Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Lessons from the Little Things

Finally, after 7 months of building, I’m finally getting down to the final details!  Yeah, I know that 7 months doesn’t sound like a long time but I had planned to have My Tiny Perch done at the end of July so it “feels” like I am running very behind schedule!

And speaking of behind schedule, it’s been waaayyy too long since I have posted here. In retrospect, I suppose it’s because one subject or issue I’ve been dealing with doesn’t really require its own article.  But there are definitely lots of little things I have been dealing with for months now that are not without their lessons to be learned so, here goes...

Where to Park the Perch

For months I have been dropping less than passive hints with my land hosts that I would like to park (and rent out) My Tiny Perch on the lower section of the property I am on now. Mostly, I have been more passive than I normally would be because I am moving so fast that I want to respect their pace of making decisions. (As you can well imagine my push-to-get-things-done pace is not comfortable for most.) But since I wasn’t making the decision-making progress I needed to, I finally called an official “meeting” at a local bar. There, after I made a very logical argument for why they would consider my tiny houses a valued addition to their property, they agreed to host not just the Perch but the Hideout as well!  Yay!! 

Almost Ready!

Next we assigned action items and made a list of TO-DO’s. As it turns out, their primary concern was who was going to pay for the gravel. So, after a bit of back and forth and a meeting with The Gravel Guy, the section is now level and the gravel is being delivered tomorrow! This is my first experience at doing this, by myself, and I’m a bit nervous that I won't be able to back The Perch into the spot where the gravel is but I am setting my trepidations aside, and going for it!

I can't wait to see My Tiny Perch parked here!

Lessons: Be logical, be persistent, and be open.

Hiring Help

Earlier this year I met a mobile tiny house "buiilder" at the North Carolina Tiny House Festival. He was the first (and only, as far as I know) truly mobile tiny house builder. He travels from town to town in his 66 sq ft tiny house on wheels, helping people build their dreams. Despite his mobility I was truly surprised to see him in Oregon at the last tiny house event. Because I’ve been running a bit behind schedule, mostly due to the restrictions of my own schedule and talents, I decided to spend a little money to speed up the build.  Honestly, I’m not sure what this says about me but hiring help has always been both a blessing and a curse. I am so passionate (read: controlling) about the work and the design and the end results that I find myself letting go of things I am not entirely comfortable with giving up.

For instance, I mentioned to him that I had envisioned building cubby shelves into an open section of the wall.  And then one day when I came back from Home Depot he had made them out of left over cladding materials. “Yay? They’re done?” But I had envisioned building them out of plywood, in one piece, that would slide in and out of the cavity giving me access to the plumbing behind them. Now I’ll have to literally tear them apart to get to the plumbing. 

The bottom line is that the end results weren’t what I had envisioned. But, rather than ask him to rip out the results of his self-directed-creative-solution. I let it go. And, there they are. On second thought, I probably could write an entire blog about the challenges of transitioning from my role of “Designer / Builder” to “Helper Guy’s Errand Runner” but let’s just say I’ve learned a few lessons and that’s what this blog is about so here goes…

Lessons: Be clear, be firm, and advocate for what’s truly important.

Working Remotely

A little over a month ago, my boss called on my vacation to let me know that they’d hired more people than they had desks for, and wanted to know if I would be OK with working remotely full time from now on.  Of course, I would. And you are likely thinking right now, “That’s awesome!”  The reality of this arrangement, however, has taken some getting used to. The process of packing up the contents of my desk and carrying them to my car, but still having a job, set off my PTSD like a bomb. It was emotional, and unexpected, but my brain couldn’t believe I was moving out but still had a job!? And, consider this….  Could you honestly sit in a 204 square foot house, all day, by yourself, and work and live there too? My tiny house wasn’t really designed to accommodate an office. 

My "office".

The upside is that I can literally work from whereever I can find a decent wifi signal (which is more challenging that you might imagine) and this means I can travel when ever and for how long as I want to.  The downside is that I find myself more scattered without the routine of a commute and am still finding a work-flow and lifestyle that gives me enough down time.  My “office” now occupies my dining table, and I often will go days without taking a shower. That’s just not like me but heck, nobody is here to notice so why take the time? 

Lessons: Life changes take time to adjust to, be patient with the results.

It Take a Tiny Village

My sponsors are the fuel to my fire, and what makes all of this possible. Without them, their support, their materials, and their enthusiasm, I wouldn’t be able to sustain the pace I have now come to consider “normal”.  However, there are so many other people who have showed up to help. And while I love to tell people I have “built” my tiny houses, the truth is that it truly takes so many more hands and so much more talent than I alone have. My boyfriend, Mark, as you know is my framer but his help extends well beyond a hammer and nails.  He’s my rock when I’m having a day when burning them all to the ground seems like a good idea.

When he's not framing, Mark's passion is photography.

My adult children, Alyssa and Wyatt, have generously donated several hours of their weekends to cut and measure and put up with my rants. My good friend Teresa, who had never used a chop saw before, was more than willing to learn and then enthusiastically show up AGAIN for day TWO!? 


And then there’s a friend of a friend who just came to fix my electrical issues this past week on a moment's notice, and my land hostess who is sewing my curtains, and Scott who finished the installation of my hot water heater last week.  I truly couldn’t do all of this without all of them.

The Most Important Lesson of All:
Take time to stop and be thankful, and TELL everyone how much I appreciate them!


  1. Hey MJ! Great post. You and I met this mirning in the NedSpace elevator. Had to reach out after finding this article which poses an interesting question, in my facebook feed:


    Just yesterday I attended volunteer orientation at Rose Haven, which assists homeless women as they cope with daily challenges like clean clothes, basic hygeine, exhaustion, etc. I hope to help them write resumes, or at the very least to cook for them. Anyway, a pleasure meeting you today, goid luck with your Texas event (and hairdo)!

    1. Thank you for reaching out! I have been busier than a one-armed wall paper hanger but look forward to having some down time when I return from FL next week. Please email me if you're up for meeting over a cup of coffee. My email is michellejonice@hotmail.com. I enjoyed meeting you. Let's "be frenz!" Hugs from me....