Friday, September 23, 2016


It always happens. I know it's going to happen, sometime, somewhere. But it still seems to take me by surprise.

Pushback. Objection. Misunderstanding. Judgment.


It comes up in the best and the worst of circumstances. Family gatherings. Random street conversations. The interweb.

Turns out not everyone is a fan of Living Small.

Maybe it's a full-blown argument. Maybe it's just a twitch in your gut that makes you feel uncomfortable. Or something in between.

I've done some soul-searching, and here's the conclusion I've reached about how I can responsibly and respectfully respond to critics who may not like what I do. And how we can all respond to that family member, friend, random stranger on the street corner who hollers an objection at us, our beliefs, our lives.

1. It's okay if someone doesn't like/agree with/want to live like me. 

We are free here to feel and think as we like.

2. I am not responsible for the way other people feel or think about my life.

This is not heroin. Our Living Small Living Smart lifestyle is a well-thought-out, conscious choice to live in a way that brings us health and happiness.

No one needs to legitimize this for us.

3. My intent - and this blog - is not about telling anyone how to live their life. 

It's about sharing an experience. I started writing because my experience with downsizing and minimalism was so intense and rewarding, and lots of people I talked to were positively responding to the bits and pieces I was sharing in conversation.

My hope is to encourage anyone who chooses to walk down this road, and to remind everyone that there are many ways to live comfortably and happily.

I can't live anyone else's experience, and no one else can live mine.

4. Our lives improved thanks to our downsizing experience. 

Our stress levels went down. Our worries shrunk. Our financial troubles eased. Our time was freed up. 

Our responsibilities were fewer, and opportunities started coming our way. Living small put us in a position to say "YES!" to new jobs, a new community, new friends and new experiences. 

Don't get me wrong, this hasn't made everything perfect. (Nothing does!) But the benefits we got as a couple and as a family from getting rid of our stuff and living in a small house far, far outweighs anything we had when we had bedrooms and space and closets and things to fill them.

If your choice made your life better, rejoice in that! And make it a point to share the good.

5. The things we always assumed we needed we found out we don't actually need. 

So somebody tell me why would we ever go back to clutter our lives with things and space that would just get in our way?

You may have a hard time understanding how you could possibly live without _________. Your blender. A closet full of clothes. Separate bedrooms. A two-car garage.

I'm not going to judge you for holding onto those things. So please don't judge me for letting go of mine.

We all have to make (and we're responsible for) our own decisions.

6. We all need to live intentionally by making conscious choices.

Whether you believe in Living Small or not, the worst thing I can think of for you - for anyone - is to watch you choose a path JUST because you feel someone else (society, advertising, The Joneses, your dad) wants you to.

Our foray into small house living wasn't at the behest or approval or anyone or anything. This shift came from our hearts, from our passion, to be socially responsible and wise stewards of our time, energy, money and things.

I do believe - and my life experience has shown - that good things happen when we make our own informed, healthy decisions.

Live and Let Live - and listen in between.

7. And probably THE most important point... We can all learn from each other, even (especially?) when we disagree. 

This is something I am practicing. To not just hear, but to listen, without jumping to a response, when someone doesn't agree with me. To open my mind to other ways of thinking, to other ways of doing things. To not STAY so stuck in my own patterns. Even when I think I'm "right". To not shut down when that feeling of discomfort crops up. 

We need each other.

With every decision comes a critic.

No matter what kind of lifestyle you choose: a big house, a small house, a tiny house, a van, a tent... there will always be someone out there who thinks you're doing it "wrong". There will always be someone who is doing it better than you. With every decision comes a critic.

So in this age of hotheadedness, brash anti-____ sentiments, mistrust of the "other", let's take a moment to remember to be kind and respectful to people who don't think/feel/believe/live the way we do.

Our world can use all the kindness you can give!

Inspirations for this post include: 

On Being with Parker Palmer

The Minimalists Podcast on Criticism

My mom, who is always nice to everyone