Let your light shine!
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Winter Greetings, ,

This time of year can be difficult. The rush, the wonder, the expectations, the darkness, the cold. It's a hard to time be human in the Northern Hemisphere. This year feels different for us. A little bit lighter, a little bit warmer, a lot more hope. I'm encouraged by the fact that we've done this before, this overwintering in a tiny house, this giving up space for a tree, this living in darkness. This is our fourth time, actually. I have a story about our tree.

You know what else is helping? We know that we've done the impossible. We've lived with our rage in this little box; might I declare we've even loved through our rage? I have a story about that.

I also know that I've learned to celebrate the seasons for what they bring to me. I've learned to connect to the aspects of the season in myself. Here is a delightful poem by David Whyte called Winter of Listening. I make it through winter now by listening and being heard. I have a story about that.

This is really helping: We are warming the big house. We know that we can spread out into more space soon. Oh, and the meaning of house warming really hit me this week. I never thought of it this way before.

If you long to live a simple life in line with your values, consider joining us for the Winter session of Creating Mortgage-freedom, our eCourse designed to help you make big decisions and life changes that will lead you to a simple, fulfilling and debt-free lifestyle. Read the course description here. See what others are saying here.

Read on for the rest of the stories.

If you gotta go, I understand. Shine that light and remember that your light is most visible in the darkness.

Our Christmas Tree's Third Year

Our tree is alive. I have no idea how. It has an incredible will to live. We brought it home three years ago, root-ball wrapped in burlap. We dropped it in a stainless steel bowl and poured a pot of water on it. It fit perfectly on the side cabinet next to the couch. After Christmas, we set it on the deck and got to work on other things, like building the big house. It sat there all year. When Christmas rolled around again, the tree was still in the burlap, so I suggested we bring it back in. The kids weren't convinced. "That's not the tradition, Mommy. We are supposed to plant a tree every year." That tradition started on our first tiny house Christmas, and our first tree is in the ground and thriving. "Well, we could save the money we would have spent on a tree and use it for Christmas gifts." That convinced them. So in it came for the second year. After Christmas, we put it on the deck again. Sometime around June, we finally got it in the ground.

We did some excavating this November to improve the drainage around our steep driveway, and we dug up the tree to relocate it. Right after the excavating, we filmed the Nikon I am Generation Image* commercial, so there was no time to get it replanted. Then it was time for a Christmas tree. So we brought it back in for it's third year. 
(*Our story will be featured on the website and in online ads starting on January 12. Here's a blog post about the Nikon project.)

Thanks, Christmas tree. I promise you a place of honor in a sunny patch of ground sometime this week. You deserve it.
"I need at least 10 feet for my rage."

Ella and Archer's friends came over early in the morning on the last day before Winter Break so their mom could make it to a doctor's appointment. We were still getting ready for school when they arrived. While Ella and Archer brushed their teeth, Seth practically yelled. "How can you live in here? How do you do this? This can't be possible. I need at least ten feet for my rage."

Woah. I do, too, Seth. We all do. At least that.

I raised my eyebrows. "Imagine four people raging in here at the same time. It happens."

"Can I wait outside? I'm feeling claustrophobic." 

"Go ahead, but bundle up."

Ten feet for my rage keeps playing on repeat in my head. This little guy knows himself. I'm encouraged by that. I'm also encouraged by the fact that we've shared this tiny space with each other's rage for almost four years. When we are raging, we are loving, too. As painful as it is to feel so much anger and to watch each other feel this anger, we've let it out and loved each other through it. I feel happy knowing we could wrap ourselves in this cocoon of a house and let it all out. Maybe we've actually moved through the rage? I don't know. I'll keep you posted.
Cultivating Community

Community and having the time to cultivate it is a big part of why we chose this lifestyle. Being seen and heard by a group of people who care is transformative. This year, I've had the joy of participating in many circles of caring people. My school community is one circle. Our crop mob is another circle. Another is the Red Tent.

The Red Tent is an amazing community of women I have grown to love over the last year. We gather once a month to share and listen. When the talking stick comes around, I get nervous. I have no speech prepared, but the relaxed faces of the others look at me without expectation. The first time I shared I cried. I don't even know why exactly, but the emotion welled up in me so that my voice cracked; I felt embarrassed even though I knew embarrassment was unnecessary. Having others witness my joy and pain and witnessing other's joy and pain without comment is powerful. We are all experiencing the deep joy and pain of living. When I sit in a circle of others and authentically share my experience and hear others share theirs, my life feels rich. I am grateful to have landed in such a community, but I know that if I didn't land in the middle of a cultivated community, I could cultivate it myself.

If you are interesting in starting a Rent Tent women's circle, watch this short video. This FAQ page has a lot of good info to help you out.

For a co-ed circle, it doesn't have to look much different. Passing a talking stick and listening without comment is powerful. Parker Palmer is a great resource for creating a Circle of Trust. 

"Circles of Trust are groups of people learning how to create a safe space for each other's struggles and joys. A place where that which is deepest in a person can find voice and expression without risking judgement, without risking someone trying to fix you in a false way or somebody trying to save you in an ego driven way. But simply giving you a chance to explore your own inner landscape at your own pace and with your own resources. We discover, if we have the gift of this kind of community, that we have what we need."
-Parker Palmer
Warming the Big House

Yup. The house is almost completely insulated. We just need to install the dry wall on the second floor ceiling, so we can blow in the attic insulation. 

We hired an insulation crew and they knocked it out in less than three days. This was the first time any outside crews set foot in our house. It was a little strange to have them here leaving their cigarette butts in my future dining room, but I am so glad for their help.  

We were pushing hard to get the framing and rough inspection done so that we could insulate before my mom and her manfriend arrived for Christmas. We passed the inspection beautifully (with a lot of challenge and heartache leading up to it), but the insulation crew got behind schedule, so they were still installing when Mom arrived. But we're all troopers here. Mom and Fred pitched in to help clean up after the crew left and we stoked the fire in the wood stove. 

We celebrated Christmas in the big house. Fred sent the kids off to find a Christmas tree in the woods, and they came back with a white pine they sawed themselves. I love imagining how they felt harvesting a Christmas tree together without any adults. Don't worry; it was a hand saw, and the trunk was only three inches. They proudly drug the tree up the big house steps and put it in a five gallon bucket in the dining room.

Our celebration warmed the big house living room, dining room and kitchen with laughter. We stoked the wood stove all week. Warming a house makes sense--it takes time to heat the wood and the furniture, and the joy of company warms it nicely. I always thought a house warming included a party where people bring gifts of stuff to decorate the house. Now the meaning has changed to a more literal one. We gather to bring heat and life to a house we don't yet know.
It's Time to Enroll for the Winter Session of our eCourse
 Join us on the Path the Mortgage-freedom!

Let us take your hand and guide you to your own path and plan for the simple life you yearn for. We'd love to get to know you. A group of dedicated change-makers is waiting to encourage, support and cheer you on as you walk your own pathway to mortgage-freedom. Read about the course and register here.

The course runs for 10 weeks and begins on January 24. 

"This course has absolutely been worth it. No matter what the outcome, the life lessons, the importance of gratitude and little celebrations, staying grounded, keeping the momentum going… It's all been so valuable. I will never stop being grateful for this course and this wonderful group of people. Thanks to Hari and Karl, and thanks to all of you!" -Wynne Geikenjoyner

"Thank you for all the invaluable information on purchasing land and building codes.  This is the information that I felt I so sorely needed. I also want to thank everyone who has posted their own dreams in our Google+Community. It’s made this experience so much nicer knowing that there really are like minded people out there. Also, thank you for posting your fears. We all share so many of them and we can comfort each other in the knowledge that someone really does understand. Your comments and support have been such a blessing. Thanks for taking this journey with me." -Pat Komas

Read more testimonials here.
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