IF I believed in reincarnation, I would have to consider the possibility that I was, in a past life, a turtle. Back in my sports-playing days, I was agile, had great aim (in the 3 years I was the starting pitcher for a girls’-league fast pitch softball team, I never lost a game, a fact I still take shameless pride in), and highly competitive. Fast-moving? Not at all.

It’s not my lack of speed, though, that best indicates I have Testudinian tendencies. Side note: turtles belong to the Testudine family, a fact I had no knowledge of until just a few minutes ago. 

What truly points to my turtle-like nature is my love for small, cozy living places. While I thoroughly loved the large home we lived in when both my son and daughter lived at home, I was happiest when we were all gathered in the average-sized family room, gathered in front of the fireplace on a couch and love seat that were carefully placed to create what I thought of as a cozy refuge.

When our son left for college, causing my husband and I to sell our large house in town and build a home on 65 rural acres, we decided to downsize significantly. I was ecstatic! Armed with a pencil, eraser, and graph paper, I planned our new home.

A few basic considerations drove every line I drew and every revision I made. The foremost guideline was size. We wanted a house that would fit the empty-nesters we would be in just 2 1/2 years (at the time) but which would accommodate both our son and daughter, plus their families when that day came, for both brief get-togethers and extended visits. The other major considerations were openness, efficient use of space, and energy efficiency.

When all was said and done, we moved from a 2-story home with 1400′ sq on each level (and a same-sized unfinished — except for a bathroom — basement) to a 2-story home with “only” 960′ sq feet on each finished level. I couldn’t have been happier.

Since my husband’s death, I’ve moved to a 2-bedroom condo and then, when my new house was completely constructed, a 2-bedroom (with additional office) home of 1264′ sq on one level, and now to a 1-bedroom apartment. In each of these last 3 locations, I’ve had more room than I need, and I’ve dreamed of finding something smaller.

For a couple of years now, I’ve flirted with the idea of buying a tiny house or having one built.

For those who aren’t familiar with the term, a “tiny house” can mean many things. To some people, it means a home under 400′ feet. To others, it means a house that can fit on a trailer and, if desired, moved from one location to another if the need or want arises. To me, a tiny house is a very small home that is either site-built or built on a trailer.

A “Dream House” bookmark group on my laptop holds links to websites that I study carefully every chance I get, my footlocker-turned-coffee table is adorned by 2 fabulous tiny house books, and I’ve been putting every extra penny I can find in a “mortgage-free home” savings account.

I’m done flirting! I’ve set some deadlines, and I’m determined to either build or buy a tiny house within the next 12 months. While I like the idea of a site-built home, I’m still about 10 years from retirement and want to be able to move if/when a better job situation presents itself. As a result, my plan is to build a tiny house on a trailer so I can easily relocate.

I shared my plans with my son and my daughter. While “skeptical” may be too strong a word, they both have reservations. That’s natural. They both are at a different stage in life — they are both looking forward to owning their own homes; to accruing things they haven’t been able to afford while in college, grad school, med school, and residency; and to starting their own families.

They tease me about my Birkenstock tendencies, and I have to admit that, as much a traditionalist as I am, there’s more than a bit of truth in that assessment.

I long for a simpler lifestyle. Evenings spent alone or with friends. A simple meal and a leisurely walk afterward, time spent reading or knitting or scrapbooking on the porch or inside my cozy home. My work time spent earning money not to spend on utilities, rent/house payments, a 300+-station TV package, etc., but to fund experiences — a white-water rafting trip, a Route 66 road trip, or an extended trip across Canada by rail. A simpler lifestyle that is closer to nature, more organic.

I’m being pretty bold, I believe, in putting this commitment out here on a public forum for anyone who stops by to see. But it’s a good kind of bold. An exciting kind of bold.

As I indicated at the beginning of this post, I don’t believe in reincarnation; I know with utter certainty that I have never had a past life, much less a past life as a turtle.

I also know that I am ready for a new life, one that fits me, and that includes a home that fits me, Birkenstocks, hand-knitted socks, and all.