Featured in dream Big Live Tiny

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AS WITH MOST MEMORABLE STORIES, OURS STARTS WITH A PROBLEM.

My husband, Justin, my son, Wyatt, and I lived in a beautiful 2,200 square foot home on a 5-acre property. We had chickens, 4 cats and a dog. We had a large organic garden I tended to after my daycare hours and a stunning view of the Minnesota sunsets each night.
 
It sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Well, it was lovely, but we didn’t have time to enjoy our home and property because all we did was work in order to afford it!
 
I was running a daycare during the day and coaching gymnastics several evenings a week, while raising my one-year-old son. Justin was working full time and attending a graduate program.
 
When I would have rather spent time with my family, I had to instead clean the house, prepare home cooked organic meals for the daycare kiddos and my family, keep up with daycare paper work and parent communication, go through accounting and plan meals for the week or catch up on laundry and dishes.

THE TIPPING POINT WAS WHEN I STARTED TO HAVE THYROID ISSUES DUE TO THE STRESS AND LACK OF SLEEP. I KNEW THERE HAD TO BE A BETTER WAY, BUT I WASN’T SURE WHAT IT WAS.

It was no coincidence that right at my tipping point my sister in-law, Frances, introduced us to tiny houses. We were sitting around after a family dinner and she mentioned that the local news had featured a tiny house contractor in our area (Jim Wilkins with Tiny Green Cabins) and a family who lived in a tiny house on wheels.
 
I looked it up and by no accident I had worked with the gentleman who lived in the tiny house during my days as a licensed teacher. I asked him if we could visit their tiny house for a tour and they said “Of course!” As they say “the rest is history.”
 
I was hooked! Now to convince the family. When people step outside the norm, there is often some negative feedback. At first, everyone was skeptical, asking questions such as:
           
“How will you fit that many people and animals in such a small space?”
 
“How are you going to raise a child properly in 325 square feet?”
 
“Won’t you be ruining your equity?” 
 
“How will you find a place to park it?”
 
“Won’t you get sick of being around each other all the time?”
 
“How will you have any privacy?”
 
And the list goes on and on…

LUCKILY, I HAD MY MIND SET AND I HAD DONE A LOT OF RESEARCH, SO THE ANSWERS CAME EASILY AND WITH CONFIDENCE. ONCE THE HOUSE WAS ALMOST FINISHED, EVERYONE’S SKEPTICISM TURNED INTO AWE!

They couldn’t believe how spacious it felt inside and how beautiful it was. “You have everything a regular house has!” A friend of mine stated after a tour. Which is exactly why we designed our tiny house on wheels the way we did. We wanted it to feel like a real home, but with our environmental impact in mind.
 
We have a ¾ size fridge with the freezer on the bottom to maximize energy efficiency.
 
We have a half dishwasher because studies show that by using a dishwasher you use less water than hand washing. 

We have a washer/dryer combo, but decided to line dry our clothes due to the inefficiency of the no-vent dryer.
 
We have a Hobbit SE wood/pellet burning stove that provides us with plenty of heat and ideally we will be able to cut down our own wood to ensure our goal of a self-sustainable lifestyle.
 
We have a Klimaire mini split air conditioner and heater that enables us to stay warm when the fire goes out in the stove.
 
In the spring, summer and fall, we do our best to use cross breeze to cool down the house thanks to our abundance of windows.
 
We designed the house with water storage tanks, so we can be aware of our water usage and waste as little water as possible.
 
We used all non-toxic paints and stains and cork flooring to decrease our exposure to toxic chemicals.
 
Tiny house living has been a great way for us to live more sustainably and greatly decrease our negative impact on the environment.

WHEN YOU LOOK INTO TINY HOUSE BLOGS AND WEBSITES, YOU OFTEN SEE THE WORD FREEDOM AS A MAIN THEME. OUR FINANCIAL FREEDOM HAS GREATLY INCREASED, BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, OUR TIME HAS INCREASED.  

With less space to clean and maintain we have found ourselves with more time to do the things we love such as spending time as a family, traveling, exercising, reading and practicing self-care.
 
It takes me about 15 minutes to clean the tiny house. In our larger home, I spent at least two hours about three times a week cleaning. This was an average of six hours a week just vacuuming and mopping the house. Those six hours didn’t even include all the organization required for maintaining a home with kids, pets, and a business. The maintenance required for all these possessions such as toilets, water filterfurniture, air filters, light bulbs, appliances, etc. took up a lot of free time.
 
In our tiny house we of course still have several of these same items, but it’s the equivalent of maintaining the average size bedroom instead of an entire house.
 
Getting rid of all the knick-knacks and clutter has lifted a huge weight off our shoulders. It’s amazing how wonderful it feels to get rid of unnecessary stuff. It’s almost as if our minds are always thinking about where an item is, if it needs to be dusted or maintained or if it needs to be organized.
 
It is almost addicting to downsize, and we have even more we would like to get rid of as we sift through our possessions in the tiny house.
 
With all this extra time, we have been able to travel more, spend more time outside, and explore community resources such as museums, parks and libraries.
 
Our marriage has greatly improved due to increased communication and quality time that I usually spent cleaning, working or maintaining our property. Everyone asks how we can manage being around each other all the time, but we have a better balance now of alone time and time together than ever before. In our larger home we simply co-existed as we worked and did chores. 
 
I’ve had time for yoga, meditation, gardening, and running, which allows me to be my best self and give my husband and son quality time instead of just being physically present and mentally absent.

“TIME IS FREE BUT IT’S PRICELESS. YOU CAN’T OWN IT, BUT YOU CAN USE IT. YOU CAN’T KEEP IT, BUT YOU CAN SPEND IT. ONCE YOU’VE LOST IT, YOU CAN NEVER GET IT BACK” ~HARVEY MACKAY.

 
Since living in a tiny house, we have been able to reclaim the priceless commodity of time and our time has been spent more wisely allowing us to feel great joy and fulfillment in our lives.
 
Another freedom we have gained is the freedom of location. By being on wheels we can follow our passions and desires. It’s almost like living in a portable home gave us permission to explore new career options, because we can pack and move within one day, instead of the three months it took to prepare our larger home for sale.
 
We don’t feel obligated or tied down by possessions and this gives us confidence to apply for any and every career choice that feeds our soul. By following our dreams, work doesn’t feel like work, it’s so refreshing to be able to fulfill our purpose and give back to the world.
 
We are conditioned to graduate college, get a job, get married, buy a house and have kids. All these things are not inherently bad, but they tend to drive people to look for a big paycheck instead of a big impact on humanity.
 
If we follow our greatest bliss, we will have a huge impact on the world, whether we mean to or not, because we will be doing what we love with a smile on our face and love in our heart.  Others will see that and be inspired.
 
I loved what I was doing as an educator and coach, but just because I am good at it, doesn’t mean it meets all my needs.
 
Since living in the tiny house, I have followed my dreams of becoming an author, participating in organic farming and educating mothers on how to live a holistic lifestyle that honors their mind, body and soul. All of which I didn’t have the time to contemplate in our previous lifestyle, let alone take steps towards achieving those goals.
 
By being able to move quickly we can continue to follow our dreams, seek out climates, resources and communities of our choice as we evolve as individuals and as a family. With homeschooling/unschooling our son, we can move to places that best fit his needs and desires for mental and physical growth.
 
We purchased a 1988 camper with the plan to give it to our son when he is ready to travel the world and get to know himself as he learns from the world around him. By modeling a lifestyle that allows us to follow our own path, our son will have the tools to do the things he needs to do to be happy and create change in the world. Not everyone needs to move around the country to be happy.  For us, the freedom to move gave us the push we needed to find our greater purpose.

FINANCIAL FREEDOM IS MORE OFTEN THAN NOT, A GOAL FOR THOSE CONTEMPLATING LIVING IN A TINY HOUSE.

 
We had the blessing of making enough money from selling our large house to fund our tiny house. This allowed us to work toward our goal of a debt free life.
 
I do have to say that there were more expenses than we expected. After watching all the tiny house shows, we were expecting to spend between $40,000 and $50,000, but after new appliances, a composting toilet, a quality trailer, insulation and paying our amazing contractor (Jim Wilkins with Tiny Green Cabins), we ended up at $80,000. We certainly could have purchased used appliances, salvaged woods and other building materials, but we wanted something that would last us a lifetime and a home that was as non-toxic as possible.

SO HOW DOES TINY HOUSE LIVING COMPARE FINANCIALLY TO A LARGER HOME?

 
We were house poor after purchasing our larger home for several reasons.
 
First, there was a lot of extra space that we didn’t have in our previous home. This meant we had to fill up the empty space with furniture, artwork and other visually pleasing knick-knacks, of course.
 
It was over $2,000 dollars to make the electric and plumbing up to code due to our home being built in the 1970’s. Extra expenses included a recliner set for the living room, a riding lawn mower to accommodate the large five-acre lawn, and a trailer to pull the lawn mower when it needed repairs.
 
We put in a whole house filtration system for the well water which was about $3,000 and we needed a new washer and dryer. We did a great job using family hand me downs for most of the furniture in the rooms but all the little stuff adds up quick such as rugs, night stands, lamps, etc.
 
After only four years in our house, we were due for a new roof and a new septic system. We knew if we put all this money into the house we would feel that we needed to stay until it was paid off. If we decided to stay in our larger home, it would eventually need remodeling. The bathroom, kitchen and upstairs bedrooms were especially desperate for updates. If we did remodel, we would then say, “Well, we might as well enjoy the newly remodeled features for a while before we sell.”
 
This would again tie us down both financially and to the location, thus inhibiting our opportunities to travel. Our tiny house will cost the same or less than updating an average bathroom in a larger home due to its size and simplicity.
 
Our utility costs are half of what they used to be. We didn’t have to buy any furniture or anything new for the tiny house besides appliances. Yes, we still need to pay for property if that’s the path we choose, but for now we have been care taking and harvesting for organic farmers, which allows us to work in return for a place to stay.

 

WE ARE SO BLESSED TO HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO LIVE IN A TINY HOUSE.

 
We have more time as a family, financial freedom, and the freedom to explore and follow our dreams. Our relationships are full of love and joy because we are taking the time for self-care and reflection.
 
Whether you live in less than 500 square feet, or in a big house, it’s about giving yourself the permission to follow your bliss and live as sustainably as possible so our children and loved ones can enjoy this big beautiful world for generations to come. I hope our story inspires you to simplify your life, follow your dreams and no longer be tied down by your possessions.

 

https://www.dreambiglivetinyco.com/blogs/news/why-we-decided-to-go-tiny-and-why-we-have-not-looked-back

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Peace Love Progress Article

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My story starts with a problem. My family and I lived in a quaint 2,200 square foot home on a beautiful five-acre property. We had animals aplenty, great neighbors surrounding us, and gorgeous views of stunning sunsets. Every spring, the thunderous roar of hundreds of frogs echoed from our marsh down the cul-de-sac, awakening slumbering creatures from hibernation. We loved our slice of heaven, but a hidden fire-brewed in my soul.

Like most families, we thought we were living the “American Dream.” Until one day out of nowhere, I awoke to the truth: I wasn’t happy! I was far from happy! I was tired, sick, stressed, and in turmoil.

I ran a licensed organic daycare in our home and also coached gymnastics part-time. I loved and excelled at both jobs, but I was worn down. A year-and-a-half into my daycare adventure, I became pregnant and lost touch with self-care. Almost every night I was up past midnight cooking, cleaning, doing paperwork, researching how to have a natural pregnancy, and trying to spend as much time with my husband as possible. I was walking on eggshells trying to be sure everything got done and everyone was pleased.

My health started failing after another year-and-a-half of living like this. I later learned I had adrenal fatigue and hyperthyroidism. With a heavy heart, I closed my daycare, thereby closing the door on teaching and caring for other children. Our livelihood could no longer depend on my gymnastics coaching. We needed a big idea to stretch our income.

That’s when we discovered tiny house living.

We have been living in our tiny house for over a year and can’t believe how our lives have changed for the better! It now takes about fifteen minutes to vacuum, mop, and dust. The more than two hours I used to spend cleaning are now dedicated to self-care, writing my latest book, and spending quality time with my family. We also have time to do what we love: biking, hiking, nature walks, rock climbing, swimming, and gardening.

Two hours per week spent cleaning, or approximately eight hours per month, were reclaimed for me. Multiplied by 52 weeks, I saved 104 hours per year, increasing quality time with my family. This has brought joy to my marriage and our relationship with our son.

We were always rushing off to work, running errands, or maintaining the house, garage, second garage, lawn mower, water filter, garden, yard, and landscaping. We sat in the same space, but didn’t mindfully engage with each other. Our tiny house ensures we are always within earshot of each other. Some may see this as a downside to living in a small space, but it provides us more time for self-care, so it all balances out. It encourages us to be more mindful of constructive conversations.

The financial freedom that attracts many to the tiny house community is not solely a financial benefit. Being mortgage-free has allowed me to homeschool our son, write a minimalist book to inspire others to love the life they live, and write a mother’s book on holistic parenting. I have had the freedom to harvest for organic farmers and have my own large organic garden at home.

My family loves to travel, but in the large house we felt stuck—extra income went into maintaining the property. We now live within our means and are stress-free, giving us ample time to reflect on our goals. This summer will be spent driving around our state exploring parks and lakes in our camper, which we had neither time nor money to do when we were tied down by the responsibilities of our large house.

Decide what you most value. Maybe your living arrangement doesn’t support those values, with possessions tying you down. Perhaps you’re living outside your means. A minimalist life doesn’t necessarily mean a less than 500 square foot home. It can mean living simply with great joy in your heart and with the Earth in mind.

Free yourself from your possessions by adding memorable experiences to your life and sharing those experiences with the ones you love!

https://peaceloveprogress.com/tiny-house/

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Our HGTV Premier Season 2 Episode 13

We had the joy of being featured on an episode of Tiny House Big Living. They followed us through the whole build of our tiny house. It was such a blessing to be a part of their project. We miss our tiny house dearly but we will be building a similar small version shortly. After living in a large house, apartments, double-wide trailer, camper and tiny house, we now know for sure that tiny houses are our favorite way to live! 

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Outside Magazine Video Interview

Below is an article/movie for Outside Magazine:

"Life on Wheels: Stories from the Road

Oct 24, 2016

You've probably seen them: camper vans, Airstreams, and old RVs chugging down the road, heading off to some impossibly remote mountain pass, trout stream, or Wal-Mart parking lot, carrying the sorts of adventurers who are more concerned with experience than the size of their house. What they've given up in possessions and comfort, they make up for in enthusiasm and opportunities of the open road. Erik Nelson talked to four of these wanderers to find out why they chose to live like this, and how they customized their trailers, vans, tiny homes, and RVs. Here, he presents stories from their lives on the road. "

https://www.outsideonline.com/2129101/life-wheels-stories-road

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Article with Bulletin

Excerpt from the article:

"Gerde is currently working on a book about minimalist living and home-schools their son, so custom workspace and storage were built-in to tuck their school supplies away after-hours. A length-spanning bench was also custom-made to inspire family time. “Lots of tiny houses have a love seat, but we can’t fit all four of us on there.”

The couple’s tiny house is designed based on their life plans — a factor that she said is very telling. “A lot of couples have trouble (with tiny-house living) because they didn’t think about the future. But we designed ours with a family in mind,” Gerde explained. “We wanted it to accommodate pets and another kid, and meet our needs specifically.”

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Matt Belair and My First Podcast Interview

Join me in a discussion with Matt Belair as I share insights from my book in my first every podcast (so be kind it was my first try at podcasting..wink wink..) 

Matt was kind enough to let me interview for the first time as we discuss simple ways to downsize and the future of affordable housing and much, much, more.

http://mattbelair.com/tinyhome/

Matt's podcast will bring you to a whole new understanding of yourself and the world around you! 

http://mattbelair.com/podcast/ or http://mattbelair.com/

Don't forget to check out his amazing book "Zen Athlete" as Matt takes mindfulness and sports to bring you to a new level of athleticism.

"Zen Athlete is a practical guide to self mastery, clarifying the art of mental training, flow and peak performance."

 

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Podcast Interview with Sheila Sutherland

Join Sheila Sutherland and I as we discuss how to ignite your purpose through minimalist living. By minimizing the distractions in our lives we can focus on what's important to us. We discuss ways simplifying your life can forever change your life through increased abundance, time and joy. 

http://www.reigniteyourpurpose.com/podcast/ep85-minimalist-living-for-a-maximum-life-with-emily-gerde

 

Sheila's podcast, "Reignite Your Purpose-For Life, For Love, For You." Will inspire to you to make the changes in your life required for love, joy and laughter to return to you in full. Her guests will inspire you to make baby steps towards the new you with love in your heart and abundance on your mind.

"Sheila Sutherland is a Certified Life and Relationship Mastery Coach, Professional Educator, Speaker, Podcaster, Best Selling Author and is the ONLY licensed Oh, Shift® Facilitator in Canada. Sheila believes that the relationship with self is the foundation upon which everything in your life is built and is on a mission to take the selfish out of self-care and self-love, as you deserve to be a priority in your own life!
 
Sheila empowers people to effectively manage their emotions through shifting their mindset, behaviors and communication, so they can live a more authentic, connected and vibrant life."

 

My interview with Sustainable Living Podcast

I had the honor of being interviewed by Marianne for her podcast "Sustainable Living Podcast" in an effort to share my love of living simply, to encourage others to try a more sustainable lifestyle. Find out what minimalist living can do for you and how it will open the door to healing your mind, body and soul, as you acquire more money, time and enjoyment for life! 

http://sustainablelivingpodcast.com/tiny-house-family/

Join Marianne and Jenise as they discuss the following on their podcast "Sustainable Living Podcast"

"What would it be like to live in a world where we no longer create endless trash; are no longer bathed in toxic chemicals; and where all our activity no longer revolves around working 40 hour-a-week jobs we hate?

What will we eat? Where will we sleep? How will we spend our days?

Join us, Marianne West and Jenise Fryatt, as we attempt to draw a detailed picture of what Charles Eisenstein calls, “the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.”  Not only do we believe it’s possible, we, along with countless others from around the world have already started to create it."

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