Tiny House Road Show- Pictures!

On July 23rd, my family attended the Tiny House Road Show at our local civic center. Not all tiny houses are built as equals. Some were just *presh/gorge*, while others were severely lacking…

Instead of making this an article, I’m going to just post all the pictures of us. Some of them contain *rando humanoids* who happened to photo-bomb us!

I will say this one thing: one day I hope to downsize to a tiny house by a body of water and live as Thoreau did, but of course with WiFi flowing through my devices and Kat Von D makeup on my face. I’ve got a long way to go on purging/paring down the bare necessities…I only buy what I absolutely have to now and donate the rest. With the exception of school textbooks (1,000+ pages), my “biggest” purchase items are DVD’s. Keepin’ it tiny…

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And to end on a note with a compostable toilet, from me to you, enjoy.

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When Emergency Strikes, Don’t Have Too Much Baggage

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Whew! My heart-rate is just coming back to normal. I had a near-death experience this evening.

On a dark and stormy afternoon, I was in my work vehicle driving away to leave my day job and heading to my night job at the gym to teach a yoga class. My iPhone siren blared that the weather was threatening impending doom of flash floods and we were all in danger in the metropolitan area! I ignored it and kept on trucking, lest I be late for job #2.

Going up the hill to get onto the freeway, several cars ahead of me were stalled. My usual route was completely submerged in rainwater. I applied my foot to the gas pedal when suddenly an 18 wheeler came flying down the hill towards me, sending a rivulet towards my work car. An eddy whirled around and my car (which was already on the fritz and was deemed “totalled” last month) suddenly broke down. Water flooded the engine and an “!” red light lit up a warning.

It all came down to panic and drown, or swim out and survive. I tried to open my driver’s door of the Taurus, but water flooded into my seat. I opened the passenger side and lost all of my books and  notes. I barely recovered my lunchbox, purse and empty bookbag. I managed to close the door, thus sweeping in more water. The windows were cracked because the A/C had gone out months ago. I’m sure rain flooded in the windows by now.

The inner mermaid of my soul arose and I swam to the sidewalk, thighs deep in black urban city water. At that moment, I dropped my iPhone underwater on the street. I took a deep breath and fished for it. (Hours later, it started working again, thanks to Mr. Otterbox!).

With my purse, lunchbox, and empty bookbag, I waded waistdeep to the nearest parking lot, full of public transportation buses. It was still pouring down torentially as I made this bold attempt to safety. Meanwhile, I was flailing my arms in the SOS position above my head, begging anyone to help. No boats were nearby, and that’s precisely what was needed. I tried not to blink too hard because my contacts were getting soaked and I almost lost them. I’m pretty blind as a bat without glasses or contacts.

Lightning flashed nearby and I thought, “Oh, my God! This is the end! I’m going to drown, get struck by lightning, or get hit by a truck.”

I started to climb into the abandoned public safety bus to wait out the storm. Just then, a man and his little daughter barely drove up to my rescue! I hitchhiked a ride with them back to my parents’ house nearby by way of the interstate. I prayed to God he wasn’t a serial killer or anything. I had my loaded gun just in case, but really he ended up being such a Good Samaritan! I even tried to pay him all the cash in my wallet, but he didn’t take it.

Once I made it to my parents’ house, I dried off, peeling off the wet clothes and putting on spares my mom keeps for me. They fed me and my family. My husband and son greeted me with open arms, and considering I was so shaken, I fell into them.

If I could’ve been a turtle, I would have taken the car with me, putting it on my back. But all I could muster were three measly bags of possessions. Even that was too much! I lost my journal in the flood and several notebooks full of important information. The trunk had popped open so I’m sure someone got all of my clothes and my 2 yoga mats out of the back.

I called a supervisor from my parents’ house and explained the emergency. He was still stuck downtown and drove up to the street nearby with two other stragglers from the office. They saw the Taurus and said it was still very much under water and unable to be towed. I begged the supervisor to salvage my journal and notebooks if he could.

This whole experience taught me a few valuable lessons. For one, don’t have too much to carry, especially in a crisis situation. Two, possessions aren’t people and can be replaced. Three, listen to your dreams. More on that in a sec. And four, it’s ok to rely on strangers for help. And don’t forget to pay it forward yourself!

I awoke from a lucid, horrible nightmare at 4 AM this morning. I had escaped two violent tornadoes and was hiding from both of them in different places. Maybe my dream was a psychic intuitive premonition that something weather-related and awful was about to occur today. I left a cryptic message on my gym’s Facebook page about why yoga was cancelled tonight.

I’m making peace with the fact that my clothes in the trunk, yoga mats, and notebooks (including my sacred journal) are now gone with the flood! I’m also making peace with not having a work-assigned take-home vehicle. I guess I’ll be shelling out my own gas money four days a week for a while.

Moreover, I made peace with God during the emergency. Somewhere between swimming on the streets, avoiding lightning striking nearby, and hitchhiking, my adrenaline skyrocketed! God protected me after all.

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“The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.”- Henry David Thorough, Walden

Just Go Hiking!

I have recently had many doors shut on me professionally, even though I am still gainfully employed. Last Thursday, I made up my mind to begin a new journey (that which I cannot specifically say on here at this point in time).

However, I did take the first step towards that new goal today.

In passing conversation at work, I spoke with one of my colleagues by the proverbial “water cooler.” I told her of my career woes and glass ceiling.

She said I was far too talented to stick around this place for the remaining 14.5 years I have until retirement. I thanked her, but said I may have something new on the horizon. She advised me to keep it to myself and just let that flower bloom. Then she began this story:

I was visiting with my cousin before she died. My cousin’s son was friends with a young man who, like you, was very intelligent and talented. He got his degree from UAB in graphic design. He would always complain that he couldn’t get a job with his degree. He applied so many different places but no one would take him on.

This young man loved to hike. He would go hiking all the time. One day, he decided to book a trip to go hiking in Colorado. The young man went on a long hike up a mountain. When he climbed down the mountain, he was at a rest area for hikers taking a break. He looked on the bulletin board near the water fountain and saw an ad for a new company that was hiring. It was for none other than a graphic design job at an up-and-coming company. Fate had willed the young man to go hiking at that time to read that very ad. The company was just around the corner; you know how Colorado is!

He wiped the sweat from his brow, ate his protein bar, and went inside the building. The company boss was in at that time and met the young man. He said, “We don’t normally do this, but you can meet with me in my office.”

A few weeks later when the young man returned to Alabama, he was visiting a relative in the hospital. He had to step out of the hospital room to take a phone call. The graphic design company had offered him a position after all!

The young man moved to Colorado and enjoyed his new position. Being an avid Star Wars fan, he was so pleased to find out that his new graphic design company worked with Disney on the newest Star Wars film. The young man was delighted to be in the right place, at the right time, in a job position made for him. He even played a part in creating the newest robot, BB8.

All of this was possible because the young man went on a hike.

So, just go hiking!

I needed to hear this story today more than anything. When something that I am meant to be doing now was suggested to me by my husband, I felt a huge spark. I even broke down crying last Thursday when I made this decision because I felt relieved and pushed in this direction.

But in the meantime, maybe I’ll just go hiking!image


“…some taller mast of a pine, a shingle tree, or a more perfect hemlock than usual, standing like a pagoda in the midst of the woods; and many others I could mention. These were the shrines I visited both summer and winter.”–Henry David Thoreau, Walden

 

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UPDATE: The secret I couldn’t share in this post was that I had applied to law school to begin classes in January of 2017. As fate would have it, the dean of the law school admitted me for this August and I started classes early. It’s everything I’ve dreamed of and more!

It’s s’more like playing with Fire than cooking a delicacy

Who doesn’t like to play with fire?

Being a Taurus, nature has dictated that I’m an Earth sign, an Earth-mama if you will. But we need ALL of the elements in our lives! Obviously, I live for Water…such as boating, swimming, floating, and being by the lake. Whenever my honey and I take trips, we enjoy the Air element by flying…usually via Southwest; you get the picture. Anyone can attest that the Fire element is what keeps us, um…burning with a passion for life. Let me introduce to you the daughter of Fire and Sweets: her name is S’more.

S'mores a la carte

S’mores a la carte

Here we have the marriage of chocolate, graham crackers, fluffy marshmallows on their date with destiny, aka Fire.

Whenever I’m out in nature, I behold the firepit! We have one at home in our front yard and one at the RV resort. For my son’s fifth birthday party a few weeks ago, I built a firepit using a simple article on http://www.wikihow.com and some connected stones from Home Depot.

Check out the handsome camper in green, my son at our home firepit as he roasts wieners.

We made magic again this past weekend at the lakeside firepit beneath the country stars.

Bonfire

That goober lying on the ground is me. I like to be close to the Earth and Fire elements, obviously. My stepson, son, and husband are also around the fire.

There’s no simpler way to enjoy nature melding gastropleasures with the Fire element than by making s’mores. All that sugar makes a gal a bit crazy…

Bonfire yowza

Pinecones, rocks, logs, pine straw and a lighter are all you need to make memories around a campfire.

It all seems so simple. And it is. Not to mention cheap. Frugality meets ingenuity which begets s’mores.

And bears.

Bear rock firepit


“Our village life would stagnate if it were not for the unexplored forests and meadows which surround it. We need the tonic of the wilderness–“-Henry David Thoreau, Walden

The Turtle and the Rusty Mermaid

I bring you all tidings of Spring! I had the opportunity to visit my modern-day Walden over the weekend, and my family even took the boat out on the choppy water.

I was so inspired by the beauty of nature (but depressed about events back home), I scribed a poem while in retreat. It is both literal and allegorical. You figure it out.

 

The Turtle and the Rusty Mermaid

 

A turtle was sunning on a smooth, water-worn rock

As soon as it glimpsed me, it hit the water and swam away to the dock.

Hiding in its shell with nowhere to go,

Mr. Turtle keeps himself close to his essence and ego.

 

Do you remember the day we chased ducks with the motor of the boat?

We were alone on the lake without any plans except to swim, relax, and float.

I took the mermaid décor off the boat’s window latch this afternoon.

She has rusted and served her purpose, guiding from July until June.

 

But I carried the rusty siren to the tiny house in the middle of the forest;

Hung her up on a wooden beam to lure new friends to the hut for rest.

Perhaps the shack in the woods serves as my terrapin shell;

It safeguards me from enemies and those of whom inflict the most hell.

 

I allowed the sun to dry my hair like the mermaid’s waves;

Solar energy recharges one after a bitter Spring and the water saves.

The glistening lake offers a buffer between my boat and the shore;

Far away from cruelty, this paradise will never bore.

 

Once we’ve docked for the evening, we retreat to the special nook in the dark;

The walls encircle us with their simplistic grandeur of bark.

Being in nature allows the soul to tap into the cosmic vibration

Yet too long away from civilization yield the turtle and the mermaid to ruination.

 

As I journeyed back to town, I realized the embattlement of my generation;

It took crossing the pond to sense our intimacy had gone the wayside in the modernity of civilization.

I hide in my turtle shell, a rusty mermaid longing for the next lakeside vacation;

And pray the Lord restoreth his flock and protects us from intimidation.

 

To poke one’s head and tail, braving each urban day before friend or foe,

Our bonds cement like the dock at sunset beneath the wings of the crow.

Wood, steel, and fishing nets withstand the squall on the water’s surface,

The boats and passengers are the variables, and whatever luxuries they purchase.

 

If dam-keepers were to drain the savage watery machine would they find

Corpses, aviators, glass bottles, broken sharp-plastic too tough to grind?

Or perhaps something more spiritual manifests at the bottom of the lake,

For how many men have lost their souls aboard a ship floating on the jetty’s wake?

 

A part of me will never be the same again, though my rusty mermaid did I save.

Flotsam and jetsam of tallied sin I’ve mired will I take to my sea grave.

The buoyancy of time’s degradation makes it easier to escape to the cabin on the lake

Believe it be the age’s corruption which cannot penetrate on a sailor’s shoulders the sun baked.

 

I haven’t penned a poem in years! Here’s a picture of my lovely turtle, Ellie. The poem was inspired by true events, like actually seeing a different turtle on a rock at the shore this past weekend.

Ellie the turtle

Next time I go to my sanctuary in the woods, I will take a picture of the actual rusty mermaid for this blog. I’m planning a trip for this upcoming weekend to celebrate my birthday while in awe of nature.


“There are also a clean race of frogs and tortoises, and a few mussels in it; muskrats and minks leave their traces about it, and occasionally a travelling mud-turtle visits it. Sometimes, when I pushed off my boat in the morning, I disturbed a great mud-turtle which had secreted himself under the boat in the night.”-Henry David Thoreau, Walden

 

Achieve Inner Peace By Simplifying Your [Yoga] Routine

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I am no stranger to yoga. I teach yoga every Monday night after my day job ends once I commute across town to my local gym. Lately, I’ve really been complicating things, feeling as though I’ve been serving two masters. Those ambivalent forces are both ego and inner peace.

In Yoga Teacher Training back in 2012, I basically learned how to teach the Primary Series of staunch Ashtanga Yoga inside and out. As militant as it can be, it’s an easy fall back pattern in which to teach a class, especially if you begin with a Sun Salutations warm-up.

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However, with my aging body, Ashtanga just pisses me off. I want to complete the majority of the poses (and teach them) when my ego is in control of my mind, body, and spirit. People, this is not a good way to be! One of the main goals of the eight-limbed yoga path is to escape one’s detrimental ego.

Instead, I have found solace in Kundalini yoga. I achieve my workouts through bicycling, hiking, running, power walking with my family, and jumping on our mini trampoline. Hell, some days at the office I run around so much I know I achieve my cardio workout. So, do I still need to come home after clocking in a 10 hour day at the office only to beat myself up on the yoga mat with Ashtanga? No!

Kundalini is more spiritual and definitely more relaxing. Some of the kriyas (mini-workout sets) can involve hard breathing and strenuous working out causing cardio to occur. But overall, Kundalini feels like a date with a spa, albeit on my yoga mat. I even have a white fur rug I put onto of my lululemon mat to stimulate that pure white energy from the great beyond. I practice my Kundalini workout in my Zen room, which is painted white and sparsely decorated.

Tonight, I was pretty tired after a long day of work training and I did not want a hard workout. I turned on my smart phone’s YouTube app and loaded my usual Tibetan Singing Bowls 9 hour “song” video. But then I realized that there was a fresh storm outside, complete with night thunder and rain pelting my window. Talk about an electrical charge from Mother Nature!

The minimalist in me turned off the electronic device and cracked the window. I soaked in the natural sound of the storm while doing my Kundalini yoga “workout” tonight. Thunder and lightning can really give the conscious yogi a natural high!

If something is not bringing you joy, simplify until you find your inner peace. For me, that comes in the form of Kundalini yoga instead of Ashtanga, Bikram, or other forms of Hatha yoga. And why play artificial sounds when I can just tune into the natural music of nature?!

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“Every morning was a cheerful invitation to make my life of equal simplicity, and I may say innocence, with Nature herself.” -Henry David Thoreau, Walden

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A Facet of Minimalism is Not Being a Rigid Planner

“Why should we live with such hurry and waste of life? We are determined to be starved before we are hungry.”-Henry David Thoreau , Walden

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I am the world’s worst foresight maven; I want to know everything about to happen in order to map out each detail. Itineraries, meal schedules, and accounted-for downtime bring me a sense of inner peace. I get this meticulous anal-retentiveness from my dad. We are both about as spontaneous as DMV workers, sigh.

Bringing me out of my comfort zone are whacky, free-spirited friends and family members I encounter on the daily, especially my 4 year old! Yesterday at the “Sea Witch” RV, my dad was playing a table-top game of pool with my son at the breakfast nook. My mom and I struck up a conversation about how we had never been at Lake Guntersville on a Tuesday morning.

Having been a favorite weekend spot of mine, LG’s weekday life teeming on the streets is a whirl of mystery to me. Instead of having planned a day for hiking/biking/yoga/meditation/running at the RV Park, my mom talked me into exploring LG’s town proper.

Since my husband is a Type 1 Diabetic, he has given me advice that one should try to eat meals around the same time every day as to protect blood sugar from drastically rising/falling by eating in a different hour. I’ve grown accustomed to 11 AM o’clock lunches and 3 PM afternoon snacks. My mom was trying to throw off my usual 11 AM rigidity by wanting to travel around the city.

She won. First, we drove along the LG bridge and took in the white caps on the lake and how there weren’t many boats out on the water. That’s not something I’m used to seeing at 11 AM on a work-day of mine! What a pleasant detour from Big City work grind! Spring Break should happen like, every other month 🙂

Next, she drove us around a new road we’ve never gone down called Sunset Drive, which was coincidentally next to the liquor store and Piggly Wiggly where we do our shopping. To take in the scenery, my mom parked and we put on our light jackets to counter the breezy March morning.

I exited her car with just my iPhone, and not my big bulky handbag; my shoulder needed a break. She and I started walking along the seashell-filled shoreline of LG. We found out that the “park” was open to the public and had a running track, biking paths, picnic tables, a tennis court, and a swing set. Not bad at all! Since I was in lacy espadrilles, I declined a cardio walk at that time.

My mother was interrupted by a phone call on her mobile from my son asking her where she had put his toy. I took the opportunity to snap a few scenic shots and even a selfie.

We planned to come back for picnics and bike rides in the near future with the rest of the family and bid our adieus to that faction of LG.

Driving back in the downtown area, I asked if she would stop at a store I’ve never been in before. At the sake of keeping our adventure going, she obliged me. It was called The Savvy Stuff and looked to have outdoor furniture and décor. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular; I just wanted to see what awaited us inside.

The main surprise greeted us at the wrought iron fence, which roped off the outdoor pottery from the front door of the inside part of the store. The biggest dog I had ever seen in person sniffed me through the gate! I wish I had taken a picture of this Great Pyrenees. He was really sweet and belonged to the owner, whom we met inside. Monroe the dog immediately ran to me and I was a little bit shocked that a creature his size didn’t knock over anything or do any real damage to the antiques. The Savvy Stuff shop was chock full of hand-blown glassware, ornate furniture, and delicate trinkets which a Mastiff could easily trample. In the spirit of our whimsical journey, my mom and I spoke with the owner for half an hour about the town in general, since we were brand new quasi-residents after all.

Finally, we headed on to Arby’s and used my coupon for some free grub (that’s how we frugal people do!) to bring back to the RV. The only sour part of the unplanned morning was a depressing phone call from my grandma in the nursing home to my mom. She was confused about my great-grandmother who’s been dead since the 1980’s. While assuaging grandma’s dementia on her mobile, my mom nearly got us lost in a seedy part of LG. We calmed down grandma and found our way back to paradise.

The main lesson of the day is to just let go. Let the planning go. Be minimalistic in cognitive schemata by not trying to fit everything into a set schedule. It’s easier on the brain to just go-with-the-flow….me on lg