our tiny life...
We began inching our way toward tinytopia nearly 10 years before we decided to take the plunge. Back then we ate up stories on The Interweb about whittling one’s possessions down to a mere 100 items, limiting one’s landfill contribution to a single quart-sized mason jar per year, and squeezing one’s lovely little life into the tiniest of houses. Urban homesteading, off-grid living, and holistic medicine fascinated us… though it was all purely academic.
But with little warning, we found ourselves out on a rather long limb and what would have previously been a huge leap of faith became a mere hop, skip, and a jump. My cancer diagnosis quickly threw our life and priorities into sharp focus, and when I was healed not through chemo (I didn’t go) but through prayer, well there was just no returning to regular life after that. We bought a VW camper van, quit our income, strapped our not-quite-two-year-old in his carseat, and set off into the world in pursuit of God: 10,000 miles from Canada to Mexico, three months in the Middle East, and another 10,000 miles across Europe in another VW van. We found what we were searching for, and along the way, got good at living tiny and making home — after all, home was wherever we were together.
We returned to Seattle, and reclaimed our sub-let apartment overlooking the lake, only to discover it wasn’t home anymore. So we ordered our trailer, bought a pad of graph paper, and started dreaming big. Designing and building your own off-grid house from scratch when you have zero experience and zero assistance is, admittedly, not the wisest choice, but we tricked ourselves into believing that since it was tiny, it would be easier. The reality was that because it was tiny, it was actually harder: everything that had to be done to build a full size house had to be done to build our tiny house — except in a tiny there is no margin for error and no space to waste. And just to be certain the odds weren’t stacked in our favor, we moved out to the mountains of the North Cascades and unintentionally ended up living off-grid for a large portion of the build. We seemed to spend far more time fetching our water from the spring, watching out for bears, battening down the hatches before a seemingly endless series of storms, and just generally surviving than we spent actually working on the tiny.
Despite our off-grid status, an almost paralyzing lack of know-how, an endless battle of wits between two perfectionists with wildly different ideas about what to do and how to do it, several seemingly unsolvable problems (there’s always a solution!), the non-stop rain (it rains roughly twice as much in the tiny town of Marblemount as it does in my native Seattle), and a potentially fatal accident involving a Skilsaw and a freshly severed artery on Noah’s left wrist, we somehow managed to not only survive but build forward momentum. We calculated and cut, drilled and hammered, assembled and braced. We honed our creative problem solving skills and worked together as a team. We learned how to leverage each other’s strengths, and cover each other’s weaknesses.
What follows is our attempt to capture our ongoing journey… not just of building a new house, but of building a new life. Building a life not driven by no’s, but by a great big yes: yes to becoming all we were created to be, yes to doing all we were created to do, yes to redefining what family looks like, yes to embracing the journey, and yes to not waiting til the house is done to let go, to lean in, to be thankful, to let ourselves laugh, and to let love win! It’s all been much more expensive and infinitely less glamorous than expected, but well worth the work and the wait. We hope our misadventures inspire you to dream your own big dreams and take your own giant leap of faith...
(read about our cancer healing journey and subsequent world travels in the our life, upended blog found under other adventures!)