Tiny House (un)Progress: Nervous Breakdown

Hello everyone!  today is a much better day than yesterday.

I am a huge fan of honesty and transparency, so I want to tell you all about the emotional breakdown(s) and arguments of yesterday… but, because this is going out into the world, and this is our blog for a business of  making tiny homes for others… I’ll just give you the highlights.

These quotes pretty much sum it up:

  • “I wish I would have a real tragic love affair and get so bummed out that I’d just quit my job and become a bum for a few years, because I was thinking about doing that anyway. ” – Jack Handey
  • One can go faster.  Two can go farther. – Unknown

Yesterday I woke up with concerns.  I got out of bed and looked at my reclaimed bedside table that I have painted the most lovely shade of red and thought (mournfully) “I’m not going to have that table in the Tiny House!”  I am a little too attached to most of my furniture.  Mainly because I spent days sanding it, refinishing it, and painting it with this really awesome technique called vinegar graining.

Although, as much as I love this furniture, I attempted to sell it when I moved from Denver to Prescott 2+ years ago.  And everyone loved it… but no one bought it.  It’s too expensive to ship it (over $100 to ship this table), so alas, I still have it.  And it is stuck to me like glue.  Or tar.

I am an artist, when I have time.  I love to make things.  Sew things, paint things, refurbish things, draw things, bead things, build things.  How am I going to do this in a Tiny House?  In fact, how am I going to eat?  To do yoga?  How am I going to THINK?!?

So.  With these thoughts on the tiny house grinding around in my brain I walked downstairs to grab some coffee with Shane, who was so excited to go pick up the wood flooring that morning.  We hugged.  Then I just started talking….  A heartfelt apology…  then my mouth opened, the tears flowed, the fears crawled out of my stomach and into our kitchen.

This escalated into disagreements, frustrations, differences of opinions, as our combined stress went toe to toe and left us in the dust.  It wasn’t pretty.  I don’t know that I’ve ever had any conflict that was.  Why is it necessary?  The gist of it: I am ponderous, Shane is productive.  I think and dream.  Shane gets things done.  I’m a sheep.  Shane’s a dragon.

I have to say, I feel much better today.  (in spite of several setbacks yesterday on items for the house that are in my court – procrastination does not pay off).  I am still learning how to do this partnership marriage thingy.  I really thought I would have had it figured out in a year!  Ha.  Instead, I will keep on learning, just as we all must.  Learn or isolate.  Learn or die.  I learn the most in difficult, stressful times.  But that doesn’t stop me from hating them, and longing for the easy fun giggly times where I can wander around and eat ice cream cones, looking at beetles… or whatever.

So.  Why are we moving into 200 sf?  I had to go back to this.  Go back to my journal entries from February when I was so excited.

  1. Smaller footprint on the environment.  Less coal burned to heat and light the place where we find shelter from the elements.
  2. Freedom!  Freedom from rent, from a mortgage, from working all the time to just put that money into the roof over our heads and the water going down our toilet.  Freedom to play more, love more, travel more, dream more, create more.  Give something back.  Be human beings rather than human doings.  (Freedom from my red painted table….)
  3. Potential… if we can live for $300 a month, think of the money we can save up to buy a bit of land to have a garden, solar panels, rainwater catchment, wind mills, chickens.  That is our goal: to be able to sustain ourselves without a daily trip to the grocery store.  To be able to labor in the way humans are meant to labor.
  4. Creation.  We are made to create.  I want to create something for good.  Not cladding the conference rooms of the 1% with Brazilian hardwood out of rainforests and Italian marble out of mountains.
  5. Ownership.  I wish I could think of a better word…. thesaurus: claim, control, possession.  Hmmm.  Not what I was looking for.  I have been renting since I was 17.  That’s 15 years of living in other people’s homes, having no freedom to paint the walls, kill the lawn and plant food.  It’s getting old.
  • Pattern 79 from A Pattern Language: “Your Own Home”.  People cannot be genuinely comfortable and healthy in a house which is not theirs.  All forms of rental … work against the natural processes which allow people to form stable, self-healing communities.
  • I don’t really think possession of the land – and in most cases in the Americas: thievery – is the solution either.  Native Americans belonged to a place, they didn’t own it.  Until they met the other half.  But.  Here we all are.  Maybe stewardship is what I want.  Caretaking.  I want to belong to some land.  I don’t want to belong to my stuff.

So, I have decided that I really want to live in this Tiny House, pull my “stuff” off of me, and start a new journey.  I always have wanted to live in it, to try it.  I just have fears!  But a wise person once said: “Fear will never completely leave.  Just do it afraid.”  And you know what, it might not work out!  Two people might need more than a 10×10 space each.  We shall see.  And for me, the benefits are worth the risk.

This is long, and totally unrelated to construction or design.  But, it is part of the process.  I hope that it helps you in some way.

(In other news: We have an interview with a Phoenix News station set up for next week.  (!!!)  Yay!  Shane emailed two news stations our story and one picked it up.)

thanks all, hope you are well and learning and loving,


Categories: Tiny House Construction, Uncategorized | Tags: | 37 Comments

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37 thoughts on “Tiny House (un)Progress: Nervous Breakdown

  1. Gramary

    Sounds like you are related to me. Oh I do love you Carrie.

  2. Life is all about the experience of it, I am very proud of you two for jumping off this cliff, it sure has made me feel a lot less scared! Emotions are one of the wonderfully horrible traits of a woman, they suck sometimes but it’s totally natural and I commend you on being transparent about it rather than ignoring that big scary part of this process! This will, if nothing else be an amazing journey!

    • Thanks Macy. That is so good to hear. You are doing such an awesome job too! Cheers to the journey!

  3. Pingback: Tiny House Progress: Shower, Furnace, Kitchen Cabinets « Clothesline Tiny Homes

  4. Tony Brown

    Thanks for sharing this and just to give you some comfort Pam and I have been negotiating for all the many years we have been married. It never really ends but it gets easier. As far as giving up things I would look at it as freedom from things. When we came to the US we sold a house, all our things except for what we could pack in two 8 cubic feet crates. It was so totally freeing. But I am not sure I could do that now and of course we weren’t living in 200 square feet. Looking back it was a great decision. My motto is if you haven’t tried it you will never know if it will work. But remember you have the whole outdoors around your tiny house.

    • thanks for your words Tony, very encouraging. I like your story. and so true – if you haven’t tried it, how will you know it won’t work? thanks. you’re awesome.

  5. Carrie,
    Thanks for sharing! It’s really a gift to hear your honesty and recognize what a HUGE lifestyle change this is – not just physically, but on a really personal level. And being co-creative is a huge challenge too (at least for me….)! It’s an inspiration to see the beautiful home you two are creating and the way you are growing in the process. You’re doing a great job. Way to go team!
    love ya,

    • thanks Megan! It is a huge change. But like Shane’s Dad said (below) – life is change. But it’s nice to give yourself a little slack, knowing it’s a transition. hooray for growth and adventure!

  6. adubas

    build a companion studio like this person designed. It is really cool. Scroll down the photos.

    • yes, another tiny house! pretty cool. soon a compound of tiny houses. One for each member of the family. Or, like my brother suggested, a train. 🙂

      • Heather

        Hmmm. and why not a train? The only rail traffic now (really) is freight and passenger service between major centres. (Centre IS spelled right -I’m not from where y’all are from lol.) There are lots of train lines that go to small towns that no longer have train service. What a neat way to see North America…..hmmm. Wonder how feasible (fee-sible) using train lines is…

      • I know, wouldn’t that be cool! A tiny house in a rail car… riding the rails… the horns would get irritating. a book I loved as a kid was “The Boxcar Children” about kids making a house in a caboose. Here in the Southwest rail travel seems expensive. we’ve looked into riding from Flagstaff to Santa Fe, but it’s like $85 oneway per person. my car gets 45 mpg, so it’s hard to find anything less expensive. is train travel less expensive in your part of the world?
        – Carrie

  7. Thanks for sharing the process! And I hear you girl! You are brave!! xoxoxoox

  8. hiitsjustmee

    Oh honey, a year is barely a start. It never gets “easier”, at least not for long, but the challenges change as you change. And hopefully you will never stop changing and evolving. BTW, raising kids is the same thing. One set of challenges morphs into another. It’s the journey, not the end product!

  9. anotherkindofdrew

    I have no wisdom to impart. I can tell you that Crystal and I have gone toe to toe several times. We don’t see eye-to-eye. We don’t share the same way of communicating. But what one lacks the other provides. You and Shane are a team; a partnership. We don’t expect y’all to get it right the first time and we hope y’all don’t expect us to. Crystal and I have both shed a tear or two in all of this and there are probably more coming at some point. But at least you will NEVER look back and say “if we had done…..” You are doing it. Right now. And may God bless you because of it!

  10. Marsha Cowan

    The happiest I have ever been was during the 10 years after my divorce to my first husband, not because of the divorce, but because I ended up living in one room of my son’s house. Later, I moved out to Arizona to teach on the reservation with all my belongs which fit in my 1987 honda (books, clothes, family pictures, and a fold up cot). When I arrived there, I got quite a few stares, but the whole time I taught there, I lived in one room and absolutely loved it. Like you, almost eveything in my old house was either family herlooms or old furniture I had painstakingly refurbished with my own hands and I loved it all, but I learned to love my freedom from ownership more. You will be okay.

    • thanks Marsha, this was really good to hear. freedom from ownership… good stuff.
      – Carrie

  11. John

    Cool Table, you will have thousands of creative ventures in your life time and you can’t keep them all.
    Keep plugin away kiddo and remember “Life is change”

    • Ahhh, this is true. can’t keep them all: your garage being a case in point? 😉 Love you John, thanks!

  12. Steve

    Great BLOG and honesty here ……..I live in a converted library bus… space 16ft x 7.5ft….I sleep, eat, shower, relax, run my business, get stressed, love it, hate it, wonder whether I am an outcast from society, cook, wash up, get down, get drunk-(occasionally), watch tv, read books, listen to my ipod, dance, and much much more IN HERE!! It is MY HOME, MY SPACE, MY WORLD and when the cards are on the table, I absolutely LOVE it because it is MY home, no bank or mortgage company or landlord owns my home, I do!! ….and like you say for that VERY fact it is fantastic.
    OK, I’m not going to shit you……the grass is always greener, there is a stigma attached to living in a vehicle, shed or tent or anything weird because to the Rat Race, which includes our close friends its NON-CONFORMIST so we are weird. But hey MORE and MORE of my friends and local people are coming round to my (and your) way of thinking and boy, even they admit they are jealous! I work on average 150 days a year and I save money too! So when things look down just remember that there are other people like you living in similar circumstances and yes, they have and still do, go through the HIGHS and LOWS of non-conformist living!
    Do yourself a MASSIVE FAVOUR. Go and buy a book called Tiny Homes (Simple Shelter) by Lloyd Kahn… is full of GREAT pictures and info on people who have converted cabins, built house trailers , you name it they’ve converted or built it AND it will not only inspire you for ideas, but make you realise that our way of living is a lot more mainstream than you ever thought and that there are a lot of like minded people around in the World.
    Finally, and the REALLY important thing to remember is that our houses MOVE….yep thats what the wheels are for!! If you like where you’re at stay, sample and enjoy, but if the rain gets heavy and the moods seem hostile, start the engine and roll outta town!
    My bus is roadworthy, moveable and legal but I’ve lived in the same spot for 7 years and I don’t plan on going any place BUT its nice to know the option is always there….it gives me a sense of freedom, even if I don’t actually go anywhere! (I am lucky and travel extensively with my job!)

    If you want to quote this email on one of your blogs please do. Oh and DEFINITELY get that book, it was £12 off Amazon here in the UK and worth EVERY cent!

    Good Luck, KEEP STRONG, SMILE and The World will smile back at you in some way. Best wishes Steve.

  13. Wow. everyone! all your comments are so touching and thoughtful and insightful. So good to hear them all. It really feels great to hear how others connect with fears and change and tiny spaces… I am so appreciative of the friends, family, and new online community I’ve found with this blog thing.
    – Carrie

  14. shanecaverly

    Carrie really shined today, she has got all the lighting, couch stuff, fan, kitchen facet, shower curtain and rod, post office box setup, and many other odd and ends. What a GREAT WIFE I have… She has made it so we can finish… YEA!!! She is my true love and what a great job she is doing on the blog. Also thanks everyone for the great motivation that every one has to offer, so keep it coming.

  15. Leah

    I think it’s going to be great, guys!!! I’m happy you shared the emotional side of the transition, Carrie, but your “pros” list make me (apartment renter – – for life???) super envious. I definitely want to own my own tiny movable house someday. The built-in cubby couch is AWESOME and I love the sink-in-shower sitch! It’s going to be gorgeous when all finished… keep up the good work Shane & Carrie!!!

    • hi Leah!
      thanks for your comment! I think it’s going to be great too. I know, doesn’t it suck to always rent? always dealing with existing junk, and not being able to change it? but I’ve read that renting is actually better than mortgaging a standard home. cause there you have all the maintenance costs, taxes, and the mortgage. right now, in this market, it’s better to rent almost anywhere. but… owning your own tiny home! no taxes (except vehicle registration – which we bought lifetime plates for it) and… just $300 a month for rent, electric, and water.
      take care!

  16. Koen

    Dubio ergo sum!
    One sentence came to my mind: ‘getting used to not getting used to it’ So I wish you all the luck with your plans en dreams. And so far, it’s going very well, I think.

  17. Betzi

    forget ownership; think steward ship- using and conserving and replenishing for the next wave.HTHelps.

  18. I commend you for working through the hard times. Your story reminds me of a song by one of my fave musicians, Sara Groves:

    Hey, maybe to do your crafts and stuff you could build a little auxiliary shed/studio space sometime in the future? Or do you have a friend who likes to craft – maybe you could arrange to share crafting space in her house? I’ve thought of this myself – I think my tiny house dream must take this into account. Sewing, re-upholstering, etc. requires some dedicated space so that you can work on it, walk away and return to it without it overwhelming your living space.

    • hi Emma!
      thanks for the comment, very encouraging.
      great ideas for the crafting spaces – that’s definitely a thought in our minds – a shop and a studio. but for now it’s so great being at basic living requirements – then we can design and build organically from there – as needed. I mean if I only do 2-3 sewing projects a year, that doesn’t deserve a room of it’s own!
      take care,

  19. And I’m with you in the camp of long-term renters longing for a space that you can really make your own.

  20. Pingback: Clothesline Tiny Homes on the Morning News « Clothesline Tiny Homes

  21. srwoodruff6890

    I think you and I are soul sisters. 🙂 I could have written this myself! I am definitely the sheep and my husband is definitely the dragon. I am of the crafty sort and have the same wonderings as you. I over think. Over analyze. Get worked up and way too emotional about silly things. My sweet husband does not. I think we share this: Seeing things for what they *could* be. Usually that sends my mind into a frenzy. And our husbands see things as they are. I can totally understand being attached to things and I don’t think for either of us it holds to the materialistic idea. It has more to do with the memories attached to the stuff. Fond memories, that you won’t think of as often once those things are gone. But think of how sweet they’ll be once upon a random instead of everyday. That makes so much more room for other grand memories you’ll create with your husband. Anyways, I think you guys are awesome! You live in our dream area of the country and I wish I had discovered Clothes Line a couple months ago so I could have stopped by to see the build! I was just in Prescott in the middle of March and it would have been lovely to meet you.

    • Hey there Samantha!
      I really loved your comment on our blog – thank you. I totally relate to you.
      it would have been lovely to meet you too! well, keep in touch, and maybe we can meet up at some point in the future.
      maybe not having the stuff around will inspire my mind to actually remember the memories too! haha.
      take good care,

      • srwoodruff6890

        I look forward to dragging our future tiny home to Prescott!! I know we’ll have some awesome people to meet up with!
        Haha, yes! Run out and grab some omega-3 rich foods just to be safe. 😉

  22. goldenpath2

    There is nothing more consistant as change, it is one of the driving forces of the universe. It is what propels our lives, challanges us, makes us curious, creative. The honesty and tranparency here has awakened feelings of appreciation and grattitude within me, for the grand concept of “small”. Life is after all about quality not quantity, and reading these thoughts is giving me the courage to move forward.

  23. Pingback: Tiny Tuesday: The Gooseneck Trailer | PERCH ENGINEERING PLC

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