were front and center and I was hustling on that marketing Disco floor like nobody’s business. It is so great to let that piece go. It wasn’t me, but I was forcing it because of all the work I had done up to that point. So, so much time and effort went into building a successful business. The news flash was: Just because it’s successful financially, doesn’t mean I have to love it and stay with it. It took some letting go of pride and ego squelching to walk away and return to an old profession. The big surprise was that I didn’t even know how much I missed working with kids. To me, it’s the most important job there is. I go to bed every night knowing that I made a difference (even on my worst day). Invested time and money do not require a person to stay the course.

My friend Cecilia met a man in Texas who let go of his dentistry practice to become a craftsman of saddles. He told her he was not a happy dentist and was brave enough to make the change. His saddles were works of art and he lived more simply in order to something he loved every day. It completely overhauled his happiness. I love stories like that!

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Removing simplicity obstacles is not a go-to-a-workshop-have-a-good-cry-and-reinvent-my-life territory. This has been a incredibly long baby-stepping journey where each obstacle was noted and conquered gradually. A control craving person does not have an epiphany over coffee. She documents the need for it and then intentionally releases it with each (almost) fearless step toward the Land of Letting Go and Changing Circumstance.

I’m also clear on the fact that this boulder removing process isn’t even close to being done. I will forever be sitting in the optometrist’s chair with adjustable lenses…and that’s a good thing.

How ’bout you? What obstacles have you uncovered in your quest for a simpler life?

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7 Things I would tell my 10-year-old self

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When you’re on a quest for a different way to live (ahem..What shall we unclutter next?!) ) it’s so easy to point out where you went wrong through the years. I was having a day. You know the kind…where you start with toothpaste slopping on your black shirt and end with dog poop at the foot of your side of the bed. Well, I decided to end the day on a hopeful note and compose a letter to the girl in the picture (Oh, how I loved those skates!):

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Dear ten-year-old girl,

Enjoy every minute of your front walk rollerskating days. This is the time to play outside and frolic and be worry-free. I bet you feel pretty fearless at this moment. It’s such a great age to believe that one day you will be doing exactly what you were meant to do. I want to provide you with a list of what to hold in your heart as you grow out of those skates and into your grown-up life.

1) Hold onto to those big dreams of what you want to be when you grow up. Remember the talents that come naturally to you and don’t be afraid to use them even if others tell you that you can’t make a living doing them.

2) Know that you are worthy of love at all times and never, ever let anyone make you feel small. Simply walk away in confidence when you sense that someone doesn’t know the value of your love. Hold your head high when you make mistakes (admit them too–out loud) and know that there will be many…but it’s okay…because that’s how we learn.

3) Marvel at how well your body serves you as you grow into it. There will be so many changes, but through it all remember to be grateful for your health at all times. Part of being grateful is taking care of it by not getting too much sun and eating lots of live foods. You know, like the pounds of cherries and apples you ate in hot summer months. They’re still important when you’re forty…you’ll see. Also, know that there is future invention called Photoshop and retouching that will make magazine models look perfect. Remember that it’s hocus pocus…better yet, avoid looking at them altogether. You’re lovely just the way you are.

4) It’s your responsibility to keep that chin up when you’re frustrated, even though positive attitudes might not be in the people around you. Language yourself in a way that others know you have self-respect and hope for the future, even when things don’t go your way.

5) Ask for help and give help when you can. Be sure to include those who seem to be pushed aside…the clique thing changes a bit as you get older, but not much. Value what everyone can bring to the table. You’ll see that one day the eccentric young people are the folks who achieve amazing things in this world. Look to them now for insight and inspiration. They will teach you a lot.

6) Trust your gut instincts with ruthless conviction and don’t lose yourself in others…especially when it comes to BOYS. They take up way too much time when you should be focusing on your own dreams. Mr. Right will show up eventually. Ironically, yours will because he’s drawn to your independence.

7) Forgive, forgive, forgive….and know that your parents did the best they could with what they have and they adored and loved you. Look at them with loving eyes always in return.

As your future favorite poet, Rainier, said,

“Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

Know that the answers may be disguised as disappointments–but don’t give up on them.

You. Can. Do. Hard. Things.

Love, Me

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What would you say to your 10-year-old self?

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