intentional by DESIGN

“Recognizing the need is the primary condition for design.” Charles Eames

I have always been more about practical than pretty.  When I got my first job as a teen, I remember my mom’s advice was to “buy separate pieces, not dresses, they are far more versatile and practical and you can mix and match and buy less.” That advice along with much more has held me in good stead for decades, always choosing functionality first, design second, and in the best of both worlds, they’ve come as package deal. During my first stay in Sweden, I recall how well the furniture ‘operated’ in the homes I visited.  I so appreciated the practical, and multi- purpose pieces I saw; beautiful to look at but always simple, smart, and so functional.  And while some might favour this love of function as a nod to frugality, for me, I just love when things ‘work’ and when they serve more than one purpose, that ticks all the boxes.   

When I met with our house designer for the first time, he asked me the usual questions; where was the property, how big a house, what was our budget?  And then the bigger ones; why were we building, what was our vision, what mattered most about this new home?

What I appreciate most about John, was that he got us.  He designs using a holistic approach that reflects well on paper and we hope, in the finished build. He understands what we are trying to achieve with our last chapter, our intentional lifestyle, and our limited resources. 

Some of our design requirements include: an ‘accessible’ home, that meets our needs now and can adapt to the future, a public side and a private side, rooms that are not defined by name but rather by function. So, while on a drawing, they may need distinction, we purposefully haven’t built permanence into the design. For example, our bedroom is a bedroom only if we deem that it’s the best fit; if we put a bed in there, if we indeed sleep in the space.  There are no built-in cupboards or closets so we are able to design based on how we want to use a room; what happens there, where does the light fall, and how does this place flow into others. By not building in permanent structures, we are able to design and redesign as time passes and requirements change.  If at some point, we are unwell and need to sleep in a larger space with easy access to the outside and lots of natural light, then perhaps our bed moves into the larger space, and a ‘living room’ becomes a ‘sleeping room’. If we need to isolate for any reason, to write a novel or do yoga in private, then we have another space that allows for that. If we want to invite many people over to share our table, then we can place a table in the best possible location; inside, outside, whatever works best for that gathering.   

Within our adaptable spaces, we expect to choose our furniture with the same intention. What we move into the house needs to serve more than one function, two is great, three or more, even better.  So, we are not hung up on a ‘kitchen table’, we simple have a table or tables that can serve as a dining space, a working space, a reading space, a bread making space, a place to create.  Cupboards are also free to live wherever it works best.  If we need to house clothes, then we can put a cupboard in where we dress, if we need to house dishes, then we can put a cupboard in where we make food, and if we don’t need a cupboard, we simply won’t have one.  Keeping in mind that we intend to bring very little into our new space, we hope that we will need few places to house ‘things’. Benches must include storage, tables must fold and expand, everything must be useful, and if it’s beautiful, that’s a bonus. Function is more important to me than form.  There won’t be shelves for things to simply sit upon, there won’t be boxes to simply hide things in, items will be permitted to stay if they can prove their worth.  For those who are imagining a home without beauty, art, and colour, fear not, there will be creations and makings, but with more windows than walls, just fewer of them.

If you have visions of entering our new house and seeing only a chair and a plate, don’t worry.  There will be modern and historical pieces, artwork and beautiful furniture, but it will have been put there with intention, on purpose and with purpose.  We intend to incorporate ‘functional minimalism’ which is defined as a more mindful approach to purchasing, owning, and organizing physical goods and operates on one central tenant – you should only own things that you value. 

For me it’s not about being more organized, purging, or finding better storage solutions.  It’s about intentionality. It’s about deowning, not just decluttering. As Joshua Becker says in Becoming Minimalist, “At its core, being a minimalist means intentionally promoting the things we most value and removing everything that distracts us from it. It is a life that forces intentionality upon us. As a result, it forces improvements in almost all aspects of your life.”

Our hope is that as we age and the woods and weather change, the place we soon call home, will continue to meet us where we are. We hope it can evolve alongside us, until our current living space becomes our final resting place, all going well.    

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Bookcase that is also a table and 2 chairs – designed by Sakura Adachi

Coffin designed by William Warren -first launched at the British Library during the 2005 London Design Festival.  We haven’t bought this, but I like the way he thinks!

FRAME of reference

I have always had the ability to envision, to form a mental picture including size, texture, and colour. It’s been helpful as an event planner to be able to view an empty space and see what’s happening there; the band on stage, fully dressed dining tables, the flow of guests at the buffet, the lighting, a completely decorated room.  

Even with the architectural drawings and a concrete slab with colourfully chalked rooms, a finished house has been somewhat harder to imagine; waking up to the view, showering outdoors, eating breakfast at the kitchen island.  Now that walls have arrived, my senses are in overdrive, in a good way!  

What a frame does is it defines the container in which everything finds its place or attempts to fit within imposed boundaries. It outlines the edges from which we can then find our central focus.  For me it has helped my mind’s eye place furniture as well as place us in our new life. Like a camera that captures the present moment, I am able to see us at home, dining outdoors, resting indoors, and moving from room to room. I can sense a measured approach to living, imagine a slower pace of doing, smell the conifers ouside our bedroom windows. 

That ability to envision along with the plan’s proposed measurements has allowed us to better design the spaces that we will soon find ourselves in; to place furniture, to organize function, and to imagine the flow of life there.    

With our space being limited and becoming more defined each day, we are now able to design with intention what we will bring into our new home. We can determine what won’t fit the spaces and what won’t fit our lifestyle. Working with this frame of reference allows us to clearly design a way of living that allows for movement and flow as well as fixed forms and distinct function; and as is often in art and advertising, white space is key.  

So our earliest discussions around design now become decisions around what’s pragmatic; what goes and what stays, what’s really needed and what’s mostly wanted, what’s of value, and what still brings us joy. By the time we pack up, we hope to have a clearly defined plan as well as a very limited number of items to shift from one house to another.  And because we have our eyes set on the future, we are designing with the end in view.  Not only have our needs changed, our numbers have changed. When we moved into our current home, we were seven.  When we move into our new house, we will be two, and with a much smaller footprint.

So as we begin to walk the chalk edged rooms, we anticipate what will fit within the lines, and not only how the house frames the spaces, but how our home will frame the next part of our journey.

a sense of PLACE

Recently, during a break in the build, and with some time on our hands, we decided to reflect on leaving our home of 25 years; what will we take with us, what will we leave behind, what has this place and home meant to us.  

I grew up in different houses; my parents bored easily so they looked forward to new builds and new towns. I didn’t take my friendships with me so I didn’t age with a sense of belonging.  My husband grew up in one house, in a small village in Scotland and to this day, returns often and still maintains friendships with nine of the men who shared his childhood; he knows where he belongs.

When we moved together in 1995, it was to join my parents and to create a home for all of us to grow and age, to live and die.  Our children were 3 ½, 3 ½ and 7.  My parents were 72 and 66.  Tom and I were somewhere in between.  The deal was we’d stay for at least 20 years, to create a sense of place, to build community and to forge lifelong friendships.  

It would be a fresh start for all, a place to live through many of life’s pleasures; school concerts, new jobs, first loves, birthdays, visitors, parties, driving licenses, dance recitals, holidays, anniversaries, soccer tournaments, first tattoos, celebrations; the stuff of love and life. And it would be where we would also endure our share of hardship, tragedies, accidents, surgeries, depression, heartbreak, funerals, sadness, arguments, break ups, leaving home; the stuff of love and life. Over time, our family has become smaller, our hearts have broken open, our bodies have aged.  Through it all we have opened our doors to many; shared our table, our money, our cars, our garden, our stuff, our time, our energy, ourselves.  

So when we leave later this year, we will take it all with us, in our hearts, in the life that lines our faces.  We are 25 years older and  filled with gratitude for what this house has been to us; a container in which to hold our lives, a place to call home, our safe place to land.

Few things will travel to our next home.  My parents’ belongings are long gone, we saved only some published works and a string of pearls. Our children’s things left home when they did, I don’t need the past, when I still have them in my present.  When we try to hang on to things, what we really long for is the memory of that past; what happened there, in that dress, around that table, with that loved one.   

This is where my mother and father died and the place we left for almost a year to take care of my dying mother in law. It’s where some passed exams, fell in love, fell out of love, learned to ride bikes and drive cars, lost teeth, built go karts, learned to cook, celebrated milestones, lost friendships, found confidence, laughed out loud, developed their strengths, found their voice, walked their truth.

What is it about leaving that makes us grieve, what is it about arriving that makes us cheer?  I think we long for a past we are certain of, a memory preserved. If we were truly present when it happened though, then we can’t really ever leave it behind, it’s already gone. 

So, whatever comes our way, we’ll be OK.  We are on steady ground here,  we trust what this new house will give us; a sense of place, a chance to belong and friends to welcome through our new front door.  And, no matter what happens, we’ll all still have each other.

Next time….let the framing begin.

how SLOW can you go?

“The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.” Alan Watts

For more than two decades, I have been a proponent of ‘slow living’ and more recently, a fan of Brooke McAlary. Having been born in Toronto, and later a commuter in the corporate world, speed is in my DNA.    

So, moving to Vancouver Island, and in particular Sidney, was like putting on the brakes for meandering wildlife to make its way across the road.  It required an almost immediate adjustment.  In the early days, I will admit to being frustrated in the grocery store while neighbours and staff alike, asked after our health and happiness, but it didn’t take long to realize that this was about being in community and a beautiful way of life. When you live and work in a fast-paced environment, you adapt or die, it’s almost impossible to swim against the current.  And while I tried for a few years before abandoning a life out east altogether, it was a completely different situation having arrived on the west coast.  The waves were lapping instead of crashing, life was moving at a much gentler pace and time was not the enemy. And, just so there is no confusion, I am not talking boring, I am talking slow. And while it may not be for everyone, I do think that the pandemic has forced us collectively as a planet, to slow down, and at times to stop, which has given many the pause and permission they required.    

Now, and for the past 25 years, we enjoy a much more simple, tranquil, and slow life; we are the better for it, no question.  Don’t get me wrong, my favourite holiday destinations are still cities, and I will always be a city girl at heart, but that doesn’t mean that our needs don’t change and that we can’t find another way to live, especially if it contributes to us living our best life.  What I want now, is even more time, to stroll, to wander, to think, to create and to simply be.  I want to slow it all down, wash my dishes by hand, read a book for more than a few chapters, garden for hours, and swim for days.  And I want to continue to do one thing at a time, with intention, and to do it well.  I want to walk to a slower beating drum.

Building a house has been the latest lesson in ‘slow’ although some might suggest it’s been more a lesson in ‘delay’.  It has afforded us time to make thoughtful decisions, without distraction and without deadline pressures. Often, I find, that because we have an almost too full ‘to do’ list, we feel required to also do it at lightening speed. For me, this is more a function of the list being too long rather than there not being enough time.  So rather than wish for more hours, and more haste, I wish for fewer things to accomplish, and more time to contemplate; why I’m doing them, what’s the best way to get them done, and the most important question, does it actually need doing? 

For those who are wondering, I am not ‘retired’, in fact I don’t really subscribe to that all or nothing notion.  I am still working, albeit less, and contributing, accomplishing, adventuring, volunteering, and living life to the fullest.  All the while, I continue to adjust to our new rural environment, recognizing what’s different, accepting the limitations and celebrating the opportunities.  I am adjusting my sails to changing winds and looking forward to a time of living slowly, but Shirley.

till DEATH us do part

When we married in our late teens, we took ‘till death us do part’ out of the vows we read; we just weren’t comfortable signing off on that level of commitment.   Now, nearly 40 years on, we are looking at our final chapter and making plans to support each other at end of life. All going well, we have designed a house to help us age in place and die at home.

When our parents moved in with us almost 25 years ago, it was to raise our children with their elders, eventually supporting them in a home-based death. With our parents now gone, we look forward to a time when we might be able to achieve the same type of end, this time supported by our now grown children.

The standard refrain, heard by many when choosing a new home or a new neighbourhood is “where do we want to live?”  We agonize over the best location, square footage, the good schools, and the closest amenities.  What we don’t often ask ourselves, is “how do we want to live” and even more important to us, “how do we want to die”. And while I recognize it’s not an easy conversation, it is an important one and the sooner we talk and design our best life, the better chance we have of dying a good death.

When we worked with our planner on the house design, we explained that we were future planning, including our inevitable demise.  We wanted our home to grow old alongside us, adaptive to changing needs over time, and available to us in our last days, providing what we might need for comfort and for care.

So, while the house is on the smaller side, 850 square feet, it’s on the smarter side too.  We are building a one level home, with a no step entry, a public and private side, and no stairs to climb. With wider doorways throughout, we will be able to accommodate wheelchair/walker access.  We have a large enough shower in the main bathroom, to roll in a wheelchair. Our bedroom has no fixed closets or furniture, so we can accommodate a hospital bed if needed, and the best view possible.  The layout is designed for ease and comfort in open plan living, with triple glazed windows and an energy efficient heating and cooling system that won’t include chopping wood. There is plenty of natural light to aid our mental wellbeing and we are surrounded by nature, which is good for the soul. In the best-case scenario, we won’t need to utilize our forward-facing design and we’ll be healthy and mobile until the end.  But if not, we know that we have put in a great deal of thought with a view to staying at home as long as possible in our community, and with our family. 

Designing the place is one thing, designing the life is another.  Those of you who are familiar with The Blue Zones, will know that there are five places where people  consistently live the healthiest and longest lives on the planet.  They share some similar characteristics and while there are no guarantees, our intention is to continue to live this mostly already adopted lifestyle, in the hope that it will serve us long after our arrival in Shirley. There will be plenty to do; grow food, walk trails, surf and swim. We’ll have few mechanical conveniences; no dishwasher or microwave, or other gadgets to make life easier or faster – we’ll continue to live ‘slow’.  We’ll down shift and shed stress and live by the 80% rule for eating, and that eating will continue to be mostly plant based.  We’ll strive to live with purpose, grounded in a spiritual journey, and connected to our community. And if they’re right, by staying in our house as long as possible, living very close to our children, and staying committed to a life partner, we’ll live and die better.  And if fate dictates that we have to leave our home for reasons of care or safety, we’ll do so in the knowledge that we did our best and held out as long as we could, in a home that tried hard to live up to our ageing expectations.

a LEAP of faith

In 1992, having recently had twin boys, we started a conversation around change; how could we raise our children with one parent at home? What might life look like if I gave up my career? And so, after much soul searching and a brief chat with our bank manager, we made the decision, to move, 3200 miles to start a new life.  My husband was going to try a new profession and I was going to leave mine and help raise our three children.  

In 1995, having lived only 2 ½ years in Calgary, we started a conversation around change; could we move to Victoria, live with my parents, raise our children with their elders, and help those elders to age in place and die at home?  

In 2017, we started a conversation around change; could we find a way to support each other as a family, create an intentional community, age in place and die at home?  

And here we are 25 years on from our move to the Island, building a small home in the woods, and receiving similar feedback to what we received each time we’ve announced a new adventure; some call us adventurous, gutsy, bold, and courageous, still others suggest that we’re naïve, foolish, ill informed, and cavalier. When we left Toronto, many felt we were giving up more than we would gain by moving; a great life, good money, career advancement.  When we left Calgary, with no job prospects and no home, some said we were courting disaster, being irresponsible, and making an ill-informed decision.   

And now as we embark on the biggest adventure yet, at an age when most are considering slowing down and taking things easy, we are hearing those concerned voices once again.  Many think we should stay in town where we can be close to services and hospitals, are able to walk everywhere and where there are fewer unknowns.  I appreciate that for the most part, the advice comes from a place of concern, friendship and even love, and here’s the thing… they might be right, we could take a different path, and many have and love it.  However, if I learned anything from volunteering in Palliative Care, it’s that life is shorter than we realize. Many at end of life regret not taking more chances, not walking more adventurous paths, and having lived much of their life in fear. I know people who have been waiting their whole life to have an adventure or make their dream a reality. The challenge is to feel the fear and do it anyway, to weigh the risk against the reward, to figure out why and why not?  I have always thought that rather than run away from something, it might serve us better to run toward something else instead. And rather than wondering what might go wrong, to give some credence to what might go very right, the best-case scenario instead of the worst. 

The truth is that most of us will live less than one hundred years and that all of us are going to die.   And while not everyone has agency over their lives, and many are limited by circumstance and other deciding factors, the invitation is there, to take what you are able to, permitted to, lucky enough to, healthy enough to, and not to waste it.  I’m not suggesting that everyone needs to sail around the world, sell all their possessions, or live in a remote location to find their true selves; especially if you are already living your best life.  What I am saying is that it might just be worth taking a chance on that little voice that is trying so desperately to be heard, or the dream that is waiting to be born, or the change that is waiting to happen. 

This adventure may not work out as planned.  This road newly traveled may be challenging, bring tears as well as joy, and turn out to be a truly difficult journey. For us, we can’t ignore the invitation for adventure, must heed the voice that leads us forward, and be true to ourselves and to each other. We will all die; either with unrealized potential and dreams that never took flight, or having listened when our heart beckoned; surely living scared cannot be worse than dying safe. 

 

HOME away from HOME

In a former life, and for more than 11 years, I travelled 90 kilometers daily for a job I loved in Toronto. For the most part, I enjoyed the trek, however, through the years, the scenery changed from green to grey with neighbourhood views replaced by concrete sound barriers.  By the time I left that life, my morning commute took 75 minutes.      

Fast forward and I’ve been working from home on Vancouver Island for more than a decade. My most recent commute has been a rather short one; a few minutes down the hallway to my dining table, a view of neighbouring homes and gardens and a schedule that requires using a car only once a week; a much better work/life balance than I had in the Big Smoke.

Our Shirley build is another 75-minute drive from home, and while much of it includes spectacular scenery along winding roads, it has meant almost three hours in the car some days, which has led us to make a temporary and part time move to the building site.  

When interviewing others who have also taken the plunge to build, many solutions were shared; staying put and driving back and forth, renting near the build site, living with nearby family, and selling the existing home and living onsite in trailers or huts.

For us, what has made the most sense, and while we are both still working, is to live part time here and part time there, a home and a home away from home.  We are however, talking about two very different homes. 

Our temporary Shirley abode is a decades old tent trailer, reminiscent of the wonderful summer holidays our family shared when I was a child. I have very happy memories of Expo 67, lying on one side of the trailer with my Mrs. Beasley doll, while laughing at my brothers’ jokes from the other side, and falling asleep listening to the fire crackling outside. I am far from 7 now and quite certain that the new memories are going to be very different.  While the view from the front door is spectacular, the look inside is dated and tired. Luckily, the roof doesn’t leak and our snoring scares the bears.  Steps away from our future bed, we tell ourselves it’s all part of the adventure, and while I no longer have Mrs. Beasley, I still keep my flashlight nearby, and walk very briskly to the portable toilet just as I did way back when.    

Our trailer is a 2-minute walk to the meditation corner, a fire pit where we can distance ourselves, and our family’s trailers, leaving us close enough to feel the love and the heat. We have what we need; tasty food, clean water, and great company.  There is nothing quite like waking to the sound of songbirds and the buzz of bees… and saws. 

So, for now, we are camping, living alongside our family of builders, dividing our time between two different worlds. And while I never thought I would be living in a tent at this age, we are grateful to be safe, warm, and dry, when so many others in this world are not.  Less time on the road, means more time on the land; close enough to have conversations and make decisions while we adjust to our new locale, roughing it now to make way for the smooth life later on.    

Show me the MONEY

One of the most challenging aspects of our new build has been managing the budget.  Don’t get me wrong, I have been managing money for a long time, and I learned its value very young. 

I grew up in a house where finances were private, an adult arena. I didn’t know about mortgages or hydro bills; it was considered vulgar to talk about money, especially in front of the children. My parents were raised working class, so as a result, I was working for my allowance at an early age, babysitting for airfares by the time I was 13 and by 17, I was paying my own way through college with three part time jobs. Married at 20, I have been keeping track of the dollars and the debts ever since.  

So, when it came time to talk house budget, I felt prepared.  It’s more money than I’ve ever seen and I have a healthy respect for those big numbers. I have a beautiful excel spreadsheet that I now consider an intimate part of my life where weekly, I move the numbers around; creative with the cash. While at times, it’s daunting, luckily, I am a realist, so I keep track of every single expense and am generous in my estimates.  I would rather find money than find a mistake.     

Holding the ‘purse strings’ as my mother referred to them, has been an exercise in deepening my inquiry into what we need vs what we want.  We’ve had to make hard choices about what matters most, what has the largest impact, and what will outlive us. We are building for the future knowing the house will be standing much longer than we will. We recognize that we are merely stewards of this place and that others will someday lay their heads here; we owe it to our children’s children to make the best financial decisions now.  Lucky for us, the views are priceless.  

As we ask the hard questions, we revisit our intentions, knowing that what we compromise on now, will show up later on.  Our choices need to stand the test of time.  And, because we are guided by the figures and not our fantasies, we are steadfast in our understanding that if we don’t see it on the sheet, we don’t buy it off the shelf.  We remind ourselves often that it’s a luxury to build, and that humbling tempers our desire to add pretty when what we need is practical. 

Now, I’m not saying that we won’t go over budget, as many more seasoned than us have told us, it’s inevitable.  Something unforeseen always pops up and already, still in the earliest stages, we see that in our project. But we know what our priorities are; rain water over bath water, compost over flush, form and function over frivolous. Playing the long game feels prudent to us as we heed the teaching of Nelson Henderson and “plant trees under whose shade we don’t expect to sit.

Having Blind FAITH

One of the most interesting outcomes for me in the process of designing and building a house, has been the learning that there is so much that you don’t see, not only behind the scenes, but underneath them.  And what remains unseen, is as important, if not more important, than that which is visible. Such is building and such is life.

I now understand more fully, the expression, ‘from the ground up’; and that what stands firmly on the land is only as good as the foundation it rests upon.  For our project, while I know very little about house construction, I have made a conscious choice to learn as much as possible about every aspect and to participate hands on, every chance I get.  And while I have always appreciated those in the construction industry, I now have a new found respect for all those involved.  

Because we started with raw land (there was a dug well onsite, and hydro at the main road), we had to clear trees in order to create a space to build.  We intentionally chose not to clear a swath of land, but to measure our footprint and take only what was necessary.  We carved out an access road to the house site, procured the necessary services to have water drawn up from the well (this will be our back up water supply to our rain water system), and organized power to be brought from the road onto the site.  Today, underneath the ground we walk on, is a maze of trenches, pipes, and cables, winding their way to our new house, providing some basic and much appreciated services.  Where there were once trees (don’t worry, we have lots left), there is now a hole, a carved space poised to receive the foundation that will hold up what’s built, and where we will hold each other up, as our lives move forward. 

In life, a foundation represents stability, the base on which our strength is forged. It’s that solid platform on which we stand, hold steadfast our beliefs, bear the weight of what’s heavy; it’s our safe place to land. House building is similar. Everything rises from the foundation; a firm land base on which concrete footings and walls bear the weight of the building and the brunt of the build. 

This week I watched with anticipation, as more than 30 meters of concrete poured from a height into formed wooden frames while a skilled team of five, coaxed it into place, smoothed it out, and helped it settle into a permanent place hold.  And just like that, in less than a few hours, the shape of what’s to come was set in stone. I marveled at what would soon be buried, sitting silently in its own strength, ready and willing to take on the weight of our lives in the home of our dreams. 

The FAMILY that builds together…

The discussion went something like this “Who wants to take care of us when we’re older, so we can age in place and die at home?”  And, the response went something like this, no hands went up.  It was Christmas 2016 and we were all together; three grown children, our daughter’s partner, and our son’s dog.  The conversation expanded, and the ideas flowed; we talked about creating an intentional community, supporting each other, sharing spaces, the cost of living in beautiful BC, and what our collective future might look like if we all made a move, a bold move, to live communally. 

Now this type of living is not completely new to us, my healthy parents moved in to share our Sidney, BC home in 1995, just after we arrived on the island.  We lived and learned together. My father died with us nine years later and then our mother, 11 years later, having lived with us for 20 years.  So, our kids understood what it was to share space, to live with elders, to put family first.  We were seven in a 1972 raised bungalow, and we were happy. 

Home for us has never meant ‘house’, it has always meant ‘family’ and for us that has always included many; all those who have shared time with us, had a place in our home, held a place in our heart.  So many have come through our doors, sat at our table, and shared our life’s journey.  Leaving this home will not be easy but it will be intentional.  We’ll hold our memories close.  And, while there is great anticipation, there is also trepidation. Fear, however, doesn’t serve any of us well, and we have never based our decisions on what might go wrong, but rather what might go right.

Back to that dynamic conversation that continues to be shaped by life’s journey, by circumstance and now by COVID. The irony is not lost on us; we are building a sustainable lifestyle in precarious pandemic times.  And we are grateful, to know what’s possible and to be healthy enough to make it happen. Houses are not built on love, but a strong foundation has certainly held us up during this time.    

And yes, we know how privileged we are; we are grateful.  We recognize that many will never live in, own, or build their own home; we are blessed.  We know we have a responsibility; to take only what we need, to be conservative with natural resources, to create a small footprint, and to steward the land with future generations in mind; we are humbled.

And so, as we move forward with whole hearts and half the space, we are asking as many questions as possible, learning all we can from those who know more, and leaning into another way of living, on purpose, with purpose.