What is it About Living our Lives?

Congratulations, Susan and S.A.B.L.E., you’ve won the Sanyo rechargeable batteries and chargers! Please contact me at fivecoat@ozarkmountains.com before Wednesday with your snail mail addresses!

Now, for today’s post:

women35

I was interviewed this weekend for the nationally syndicated Real Estate Today Radio Show (Go down the page and you can click on my 8 minute segment).

It seems everyone is talking about the trend to downsizing to smaller homes. As I discussed in the article I wrote for Mother Earth News, Dale and I have never really been trend-setting types, and probably no one was more surprised than us when we heard about this growing interest in small homes.

But what surprised us first was the realization that we could even live permanently in such a small space.

When we first moved here, I was in a big hurry to find a way to expand our little house or build a larger one. I wanted my space and I wanted my stuff. I had a hard time with the idea that instead of living that “American Dream” and growing up from our “starter home,” we had actually downsized to something much smaller.

I was the biggest naysayer in our lives about living in a little house.

My friend, Tammy, over at Rowdy Kittens, had a good conversation going on her blog last week about naysayers. She and her husband, Logan, live what many would consider an unconventional lifestyle, giving up their cars and not only living large by living in a small space, but also doing quite well at adapting to the whole minimalist way of life, reducing all of the clutter, including the financial burdens of traditional modern living today.

She gives tips on dealing with the naysayers and asks what do you say to the naysayers?
My reply was that I had been dealing with naysayers all of my adult life.

There was one subject Dale and I didn’t budge to the naysayers. We decided in our 20s that we didn’t want biological children, for a host of reasons too numerous to go into here.

We heard it all, “You’re too young to be making this type of a decision.” (I’m still not quite sure why we were too young to decide we didn’t want children, but would have been celebrated if I had come up pregnant), “You’re going to regret it,” “What will you do when you’re old?” and the one meant to throw the most guilt onto us, “Do you know how many people want children and can’t?”

In the 1980s when we made this decision, it was still very rare and one we learned that people took weirdly personal, as if our decision was some reflection on their choices. Today, it’s called “Childless by Choice” and is much more accepted. In the 1980s, we were labeled “Double Income No Children,” or DINCs by pop culture (That acronym even screams abnormal). We were called “selfish” and I even remember watching a talk show once in which people who had children were pitted against people who decided not to have children and they nearly came to a fistfight. It really even caused some bad feelings in my own family.

Sometimes I detect some of that same venom reading comments on Internet chat boards about living in a small house.  I didn’t encounter any naysayers on the radio show this past weekend, although the host expressed surprise a married couple could live together in that small of a house without killing each other!

However, in reading posts on other articles that’s been out lately on living in small spaces, people sometimes get downright rabid, as if our choice to live in a little house is somehow a reflection of their lives.

If environmental factors for living small are mentioned in the article, someone will post about small house inhabitants “wanting everyone to live in the woods, eating berries and nuts.” I’ve also read posts where people call us “crazy” and “stupid.”

I’m not quite sure why bucking the “norm” causes such a backlash with some. We’re really not subverts planting ideas into everyone’s heads about how to live their lives, we’re only trying to find happiness in ours!

We all have to live the life that best suits us, no matter what the naysayers think or how uncomfortable our life choices make them about theirs.

Any ideas, readers?

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33 Responses

  1. Sevai says:

    Food was very good. Curry was delicious and creamy, for mild spice the vegetable biriyani was a bit hot but not intollerable. Service was very good as well. Naan was not spectacular at all though. Cozy atmosphere

  2. Sheila says:

    My last home was about 2500 sq. ft. and I loved it. However, I was raising 4 children at the time, and it was perfect for a family of 6.

    Today I’m working on our very small property to construct our very small home.

    AND EVERYONE THINKS I’M NUTS!

    I have held off for 10 years on this dream of mine, and although it’s not JUST because of what others think about it, and that I’m crazy, but I can’t rule all of it out either.

    The pushing of others did keep my husband in limbo for a long time, and their words did keep him from getting “Off the Couch” and on with LIVING OUR LIVES. (not theirs)

    It’s people like you that help others see that things can be as “normal” if you are just willing to “Do It”

    I read your story in Mother Earth News, and showed it to him, and it was like a light bulb went off. For the first time, he could see that others DID live this way, and hey, the place looks a lot like ours, only finished! Wow, maybe this isn’t so bad after all!!!!!

    He has known all along that we needed little space to live, we live small now, but just couldn’t make the move.

    Today I’m almost in tears that he FINALLY GETS IT!

    10 years is a very long time to wait to fulfill a dream, and a path that you know is perfect for you and your love ones, and it’s also wonderful that people like you, are here to help get us through the rocky road to the finish line.

    Bless you for sharing your life, your work, and yourself with us.

    PS I also posted on Mother Earth News, your an angel, and I can’t thank you enough.

    I can finally “Go Home”

    • I’m so happy for you, Sheila! Thank you for sharing your story here with us on Living Large! I hope you stick around for more stories and I’m very glad that our story had such an impact on your life!

      • Sheila says:

        Impact doesn’t even begin to explain what has happened to me since reading your story.
        I know it’s only been hours, but when something touches on literly every single problem I had about my home, it is life changing in the most powerful way you can immagine.

        The last 7 months of questions and worry just vanished, and the most important part is, that my confidence is so strong now, that I had not even realized that it had left me so stripped of it, until I wrote to you here.

        I’ve always been the strong one in the family. When I knew what was right, I just did it. Somewhere along the line I got off course, and I didn’t even know it.

        Living life OUR WAY was missing, and the NAYSAYERS had had an impact that I didn’t even know existed until now.

        It was actually my husband that stopped me, I sure didn’t want him to be miserable, but then I realized he had been duped, and in turn it duped me.

        He has depended on me to be the “Homemaker” “Mover” “Doer” for 43 years, and this was no time for us to start letting others guide our lives.

        NAYSAYERS can jump in a lake, I’M BACK, and I’m thrilled to death for finally getting the answer to all of my prayers.

        Since I can just about chew nails right now, and I’ve been up all night, maybe it’s time for some sleep before I explode.

        Bless you, and Thank you again for your words of wisdom.

        • kerri says:

          Thank you, Sheila. Readers of Living Large also have an impact on my life as well. As you might have read, things haven’t went as smoothly as we had planned when we moved to our dream here, and your tenacity and energy is catching. 🙂
          Sweet dreams of living life your way!

  3. Sandra says:

    Ya know if you would have said to me 5 yrs ago that I was going to have to become a vegetarian except aloud to have fish. I would have told you you were nuts. But here I am. My husband had to for health reasons. One being his cholesteral was extremely high. With diet and supplements (no herbs) we have lowered it to 179. He has to have the fish for the protein and other benefits. Do I miss it. No not after visiting Mexico and seeing one of our slaughter houses there that stunk sooo bad I thought I was going to throw up and that was just driving by the place!

  4. Cindyt says:

    Hi Kerri; I think your post totally resonates with those of us who march to a different drummer! There will always be nay sayers for what ever decision one makes in life. Our challenge is to be strong with our choices and enjoy the differences we make in the world around us. I think the happier we are with ourselves the less we are bothered by those that want to question our choices. Believe me I have marched to many a ‘different drum’ and banged on a few along the way! 🙂 It is what makes the patchwork quilt of Life even more colorful. Cindyt

    • kerri says:

      You’re right, Cindy. It is great to march to our own tune! Ironically, when looking for a quote from the movie “Groundhog Day” the other morning to post to my FB page, I found this: “The more you know who you are, and what you want, the less you let things upset you.” –Bob (Bill Murray), “Lost in Translation”

  5. Rae says:

    No one has the right to criticize your choice not to have children. I waited twelve years to have kids and during that time I didn’t have any negative comments except from my mother who wanted grandchildren and was convinced we were only going to have cats! I think most people push it because they don’t want you to miss that experience -and I am always grateful that I had my three- but raising kids isn’t easy and it isn’t for everyone. People should remember that if we all made the same choices the world would be a pretty dull place.

    • Thanks for commenting, Rae. For those who have the reasons to have children, we came up with just as many for not having them.
      Strangely, it was not our parents who gave us grief over not having them, my mom didn’t mind we never had kids and even called our dogs our “granddogs!” It was people who didn’t bother to ask the reasons or who didn’t know us that decided to pre-judge it as “selfish. None of the reasons we had didn’t have anything to do with being selfish, quite the opposite.
      I agree, diversity in all forms is what makes the world spin!

  6. Mrs. Money says:

    We live in a house around 1500 sq ft now and I keep telling hubby that if we move, I want to downsize. He thinks I’m crazy but I think it would be awesome!

  7. Meredith says:

    I often find myself name dropping about your blog when the conversation turns to folks saying that a 1200 sq ft home seems “too squeezed.” Well, I live in a home smaller than that, I say, and then tell them about your house – and to take a look at your blog for pix of how lovely it is! (It’s kind of fun!)

  8. I’ve lived the “road less traveled” by my choice to have lots of children, 11 of them. A desire I had since I was a little girl. I’ve had people make negative comments, but everyone has to live their own lives as we all have different desires and callings.

  9. S.A.B.L.E. says:

    Kerri, Thanks for ahead of time for the batteries and charger.

    I guess I’ve taken the road less traveled for much of my life. Each of us needs to make choices that are best for us. Being happy as well as a good decent person along the way is important.

    A toast to all of us who have taken the road less traveled!!!!

  10. Heather says:

    Hi Kerri,

    Your comment about the heat you’d take regarding not having kids really struck a cord with me. Sadly, I met most of these nosey Parkers at church. I can’t tell you how many times women (mothers) would completely ignore me and not even say hello just because I wasn’t one of them. It was absolutely pitiful. And they’d pop them out like candy too, without nary a thought.  I guess we all have the potential, though, to disagree with a lifestyle just because it isn’t ours, kind of like the ex-smoker on his high horse. What should we do about these folks? I would say we should consider carefully what they have to say, their motives, and then, if there is nothing useful there, chuck it out. Not letting what people think bother us is very hard to do, but I think it’s an art worth learning, in most cases.

  11. Alexandra says:

    I wish more newcomers to our little town chose to live large in small houses!

  12. Kathleen Winn says:

    It’s interesting that so many have commented about being criticized for being vegetarian,because that’s immediately what I thought of when reading your post. When our daughter was ten years old she announced that she was going to be vegetarian and she would not allow another piece of meat to pass her lips. I thought “right, this girl loves chicken nuggets enough to eat them seven days a week. This is a passing fad.” How wrong I was!

    I told her we would go to the doctor and see what he had to say about a ten year old giving up meat. I honestly thought the doctor would talk her out of it by pointing out the nutritional needs of a ten year old and how it might harm her to be vegetarian. Instead, the doctor praised her for making such a healthy nutritional choice in her diet at such young age! Would that others could have been as supportive!

    I was roundly criticized by friends and family alike for allowing my daughter to do such an irresponsible and unhealthy thing. It didn’t seem to matter that I had the blessing of a very competent doctor in making this decision- people were certain that my daughter would end up having her teeth and hair fall out and a brain addled by lack of protein.

    It was amazing to me how strong the reaction was to a choice that did not affect anyone but our own family. I soon came to realize that in allowing my daughter to reject meat, people somehow took it as an indictment of their own diet. Now that she is an adult and a vegan- she tells me that the hardest part of her dietary choice is not the diet itself, it’s constantly having to defend it to people who are ignorant about nutrition. I say “NAY!” to naysayers!

  13. Susan says:

    First let me thank you for being selected as one of the winners for the Sanyo rechargeable batteries and charger.
    Also just listened to your radio interview. Nice to have a voice to go with the face. I am sure you wish you had faces to put to all of us.

    It is a shame that people have to put down others when that choose to live another way. I have friends that have never had kids and some never married not to mention 3 of my 4 kids have never married or had kids. Their choice.
    I also admire people that will buck the norm to live they way they choose. If my mother was not still living I would not be living here in this large home, 1800 sq ft and bought because we had 4 kids living at home still. We have lived in smaller homes and did rent a vacation cabin in TN a few years back that was 400 sq ft that I could have lived in easily. The only thing I would have done is separate the bedroom from the living area, like how you discussed in your radio talk. Of course would not have a whirl pool in there either 🙂
    I feel people need to start thinking about doing less consuming,wether it is buying less, conserving energy, or living in a smaller home which you would end up doing all of those things. I do better than some and of course not as well as others. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said people may think it is a reflection on how they live their lives. My guess a lot of those individuals are probably jealous and lash out to try to make you look bad and make themselves feel better because deep down they don’t like their lifestyle.
    Well, enough of my ramblings. You just keep on blogging and bucking the norm so we can keep on enjoying your website.

    • Thanks, Susan, for listening to the radio segment. It was fun!
      I think you’re right on a lot of your points. I think it makes people think about their own choices and sometimes that not a good thing.
      Enjoy those batteries!

  14. Brian says:

    “However, in read ing posts on other arti cles that’s been out lately on liv ing in small spaces, peo ple some times get down right rabid, as if our choice to live in a little house is some how a reflec- tion of their lives.”

    Making a decision is always also saying I choose to NOT do something else. I am a vegetarian. I don’t push this decision off on others around me. However, a month doesn’t go by that I don’t receive some kind of good natured criticism. The fact is that my decision, lived out personally, makes those around me a tiny bit uncomfortable. Living in any fashion that is countercultural, however currently defined, will generate some level of push back.

    • Susan says:

      Hi Brian, I’m a vegetarian also and the rest of my family isn’t…my choice right. When I go to a restuarant with my sister in law and her husband he will always say to the waiter, “have you ever seen a vegetarian before” then points to me. It is surprising how many people look down on you because you choose to eat like that. And when you go to their house to eat they wonder what you can eat..duh all the side dishes. Of course if you are vegan that can be more difficult. Like you I don’t push my choice on others, although my husband eats vegetarian meals more often than not since I’m the cook. I do fix meat for him about 2 to 3 times a week.

      • Brian and Susan, I too, have seen the same with people who are vegetarians. I don’t get that either, but I think you’re right, Brian, anything against the grain that defines the current “norm” is subject to ridicule.

  15. Women have always been surrounded by naysayers when they follow their dreams and don’t do what women have done over the years being a housekeeper and raising their young.