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Here in Ithaca, NY winter feels as though it has definitely arrived. We have snow on the ground and temperatures stayed below freezing sometimes dropping into the single digits for most of last week. With that being the case I have only gone out to check on my tiny house but have not done any work on the windy, exposed site. But my hoop house seems to be working well, sheltering my floor from the snow and keeping things protected until it warms up again.

Last weekend I did start drawing out to scale framing plans for the walls and hope to do a lot more planning through the winter months. Already some things have shifted, like the placement of my fridge, which changes the placement of my sink and my window… And it is making me think it might be worth taking the time to teach myself google sketch-up rather than drawing the plans by hand, where things are much harder to change without starting over.

I also completed my third week working as an employee of Hammerstone School, which is a lot of fun and is definitely keeping me busy! We had a basic carpentry class on November 14th and 15th with ten awesome women and each one built a pair of saw horses to take home with them. It was really cool to step into the role of teacher and share some of what I have learned. And to hear the students enthusiasm and appreciation for all the knowledge!

Beware, women at work

Beware, women at work.

Then this week a timber frame apprentice from Hawk Circle named Emma Appleton joined us and we just about finished cutting the frame for a small barn!

As you can see, we are working in an unheated barn so it is a bit chilly! Best to keep moving to stay warm! But at least we have some shelter from the wind and snow.

As you can see, we are working in an unheated barn so it is a bit chilly! Best to keep moving to stay warm! But at least we have some shelter from the wind and snow.

Emma hard at work. Must have been a bit warmer that day :-)

Emma hard at work. Must have been a bit warmer that day :-)

Emma was a lot of fun and taught us some brilliant new words (she is from England) my favorite of which was ear defenders!

We are hoping to have an all women’s timber frame raising sometime in the first half of December (date TBD). This could very well be a historical event as Maria, Emma, or myself have never been at a raising of only women! It is not that we are anti men but more that we want to give women the chance to fully participate. We are thinking men will be allowed to come and support by providing food and childcare, as truth be told this is often what the women end up getting sucked into, whether they want to or not!

So, not too much progress on the tiny house, other than drawing out some plans and having a fridge buying adventure at home depot (I bought a cute high efficiency 10 cubic foot fridge only to find out it required 5″ of clearance on both sides and in back for ventilation! So we returned it today and a different, slightly larger 14 cubic foot energy star fridge will be being delivered on december 8th), but definitely been keeping busy with other things building related!

Today I made it to my IndieGoGo goal AND I finished my floor! What a day.

I am so happy to be at this stage and feel like I can breathe a sight of relief. There are many days where I wish I was further along but yesterday I was looking through my earlier posts and realized I didn’t start construction until Sept. 18th, less than 2 months ago! So considering that, and also working, and taking a week to to go do my cabinet making course, I am quite pleased.

This feels like a day worth celebrating:

Me with a big smile after my grandma called to tell me I had reach my campaign goal! As you can tell, it was a bit chilly this morning, but hearing that news got me going!

Me with a big smile after my grandma called to tell me I had reached my campaign goal! As you can tell, it was a bit chilly this morning, but hearing that news got me going!

By the end of the day I had warmed up and my floor was finished!

By the end of the day I had warmed up and my floor was finished!

This was worth celebrating!

This was worth celebrating!

YAY!

YAY!

Now I can...

Now I can…

relax...

relax…

Good bye tiny house, until tomorrow, when we hope to turn on the solar array and say good bye to the generator!

Good bye tiny house, until tomorrow, when we hope to turn on the solar array for the first time and say good bye to the generator!

It is a rainy and cold early november day her in Ithaca, the perfect day for being inside and writing a post. I have 5 days left in my indiegogo campaign and am only $600 away from my $7,000 goal! SO close! And ironically, I am also SO close to finishing laying down my floor! I hope with one more warm work day (when I don’t already have other paid work lined up) will be enough to finish it:

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As you can see, we have set up a hoop house structure over my trailer now that we can pull a tarp over to protect it from the weather. It kind of feels like a big tent and and I am tempted to sleep out on it once my floor is done:

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But anyway, what I really want to share about in this post is all the unexpected gifts that have come from this journey. When I started building this tiny house I knew the purpose was bigger than just me but I couldn’t quite articulate in a clear and succinct manner how or why it was bigger than me. I still can’t put it into a neat and tidy sentence, but I have to say that almost every day I have had some wonderful interaction with someone sparked by my tiny house project.

One such beautiful interaction happened as myself and two other young women gathered around a fire near the last new moon and shared our journeys of creating homes for ourself. One woman has set up a yome and is settling into it for the winter with her partner. The other is at a similar stage to me with a tiny strawbale timberframe: she just finished her deck and has tarped it and is waiting until spring to keep building. As the three of us gathered around the warmth of the fire we shared how spirit had called us in different ways to make these homes for ourselves. And we shared about the vulnerability and emotional journey of growth and healing that comes with creating ones own space. As we share a sisterhood of mutual support develops and it is truly a powerful, healing, and often humbling experience.

From my now over 60 donors I have shared many touching and heartfelt e mail interactions. One woman wrote,

“Good luck. I can’t remember if we have met in person, where I know you from – but your goal touches my heart, as a fellow Builder and also someday I will also build my home. <3 Blessings to you for doing the work that calls your heart. For as you follow your heart, so too are others able to heal and follow theirs.”

Another shared her blog and I immediately resonated with her post that spoke of how terrifying it can be to make the first cuts for fear of messing up. But the truth is that is the only way to learn, and rarely is something beyond being able to be fixed- a lesson that applies to all of life. And others have told me about their plans to build a tiny house, purchase a house with friends and turn it into a cooperative, and other awesome and innovative dreams.

A couple weeks ago I returned to heartwood and had a blast taking a cabinetmaking course. After a full and satisfying week my teacher gave me this heartfelt endorsement that truly touched me:

“I met Miwa last year when she Apprenticed at Heartwood School, first as her Instructor during “Fundamentals of Woodworking” and then as a fellow student when we both took the Country Windsor Chairmaking course during another Heartwood School course offering.

The thing that has impressed me the most about Miwa is her quiet confidence in herself and her determination to pursue her passions. One such passion is her Tiny Home Dream.

I would like to help Miwa by introducing her to my friends who, hopefully will introduce her to others and perhaps we can all help her out in some way. I, in addition to a financial contribution, will be offering the use of my woodworking shop and expertise (as needed) when Miwa builds her kitchen cabinets. I imagine the use of my truck to deliver the cabinets will also be part of my contribution!

My feeling is that we are not donating money towards a project, but are donating money towards a future mentor to future generations.” – Kirk Fox

And it seems the universe is gently supporting me to step slowly from student to teacher (although we are all always learning) as when I returned from Heartwood I was contacted by Maria of Hammerstone school: Carpentry for women and just finished my first week working with her. Maria is a powerful woman with a passion for tackling the creation of a more gender neutral environment in the trades. For now she is “just” teaching carpentry for women classes, working on building an apprentice program and creating a women’s contracting crew, and teaching afterschool carpentry classes at some of the local school. I am already inspired and excited about what we can do together as we collaborate more. From learning about the documentary, Hard Hatted Women, to reading this woman’s story of a Hard Hat Life, I am realizing the importance of this issue and am excited by the many avenues for creating impact-full social change that are possible.

Sometimes I dream of creating a habitat for humanity like model of building tiny houses in community, specifically for women in need of such a refuge and support, whether they are on a journey of recovery, working to get out of prostitution, escaping a battered home, or trying to raise children as a single parent, through the process of building ones own home I think a sense of pride and identity can be rebuilt, but also, perhaps more importantly, communities can form and these communities have an immense power to heal.

Once again, although I may not have my path all planned out, I have trust and faith and feel supported and guided by spirit on a journey that continues to amaze me each day. For now I lay my foundation, but as I do so I plant many seeds for the future and wait eagerly to see which ones come to fruition.

 

A Whirlwind Week

Phew! This week has felt like a whirlwind of a week.

Last Sunday my parents and I oiled all my floor boards with an all natural tung oil/linseed oil finish called Land Ark:

It was such a pleasure to have them come visit and leave their mark on my tiny house. These floor boards will be the first thing I have done thus far that will be visible in the finished home! This, and a suggestion from my grandma got me thinking that I want a mural that somehow shows all the hands that went into making this tiny house possible. I am thinking a wood burned tree in one of my gable ends with each person who contributed time or money having their name on a leaf…

On Tuesday John and I started nailing the first of these floor boards down!  This was cause for some celebration:

And some careful cutting:

Notice that I chose to lay them on a diagonal. Who says everything has to be square? (There are also some practical reason as to why I chose to do this that I will talk about in my tiny house workshop)

The weather turned a bit temperamental after Tuesday and so we weren’t able to finish laying the floor. But we did figure out a clever way to get a roof over our heads and protect my trailer from the weather while we work:

This afternoon we got my tarp all rigged up over this hoop house structure, just in time for my leaving tomorrow for a week long cabinet making course at Heartwood. I forgot to take a picture of the end result with the tarp, but it is pretty snazzy if you ask me!

As I move ahead with this dream it’s been fun to see many inspirational tiny house projects come out of the woodwork around me. One is a project call Second Wind that is building tiny homes for men, many of whom were homeless or in recovery and trying to get their lives back on track. This guy’s vision has some interesting similarities to the ecovillage I am currently living in: A cluster of these tiny homes with a central larger house that serves as a community center/common house. I have envisioned something very similar but, perhaps fittingly, have thought more about targeting a female population of women from battered homes or who are looking for a way out of prostitution or homelessness. And for me I see much of the healing coming not only from giving these women a home but from also empowering them to take part in the building of their own home and making it a home that reflects their personal identity and style.

Well, that is the update for this week! Stay tuned for more.

And if you haven’t yet checked it out please take a look at my indiegogo campaign page and consider donating and sharing it in your networks: igg.me/at/tinygogo

Thanks!

Hello family, friends, supporters, and followers. I have decided to run an indiegogo campaign for myself to help insure that I can put all the love and energy that I want to into this tiny home project. This is an edge for me. Heck, going for this dream is a huge edge for me! But with the continued encouragement of of all of you I know I can see this project through.

My dear friend Tara sent me this poem yesterday and it feels like a fitting one to share at the point:

knowing your power
is what creates
humility.
not knowing your power
is what creates
insecurity.
— ego, nayyirah waheed

I am SO humbled already by this project and all the lessons it is teaching me. As much as this project feels like me stepping into my power, literally and metaphorically building myself a solid foundation, it has also already humbled me time and again, showing me how much I need the support of each and every one of you. Truly, every little word of encouragement and shared enthusiasm helps to keep my own sails full, especially on those cold wet mornings, like yesterday, when I went out to my site to find my tarp had blown off and water had pooled in my now water sealed floor frame!

At my floor flipping party I looked around and was filled with gratitude, seeing how each person there had helped to make this first big moment possible: John, with his constant support, giving me building advice, acting as a sounding board, scooping me up in mornings for work and fun adventures, and allowing me to build on his land; Amy, for being a team mate in this whole project and sharing my commitment to this project and giving me moral support; David for lending me his car and his electric bike countless times and for showing up when I was afraid I wouldn’t have enough people, and for listening to my ideas and problem solving; Kim for his clever problem solving abilities and interest and support; Jim for so generously offering to film this whole journey; and Sarah for coming out and bringing her kids and showing me that I can inspire other’s through my actions!

Now I am asking for some monetary support to insure that I can make this home as beautiful as possible and stick to all my principles of using environmentally friendly materials. This home is just the seed of something much larger: It is part of a larger movement to live more simply and in harmony with the earth. And for me it is integrating all that I have learned and discovering my own artistic style and process as a builder so that I can then offer my skills to others and help them create their dream homes. Will you support me it realizing this dream to it’s fullest potential?

This is my indiegogo video

 And the link to go to the campaign and donate is http://igg.me/at/tinygogo

Last Thursday, October 2nd, I had my first work party. I called it the Floor Flipping Party because I literally needed a bunch of hands on deck to flip my floor! Why did my floor need to be flipped? Well I had it upside down in order to put put some insulation and flashing on the bottom side to critter proof my floor. And now I needed to turn it right side up again! And then I could bolt it to my trailer, another big moment.

The party was quite a success, complete with local cider from Little Tree Orchards, local apples from Amy’s orchard, and local honey from my friend Michael’s hives, which I helped extract last weekend! Some people said they had never dipped apples in honey before, but for me it was a natural combination given that this is one way the Jewish New Year of Rosh Hashanah is often celebrated, which just passed on sept. 24th, and that Yom kippur, the day of atonement, was October 3rd.

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Floor upside, but ready to be flipped. Apples and honey out and ready to be eaten, waiting for the people to arrive!

And people did arrive! Thank you John, Amy, Sarah, Kim, David, and Jim for coming out and making it a party!

And people did arrive! Thank you John, Amy, Sarah, Kim, David, and Jim for coming out and making it a party!

There were a few moments of excitement but overall things went really smoothly.

There were a few moments of excitement but overall things went really smoothly.

And then I gave everyone a bolt and we got it all secured into place!

And then I gave everyone a bolt and we got it all secured into place!

Thank you everyone, especially the kids who came out to take part in this special moment!

Thank you everyone, especially the kids who came out to take part in this special moment!

For me, this was more then just a floor flipping Party. It was the first major opportunity for me to share some of this journey with others and express my gratitude for all the help and enthusiasm I have already received. It is these moments that I know I will look back on with fondness and gratitude. From here on, I will be building up and that is also a big moment to celebrate!

I began this morning by loading up my friend Dave’s little honda insight with two large tarps, some hand tools, lunch, and a fleece to keep the brisk fall air at bay. Did I mention that, at least for now, I am doing this whole project without owning a car? Well, I am. And for this reason and many more it is becoming clearer and clearer to me that this project is going to be just as much about leaning into and feeling the support of community as it is about building a tiny house.

Although some days have been filled with restless anxious energy as I worry about all the possible things that could go wrong, this morning, pulling into our building site, I felt calm and collected. It felt good to be out there alone, feeling the sun on my face on this perfect early fall day. John is gone for a short vacation and Amy wouldn’t be there until after lunch and she had the generator in her car, so that meant I had the whole morning to set up the site, plan, and bask in the fact that I am actually building my home! As I drove into the site this song was on my lips and felt like the perfect prayer for the day:

” I step into the flow and then I let it go. I open my mind, my heart, and my soul. 

I step into the flow and then I let it go. I open my mind, my heart, and my soul. 

I surrender. I surrender. I surrender. I open my mind, my heart, and my soul. “

- A song I know from Dances of Universal Peace

 Then these two little notes from John greeted me and just made me smile even more (don’t worry it is chalk “graffiti,” so will come off super easily):

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“Home is where the heart is”

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“Home sweet home”

After taking some time to set up the site I pulled out my trusty little notebook, my tape measurer and got to planning exactly how I was going to frame out my floor.

My plans, as they stand for now...

My plans, as they stand for now… Well, actually these are already out of date. I switched my north and south walls. What can I say, plans always change!

photo (1)

The final plan for framing the floor that we will follow for cutting our pieces today.

Once I had measured and re-measured and was sure about what length things needed to be I decided I was going to start cutting with a hand saw.

After a few house in the sun working with no power tools I had the outside wood all cut to dimension!

After a few hours in the sun working with no power tools (such blissful peace and quiet) I had the outside wood all cut to dimension!

Then Amy arrived with the generator and my friend Dave came to help out and in another hour or so we had all the joists cut and the frame screwed and nailed together.

Goal for the day accomplished!

Goal for the day accomplished!

Time to tarp everything up and call it a day. Not bad for our first day of actual construction :)

Time to tarp everything up and call it a day. Not bad for our first day of actual construction!

And now back to the idea board to figure out next steps and make decisions, such as what kind of flashing to use, how to break the potential heat bridge between metal and wood, and what is enough insulation?

And now back to “The Idea Board” to figure out next steps and make decisions, such as what kind of flashing to use, how to break the potential heat bridge between metal and wood, and what is enough insulation?

As got on the bus to head towards the Denver, CO airport to end an almost two week vacation I got a text from my buddy Amy saying that our trailers were ready! After much anticipatory anxiety where I was convinced the trailers were going to be ready the day after I left town, the timing ended up being perfect. Two weeks away meant I got to take a break from tiny house planning (which was starting to feel a little like tiny house obsessing) and refresh myself before coming home and jumping back in.

So now that the trailers were finally ready we had to secure two trucks to go pick them up in Locke, NY, about a half hour away. Somehow I thought it would be as simple as finding two friends with pick up trucks with 2 5/16″ ball hitches. I didn’t realize that with a trailer this size things get a little more complicated. But only a little, thanks to some great friends who guided us along. So what do you need to tow an 8′ by 24′ trailer?

  1. A seven prong blade style electrical wiring adaptor. This allows the trailer to plug into the truck’s electrical system so that when you brake the trailer’s brakes are also activated. Thankfully these only cost about $10 at our local trux outfitters store.
  2. 2 5/16″ ball hitch. These can also be bought for about $12 at a tractor supply store
  3. Brake box. This little box gets wired into your truck up by the dashboard and turns out to be the most expensive part (a couple hundred dollars).

We almost decided to just pay Locke Enterprises to deliver them, but In the end we managed to borrow one truck that already had all the wiring and the brake box and we took two trips out to Locke Enterprises in one day to get Amy and my trailer.

Our brand new, custom trailers! Each of them cost $3722.75, hopefully the single most expensive item for our tiny houses, but well worth having a solid foundation

Our brand new, custom trailers! From Locke enterprises in Locke, NY. Each of them cost $3722.75, hopefully the single most expensive item for our tiny houses, but well worth having a solid foundation

Steve and our little friend make sure everything is hooked up correctly and securely.

Steve and our little friend make sure everything is hooked up correctly and securely.

As steve, the owner of Locke Enterprises, gave us the “tour” of our new trailers we learned a few more handy things. The little box in the picture above contains a back up battery that will kick in and engage the brakes if somehow the trailer were to become unhooked from the truck. Before driving its good to check that the battery is charged, which can be done with a “test light,” which can also be bought pretty cheaply from a tractor supply store. He also explained to us how to put a few squirts of grease in the axle by just taking off the cap at the center of the wheel and that this should probably be done each time we move our tiny houses since they will likely have been sitting for quite a while.

Ready to rock and roll!

Ready to rock and roll!

backing up a trailer this size is no easy task. A handy trick we learned is hold you hand at the bottom of your steering wheel because then which ever direction your hand goes will be the direction the trailer will go.

backing up a trailer this size is no easy task. A handy trick we learned is hold you hand at the bottom of your steering wheel because then which ever direction your hand goes will be the direction the trailer will go.

And we did it! Both trailers in place on our building site :)

And we did it! Both trailers safely in place on our building site!

Itching to build!

Itching to build!

Despite my fears that something would go wrong, in the end all went amazingly smoothly. I have to thank my friend Hank for doing a lot f the research on what our trucks would need to be able to haul these things, and Amy’s friend Steve, for being so generous with his truck, which happened to have all the right wiring, and Locke Enterprises for all their amazing work.

About This Blog

About This Blog

Welcome! And congratulations on finding my blog. Before you enter, please read on to find out a little about what this blog is (and what it is not). This blog is about my journey through this strange and beautiful world, and includes reflections on both my internal and external journey, which I see as inseparable from each other. Depending on how you found this blog you may have been expecting a tiny house blog with how to videos and budget breakdowns, or you may have been expecting reflections on a spiritual journey, or perhaps a travel blog. You will find a little of all these and more here.

For a while I considered trying to have two blogs: one that was perhaps more “practical” and “professional” in nature and the other for “all the rest” of the stuff. But for me it felt that to separate the two would be almost impossible and result in something much more one dimensional and inauthentic to who I am, what I am about, and why I enjoy keeping a blog.

For me this blog is like an evolving and dynamic autobiography of my life. So why do people write autobiographies? And why, for that matter, do people enjoy reading them? There are many answers to these questions, and the second I will leave for you to answer. But here are some of my answers to the first: I write because through the process of writing I often discover new meaning and coherence to my own life and the world. I write because it feels like one humble gift I can offer back to the world. And I write because I hope to inspire and connect to others while receiving affirmation that my own journey is valid and, although unique, also one part in a larger interconnected whole.

And what do I hope to inspire? I hope to inspire people to strive to live in right relationship with themselves, others, and the earth. To live in a way that is well with their mind, heart, body, and soul. And I hope to inspire this by sharing my own journey of striving to do just that in a real and authentic way. To me, this means showing how the journey is not linear and sometimes messy, and also showing how the building of those inner timber frames can be just as valid and important as the building of those outer ones.

If this journey resonates with you then you may find yourself digging back into the archives of this blog, perhaps reading chronologically from the beginning or deciding to follow my blog into the future. If you came to read about tiny houses or other building related things and still wish to primarily read just about that then I suggest you click on “the built environment” category from the menu above, but don’t be surprised if you find other parts of me peppered in there, including the raw, vulnerable, and perhaps provocative. In essence, nothing I do is separate from my spiritually journey and I think that will come through as you read.

Lastly, if you know me in the world beyond the internet you may find that you discover things about me through this blog that you didn’t know before. And perhaps you will feel you have a much more intimate connection with me then I feel I have with you. What this means for how you and I interact is something I am still exploring and discovering, and I imagine is something many must learn to navigate as they choose to step into a more public realm.  Anything I write about here I am consciously making public, and I am choosing to do so in a way that portrays both the shadow and the light of my journey, because to me that kind of skillful and authentic transparency is worth much more as an offering back to the world. Please don’t feel shy to bring up something that you have read here. If you are moved or inspired by something here please tell me, as such feedback nourishes and affirms my journey and my decision to share it. If something you read here creates a desire within you to know more please ask and I will likely be happy to share more, as perhaps one of the most gratifying experiences for me is to feel I have helped someone else along in their journey of self discovery.

And with that, I invite you to enter and hope that you find what you are looking for, even if it is not what you expected…

About Me (and the name Sculpting Earth)

My name is Miwa and this blog is about my journey through this world as someone who loves this world and believes in the power of the individual and community. I am a loyal and devoted friend, and the only child of a Japanese mother and a New York born Jew. I am a daughter and a granddaughter to elders I love and respect with all my heart. I am an outdoor enthusiast who feels a strong responsibility to steward this beautiful earth; This earth that has healed me in times of grief, brought me joy and empowerment  through awe inspiring experiences, and continues to teach and inspire curiosity, wonder, and innocence from within. I am a builder, artist, violinist, poet, and much more. I am a student of the world, a traveler, an inquirer, and a skeptic. I am a seeker, on a heart and soul centric journey. I am a sculptor, always refining my ability to sculpt my inner and outer worlds with grace.

Home

“Keep blossoming.” That is what a friend said to me the other day when we said good bye. With so much gratitude, I can indeed say that this summer has felt like a summer of personal blossoming. After one of the hardest and darkest winters of my life, where I fully surrendered to shadow work, it seems that I am now in a period of relative ease, where things are flowing and falling into place in such a way that I am humbled and can’t help but feel that there are forces bigger than me working in my favor. That is not to say that there aren’t still hard days and moments, and times when I doubt myself and feel scared or alone, but overall when people have asked how I am I can honestly say I am great. Possibly better then I have ever been.

It’s hard for me to capture in words the gratitude, joy and richness of being alive that I have felt this summer but I want to at least share some of the more tangible highlights. First of all, I moved back to Ithaca in April and I truly felt like I had returned to my spiritual and physical home. It felt so good to finally move to a place with the intention of putting down roots. To finally be someplace and not be tied to an academic calendar, a job, a relationship or really any external structure, perceived or real. I moved back purely because I wanted to and with my only intention being to create my life here. And to create it how I wanted, by my own rules, and on my own schedule. And, with the commitment to honor and listen to my highest self, whom I trust to be in accordance with the highest good of all, it seems that the world has opened its doors to me.

When I first arrived in Ithaca my intentions and goals were humble: They were simply to preserve spaciousness in my life and just stay present and centered in each moment in this place that I was so looking forward to returning to. I was grateful to be welcomed back into the ecovillage here, to a living situation I was familiar and comfortable with, and took back my old job as a substitute grocery stocker at the local food coop. Spring was just beginning and with it it seemed people, including myself, were  emerging from their winter nests. I was so happy to be back! And I welcomed the familiarity of the ecovillage and the amazing local food coop, greenstar, both of which I missed so much while I was away! But I wasn’t quite sure what to tell people when they asked what I had been up to the last year and what I was doing now, and so I found myself telling them what felt like a convoluted story about my timber framing apprenticeship and other past building adventures and then glossing over the dark winter months with most. But the truth was I felt like I was back at square one in terms of “what I was doing with my life.” I had no idea if I ever was going to build again, I had basically let go of my dream of building “our” home for me and some partner that I no longer had, and I had discovered the hard way that things rarely go according to plan anyway. But, I was okay with being back at square one. If anything I welcomed it, for after a year of deaths of relationships, dreams, and ideas of who I thought I was and could be, square one felt like a pretty good place to be. By accepting this I felt like I at least was not at square zero. It felt like I had already been thrown into the fires of hell, been stripped of any and all protective ware,  and had finally been spit out at the other end, raw and vulnerable, but grateful for the soothing waters of the womb of emptiness. I was in no rush to rebuild any false pretenses of “me” and was quite content to just live simply for a while.

So when a new friend John asked me soon after I arrived if I wanted to help him restore an old barn I responded with reserved curiosity. Did I want to give the building world another try? Was I ready for that? I honestly wasn’t sure. But John’s gentle, generous, and humble yet confident nature somehow reassured me enough to give it a go. The barn project was slow to get started and ended up not coming through, but in the meantime John invited me to help him just for a day at another project at Cayuga Pure Organics. One day sounded low risk enough and so I agreed. I was nervous and unsure of myself, but I guess I did ok as at the end of the day when I said, “I hope I didn’t slow you down too much,” he laughed and responded, “Are you kidding me?” I smiled and felt something open within me. I could see he was genuinely grateful for my help, and despite my feeling like I had fumbled my way through the day, he seemed to have complete confidence in my abilities. And so an amazing work partnership was born, and I will be forever grateful to this sweet and humble seasoned builder who has taken me under his wing. That day at cayuga pure organics became the first of many that I worked out there, helping them rebuild from a massive fire last spring that burned down their whole processing plant. And as John and I built together I felt my confidence in myself and gratitude for him growing. Not once did I ever feel like I had to prove myself to him, and he always welcomed questions and input. And it seemed like all our values and working styles aligned and complimented each other too!

As my work life transitioned from mostly working at greenstar to mostly building I also enjoyed a blossoming social life. As a single woman I enjoyed the autonomy of my weekends and evenings, going on spontaneous adventures that would start at the saturday farmers market, and nurturing sweet new friendships. I got to experience my first ever Grassroots music festival, which was a blast, and also finally went to my first Ithaca Dance Camp. The Ithaca Dances of universal peace circle, which hosts the ithaca dance camp, has always held a special place in my heart and to immerse myself for four days in these dances of love and peace was nothing short of blissful.

At a certain point I realized I was no longer just getting my feet on the ground here in Ithaca but had landed. I felt settled in my home, had planted two garden beds full of vegetables that were beginning to give back in their abundance, and felt surrounding by wonderful budding friendships and community, and had somehow found myself to be in a position where building had become my main source of income! And I was enjoying it all. Funny how it only happened when I finally stopped trying so hard. And of course, now that things were mostly in order I had the mental and emotional space to start to consider what were my long term plans? What did I want to actually do?

It was just as I was beginning to mull this question over when Maria had an open house for the  Hammerstone school,  her carpentry for women school that is on its way to building it’s second tiny house on wheels. The first tiny house was on display for the open house and as I sat inside chatting with the owner, Liz, and her friends and family a seed was planted. I had read about tiny houses and seen pictures of them but had never been inside one. Suddenly I realized, “this is within my reach and I could totally live like this!”

As many of you know, the dream of building my own home is one I have had for quite some time now. It has evolved in shape and form and even undergone its own deaths and rebirths. Because of this I was wary to share this new idea, and protected it as a little sacred seed whose roots were still fragile. Initially I just allowed myself to be intrigued, thinking perhaps next spring, after a year of working and living in Ithaca, this will be what I set out to do. Besides, I thought, I needed to save up more money if I were to do this. But the wheels began turning. A tiny house on wheels would solve the problem if me not owning land and not knowing who, in the long term, I would be happy sharing land with. A tiny house on wheels would allow me to build and be pretty much exempt from building codes and permits. John and I were now working on framing up a 20′ by 32′ house for a couple and I realized a tiny house on wheels was about a 3rd of the size of this house and that with the support and encouragement of someone like John I had the ability to do it. But money did still feel like the daunting factor. Materials costs for these tiny houses generally seems to be in the $20,000 to $30,000 range. For me that is a lot of money, more then I have ever personally had.

But then a few things happened that together convinced me I could do this and I could start now. So now I need to back track a little. Through the winter and continuing into the present I have been doing some deep inner work with the guidance of some very gifted healers who I am forever indebted and grateful to. Through this work I have developed a language and a framework that has become integral to by worldview. Core to this is the belief that we are all creators. That each and everyone one of us is fully responsible for our own experience in this world, down to the family and situation we choose to be born into, the life we choose to create, and even the pain, loss, and heartache we experience. This belief comes from a belief that everything, including what we experience as solid matter such as our bodies, the warm rock I am sitting on, the smoothie I am drinking, and even money, is really just energy. Vibrational energy. At this point, if you are starting to think I am crazy I guess I want to offer that even physics has shown that matter is really just made up of wave particles. I am not a physicist and will not pretend to be, but I just say this to say to those more science oriented people (which I am one of) that this is not totally out of the realm of logical explanation.  So given the belief that we are all creators, fully responsible for our own experience here are three questions I now continually ask myself  as I navigate my experience in this world: Why did I create this? Do I want to create differently? And how can I create differently?

To give some real life perspective to these questions, I want to say that these were not always easy questions for me to ask. For me on my journey, this meant asking the painful questions of, “Why did Stephen choose to die?” “Why did I need to experience loosing the first love of my life at age 21 to a heroine overdose?” and “Why, over three years after this traumatic life event, did I feel more lost, alone, and in despair than ever before?”

And yet, it was the surrendering to this utter despair that finally allowed me to take a really hard look at myself and ask these questions. And not to blame myself (I had done enough of that), but to understand and see with compassion and clarity why I had needed to create this and then to make peace with all that had come to be. And then to begin to shift things and ask how I do I want to create now.

With these questions guiding me as I continue to work to connect in more with my highest self I have witnessed my ability to create manifest outwardly as I begin within. And so when my car got hit on the side of the road and was declared a total loss my first question was why did I choose to create this way? Well, it turned out I was much happier living without a car. My car had become a headache of repairs and maintenance and I felt better not contributing so much to the fossil fuel economy. And biking, walking at hitch hiking my way through the glorious Ithaca summer turned out to be a beautiful exercise in slowing down, trusting, and asking for help when I needed it, leaning into the wonders of a community willing to share and support one another. And, I suddenly had $4000 of insurance money in my pocket.

Living simply I also found I was actually able to save additional money, despite only bringing in a modest income, and although I didn’t have anywhere near $20,000 upfront to pay for a tiny house I began to trust that the resources would  come to support the manifestation of this dream. I remembered learning in one of my building courses about the “time – money – quality” triangle and how it was best to choose two of these three that were most important to you when taking on a project. I realized I wanted to build my self a high quality home and that if I started now, even though I didn’t have the money up front I did have the time. My current living situation is wonderful and affordable and my current work situation is one where I basically create my own work schedule. So really, now was the perfect time to start.

And so the tiny house adventure began. Within a week of getting clear within and telling John that I wanted to do this I began to see things manifest outwardly. Our friend Amy approached John and said she really wanted us to build her a tiny home too and so we decided we would build both hers and mine on John’s land and that she may end up fronting some of the material costs in exchange for my labor. The first step and test of my decision to do this was buying our trailers.  I began to look and research and it seemed the general consensus was the trailer was not the place to skimp, and a new trailer was the way to go. The cost savings of used trailers were tempting ($300 vs. almost $4000) but as I sat with the decision I knew I wanted the new trailer, and the only reason I would go for the used trailer was fear of not having enough money. Fear of not having enough is no way to cultivate abundance and so I worked on releasing that fear, seeing this is a gift to myself and others, and trusting that the world would support me. Then in one whirlwind of a day Amy, John, and I drove out to Locke, New York where a guy named Steve Lamphier makes custom trailers, and we put half the money down for two trailers, designed specifically to support a tiny house, and will pay the rest when we go and pick them up in about two weeks. In the meantime we have now received 8 double pane, good condition windows, donated completely free of charge from friends and community members, one window in exchange for 4 hours garden work, and I took advantage of a Lowes sale to special order my four loft windows which needed to be a very specific size to fit the space limitations. I bought a beautiful front door at the Ithaca reuse center and we put in an order for kiln dried pine tongue and groove flooring from Collins Saw Mill, which will be ready in about a week. And Alternatives Bank is going to help finance some of this as a small business model with a $2000 grant.  In the meantime we continue to search for windows!

Indeed as I practice envisioning my dreams and trusting, I feel myself surrounded by love and and support. Some have asked “When will it be done?” and “Do you have a plan?” Well, yes, I have a rough plan. But I also know that it will change and evolve. And I have to say I have no idea when it will be done. I have chosen to focus on quality and need to keep costs reasonable, not to mention that taking the time to reuse and salvage materials feels good to me and in line with my values. The process by which this house is built feels just as important as the outcome and it is a process that I want to be organic and not restricted by time. As one person reflected back to me recently, I am approaching this project from the artist side me and see this as me creating my own sacred sanctuary. A place I can call my own. And just as when I start a painting I usually have an idea but no detailed plan, and as it is hard to predict how long a painting will take or when it is actually completed, this tiny home will be done when it feels done, and not before. And there is a vision for it but only a minimalist plan.

And so my dream has experienced another rebirth and I expect this blog to begin to also shift focus to document and support this tiny house project. I hope you can see that really this is much more then just a tiny house project for me. It is a continuation of my journey of coming into my own, setting up my life intentionally in a way that gives me freedom and autonomy, and living simply and in line with my values. It is a practice of trusting and manifesting dreams in a way that supports and inspires others to do the same.

So I end this lengthy post with gratitude and a prayer that I caught at the Ithaca Dance Camp. And the simple drawing I made as a vision board that is tacked above my desk in my current tiny bedroom.

“I Surrender all that does not serve me. I rise to meet my true self. I accept my humanity. And I greet my divinity”

"I surrender all that does not serve me. I rise to meet my true self. I accept my humanity. I greet my divinity."

“I surrender all that does not serve me. I rise to meet my true self. I accept my humanity. I greet my divinity.”

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