Yesterday was the last day of my vacation. I had planned two and a half weeks off for myself. And I’ve already learned a valuable lesson: when you’re self-employed it’s an illusion to think that you can have a vacation at home. Especially when your work is so closely connected to your home: there’s no way to disconnect completely. And as yesterday was my birthday, I always take that moment for some reflection. I’m struggling at the moment. And although I find it hard to share these kinds of things, I’m doing it anyway. Because you should know that even the ‘Queen of the Dutch Tiny House movement’ struggles with herself. Watch out, this is going to be a long one ;)
So, didn’t I get any time off? Sure I did. But there hasn’t been a day gone by that I didn’t do some work as well. There were just too many things I couldn’t ignore. And you should know it left me quite uncomfortable. Maybe I should go away on vacation next time? That’s probably better; but you have to have the money for it and this year it just wasn’t on the cards. I get by as my own boss but the money isn’t great and I spent a lot on investments lately. Like TinyFindy and the online course for example. I’m still paying off my house, and my websites cost money to keep them running, so my monthly charges are still pretty high. I’ve written about it before: it’s not easy to make a living out of activities concerning the Tiny House movement. I suspect that people see me as pretty successful, but they don’t see all the hard work I do, the long days I make and the fact I have only one free day a week. Or that all I can have the energy for after work, is laying on the couch. Not meant as a complaint, just as a reality check.
I’ve noticed I need to be cautious. I’m getting even less sleep than usual, I forget to keep track of my agenda making me forget appointments with friends even though I’m normally super organised, I can’t remember names…it’s a sign of my brain that it’s a bit overworked. My birthday is a good moment for me to make things clear for myself. Where am I right now? What makes me happy and what doesn’t? What do I want to accomplish? I’ve worked very hard over the past three years and I’m longing to be able to slow down for a bit. Having more time to reflect on things instead of chasing everything that concerns me. Saying no more often and prioritizing.
During my vacation I spent a weekend at Sacha and Debby’s from Tiny House Limburg and their two kids, in their Tiny House. That was so great; I was really away for a bit and Sacha and Debby spoiled me so much. They are so sweet! They also build Tiny Houses for others, like the one for their neighbor Henriette and ‘Tiny’ Mir. It was so beautiful and quiet in Zuid-Limburg, I could really unwind. We’ve had some good talks around the campfire and Henriette of Levensbloem gave me a free reading. I’ll remember that for a long time. It was pretty emotional for me and also very beautiful. Next year I get to reap what I’ve sown, she said. No, I just need to learn how to receive. Before I arrived, Sacha had said to Henriette: ‘the queen is coming to visit!’ And he kept calling me the queen of the Tiny House movement the entire weekend. Which I laughed off a bit of course and don’t find appropriate. But he’s right about one thing: I can be proud of what I’ve accomplished and be proud of who I am. I may not be the queen, but certainly I’m a passionate frontwoman of the Tiny House movement.
Own it, Marjolein! I find that complicated, but I’ll try. And I’m making a fresh start in quitting with the inner bullshit. That nasty inner voice that keeps putting me down. Not good enough? F*ck that! This is who I am and it’s perfect. I’ve become 43, time to quit that crap. I should take more time to appreciate my accomplishments, according to Sacha and Henriette. Modest me is a little uncomfortable with that. ‘But that’s…you just do these things, right?’ Well apparently, it’s not that obvious, and yet when I make a list, it’s kind of impressive. So let’s just do that:
- Having my own Tiny House designed and built in the Netherlands before there was a Tiny House movement here
- Finding a legal place to live in my Tiny House
- Starting a successful blog filled with information which helped countless people on their way to their own Tiny House
- Starting up a successful Tiny House Nederland Facebook page
- Getting the Tiny House movement going by giving an endless amount of lectures, workshops and media interviews
- founding the Tiny House Nederland foundation and sharing a lot of important information through the website, Facebook page and Facebook group
- quitting my regular job and starting my own company
- starting a pilot project for 5 Tiny Houses for 5 years in Alkmaar, despite objections from the water board Hollands Noorderkwartier and foundation de GAS!fabriek but with support of the municipality Alkmaar
- starting up Netherlands first Tiny House housing cooperative with me as chairman
- being project leader of the first Tiny House Nederland jamboree with between 4000 and 5000 visitors
- starting TinyFindy together with Marcel van Mierlo, the online market place for Tiny Houses and plots for Tiny Houses
- Helping municipalities and individuals through consultations with their Tiny House aspirations
- mobilizing a group of more than 400 people to start a Tiny House housing project in Leusden
- organising a meeting for about 35 local Tiny House initiative groups to stimulate the sharing of knowledge
- and I might have forgotten a few things…
So yes, I’m ready to reap what I’ve sown and to let things go a little. So I can stop worrying about my income and have enough time to figure out what I like to do most and choose to do that. So I can spend more time with friends and family and doing things I like. In order to do that, I need to let go of wanting to do everything myself, and to stop saying yes to everything that crosses my path. Like answering the unimaginable amount of e-mail for example. Talking to everyone that ‘wants to get to know me and talk about the possibilities of Tiny Houses’. I am going to make choices and stop doing everything for free. If you want to use my expertise, you have to be willing to pay for it. I volunteer enough for Tiny House Nederland. There! That’s that.
Sacha asked my what my goals are. There are three, I answered. In random order:
- My own piece of land in the woods where I can live self-sufficiently in a small house. Where I don’t have to leave anymore so I can start a beautiful garden based on permaculture, with a little greenhouse and with chickens of course.
- Working no more than 2 or 3 days a week for my income and choosing what I want to do with the rest of the week, even if it’s more work.
- Being a wise (old) woman that contributes to the world, to help find more balance for society. The kind of society that a lot of people long for, sometimes without knowing it yet, with more connection, caring for the land and each other. Someone who inspires people and shows them that they don’t have to be stuck in a pattern someone else created for them, but that they can break free of and go their own way. Following their heart.
You’re already doing that last part, Sacha said. That made me emotional. Even though I know he’s right, somehow, I feel like a fraud. Because I’m not taking good care of myself. And, if I want to be an example for others, I need to practice what I preach. This whole road I’m walking came from a need for more peace and quiet and more nature and room to live my life. To go back to basics and living healthily, in connection with others and in nature. A good step towards that dream of a small house in the woods where I grow my own vegetables and herbs, keep chickens and bake my own bread, live outside all day and have friends over. Somewhere along the way my adventure has gotten bigger and bigger and now it’s a movement and a career. And I started working more and more because there’s so much to do in this movement, in order make it easier to live small, affordable and environmentally friendly for other people. So much that it took over my life.
Together with ‘Tiny’ Mir Benders, who can teach me a great deal about letting go
But that there’s so much work to do, doesn’t mean I have to do it all myself. And I don’t, but sometimes it feels like I am. I hope I’m not hurting anybody with this, but I often feel alone in this work and in my life. I need to let go in that respect too. I need to let go of control and start trusting others to do things. That’s really hard for me. Perfectionist and control freak, what a blessing ;) It has everything to do with trusting myself. To stop being afraid that I’m not needed anymore. Silencing that stupid inner voice. It’s a process.
Still, I feel like something’s moving inside of me. A new year of my life has started and I feel more rest is on the way. More relaxation and fun, also in my work. I hope to get back into that flow I was in when I was busy with the build of my house. I loved having a clear goal and going for it. I need to trust that it’s on the way. Accept what is for now, and let go. Being ready and open to receive and let that harvest roll in.