I am a mom that decided to trade her big house for a tiny house. Let me share how it all began…
Almost 3 years ago, my husband and I were torn between the need to have him go back to work and our desire for a more flexible lifestyle. When he was laid off, we decided he would take a couple of months to recharge. We found ourselves training for a triathlon, spending more time with our son and enjoying this new life sans a 9-5. This turned into a year full of rekindling, renewal and a tight toned body. Oh, I miss that last part the most.
But there was one little problem…we were running out of money. No trust fund babies here.
My financially savvy, cost hacking, ahem… (penny pinching) wonderful husband crafted the numbers. He declared that this soul enriching life was unsustainable with our current expenses, even if we tightened the budget. The mortgage ate up most of our income. To keep it up, he would have to go back to his corporate finance job and be sucked back into depression and bored stupefaction.
I on the other hand enjoyed my work but it was incredibly demanding. I was missing my son’s milestones. Also, I didn’t want someone else raising my child anymore. If he was going to blame his parents for his therapy bill, I didn’t want it to be from lack of being present.
As we considered selling our home and figuring how to live off one income, a couple of events tipped us into deciding to sell almost EVERYTHING.
First, we were gifted tickets to The World Domination Summit. No, there isn’t anything BDSM about it (although that may have also been fun). It’s a yearly conference with the purpose of helping people figure out how to “live a remarkable life in a conventional world.” This conference was AMAZING and it motivated us to make a personal change: to take risks and follow our own path. Our concept of “success” was shifted and a new paradigm emerged. We began to purge our life.
Around this time, I brought up the idea of trading our big house for a tiny house strictly as motivation to help (my husband) get rid of (his) stuff. I remember starting the conversation with: we could never live this way…but if these people can live in 200 square feet, then we can get rid of our crap. We both agreed it was nuts to go so tiny but it motivated us to minimize.
Then my best friend was diagnosed with Leukemia.
As she withered into a painful abyss fighting for her life, she became angry at herself for having chased things that truly didn’t matter. I became cognizant of what was most important and meaningful to her as she faced death. What she wanted most was for the people she loved to be near. She wanted one more hug from her kids, one more kiss from her love and one more shrimp tempura roll with LOTS of pickled ginger (true story). She died 6 months after her diagnosis.
I didn’t have the head space to make life altering decisions during this time. The past few months had been filled with job hunting stress, moving fiascos, and hospital stays that culminated in the most painful goodbye of my life.
From this tragedy, enlightenment came. I have her to thank for that. My core values came smacking me in the face. I realized I wasn’t prioritizing the right relationships. I wasn’t involved in any meaningful work. Directness and a sharp tongue masked authenticity. Adventure had been suppressed and I wasn’t leading with kindness.
It was then that I realized WHY I had felt the need to purge my life and the desire to live intentionally was solidified.
Ugh… but what does that really mean?
Well for me, it represents an awareness of choice. That I can actively make choices that support my core values and that those values support my principles. Exactly how that manifests will be unique to each individual but principles are universal. There are principles we can follow to live a more joyous life. But many of us tend to shove these values and principles aside while we frantically chase new shiny things and status (first world problems).
Living intentionally is not a landing place, it’s a realization.
I may not be able to curate my day thanks to irregular periods, Trump lovers and Allstate Mayhem. But I CAN curate my life. I’m that privileged. I can choose what work I do, who I let into my life, what boundaries to set, how I parent and most importantly…what perspective and attitude to take.
Suddenly, the idea of trading our big house for a tiny house wasn’t so crazy anymore.
My gut told me that a tiny house would allow me to live by my values better. It could help me to prioritize relationships. It would drastically emphasize experiences over material things. A tiny home would allow us income flexibility so that we could do more meaningful work. Ultimately, it could lead to a more joyous life.
So, you may think that I traded my big house for a tiny house for the reasons above. But I think it’s much simpler than that.
I traded my big house for a tiny house because: I needed a better tool.
A tool that helps me achieve my renewed goals and intentions quicker and more efficiently. Think of my big house as a jack hammer and me trying to use that tool to drive a nail into drywall. Messy right? So, I traded the jack-hammer for a regular hammer.
I still have a long way to go and this quest is never-ending. But my family and I are happier, calmer with much more joy and adventure in our lives. We are incredibly grateful.
Sarahi Nunez Mejia is an organizing wizard, events mastermind, wife and mom. She lives in a 500 sq ft tiny house with her family in Los Angeles and blogs about the lifestyle of downsizing and minimalism, prioritizing experiences over things, and using your money smartly at Tiny Living In LA.
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