Simply Living … or Living Simply? (Part 1)

This winter saw a few changes I hadn’t anticipated (are they ever?) – the early cold and snow that held its grip so tightly being one of them.  Thus, little progress was made on the Elf House as alternative housing became a necessity.  Everything then became a little more complicated financially, letting me know it was time to let everything go – except what was immediately needed – til spring.  I think a lot of people went through similar difficulties this winter – it was one of the coldest and longest I remember of late.  It was also a quick reminder to go with the flow when change occurs – since it’s really the only way to keep your sanity as you navigate through it.

Well, spring is trying to fully sprout in these parts finally, and movement forward is once again taking place. The saving grace in all of this is due to the other (major) change that occurred.  I discovered love through reconnecting with an old friend, who is now (decidedly on both our parts) my life partner – bringing about a myriad of new experiences and unexpected changes that will affect life as I know it.  Further proof the old sayings are true – that good things come to those who wait – and life truly can happen while you’re making other plans.

Throughout this whole development I have come to realize, too, just how much of a sense of HUMOR the Universe has – since I hadn’t anticipated finding love OR a mate who is 6’5” tall!  But, the Universe knows what we need when we need it – if we just stay in a place of hope and gratitude.  And, fortunately, since my ceilings are high enough to accommodate his height – all is not lost.  It’s just shifted its path somewhat as my life takes an interesting and unexpected turn going forward (more about that another day!).

In the meantime, it should come as no surprise that he and I share a fairly similar philosophy about life, aging, debt, community, enjoying simplicity – and building.  So as our winter’s discussions grew more frequent and more deeply in context around ecology and greenbuilding, I began pondering the reasons behind the tiny/small house motivation that has seemingly invaded the minds of people everywhere.  Here is some of what I came up with:

What is the motivation for those who choose to live in a tiny/small house?

For some, it may be a lifestyle choice:  they want to have a more mobile and free lifestyle, yet still have the comforts of their own home wherever they go instead of packing up and renting every time they get the urge to venture off somewhere new.  A tiny house on wheels is the perfect choice for those who want to explore, whether it’s before they settle down to raise a family – or after.  Both young and old have found the mobile ‘tiny’ house a wonderful exploration in life itself.

For some, it may be an economic choice:  they have credit card or student loan debt to pay off and don’t want to get saddled with a 30-year mortgage until they’re free of everything else.  Or, they may want to live a debt-free lifestyle, and building a tiny/small house enables them to build and pay as they go, or simply do it through only a short-term loan (4-5 years or less).  Or maybe they don’t want to pay high property taxes and choose a tiny/small home to keep their living expenses down to a more affordable level.  Could be, too, it’s all they can afford right now and the only way they can see themselves getting ahead, or just living easier/better as they age on retirement income or social security.

For some, it may be they were raised to think frugally and to live within their means. Some may have been raised by families who lived through the Great Depression of the 1930s and were taught to make the most of every dollar, whether there was much or little to draw from.  The stuff our country was built upon, and quite possibly, the values we are now heading back to.

Yet for others, it may be a philosophic reason:  they believe in living simply, consciously, and ecologically with as small a carbon footprint as possible.  They see how the rampant growth in industrialism and consumerism has destroyed the planet and they want to do their part in changing things.  A tiny/small house often helps put things/life in perspective and allows one to live a more community-based lifestyle, where people help each other and one can give back for blessings received.  Or, it’s about using or living with things you love vs. just having stuff to fill a space.

There are probably as many different reasons as there are people, but in my case – and for many, I suspect – it’s a combination of all of the above.  Having grown up with a parent and grandparents who suffered through the scarcity of the Great Depression in the 1930s, and who taught me to plan for tough times – to fill a pantry when there was extra so I could eat when there was none, to have a variety of job skills in my basket so unemployment wouldn’t darken my door, and to be aware to make the most of change when it comes – since it’s the only constant we have in life.  All lessons I value to this day.

One thing that helped me ponder a return to a more simple lifestyle was my memory of living off-grid with my family after high school.  They’d relocated my senior year, trading city life and barely surviving for country living and a more work-life balance.  Though not a lifestyle for everyone, it was simple basic living – something they chose so as to be more alive and self-sufficient.  A way of life that more people seem to be choosing to have today.

You can read a little about my family’s journey here:

On reflection, I realize we were happy because it was about family and relationships – not about material “stuff” – an important aspect that many on the hectic merry-go-round (or career ladder) discount, forget, or simply put aside in favor of “all that money can buy”.  But from what I’ve seen and learned along the way, money can only make you comfortable – it cannot buy you happiness.  Instead, choosing to live more simply does that.



About Wendy

I'm a wee little creative elf working on my wee little elf house in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.
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