Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Living Tiny - One Year Later...

It’s been a year…

A year since I moved into my tiny house as a full time occupant...a year since my two college aged “children” moved into an apartment together…and a year since I started my new job. 

Looking back now, the ONLY thing that hasn’t changed is my relationship status. Through all the ups and downs, Mark and I are still us…still trying to make our way in this crazy world together but still living 160 miles apart from each other.

Living in my tiny house is amazing, and yet I haven’t cried this much in years.

Having so much time to myself has been really life changing, and yet I’ve never felt more alone.

Working remotely provides a lot of freedom and I am no longer tied to a desk, and yet I’ve never been more stressfully busy.

This year has truly been a transformative one, and I am sooo thankful, but also oh so tired.

Working My Priorities

Thirteen months ago I was working for a coffee roasting company. My commute, every month of my 2 year tenure, got longer and longer and I was finally spending well over 2 hours a day in the car. My work was not rewarding and my precious time was spent on behalf of someone else’s success. I made the difficult but rewarding decision to find another job and shortened my commute to only 5 minutes. And then, this past July, my commute got even shorter and I was transferred to a full-time-working-from-home status.

One of my "famous" foot selfies!

While the concept of working from wherever in the world I can find a decent wifi signal (which is more difficult than you might imagine) the reality is that my new office scenario was much more difficult to transition into than I had imagined. As a matter of fact, I am still finding a new workflow that works well for my work load as well as my personal psyche. 

When I'm not working, or traveling, I'm writing and blogging.
And that  also means taking photos like this one we took for a Tiny House Magazine article.

As I write this I am on a plane, returning from Florida where I worked for the past week; sometimes from the beach. Going where I want, when I want, without “checking in” with the boss; is truly awesome. But I also admit that I miss the comradery, the water cooler banter, and the collaboration of working in an office.

My Kids Aren’t Kids Any More

A little over 14 years ago my life imploded and I moved to Oregon with my two children, two cats, two horses, a pregnant dog; and whatever belongings we could fit into the back of a pickup truck. 

My babies, aren't babies any more...

Looking back now, it has been one of the stressful stretches of time I can remember. Sitting on the “other” side of it now, however, I realize that all the sacrifices were more than worth it. My son and daughter are both in college, they’re both living on their own (sharing an apartment) and they’re both working jobs where they have been employed now for more than 2 years.

My new role in their life is still evolving. They still “need” me without truly requiring my attention. But, recently, I have come to the conclusion that my son can still likely benefit from spending time with his mom. And, honestly, I can use the company. 


Maybe I skipped out on his emotional and social advancement a bit too early?

Or am I just feeling lonely for my role as protector and advisor?

My Tiny House Village (.com)

Twelve months ago I was living in a 1600+ square feet home with 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and a two car garage, on a ¼ acre. I was paying almost $1,600 per month just for rent. Now I live alone in 204 square feet (384 square feet if you add the lofts) and pay only $75 per month which INCLUDES my electricity and water and wifi. At the risk of overstating the obvious, my financial obligations have drastically changed. I still pay my kids rent for their apartment, and I have taken on some credit card debt with the goal of rebuilding my credit scores, but overall my financial life bears almost NO resemblance to the paycheck-to-paycheck existence I was once accustomed to.

So, where does all my money go now?

I’m building MORE tiny houses, of course.

Finally, a roof on my 2nd tiny house: My Tiny Perch.

After having spent the past two years immersed in all-things-tiny I have come to realize that there is a tremendous opportunity for me to leverage the popularity of tiny houses; hospitality style. So, I am designing and building four tiny houses that I can rent out on AirBnB (or a similar platform) and generate a sustainable income stream. 

My 3rd tiny house, Robin Hood's Hideout, will have a rooftop deck!

I originally “gave” myself four years to complete them but so far, I am ahead of schedule. A mere 9 months after starting the build, and My Tiny Perch (my first rental unit) is almost done and Robin Hood’s Hideout (my 2nd rental unit) is almost dried in. Following an event in June of 2018 where I’ll have the Hideout in tow, I’ll have two rental units in service.

MJ The Festival Junkie

By far, however, the biggest change to my life this year has been the amount of time I have spent traveling. No longer encumbered by the need to “take care” of my kids or large house or even my cat (who goes to stay with the kids when I’m not home) I can now say “YES” to every event and festival invitation. However, learning what I can do vs. when I SHOULD do; has been the hardest learned lesson of all.

Taking a break at the Tiny House Living Festival.

I am now the proud owner of the self-proclaimed title of Most Traveled Tiny House Enthusiast in the World. Not by miles traveled, by any means, or by followers or fans or even income generated. I, however, have attended more tiny-house workshops, events, and festivals than anyone. I have met and interviewed more luminaries, builders, product suppliers, and enthusiasts via the podcast (and while sitting over an open fire or bar tab) than anyone else can claim. Even this, however, has produced some positive and negative results.

Tiny House Friends and Smiles All Around!

I have been constantly putting myself “out there” to build rapport, to help others become more educated about the tiny house movement, and to help advance builders and DIY enthusiast’s social media presence. But the side effect is that I am now finding myself uncomfortably vulnerable to the whims and moods and opinions and drama of the individuals IN the movement. 

This is, by far, the MOST frustrating thing about my life now. After having given so much of myself, I now need to force myself into being more selfish with my time and emotional energy. This isn’t natural, and it isn’t comfortable; but, it is unfortunately needed.

And In Conclusion

I’ve read blog posts about people who have “gone tiny” that primarily focus on the difficulties of downsizing and the change in their relationship with their spouse and family. And, truthfully, my story is like theirs. But in addition to mirroring their experience, the reason I’m writing this article is to acknowledge and give myself “credit” for having lived through a year’s worth of a really noteworthy transformation; and to officially give myself more time to adjust to all of these changes. 

Will I miss the spotlight? Probably...

Even as I read this I am shocked I am not curled up in a lonesome corner somewhere…or drunk more often. In addition to the somewhat “normal” changes one experiences when moving into 200 square feet, my entire life has been turned upside down.

Change takes time. And the more change we have to adjust to, the more time it will take. I have put one foot in front of the other, and stood up on stage, and spoken out through a mic, and advocated for this movement for the past two years; and now maybe it’s time to take a bit of time for me.

But with a beautiful space like this to relax in, I'll probably be fine.

I hope that in a year from now I’ll look back and read this and know that I have prioritized correctly, and that the changes I need to make now; were the right ones.

And I also hope your tiny journey continues to be bolstered by my honesty, my passion, my drive, and my advocacy. 

This is my idea of fun when I'm not doing the "tiny" thing.

And Mark, if you’re still reading this; I appreciate you.


  1. Hi Michelle, I have been one of your silent followers from South Australia. What a year you have had, you are so inspiring, treading your own path, being you.
    Do you consider yourself an introvert or extrovert? Do you best recharge alone or with others? I am definitely an introvert, live alone (daughter has flown the coop), for me working in an office environment helps me connect. Without it I think I would be lost, it's my only connection to people somedays. So when you think about it, your year has been massively transformative, living alone, working remotely and the travelling and meeting new people is also scary, so, wow, you are so brave :)

  2. Looks like you´ve come through the year with flying colors! You have a great place to live, money in the bank, a new business and great kids! What´s next?

    1. Yup!!! They are lucky and I am looking for the same; living in a tiny house