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Our Home-Education Journey: When The World Is Your Classroom

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An educated person is not someone who knows something, but someone who can explain what they know to others. Americans used to expect that the core knowledge they learned from their parents was to be passed on to the next generation. – Leigh Bortons, The Core

Hi there!

I wanted to write just a bit about our home-education journey. It’s something I don’t write on often for several reasons. But when people ask (and we’ve had many email or message ask us lately) I sure don’t mind sharing our experiences!

For starters, this is our 5th year home-schooling and our children are in grades 6 and 4. So needless to say, I sure don’t know everything there is to know or even come close to having it all figured out. But I can say that with every passing year, we are learning to find our own personal rhythm and it just feels more and more natural.

To be completely honest, there are a few reasons I don’t write on this topic often because,

  1. I never want to come across and one of “those” moms. You know the kind. The “homeschooling is the only way and if you’re doing anything different, you’re a bad mom and your children are going to grow up dumb” kind of mom. WRONG.
  2. Because homeschooling really isn’t the only way. I know this well…
  3. …in fact, some families just shouldn’t do it. Period. No really, I mean it! I don’t believe homeschooling is the best fit for every family and suggesting that it is, just sets families up for frustration and failure from the get go.
  4. There is more than one way to homeschool. This fact alone makes me reluctant to share our journey. Just because we do it one way, doesn’t mean that it should ever be another family’s way. And it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the way we will do it in the future.

Nonetheless, for a little on our family philosophy on home-education and an up close snapshot of what school at home looks like for us, we’d love to share our journey; what it is, what it is not, and the details of what we do. 

First, I’ll start with…

What homeschooling ISN’T: (at least for us)

  • Curriculum. I mean, curriculum is most certainly a part of it. But curriculum and book-work isn’t even close to the whole of home-education.
  • It is NOT a reproduced, mini-version of traditional school.
  • It’s not subject tests, grades, and report cards.
  • It’s not dictated to us by programs, state or federal guidelines, curriculums, ect.

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What homeschooling IS!:

  • A healthy mixture of curriculum learning and real world/life experience!
  • Establishing and filtering all subject learning through our faith based world-view, with God at the center of every single thing we study…even science!

Whew! Sometimes I forget how many places we’ve been and experiences we’ve had until I look back at the hundreds of pictures of our journey!

When it comes to education, I am learning to find the balance between curriculum learning, which is important, and real world experience learning, which is far more important.

On some days we spend long days, sitting at actual desks (or tables or couches) learning with books and (gasp!) actually using pencils.

Other days we head out to touch, see, and feel the things we learn about in books, or packing up our school work books and heading to a favorite spot to change up the scenery a bit so that our learning environment doesn’t get stale and boring.

  • Homeschooling is finding the ways your children learn best, not the way a state or any other well-meaning mom says a child should learn.
  • REAL life experience
  • Learning character and life-skills
  • Character training
  • Community

“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” – Aristotle

Because some have asked, here is the more technical break down of what we’re doing now for school. I say now, but it is subject to change at any point it’s no longer the best fit.

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What WE do:

That about covers the core subjects!

We also register as a school with our state and have our children tested with the Stanford Achievement Test (or equivalent) by a certified tester at the end of every school year.

As you can tell, we take our education pretty dang seriously, as we should, but we do our best to have fun while we’re learning! A good education opens the world up to us as we learn who we are, why we are here, what we believe, what is true about the world around us, and that true education is ALL of life, not just limited to seven hours a day in a school room.

The whole world is our class room and at least for the time being, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

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So, in a very condensed nut-shell, this is our family philosophy and method on home-education.

We sure don’t pretend to believe it should be everyone else’s. But at present it is just working for us, and if it ever stops working, we will evaluate what needs to change.

We hope that sharing our education journey helps other families who might be considering home-education and paints a well-rounded, general picture of what it can look like and how it most definitely works!

For the sole, true end of education is simply this: to teach men how to learn for themselves; and whatever instruction fails to do this is spent in vain. – Dorothy Sayers 

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Please feel free to comment below or email us with questions as we’d be so happy to help!

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Finding Joy In The Ordinary

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This morning I awoke, made my bed, read a bit, and stepped straight into my tiny kitchen to get the sauce started for our crockpot dinner tonight.

There was nothing about this impending day that is anything more than ordinary. In fact, despite the fact that we live in a camper and have an amazing life together, let’s not over-glamorize it. Most days our lives are about as ordinary as yours. Every single day there are chores to be done, bills to be paid, floors to be swept, jobs to be worked, and schoolwork to be completed.

Still, smack dab in the midst of ordinary, I had a moment this morning while standing next to my kitchen stove, stirring the sauce, in which I felt complete and total joy wash over me like a fresh wave on a shoreline.

I had not won the lottery, or had anything particularly amazing happen to me except that in that moment I realized how blessed I am to be living a life in which I know what it is to have deep meaning and purpose… and to feel so fully alive.

And I knew right then that no person or thing had given joy to me, nor could steal it away again.

You see, joy isn’t happiness.

It is more.

Joy is the complete fulfilling contentment that resides in the deepest part of us when we are moping floors, cleaning toilets, cooking dinners and living the most ordinary of days. Joy is the thing that remains when our world is falling apart, or we’ve lost a job, or a loved one is sick, or life didn’t turn out the way we had expected it would.

This world can give cheap, fleeting substitutes, but it can never give us the things that will last when everything else fades away.

You see, there is only one source for joy. 

Relationships, job titles, accomplishment, and things… all of them fall short of bringing joy so deep that circumstances can’t steal it away. Worldly things bring only fleeting moments of short lived happiness. But joy…oh joy. It is worth so much more.

I’m thinking maybe we’ve been chasing the wrong things. In our pursuit of happiness and our own poverty of the soul stricken versions of the American Dream, maybe we have traded in the one thing that can’t be bought, sold, or earned.

Joy. Deep soul joy.

When was the last time you experienced the true fullness and contentment of life found there?

Joy is the most infallible sign of the existence of God.
 

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Light Life Stories: The Odoms

This is a very special family whom I’ve still yet to actually meet in person, but our hearts have knit together on each of our own “Light Life Journeys.” Meet Andrew and Crystal Odom and their adorable little girl, who are former “tiny house dwellers” and are in the process of making the switch over to full time RV life. Read about their story into debt and their current journey out and how they are reclaiming their freedom and their lives through living light. They remind us all to live intentionally, that it is possible live small and love it, and the importance of  reclaiming our lives back from the grip of American culture and it’s pre-occupation with status and defining our lives by material possessions. I know you will find their lives and their story so encouraging and inspiring, just as we have.
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The first home I owned cost just at $52,000. For that price I got a 2-bedroom, 1-bath, fixer-upper that was on .35 acre in the middle of a post-war neighborhood in Norfolk, VA. It was built in 1953 at a time when America was reestablishing itself. Men had returned home from the war and were now firmly rooted in their post-war career. Women were homemakers and mothers, not CEOs and business owners. Homebuyers were encouraged to look to the future and stretch themselves as far as they could to buy a house. It made more sense then.

Fast forward to 2009.

The nation had been in a recession for nearly three years and unemployment hovered at a thirty year high. The real estate market had recently tanked and homes were considered a risky investment if not a ridiculous one. Many homeowners were waking up to find themselves stuck in a vicious cycle of working to pay for the house they sleep at at night and live in only long enough to get up and do it all again the following day. The average home size in the United States was a bloated 2,670 sq.ft. and in 2010 we would see 2,871,891 foreclosures alone! The world had indeed changed from just a decade or two before.

Somewhere along the line the American Dream became defined by owning more stuff than your neighbor and having more than those around you. Many times that meant relying on credit cards with lofty interest rates. But was that the way to go? Was that the new truth? Did my new bride and I need a bigger house, a better car, or a large salary to find happiness? And just what was this elusive happiness we had been conditioned to believe in? Would it come about when we sacrificed our dreams for the pursuit of stuff?

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On February 21, 2009 I married Crystal in the mountains of North Georgia. It was a small wedding in what would be one of our first financial decisions together, as a couple. We invited less than a handful of people and got married in front of the fireplace at the cabin we were staying in. Our officiant was a lifelong friend of mine and an ordained minister. Our photographer doubled as my best man. My sister was the maid of honor and our reception was little more than finger food found locally and a bottle of champagne. Our total cost was just under $1000 (including my wife’s dress which we found on eBay). At that point though saving that $1k was a huge deal. Along with my hand in marriage and a promise of for better or for worse I also came with just over $40,000 in consumer debt. For the past 14-16 months I had been trying to keep a struggling business afloat, living off credit cards, and using retail therapy to help me cope.

I was a financial mess and being so would color our immediate future.

Almost immediately after getting married we began to figure out our next step. Both being raised in the South we felt like a good truck, a “starter” house, a kid or two, and perhaps a membership in the local congregation would be the ticket. We were stopped short though when we searching for the house. We had found a cute little bungalow in town that was listed at $86,000. It needed work but we were up for the challenge. When we sat down with the lending agent though we could sense things were about to change. With my salary of just $10/hour for 40-hour weeks and Crystal working only seasonally at the local college we weren’t prepared to hear that we had qualified for a home loan of $179,000. It was a dream come true! As a man I was beside myself with pride knowing I could buy the house my wife and I wanted and provide as I had been taught to do. After just 48 hours though my wife told me she had good news and bad news. I opted for the good news first. She told me we could buy the house. I couldn’t imagine any bad news then. Turns out we could buy the house but we would have to sell our car, eat just 3 meals a week, do without lights, and possibly shower at the local gym because water would not be an option for us. The American Dream had let us down and was even willing to suck us in even more. We did the only thing we knew to do. We started praying about a new situation; a new opportunity!

That opportunity came in the form of a 190 sq.ft. house built with rustic charm and set up on a tandem axle trailer. Pictured on the website of Tumbleweed Tiny Homes it look near perfect for us. After all, we had met as missionaries and had for years lived in backpacks, guest rooms, and questionable accommodations. This hand-built mini-mansion would allow us to skirt around a mortgage, have an interesting and stylish home, be mobile, and work towards better financial decisions (which by this point meant paying off the debt I brought to the table).

From late-2009 until even now my wife and I have worked hard at simplifying our lives. We have minimized the number of clothes we own, the types of food we eat, our dependency on cars, the number of square feet we need to exist indoors, the amount of books we surround ourselves with, the number of CDs and DVDs we buy (largely for one-time use), and the overall debt we have amassed.

In this exchange we have maximized our quality of life, our love for each other, our concern for the world around us, our ideas of entertainment, our health (mentally and physically), and our general dispositions. Things didn’t stop with just a dream though.

310490_10150870938305151_1906189448_nIn 2012 we broke ground (or should I say rolled in our trailer) on what would become our home. After researching a number of tiny house trailers, small homes, cottages, tee pees, yurts, and other non-traditional structures, we settled on a single-level, 240 sq.ft. tiny house trailer built on a 30′ long by 8′ wide, tandem axle trailer. We were also working on the size of our family having added our daughter to the mix in 2011. Our debt had been over half paid off, I was working a new and more lucrative job, we had spent much time in prayer and meditation discerning need -vs- want, and we had saved money to begin our build.

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3The entire process took nearly 14 months and is intricately documented over at Tiny r(E)volution but on January 3, 2013 we officially moved in to our tiny house. Our dreams were coming true and while the real estate market had been steadily bouncing back and the job market was getting better we were focused on a new American Dream. We were focused on OUR American Dream.

In the definition of the American Dream by James Truslow Adams in 1931, “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement” regardless of social class or circumstances of birth. Ours sounded more like “life will be better for us because we realize that our life is a gift from God meant to be lived investing in others and the world around us. Our opportunity should be one without monetary value and presented to us in accordance to our giftings and our passions.” We had been passionate about getting out of debt so we honed in on the problems, outlined a solution, and dove in. We had been passionate about a home that fit our needs so we created plan and built a house. We had been passionate about having a small family so even in our mid-30s we enjoyed the blessing(s) God gave us as a couple and then in the form of a beautiful baby girl. None of these took place because we are holier than thou or because we worked harder than anyone else or because we are in anyway more exceptional than anyone else. They took place because we believed in them, we believed in ourselves, and we wanted a life free of obligation and consumer stress.

10494740_574324878336_7099352784910747276_nAs I write this we are now living in our “new to us” 27′ Aruba travel trailer preparing to become full-time nomads (my employment allows me to be location independent) and experience the nation as God lays out for us. We have reduced our consumer debt to just a handful of payments (I can literally count them on one hand), a small loan for our travel trailer, and a truck payment for the beautiful and reliable truck we just financed to tote us around the US. Our living room has become wherever the sun rises and sets and we have found in each other a love deeper than we ever thought possible. Our daughter is about to turn 3 and has no idea that we aren’t exactly….well, “normal.” She is smart and well adjusted and is slowly learning the lessons it took her old man thirty years to catch on to.

Money can’t buy happiness. Credit can’t change your mood. But friends, love, and laughter – all blessings from above – can make your days worth living and your adventures more exciting!

 

AboutDrewFounder of Tiny r(E)volution and author of the popular book ‘Your Message Here :: GAINING CORPORATE SPONSORS for your tiny house project‘, Andrew Odom is a social media strategist and content crusader amongst other things. He is also an accomplished photojournalist with work seen in Details, Relevant, South, Kitchen Drawer, and Tiny House Magazine. His proudest accomplishment however is his adoption and current advocacy of the tiny house/small house/unconventional house community as a designer, builder, and dweller. Having recently sold their 240 sq.ft. tiny house Andrew and his wife (as well as his 3-year old daughter) live and travel in a 27’ Aruba travel trailer.

You can follow them on Instagram @tinyrevolution

We welcome you to leave any questions, comments or well wishes for the Odoms in the comment section below!

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Snapshot Of A Monthly Full-Time RVing Budget

snapshotWhether or not one is even interested in the idea of full-time RVing or not, it seems most are at least curious as to the truth about what it actually costs to live on the road full-time. Perhaps because the idea is just downright strange, or perhaps because deep down inside most Americans secretly long to live a life in which the very basics didn’t cost us next to everything we make.

Now, keeping in mind that every situation is different, here is a basic breakdown of a monthly, full-time RVing budget to help give you an idea of how much RV life really costs.

**Please remember that this only a snapshot of a monthly budget and can vary depending on situation, family size, how much you are actually traveling on the road with your RV and of course, what season it is. This breakdown consists of the high and low end situations as it can vary greatly depending on so many variables.

  • Propane (winter: $75-100) (summer: $5 average) We use propane for heat & cooking in the winter and for cooking only in the summer.
  • Laundry  – $100 * family of four in quarters for laundromat
  • Gas  – about $300 for every 10 hours of road travel (in a 2010 Ford F-250 diesel truck towing 38 ft. RV) * figure based on gas price of around $3.50 and of course gas prices may vary greatly (subtract this when you aren’t actually traveling)
  • RV park lot rent – $300-$900 (we try to find parks in the $400-500 range.) *depends on location and season. Currently we are paying $290 per month for lot rent + electric
  • Electric $50-$150  *depends on season (many RV parks include electric in with lot rent. You just have to inquire.)
  • Internet $40-$150 *unless your campground has free wi-fi – which isn’t always reliable.
  • RV insurance – $30-$40
  • Water $0  *most water is included in RV park rent
  • Food  *add in your own normal grocery expenses

I did not include budget items such as food, health/auto insurance, ect. because again, this is only a skeleton breakdown of a RV life budget and there are too many varying scenarios to list so you’ll have to add in any of your own extra expenses.

Please comment below with any questions or additions you have to this post.

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The Danger Of Pursuing A Normal Life

20131029-145247.jpg“The greatest and most aspiring achievements are not produced by those who conform to society’s idea of normal, but by those who courageously adopt the unconventional.” ~ J.J. Herbert

What is it that keeps you from taking the leap to change your life from what it is now to what it could be?

I think the answer is a little different for each person, but I’d be willing to bet that for most – it is simply the fear of being different.

Most people are more concerned with how their lives appear to others on the outside than with how they actually feel on the inside.

And so, we’ve become a culture enslaved to the norm. We are all the same! Or at least, we want to be. And we have become quite proficient at accessing the lives of those around us solely for the purpose of being like them or worst, attaining more.

Why? Because no body wants to be different or unconventional. Everyone just wants to feel normal. But maybe the desire to be normal is a poison slowly killing off the full and rich lives we were meant to lead?

It’s something I’ve been thinking on a lot lately.

If I were to be totally honest, when I was a little girl for whatever reasons, I didn’t feel normal. Thinking back, I can’t exactly put my finger on why. Maybe it was the bad perm and the bottle cap glasses, or that fact that I was a musician and we all know how different musicians can be. But I think mostly I blamed not feeling “normal” on living down a long dirt road with a bit less stuff than most American families we knew.

And so I’ve realized that I’ve spent much of my girlhood dreaming of and much of my adult life working to be normal. Whatever the heck normal is.

And then the funniest thing happened, I got married and we got a normal life. I mean, every single thing that makes up normal in this culture anyways. The mortgage, car payments, debt and those neat, carefully achieved mow lines in the front yard. We even lived in the suburbs once – you know, the neighborhoods where all the houses look exactly the same except for the house number and the cars parked in front. It felt a bit like living smack dab in Sthneedville where they are selling bottled air!

And one day I looked back at my childhood and realized what a gift not being “normal” actually was! I just couldn’t see it then for all the normal trees blocking the view in my forest.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not against normal. After all, normal is well – normal! It is fine and there’s not inherently anything wrong with it.

It’s just that at some point I realized that all becoming normal did was made me just like everyone else. And although that’s exactly what I had longed for as a girl of thirteen, when you’re thirty – being just like everyone else somehow begins to lose it’s glittering appeal.

So after about ten years of normalcy, our lives are now far more unconventional than I could have ever dreamed up.

Why? Well, for starters we:

  • Don’t have our children in the public school system
  • Homeschool
  • We don’t let the medical field dictate what potions we should shoot into our systems
  • No longer have a mortgage
  • We are working towards ditching debt for good
  • Live small
  • Travel
  • Spend much of our money on experiences over things
  • We believe we should educate and raise our own children instead of letting society do it for us
  • Refuse to depend on culture to dictate to us what a rich and good life looks like.

Now, we haven’t always done life this way. I remember a time when we frantically shuffled our kids from place to place, with barely enough time to feed them while we killed ourselves to make money so we could hold on tightly to all our stuff. We never took a vacation or went places because quite frankly, the normal American life we were living consumed every single bit of our time and money.

It was an exhausting way to live and quite frankly, it wasn’t living.

20140613-103958-38398345.jpgQuite often someone asks me, “Don’t you miss all that space you had when you lived in a house?” And my answer is always, “Of course I miss the space inside a house! But look at all the space we actually enjoy living in now!”

And no one ever asks, “Don’t you miss being away from your husband all the time, shuffling your kids from place to place so you could work and never having the time (or money) to enjoy life?

I’m sure you could guess my answer to that one.

So yes, being normal has it’s obvious advantages. Which is what makes it appealing to so many. And maybe our lives will look more “normal” at some point in the future. But I’m honestly not in any hurry to be like everyone else again. Because our willingness to let go of clinging to average  – and t0 live unconventionally, has given us a whole new way of living that we could only have every dreamed of before.

You know?

Back when we were much more normal.

20140613-103956-38396906.jpgSo yeah, we don’t have a ton of space inside the place we eat and sleep. But look what we’ve gained!

  • We eat dinner together almost every night
  • Spend a lot of time outdoors enjoying nature
  • TV doesn’t rule our lives or waste precious brain space
  • We can afford to live comfortably on one income
  • Travel more and experience more
  • Meet people from all walks of life
  • Learn to work together to create a life
  • Do almost everything together as a family!

It isn’t a stretch to say that living unconventionally has given us a life we never had before!

What has happened to us that normal has become living our lives trapped in jobs we don’t love, enslaved in debt with no time to spend with those we love most, travel or actually live life?

That is so not normal.

And if it is, then I’m no longer interested in what seems to have become the normal American Dream.

The truth is, a normal, average life never truly made anybody happy.

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So we can just exist or we can live.
Most of the time the danger of spending a life pursing normal ends up being hidden behind the forest of all the “normal” in our lives. And all the while we just might be missing out on the full, rich, abundant life we could have had all along.

The choice is ours.

Choose to be unconventional and live a “one of a kind” kind of life!

 

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An Invitation To LIVE With Us!

Do you ever find yourself sitting online with your chin in your hand watching other people actually living their lives instead of simply letting life live them and think to yourself, “Geez, I wish my life actually felt like LIVING and less like surviving!”

Well, here’s your chance to change that a bit!

Let me explain.

When we started this blog, even greater than simply keeping the world update to date about our adventures, was our desire to add value to lives of all who connect with us, whether in person or online, by answering your concerns, giving ideas and inspiring you to live a fuller, richer life. Not for this to only be a one way street in which you have a convenient window seat into our lives, but a place to actually engage with you!

Our Light Life adventures are about so much more than just us. From day one is have been our sincere desire to cultivate a thriving community here that is life-enriching to all people from all walks of life, not just RVers or minimalists.

As a result, our community is ever growing and we wanted to tell let you all in in advance on some pretty exciting things coming up on The Light Life Blog.

Here are just a few of the uniquely informative, fun things coming up!

  • A special Light Life Blog series that you won’t want to miss
  • Honest interviews with others living a light life
  • Video blog in which we will take you through a day in our light life!
  • Continuing Q & A in which we continue to honestly answer our most asked questions about minimalism, living small and life on the road
  • Tips and advice for current, soon to be or aspiring RVers!
  • The truth about what we’ve learned from our near first year living in a tiny space and on the road
  • A nice little giveaway…..or two that trust us – you DON’T WANT TO MISS!

So much of it will happen right here on the blog but some will be seen exclusively on Facebook & Instagram. So we want to kindly invite you to join in and connect with us on our social media channels so you don’t miss out on any of the fun! Cause we are probably the most spontaneous family you know and you just never know what you might get with us!  😉

So click on any of the three social media links below and connect fully with us. It’s that easy and you’re in! No membership dues or invasive sign up forms to fill out! So click away, take a breath of fresh air and consider yourself part of the Light Life Community!

*{in order to qualify to win the giveaways you must be connected with us on at least 2 out of three social media channels}

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So, now that you’ve connected with us, we’d love it if you’d stop by and say “Hi!

Now that you’re on board, fasten your seat belts as you come along with us on this journey! We are so excited and grateful to take your along on this adventure with us and to engage with you even more!

Welcome to The Light Life! Where you can leave the hustle and bustle of the rat race far behind you, free yourself from the bondage of stuff , declutter your mind and free yourself to LIVE.

Breathe in and out deeply…….

Now you’re going places.

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How Living Small Can Free You

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Nobody really believes possessions equal joy. In fact, if specifically asked, nobody in their right mind would ever say the secret to a joyful life is to own a lot of stuff. Deep down, we know it’s not true. – Joshua Becker

For the first time since we’ve been on the road living in an RV, over the past few months we’ve had two sets of family come stay with us for a few days. Because we’ve always lived in the same town as all of our family and friends this has literally been the first time in our married life we’ve had family come and stay as guests in our home. 

How funny it is that when you scale the size of your house back to 280 sq. feet, people suddenly start wanting to come stay with you! And we have genuinely adored every second of getting to share our lives on the road with others.

As we prepared for their arrival I did the usual things one does before guests arrive. Mopped the floor…all 280 sq. inches of it, washed bedding, caught up on laundry and dishes, went out to grab a few grocery items and scrubbed our one tiny bathroom.  And then we waited excitedly for our guests arrive.

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As I lit three small candles (because that’s about all tiny space can handle) and put out the smallest bunch of wildflowers in a simple mason jar – I looked around at the meager amount of possessions we’ve scaled our lives down to and chuckled a bit inside as I acknowledged within myself, “Well, this is it!”

And maybe for the first time in my life, guests coming for a visit was no longer a chance for our family to prove our meaning or importance in this world by what we had managed to acquire. We only had one small gift to give our most treasured guests.

The simple gift of us.

That’s it!

No fancy home, no neatly manicured lawn or spacious, gated backyard. All the things we had let define us for far too long. In just six short months we have willingly laid it all down and walked away from being known for our ability to create a nice life on the outside.

When we made the decision to live minimalistically, to be honest, I wasn’t sure how we would deal with it. Our American lives have become blindly accustomed to excess, and so had ours.

In fact, we have come to measure people by their stuff.

And if you think you don’t, then ask yourself whether or not your mind tends to respond more kindly to the thin, neatly manicured woman at the checkout than the homeless guy at the stoplight.

As a result, we spend countless hours comparing our things to the person next to us. We measure our family’s success by the wealth of our belongings. We work long hours in jobs to earn enough money so we can spend our lives purchasing the biggest homes, the fanciest cars, the trendiest fashions, the hottest toys, and the coolest technologies.

Meanwhile, we all know it’s not true. We know full-well happiness cannot be bought at a department store. – Joshua Becker

I am falling in love with living small. Why? Because it takes the pressure off. For the first time we feel free! Free to just be who we really are! And if people love us and want to be with us, it will genuinely be for us. Not for how well we can impress them with a false, outward facade of a life well lived.

And if it is true that most of the world measures the success of a family by the wealth of their possessions, well then I guess that means that our little family will have to find ways to be successful in other areas of our lives together.

Because the square footage of our home, and how many things we possess is no longer the mask we wear.

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No matter matter what size space you live in, everyone can and should find ways to scale back their lives a bit, simplify and train your heart to stop trying to find our worth and fulfillment in the things we possess.

We will never find it there.

This is our little family encouraging you to stopping being afraid to throw off the suffocating mask of materialism and free yourself to discover the beauty and meaningful purpose of a life lived simply and authentically!

Let your life breathe easy again. There’s so much more freedom in less.

Minimalism does more than subtract from our surroundings. It does something deeper. It breaks down the stuffy walls that imprison the free lives we were meant to live. The fancy facades get peeled away from over our eyes and we get to view the whole world a bit more freely and clearly.

We can breathe again.

Tiny home, big life. 

How has “living small” changed your own life? What scares you most about this concept of living with less and minimalism? Please share in comments below!

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The Light Life {Unplugged}

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Once upon a time there was a girl who awoke each day to the feel of sunbeams all warm on her face, or the calming sounds of raindrops on her roof. She lay there, still and quiet as the sweet chirping of birds outside of her bedroom window made her smile with delight. She lay there as thoughts meandered aimlessly through her mind. Not rushing to pick up a phone to check email or read up on the latest news or Facebook headlines. Simply, she breathed in deeply and then out again, her mind quieted and her body still. And there was nothingness, and quiet and stillness. Peace. And it was there in the empty space, she felt more fully alive than she’d ever felt in all of her days filled with hurried distraction that flashed by in a blink.

She spent her days choosing to embrace the empty spaces of life over the noise.

And she lived.

——–

Most of us would have to admit this sounds must like a far-fetched dream, anything but reality.

I am not this girl, I am however working to become her. I catch myself reaching for my phone as my eyes awake each morning. It’s one thing about myself I wish to change. Such creatures of habit we are.

I may not know everything that makes a life full and good, lives worth being written of in books – but I do know that a life lived with each day beginning with an endless stream of news, media and Facebook statuses don’t create lives worth writing of.

Our world is loud. Too loud. Still, it is only as loud as we have let it become.

I don’t care who you are, not being consumed by all the shouting and noise takes real intentionality. Real effort. A plan.

So this is where we are.

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One day last week I had this moment of sobering realization that our family lives far too much of our lives in front of screens. I’m not sure one can truly call the moments adding up to the years of our lives we give away to a screen, true living.

I mean, when was the last time I lived a day? I mean really experienced an entire day? Honestly, I can barely recall. I’m not proud of this, but it is honest truth.

In order to quiet our minds and create an empty space in our lives, our family is trying out a new thing in which we unplug our children from all forms of technology Monday through Friday of every week with limited use on weekends.

For us this means no TV, video games, movies or internet use (except for school purposes.) I know it’s a bit extreme, but we are all a bit addicted so at least for now this is what we need to do. We may change things up as time goes on but we are already noticing a MUCH sweeter, calmer atmosphere in our tiny home on wheels.

I’m trying to figure out the best way to join the kids on this journey despite the fact that I do write and manage two blogs, still I know their little lives aren’t the only ones in need of a good quieting.

—————

I want to change how this story is being written.

Can I?

Can we?

I believe we can.

While it is true we would never want to go back in time and erase all of the good that technology has added to lives, it’s just that I’m wondering if the exchange of all that it has also subtracted is leaving our lives in the negative.

I’m not the smartest girl in the world but I do know that I desperately want to quiet the noise so I can hear. And to stop the rushing so there is more time for this. This quiet, calm, full living of life.

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What if, just what if we spent less of our priceless days observing the busy, hurried, noisy lives of the rest of the world and more time living our very own?

This is the question I’m asking myself.

I want our children to be free to run and play. To be loud and crazy and wild. There is a time for that.

I also want them to have time to embrace the silence, to learn to be still in the quiet and discover opportunities of imagination and thought within the empty spaces of their own minds. 

We spend far too much effort and money filling up our families’ lives with distractions – good things. Forgetting that sometimes we find that the life we are striving so desperately is held within the quiet places, discovered in the simple.

Despite what our culture is always shouting we should do, this is our little family whispering for you to join us on this journey to empty our lives a bit….so that we may find it. 

Let’s just slow down together, stop the rushing – and take a little time to clear away the clutter and let the silence rush in.

Unplug.

Tiny home, big life.

How have you found ways to balance all the noise in your own family life? Please share with us in comments!

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Can You Live Small And Be Happy?

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It’s the question on everyone’s mind but few are brave enough to ask out loud. Heck, it was the biggest question on my mind from the moment we made the decision to give up most of our possessions, move out of our house and into our RV until we just made the leap to do it and find out for ourselves!

It’s been interesting to experience the different responses from others when we tell them our family gave up our house by choice to live small. MUCH smaller.

These are a few of the widely varied responses we get:

  • “Oh that’s awesome!”
  • “Really? But why?”
  • “That is my DREAM!”
  • There’s always the “Oh I feel so bad for you” look on the faces of a few. To which I always want to say, “PLEASE don’t waste emotional energy feeling sorry for me.”
  • And then sometimes there’s the response I probably respect the most, “I’m not sure I could do it, but I think it’s really amazing you’re just doing it.”  
  • Is it possible to live small and be happy?” 

The later is the question I would like to address.

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 “There’s something in our soul that longs for the freedom to be okay with not pursuing more, doing more, being more.” – Don Miller

So I was going to make a bullet point list of all the reasons why I believe it’s actually a bit easier to be happy living in a small space but then again I realized it doesn’t need that kind of explanation. 

Only this:

Happiness is not found in the size of your house, the size of your bank account or the size of your professional portfolio. Happiness is found only within. People who live small by choice tend to choose this way of life because they are already happy people and removing the clutter from their lives gives them the freedom to stay that way.

There is pure joy to be found in a simple, uncomplicated life. And of course you don’t have to live in a RV to accomplish a more simple, smaller life.

There is something freeing about not being tied down to an object made of bricks and mortar and a thirty year mortgage.

There is something wonderful about having the time and the freedom to spend afternoons wondering down winding trails, swimming in mountain lakes and starry nights around a campfire.

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Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with living large either. It’s all in having balanced motives and perspectives on life. And I guess there will always be those who view the choice to live a small life as less of a life. But in fact, I know plenty of people who live large on the outside and have pathetically small lives on the inside.

And maybe there are some who know us who are waiting for us to come speeding back into our hometown admitting, “Oh we HATE IT. Can we just have our normal, good life back!!!!” 

And maybe one day this season of our lives we end and we’ll decide to build a little house of our own and settle down in one spot again. We honestly don’t know and we truly aren’t worrying about it.

But I can guarantee one thing, when the day comes for us to give up our small life on the road for a more “normal” one (whatever the heck that means) it certainly won’t be because our quality of life was better before small life.

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At the end of this journey we will all be so very grateful for our time we learned to find true happiness from the simplicity of life itself, not in things. 

And if “normal” is the same life most everyone else in American has, with all respect, “no thank you.

Honestly, I don’t think our family will ever be the same. We will be better for the living small and the being happy and realizing that it wasn’t a sad chore for the opportunity in time to come to this realization –

It was a gift.

So, can you life small and be happy? It depends! Because happiness has little to nothing do with the size of your home or the amount of one’s possessions.

But I can tell you this, I meet more happy people living in tiny spaces than I ever met in any normal, American neighborhood.

“Little home, big life.”

What are some of the reasons you believe it’s possible to live small and be happy? Comment below.

Comments { 10 }

Falling In Love With A Simple Life

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Coffee cup filled with light dark sips of goodness in hand, early this morning as the sun arose I just sat and thought and admired the beauty right outside of my RV window, dwelling on the beauty of everything on the inside. Here inside our tiny little home on wheels, listening to the soft pitter patter of raindrops on our roof I closed my eyes and breathed in deeply. There are few things quite as lovely and refreshing as the sound of rain falling on roofs. I find something about gloomy, rainy days to be comforting.

I find beauty in the oddest of things actually.

I thought….

My whole life is so different than just six months ago. I find myself enjoying life so immensely that I am sad to see each day come to an end. As if I’m clinging tightly to the remnants of a wonderful experience.  I go to bed each night with anticipation for the morning to come, for a new day to begin all over again.

Far from the normalcy of my old life of neatly laid out schedules, grand houses, white picket fences, the manicuring of lawns….. and reputations – all the rushing about. There isn’t anything wrong with that life, it is what it is we are searching for there that can all to easily become the noose around our neck.

It feels a bit like we’ve untied the knot and slipped the noose off.

For a while I’ve felt almost as if I was living someone else’s life. But lately, this new life is beginning to feel like my very own. And I chuckle a bit inside as I re-read my own words because from the sound of it one would start to think I live some kind of grand life of perfection and ease, spending my days in the lap of luxury and fanfare.

That couldn’t be further from truth.

My life isn’t perfect and it could better be described as slow and steady, plain and simple. Not complex and anything but glamorous. Maybe enough to drive others mad. But me, I find such deep peace in unhurried days, so much fulfillment in the steady stream of days filled with deep purpose and accomplishment.

Nothing about my life is perfect, and yet – somehow it seems to be abundantly enough. I find myself stopping to admire the smallest of things, seeing the ordinary as gifts. The sweet chirping of birds, the sound of raindrops falling, the way the wind feels as it softly brushes my hair against my face, sunbeams warming my skin on a cold day, the solemn stillness and quiet of a winter snowfall.

All the fluff of my old life has been removed and only what is real remains. It’s amazing what one discovers about themselves when all the “fluff” gets removed. All the substitutes that tend make up who we and others believe us to be.

Most days I don’t bother to put on makeup or wear trendy clothes. Oh I love to feel beautiful just as any woman would, but I’m learning what defines me. It is not a pretty face, or the clothes on my back. I’m losing my desire to be known for the what I possess, what I can do or the way I look at my very best. And still, for the first time in my life, I feel beautiful and strong, even after the make-up is washed away and the curls have fallen flat.

I find myself falling in love with being known for the truth of who I really am.

The same life that the ones who live with me know, that is the most beautiful one. The one whose nose is dotted with tiny freckles and uneven skin tone, messy hair thrown up making time for morning snuggles under the covers. The one who gives grace over spilled juice on a freshly mopped floor, little boy mistakes – even grown men ones. The one who has traded in the need to be somebody in this world, to be somebody to the three hearts I’ve been given to love first. 

Grace for my own soul. Removing the demands I had placed on myself to be, learning to fully embrace who I am becoming.

This confident, bold little girl who has become a woman, wife and mother – yet still such a work in progress. But I see it all happening. I feel myself becoming that which I had never even known I wanted to become. It is wonderful and beautiful, the becoming. 

The same grace like rain that poured lavishly over my life a few short years ago has wrecked me for life. Even still, remaining a steady stream of love and forgiveness and life. A life that could have looked very different than the one of now.

But grace.

Grace is the presence that knows you’re a work in progress and is simply delighting in your becoming. And its delight is what gives us the space and strength to enter into our own humanity—all of our immaturity and messiness—to claim our mistakes, and to confess them without fear. Grace is the quiet voice within, always whispering, “I’m quite fond of you, even in your messy becoming.” – Kelly Flanging

I’m becoming quite fond of this girl who stands on mountainsides drawing fresh air into her lungs and whispers audible “thank yous” for things so small as this. This mother who watches her little ones as they sleep and holds her face tightly to their pink cheeks, in awe of every rise and the fall of their small chest. This wife who lays her head on her husbands strong chest as he sleeps at night, listening to every beat of his heart, reveling at how wonderful it is to hear the very heart that was created to love someone like her – and grateful that it chooses to still.

When I was a girl I always had a sense that I would grow up to be somebody. Someone who did great things and possessed much.

I spent so much of my twenties fighting my way to that somewhere.

And then one day I threw up my white flag. I let it all go. I well remember that day.

I surrendered my heart to a plan, a vision for my life so much greater than my own.

It is then that I learned that I already possessed all that I had been fighting for. 

It has been in the letting go that I began to discover that life isn’t about what we are, but who we are constantly becoming. 

The journey

The messiness

The mistakes

The ordinary

The becoming

The simple life.

Yes, I’m becoming quite fond of you.

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