Manifesting A New Life on 3/4 Acre
Written By: Susie Spann
In 2018 the goals I had worked on for over seven years fell apart. I found a new job, a new place to live, and reset my goals to reflect my new situation. My life came together and fell apart again as health issues forced another reset.
I scurried from downtown San Diego to 3/4 of an acre of dirt and mesquite in rural West Texas, an area I once vowed I would never see again. My plan was to pay off the back taxes on the land my Daddy had once owned and establish my own home base to become a traveling writer. I designed a clear path to write for local newspapers and save for a van, all while I built my own ‘tiny house’ using recycled materials. I survived the winter, had a contract with a local newspaper, and received a van as a gift. The van needed a little work, but my expenses were minimal and I could purchase parts a little at a time.
It was workable. Life was looking good. Goals were growing and attainable.
Then came 2020 and Covid-19.
Social distancing and the closing of certain businesses and schools in March 2020 cut my local news sources to less than half. I couldn’t earn enough to fix the van, much less travel to surrounding towns for other news stories. Circumstances were changing so quickly I had to change plans as soon as I made them. I knew where I wanted to arrive, but had no clue how to get there.
I decided to adapt my usual ‘do or die’ method to a more flexible one. I broke each goal into smaller sub goals and created an adaptive outline that can change as circumstances change. When I have more funds and resources, goals are taken care of more quickly. When I have fewer resources I accomplish each goal in much smaller segments, preferably achieving one goal each day. I find it easier to complete daily goals when I focus on research, observation, and an act I call “Dream 3 Times.” Let’s take a look at how this affects my goal of building a compact, clean, and practical house.
Research is pretty basic, and I have many resources I can use every day. Talking to people in person is a good method. I am lucky to have a neighbor who has been involved in construction jobs. He is a great source for those last minute questions pertaining to the water lines and squaring a foundation. The local library is a good source of information as well, although most books tend to be outdated almost as soon as they are published. My favorite information source for this project is YouTube. Even the older videos are packed with information. Some YouTube creators provide updates on their projects to show how different elements have stood the test of time, as well as providing insight into what they would do differently. Although not all of the videos apply directly to my project, but all have something that I can use.
For example, the first stage of my tiny house was an eight foot long, eight foot wide room with a bed, a table, and a sharply pitched roof that cuts my standing room in half. Most of the tiny house videos I watch are designed with high roofs that provide a second story for sleeping and storage.
The first stage of my house can not be adapted to provide a second story, but by using some of the storage ideas and bedroom designs I was able to position my bed in a way that allowed me to maximize storage space and take advantage of the natural laws of heat and cold. Heat rises, cold sinks. My bed was slightly above the middle of the room where the warmer air tended to accumulate. In the summer I dropped the bed to a lower point to take advantage of low windows and cooler air. (I must emphasize the point that I never sleep with my head at the highest point of the room. Gas also rises, and the peak of my ceiling is a potential carbon monoxide hazard.) My second focus, observation, encourages me to step back and SEE – really SEE – what I have accomplished compared to where I was when I began.
Almost every night at twilight, that magical time when the light is soft and temperatures drop to a comfortable level, I sit on a concrete block in front the little house and look at what I have done that day. I look at what I did the day before, and the day before that. There are trails between the trees from the front of the land to the back. I have a dirt driveway that curves from one street to another and allows me to enter either the front or back yard easily. From an overgrown corner lot
to a partially cleared yard with a small house, this project has come a long way in only a year.
Finally, I do what I call “Dream 3 Times.”
I dream, or put myself into a semi-meditative state and mentally complete each physical element of the project. This is good for long range goals, but it is crucial for each stage of the building process. I isolate each action individually before I begin working. I see potential problems before I put myself into a dangerous position. When I have Dreamed 3 Times successfully, I allow myself to measure, mark, and cut a board or pick up a nail and hammer.
I used one of these dream processes to safely install a wrap around the entire house before I put siding on the exterior walls. I had received a large section of pit liner from a generous neighbor. The pit liner is a huge piece of thick plastic to line pits in certain drilling processes, usually in the oil field. This plastic was clean, thick, and solid. I needed a way to keep the weather from destroying the frame of the house while I obtained materials for the exterior. I didn’t want to have cuts or splices in the plastic. How could I drape a 24 foot long and 14 foot wide sheet of
plastic over a house frame with a sharply pitched roof?
I placed a chair in front of the framed house, and I dreamed.
I pictured the plastic, measured to the right length and width, stretched out on the ground. I pictured it covering the house. I saw the ways that I could lift it onto the frame and the ways that I could NOT lift it onto the frame. I decided to dream it in reverse. Viewing it as though it were
already in the perfect position, I mentally folded the plastic over and over and over until it was a package that I could carry down a ladder. Then I transferred the image to the plastic on the ground and unfolded it one step at a time. When I mentally played that in reverse, I knew how to fold the plastic, carry it up the ladder, and unfold it to drape across the frame. When I had the image set, I walked myself through it three times, finding the best angle for the ladder and the safest starting point for me.
Life resets can be brutal. They don’t have to be life-ending. When goals grow too big to handle, I like to cut them down to size and put them back together again, one step at a time.