When I picked Intentional as my word of the year, no where in my mind did I have the thought “I’m going to quit my job, follow my dreams, and open up my own store”, yet 4 months into the year that’s exactly what I did.
The Juice Jar came to me one night as I was lying in bed, thinking about how I wanted to spend the second half of my life, you know, when you begin thinking of your mortality as a very real thing. What was still left in me that I hadn’t let out, what ideas had I let our society rob me of, for fear of failure or fear of being extraordinary amongst the mediocre? For those that know me at all, they know of my strong entrepreneurial desires, they’ve seen binder after binder of business ideas and shared in my excitement, only to see it fizzle out as others fears started to penetrate my own resolve. In my early twenties I wanted a book store, in my mid twenties I nearly bought a music/gift store. The thirties brought; The Organic Season, Sam’s REcylcled Sports, The Free Store and the Grace Bus, all of which were born of my desire to help others. My focus remains the same, with a shift towards preserving our earth as well, but ultimately I want to help our community to live healthier, more fulfilling lives while educating the benefits of tiny, sustainable living.
So have no fear, my tiny dreams have not been abandoned, they’ve merely been expanded upon. Would you visit a store where a hydroponic greenhouse and a self sustaining tiny house on the roof were the norm? Pray for my resolve to stay strong and that’s exactly what you’ll find at the West Erie Plaza in the near future. A retreat from “societal norms” where green is the new bacon, where nutrient dense food can be picked by the customer for immediate consumption, where organic bone broth is sipped by the fireplace and kids can experience making their own juice. Join me on my journey by liking The Juice Jar Facebook page, reaching out to me if you feel a calling to be a part of it, and again, praying for my resolve!
Heidi & Sam (who’s super excited btw…he also is an entrepreneurial spirit)
Living intentionally is hard, at least doing it full time is. I feel maybe I’ve been doing it part time for awhile, but these last 40 or so days have been filled with self imposed challenges…in thoughts and actions. I’ve been avoiding writing this because it just hasn’t been the best start to the year, and I’m a bit crabby…but I’ve been told by some pretty good sources that it gets better. I’m just in the “cleaning house” phase.
- Downsizing…always. Where does this stuff come from?
- Avoiding stores. I’ve only been in grocery stores since December. I’ve also unsubscribed from all consumer pushing emails that tempt my materialistic nature.
- Not buying new. I did buy one thing new. Enter excuse here: “it’s a really cool bestselling book jigsaw puzzle and I couldn’t find one used…and I want to keep it forever in my tiny house” …yep…didn’t need it.
- Waste thought process: “can I re-use it, can I re-purpose it, is it compost, recycling, burnable, or sadly does it go in the trash” …admittedly exhausting.
- Relationships. Hardest part of cleaning house. We all have people who we know don’t bring out the best in us…yet we seem to just fall into a pattern of discontent instead of sweeping up. I’ve swept…
- Dating me. Needs improvement but I have started doing yoga again and attempting to be good to myself.
- Food. Honestly…bad food choices medicated me through these past 40 days…
We all know what’s best for us and for the environment. It takes effort. But I believe that effort is 100% worth it. It’s worth it for everyone who wants to be an active and healthy participant in their own lives, and those they love…and for everyone who will be inheriting the planet we so dishearteningly disrespect every day for our own pleasure and convenience. Change needs to happen…no matter how hard.
I like getting old. I’m not one of those people that will always be “29”. I embrace my age and all of the accumulated knowledge that comes with it. I tolerate my wrinkles…the graying hair…slips in my mental capacity…and even those brown spots that seem to pop up sometimes overnight?! But…
The older I get, the more aware I am at how we are living…or in some cases, existing. How we are slaves to a political battlefield and a consumer driven, greed crazed hierarchy.
We are becoming insane.
At 44 I feel my closet is so full of “soapboxes” that every time I engage in an actual real conversation, I look in there to see how many I can stand on, and when I turn around the person is running the other way. No one wants to listen, it’s easier to not care, to remain ignorant. I know this because I float in and out of this stage myself. When I was travelling I broke free from the illusion that American culture brainwashes us with…but it didn’t take all that long for me to fall back into it.
The bottom line is that we need to start living with intention…beginning with:
- Putting down the electronics and interacting with the people around us, loved ones and strangers alike.
- Shopping with needs in mind instead of wants.
- Thinking about the stuff that you surround yourself with…what things are overflowing in your closet that other people may actually need.
- Teaching our kids about where our food comes from, where our waste goes and how all this impacts not only our community but our planet.
Since I’ve been downsizing I’ve had a lot of people tell me that they have begun doing the same…not all happily I might add. The other day a friend of mine told me that while shopping she came across a pair of red cowboy boots that she wanted to buy, as she debated the purchase a voice was nagging at her in the back of her head “do you really need those?”. That voice was mine…she walked out empty handed saying “damn you Heidi Lutz”…but at least my friends are being more intentional!
Tis the Season
Heidi & Sam
A lot of questions are generated when you tell someone you are going to live in a 192 square foot tiny house on wheels. I thought I’d try to address some of them here…and maybe in doing so it will help me to clarify some of the decisions where I still feel some flux.
- Toilet – Always the first question. There is no septic so it will be a composting toilet. Depending on the route I choose to go, it can cost between $5 – $2,500! They have some fancy composting toilets that involve heat, fans and limited involvement in dealing with your poo. I’m not afraid of my poo…but I don’t want my house to smell. Some tiny housers use a simple 5 gallon bucket with sawdust…that’s the $5 option…there’s no limit to how involved you are with your waste on this option. But these days there are many options in between…I’m just not sure yet which option I want to go with…still in flux!
- Electric – I will be plugged in! In my ideal situation I would love to be 100% off grid but that will not happen anytime soon. I will run lights, fridge, stove top and heater all on electric. Yes we will have a TV, computer and internet…how can I not with a growing tech savvy boy who loves his Minecraft?!
- Heating – I’ve thought a lot about this one and I think I’m pretty set on my decision. There will be a small electric thermostat controlled wall panel to keep our house above freezing…then we will get it toasty with a small wood burning stove. We will burn all our burnables and experiment making newspaper bricks that burn for up to 4 hours…as well as wood.
- Water – This will be coming from a heated garden hose (to avoid freezing in the winter)…I will have a tankless hot water heater which I may either run on electric or propane. There will be a kitchen sink, bathroom sink and a shower with maybe a small tub. The gray water will be collected in a container under the house…since we will be using all natural and biodegradable products, we can then use the water for gardens.
- Sleeping – My sleeping loft will be 8×10 with steep narrow stairs leading up to it. I will have a queen size mattress on the floor, shelves with plants and books, and storage under the floor. The roof on this part of the house will be a dormer to give it more space and light…there will be 5 windows total in my loft. Sam’s loft will be 8×6 with a ladder to access it. He will have a twin mattress on the floor, a skylight that opens with his telescope set up, storage under the floor and a hanging net for his stuffed animals.
- Kitchen – The fridge will be apartment size…about 56″ tall. There will be a double cook top with electric burners. A small microwave. I’m not 100% on what appliances I might want in the kitchen…do I want an oven…or just a toaster oven with burners on top? For those that know me…I don’t like to cook…so the kitchen is going to be pretty small. We will have a counter that folds up and down to eat on. No dishwasher…but we will have an all in one Washer/Dryer under the kitchen counter.
- Moving – The house is going to be built on a trailer specifically designed to accommodate this kind of tiny house. Once the house is built upon it, it can be towed by a powerful truck of some sort…definitely not by my Prius! When I decide to move it, I will most likely hire a professional to make the move for me…I’m not trading in my Prius for a gas guzzler, and it’s not like I’m going to be travelling around in it like an RV…it’s a stationary home that has the ability to move locations.
- I have been continuing to downsize with great success (I’m down to 3 pairs of socks!). I have a giveaway table set up in my living room for all visitors to peruse and take from.
- I have the Millcreek Township Buy Nothing Project set up on Facebook but haven’t quite found the time yet to get that going…soon.
- Debt repayment is going well and I’m excited to see balances going down…I have a new timeline and debt schedule that I will post soon.
- Sam and I are going to Columbus, OH this weekend to see our friend Molly and son Drew…we are very excited!
- Read a Q&A I did for Eriesense.com here: http://www.eriesense.com/tiny-house-living/#.VGtfsfnF-HR
Heidi & Sam
If I’m not in forward movement then I get extremely restless and, well…a bit crabby.
Since I am pretty much exactly at middle age…I’m wondering if what I’m having is similar to a midlife crises, or if I have learned just enough of the world ways to become more self aware of how I want to live my life. Maybe the shorter days have put my wanderlust into overdrive. Regardless, I feel like I want to change up my life! Along with turning tiny I would also like to live and manage my life naturally…which means more money than what I have right now. I wish I could skip through the “debt reduction” phase of turning tiny and just be there…so I could:
- Manage my health using essential oils, probiotics, acupuncture and other methods that are not covered by insurance. Sadly, it’s so much cheaper to pay a co-pay on a medication that could give me cancer in the long run.
- Switch out all my cleaning products, laundry products, health and beauty products to all natural and non toxic.
- Eat all raw and organic food…oh and hire a chef to fix it all for me (totally dreaming)! You know I don’t like to cook!
- Go to Kripalu for a weekend of yoga and regeneration.
- Help those around me. I want my “financial bucket” to be overflowing so I can pour into others who need help.
On Saturday I ventured out with my restless nature following me…who by the way is the polar opposite of the debt reduction me, but thankfully Target didn’t get the best of me…rational thinking returned before I filled the cart with all the non-toxic products I felt I needed right now!! One thing I’ve really become cognizant of is that I use too much. I use too much shampoo, laundry soap, toothpaste, body wash, water (!!), toilet paper, peanut butter…you name it…I feel like I’m using it in excess. I’ve realized the concept of the more the better has seeped into my subconscious, but now that I realize what I’m doing there will be a conscience effort to use less. When a particular product is gone, THEN I will replace it with something natural and non-toxic. Grateful my rational thinking was in there somewhere.
On another note… I taped out the size of the tiny house in my living room. It’s virtually an unused space in my current home…crazy.
I’m going to tape out the different rooms so we can get a feel for the space. Have to feed that restless self somehow!
Heidi & Sam
We took a beautiful fall drive over the weekend to a magical village that resides near Ithaca, NY.
Sam at the village entrance.
Sam with Karen and Robert in front of the sitting room house.
It’s called Karenville…and it’s a village solely built by Karen with almost 100% recycled materials.
We loved everything about it…especially:
- the greenhouse with a dirt floor where roses were blooming
- the two goats Edgar and Joey
- the log cabin where we stayed with it’s glass porch and garden out front
- the sitting room house with it’s potbellied stove and crystal chandelier
- the K-ville cafe and store where your purchase’s were 100% off
- the chapel that houses a library and smells of old books
- the old swing that hangs under the willow arbor
- the silo that’s really a quaint outhouse (as quaint as an outhouse can be!)
- the outdoor room where you could pass hours talking to Karen (she’s fascinating!)
Karen built all these tiny structures because she likes small things and likes to live simply. Robert came to visit and apparently never left…so Karen built him a chapel to house his books…and a sitting room where they could drink tea. Someone mentioned that maybe other people would enjoy visiting her village and she couldn’t imagine people wanting to stay on a farm with no electricity, no indoor plumbing, sometimes no heat…and to pay for it! But they do, and just like us, they love it! Sometimes when she’s fully booked in the summer…she sleeps in the woods of the adjoining national forest…she is one cool lady and we gained a lot of useful knowledge on turning tiny!
The greenhouse collects rain water inside and out.
The outdoor room is open on two sides and has a swing for two.
The chapel that houses a library.
The log home is Karen’s main living quarters.
K’ville cafe and store with a partial living roof.
The corn crib, also with some plants on the roof.
The inside of the corn crib…she had a woman stay in here for a month!
Chickens even have their own tiny house!
We are already planning our return…this time we’ll be snowshoeing in!
So I apparently am unable to make a video small enough to put on this blog…facebook however did except it…so you can watch it here:
The crux of it is that he is on board with the whole turning tiny idea…except for having to downsize his STUFF! He does have a lot of it too! I accept partial blame for that…when we went off on the whole GeoTrax tangent and I went a little crazy with buying up accessories for our town! He does have two houses though…two bedrooms full of things to play with…but he’s happiest with a ball and a mitt, or a hockey stick and puck…he’s really not a high maintenance kid. He’s laid back, sweet, helpful and considerate. He also loves to collect sticks, rocks, acorns and the occasional firefly. In the end we will find the room for the things that are most important to us…and the rest will just have to find new homes.
When it comes to turning tiny…I think he’ll survive the transition just fine.
When it comes to living large…I think he’ll THRIVE! The kid wants to go to Africa…how awesome is that?!
Heidi & Sam
So the “get rid of your crap” mentality is contagious. It’s extended to my neighbors (my mom and step dad) who ventured into about 60 years worth of stuff in their garage last weekend. Glove wearing and trash bin toting, we tackled the endless boxes, not knowing what we would find, hoping to create some kind of order out of disorder. We managed to establish four different heaping piles: keep, give away, metal recycling, and dumpster. There are areas we haven’t even touched yet…but it’s been so freeing to bring the space to some kind of order. Antiques and treasures have been discovered, I’ve been selling them out of the back of my car (literally), and you become aware that these things were very important to someone at some point. Will my keepsakes become fodder for the landfill or will I pass things on that will be given a new life. I wish we could just continue to use the old and stop making new. There are glasses and plates that are perfectly useful, tables and cabinets that just need some love or re-purposing, cookbooks and buttons, records and sewing patterns, lots of doors that still have swing in them, clothes with good seams, shoes with good soles….
Come make the old new again…this Saturday at 2pm!
So I’m spending an inordinate amount of time with my stuff lately in order to determine what’s of value and what should be part of the “Junk Fest” (not that any of it is junk).
It’s been an interesting process.
I set out to do it in this order:…
- Clothes, Shoes & Housewares: the things of no attachment. I found it very easy to relinquish most of these items.
- Jewelry: this category was a bit more difficult. I have not gone through my jewelry box in years and boy has it accumulated! I have a necklace of the Zambezi river god, ostrich eggshell and porcupine necklace from Africa, silver pieces from Nepal, ocean symbols from Australia and New Zealand…these are things that I just couldn’t part with so it’s a good thing they are small! I did manage to extract almost a whole shoe box worth for the junk fest though!
- Books: an area that was significantly difficult. I love books, everything about them, the smell, the feel. I just LOVE being surrounded by books. Over the course of moving a few times…I have already done a purge of my books…but now I had to get serious. I have kept only one small box and have promised myself to let some of those go once they are read and treasured for awhile.
- Photos: Wow. What do you do with photos? I have maybe 20 photo albums and I tried to throw some out…it’s really hard! It’s been fun going through them with Sam and there are so many memories attached to each album…maybe I just need a synopsis of each book…just pick out the highlights. This chore I will save for another time.
- Travel Box: this is huge. Since I’ve always dreamed of writing a book, have an outline even, I have saved just about everything. Boarding passes, money exchange receipts and even a packet of seeds to cleanse your breath that I got on a flight to Nepal where I sat in first class talking to a young man about his arranged marriage. Those seeds bring back the whole conversation, as do the hundreds of email correspondence I have saved from traveling and my enormous stack of journals. These are important things to me…this is the hard part of downsizing…the heavy blue totes that you continually move from place to place. Will the tiny house accommodate these memories?
- Childhood Memories: Does everyone have one of these? The box with your baby book, old report cards, yearbooks, pieces of art you made and a very loved, very squished old stuffed Casey Jones dog. I hugged that dog so much that his nose was rubbed off. I can’t seem to part with that dog…he was a big comfort during my childhood and I somehow still need that comfort, even though he remains tucked away in that tote. I did however throw out some yearbooks…I kept the most important one…the one from senior year. It almost felt sacrilegious though…like I was burning the flag…but I threw them out anyway, it sure made the tote a lot lighter!
- Holiday Decorations: I haven’t embarked on this category yet. I do feel like I could just pitch all of it except my ornaments which are a culmination of my life. I can still remember where certain ones came from when I was little, so those can stay. Oh and my Willow Tree nativity set…that’s special. I’ve just never been fond of decorating for holidays, and all this stuff takes up so much room, so when we go tiny…it’s bye bye big black spiderweb! Sorry Sam
This process has brought about a lot of feelings and memories, it’s reminded me (from reading out of my travel box) that the less I have…the happier I am….and I don’t want to ever have to spend as much time with stuff as I have over the past few months!
Excited for the Junk Fest next weekend as I set these things free…
Next Post: Q & A with Sam…his take on going tiny.