Tammy Strobel, Trust, and Simplicity

September 26, 2012

Rowdy Kittens Sketch

One of the most astonishing things about trust, to me, is how relevant it is to so many life arenas. Work, relationships, body image, food choices, environmental concerns, spirituality, time spent online – the list goes on and on!

So I’m delighted, today, to welcome my friend Tammy to this space to talk about the trust tending she’s done in recent years around stuff, and specifically around her moves to release as much of her stuff as possible as a way to free time, space, and resources for the things that truly make her happy.

Tammy’s newest book, You can buy happiness (and it’s cheap), just hit bookstores last week, and she joins us here to talk about what’s gone on in her heart and mind as she transitioned, with her husband Logan, from two cars, traditional housing, and a mound of debt to debt-free, carless living in a 128 square foot “tiny home” (read more about their story here).

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1. Can you talk about the emotions you’ve experienced through the different stages of your simplifying process? Sometimes just hearing someone speak honestly about such stages builds a sense of comfort and trust in those of us just embarking on a more radical paring-down process.

I experienced a wide range of emotions as I simplified my life. As we downsized, I felt scared, uncertain, excited, and happy. I believe all of these emotions are normal and come along with any kind of life change. With that being said, being aware of my emotions made simplifying my life a little easier. For example, when I felt scared or anxious I wrote in my journal and took photos. Both photography and journaling help me — and still help me — understand my emotions.

2. I’m curious about the less overt ways that your lifestyle has shaped your inner world. I’m wondering what your biggest fears were before simplifying your life and then, further, what your biggest fears are now.

When I began to simplify my life, I was fearful that my choices would not be tolerated by friends and family. Simplifying my life hasn’t erased my fears, but it’s helped me understand my emotions. For instance, we recently moved and not being accepted by our new community is something that scares me. And I think that’s normal. As humans, we want to be accepted by friends, family, and our larger community because we’re social creatures.

3. I think you’re so right! Is there a part of you that wishes, sometimes, that you were living more like everyone else? Or even activities (grocery shopping, hosting people, etc.) that leave you wistful about owning a car or having a bigger space? I’m so curious what the psychology is of tiny house life!

Living in a little house and not owning a car works for us 95% of the time. However, there are moments when I want a bigger house. For instance, when my mom visits it gets a little cramped in our tiny dwelling. We always have fun, but part of me wants to offer my mom more space and a private bathroom too. In the past, we’ve put her up at a bed and breakfast and that is a fun option. But I always love having my mom stay with us.

Overall, I love our little house. Sometimes we run into challenges but we also faced challenges when we had a larger dwelling (and a car) too. Whenever I feel the pull of wanting more, I try to practice gratitude. I’m grateful for what I have in this moment. I might not have an extra guest room, but I do have money and time to be generous in other ways.

4. What assumptions about happiness did you have as a new adult? What are your beliefs about it now?

In my early twenties, I thought happiness could be bought at the mall or by impressing my peers. Now, I believe happiness can be found in everyday experiences, through strong relationships and in small pleasures too. Happiness is many things, like practicing gratitude and reading comments on my blog.

5. Sometimes I feel like the internet is an enormous, gangly house, full of people and mounds and mounds of stuff. I feel overwhelmed and weighed down by it. Have you discovered connections between the simplifying you’ve done in your offline world and the way you engage your life online? I’m curious if you’ve found ways to be as spacious and simple online as you are in your physical space.

The online world is an amazing place, but it’s also very overwhelming. To maintain my values in the virtual world, I’ve adopted a few rules to simplify how I engage online, including:

  • I unplug for an hour or more everyday, which means I don’t check my email, blog comments, or social networks. I’ve also taken digital sabbaticals too.
  • I don’t “follow” or “friend” everyone online.
  • I only use social networks that bring me joy. Right now the social network that I use the most is Instagram.
  • I follow blogs, websites, and radio programs that bring joy to my life.
  • And last but not least, I don’t try to “keep up” anymore.

(Kristin’s note: Don’t you just breathe a lovely sigh after that list??)

6. What are a couple of approaches that we in this community might take as we read your book? – any suggestions?

Remember to take notes as your read the book. Whenever I read a book, I always write down quotes and tips for future reference. The act of writing tips down cements new ideas in my mind and makes it easier to adopt new habits too.

Also, as you’re reading the book talk to your friends and family about ideas that emerge. For example, if you’ve been thinking of going car-lite or doing the 100 Thing Challenge ask a friend to try the experiment with you. Doing activities with others is a great way to be accountable to yourself and your family. It’s so much fun working on micro-actions with others!

Thanks so much for being here, Tammy! I hope you’ll buy Tammy’s book and explore more of her life as a writer, photographer and tiny house enthusiast at her blog, RowdyKittens.com.

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Trust Habits, my 30-day trust UP, begins Monday. If following Tammy’s lead into meaningful change is something you’d like the courage and chutzpah to do – whether that change has to do with living more simply or not – join us!

Are you new here? If so, welcome! This post is a great distillation of what I believe about trust. And for a free book that introduces a core trust tending skill, click here. I’m so glad you stopped by!

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