Adventures with Erin: Small Spaces

Recently, my husband and I moved rooms in our house from a relatively normal-sized bedroom to the 8 x 10 room that used to be the study/office. The small room is adorable–once upon a time, a long time ago, it was even the nursery–but it has meant rethinking how we organize and how much “stuff” we really need. As Americans, it often feels so strange to us to choose the smaller size–of anything. How many of us, if offered a free upgrade at the coffee shop, will opt for the larger size–even if we don’t need the calories and aren’t really that thirsty?

Moving recently has helped me remember that my American perspective isn’t the perspective of much of the rest of the world. Living in Odessa for three weeks and in St. Petersburg for a summer made me realize the sheer size of homes in the States. While Russian trains and cathedrals are immense, Russian homes are not. In St. Petersburg, we shared an apartment with a mother and daughter who both had the equivalent of Master’s degrees. Their apartment consisted primarily of a multi-purpose room where the living room couches were really day beds. At night, the living room became the bedroom. There was a very small kitchen and an even smaller bathroom. The dinner table was against the wall across from the day beds. The apartment was sunny and bright, with a multitude of oranges and reds, but if you needed privacy, you went for a walk.

Moving recently has also helped me remember living in my first college dorm room. How many of you can relate? With only a few feet between twin beds, little desks, little closets and often communal bathrooms, tiny space living is very important. I remember our next-door neighbors cramming eight or more people into a children’s wading pool they placed in between the beds in their dorm room. We all put swimsuits on and had a prayer meeting in the pool (filled with water by placing disinfected trash bins under the shower and hauling them down the hall and into their dorm room). Tiny spaces take creativity, but they can be a lot of fun!

I am so thankful for IKEA and HGTV’s Tiny House Househunters show. Lately, they have both given us inspiration that living in small spaces can be enjoyable and worth a few sacrifices. (Plus you can’t beat the Swedish meatballs for lunch!)

Are you embarking on a tiny living adventure? Maybe you are heading overseas or you are off to college in a few days. As you look around and wonder how, exactly, you are going to manage to survive in this new space, keep in mind people are more important than things, embrace the challenge (and, at risk of sounding like a commercial, maybe plan a trip to IKEA)!

Adventures with Erin: Hiking Cathedral Spires

This was a great week to spend in the Black Hills with family. Since Mica in the Wilderness, my Work in Progress (WIP) is at 40,000 words (about half-way completed) and takes place mostly in the Black Hills, I am going home with lots of fresh inspiration. I had forgotten how hard running at over 5,000 feet elevation really is, let alone how steep the hills are! At one point, we were running up a gravel trail at 24% grade!

I also had forgotten how magical the rock formations are. Driving a short ways on Needles Highway to get to the Cathedral Spires trail head didn’t make me instantly hyperventilate this year, but it did take my breath away to look over the cliffs and see vast expanses of hills and hawks circling below us.

I confess, I didn’t get out of the car at some of the overlooks. I am glad I was surrounded by much braver family members, who can serve as examples for Helen!

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However, I did enjoy climbing the Cathedral Spires trail. Seeing the Spires from the back gave me a unique, new perspective that I am storing up in my mind. Since I am much more a pantster than a plotter, (I write by the seat of my pants, instead of developing a plot chart first–which probably surprises those of you who know me, since I tend to be overly organized in the rest of my life!) I am excited to see how these new images will show up in my book.

What adventures have you had this summer? Are you ever inspired to write about them?