The Little House Living Show – Episode 008 – Living Smaller to Do Big Things
The Little House Living Show – Episode 008 – Living Smaller to Do Big Things
Thanks for joining me for the Little House Living Show podcast! My hope for this podcast is that it will be a new way for me to connect with you, my readers, and for you to be able to listen to my words even if you are driving or having a busy workday.
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What’s In This Episode?
In today’s episode, I’m interviewing Dara whose family runs a disaster relief response team while living in an rv with two little ones. I think you are going to love her insight on living smaller and more simple.
0:36 – Introduction
1:30 – What Dara and her husband do for a living
5:07 – Why they decided to start living in an RV
7:14 – Dara’s biggest obstacle with living small
14:12 – What advice Dara would give anyone considering living small
16:27 – Resources they have used on their RV living journey
18:14 – How Dara is making the most with what she has right now
19:16 – How you can connect with Dara
20:02 – Wrap-up
Links Mentioned in This Show
- Submit a Question for the Show
- Finding God in America Facebook Page
- More Info About Fulltime RV Living
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00:36 Hi everyone and welcome back to another episode of the Little House Living show. I’m excited and thankful that you decided to join us today and I am doing another interview today and on today’s podcast we are interviewing Dara and she is going to tell us all about her life of living small and I’m living minimalistically and I think you’re really going to enjoy this episode today. So welcome Dara.
01:02 – Thanks. Thanks for having me.
01:03 – Yeah, I’m, I’m glad that you agreed to be a guest on our little podcast show today. Just for my listeners, I, I haven’t actually met Dara in person, but we started talking I think last year when we were both living in RVs and traveling around and actually both doing the mission work. So yeah. Do you want to start by telling my listeners a little bit more about yourself and what you do?
01:30 – Sure. My husband and I have a disaster relief ministry, so we travel and he helps local churches respond to natural disasters in their own communities. And so we had been doing this, we met doing disaster relief work after Hurricane Katrina. And so pretty much our whole marriage has been spent on responding to disasters and full time. And so we’ve traveled full time for about two years when we were first married and then we got a place and had two kids back to back and then started traveling full time as a family in a camper when my kids or four months and 18 months old.
02:11 – That’s awesome. So how many years have you been married?
02:15 – We’ve been married. Oh geez. I’m terrible with numbers. We’ve been married seven years.
02:22 – Okay. So you’ve been doing this for seven years or a little bit more?
02:25 – Yeah. and we’ve been traveling full time as a family for a little over two years now.
02:31 – That’s awesome. So what led you to what you’re doing now, like before you were married, what kind of got you into that disaster relief and made you start thinking about living small and traveling and doing that for work?
02:46 – Ah man. So my husband and I met doing disaster relief and it was hurricane Katrina happened my senior year of college and I just wanted to help. I’ve just kind of always had that personality type where like something happens and I want to be there and I find want to find a way to help. And so I moved down to do an internship. It was supposed to be for the summer to help a ministry by managing teams. They were having youth groups come in to do disaster relief work and I was kind of coordinating everything with absolutely no construction experience whatsoever. Like I was sending teams out and had no idea what they were doing. I was just, I don’t know. I’m good at the management and planning part and we met doing that. I ended up being there for three years and just disaster relief just kind of found us, I guess. My husband had no intention of doing it full time either. We just really saw the ability for the local church to do hands-on ministry after a disaster, that people from all different backgrounds had needs that the local church could meet. And it was really just a tangible way to reach out to their community and that my husband has a construction background and so we could help facilitate that in a way that was beneficial to the community and also to the church at the same time.
04:05 – And I completely understand where going into doing something that you never expected because that’s exactly what we’re doing right now too. Never expected that my husband was going to become a pastor and we would be getting into fulltime mission work or anything like that. So it’s just crazy how life just happens and you just have to go with it I guess. Right?
04:28 – Yeah. And in the middle of it, like realizing that, I don’t know, it’s good, you know that there are pieces and parts of your personality that it works, it works really well for and that everything just works together for good.
04:43 That’s awesome. Yeah. Yeah, that makes sense. Because as, as we’ve gotten further into our journey as we’ve noticed, Oh well we have that skill and that can be really helpful here. So that makes a lot of sense. So it’s good to be able to use all those God-given talents and skills and things like that and realize why you were put together the way you were.
05:04 – Yes, absolutely. For sure.
05:07 – So when did you guys decide to start living in the RV and like how, how did that come about?
05:14 – We had been wanting a camper for years and so we, when we traveled, when we were first married, we didn’t have a camper and we, for the most part, were in a Honda civic and then we’d stay in churches or people’s homes or hotels or whatever we needed to do to be able to serve in a community. And so not like living homeless and never felt like that, but essentially we were. And when we had kids, we knew that that wasn’t an option, that staying in someone’s home, especially a stranger’s home with your kids is just, I don’t know, we wanted a more stable environment for our family regardless of what was going on outside of our camper. And so it was just, man, it was a prayer literally for, and one day we got a call my youngest was four months old and we got a call that someone was going to give us a camper.
06:05 – They didn’t need it anymore and it was like a split second. And my husband and I didn’t even have a conversation about it. It was just, we both knew like this was it. We packed up our apartment and gave away most of our stuff and started moving in. And it really for us was like the seamless, easy transition. Our kids were so young, they didn’t know any different. It really, they didn’t matter. Their beds came with us. We had always kind of, we’d always lived small, we’d always had, you know, a minimalist view on life. And so it really wasn’t this big deal. I know people talk about, you know, giving away like all this stuff and we sold some things and we gave some a few things away and have a few things in storage, but for the most part, we are already ready to go. It was, that had been our heart from the beginning. And so it was just easy. And like there are things or adjustments that went into it. Our kids don’t have a room, we have a one-bedroom camper. And so as they’ve gotten older, that’s an adjustment and trying to figure out that kind of thing. But at the time it was just easy in a way we went. And it’s been good.
07:14 – Yeah. so you said that one of the recent obstacles that you’ve had is, you know, adjusting with your kids, getting older and only having a limited amount of space in one bedroom. What are maybe some other obstacles or hurdles that you faced with this small space living in? How have you overcome them or working to overcome them right now?
07:38 – Man. Kids toys. I don’t know. Like what, I just can’t figure it out. We had this like a really great idea when I was pregnant with my oldest that we would just have this one small toy box and whatever fit in the toy box and that like, I don’t know where that idea went, but like the toys just keep calling stuffed animals multiply. I swear I don’t know where they come from. And so it’s this like constant battle to like minimize the amount of kids stuff that we have without feeling like we’re neglecting our kids at the same time, you know? Yeah. But my, my two year old loves stuffed animals and she will play with them all day long and there are just so many of them that I was laughing when you talked about doing something in decluttering for this episode because that’s where I feel like I am like all the time just trying to figure out how to get less kid stuff so that it all fits in our space without feeling crowded. I feel like even though we have less stuff than most people because it’s a super small space, we have a 33-foot camper, so it’s like 290 square feet for four of us. And so when there is stuff, it just feels crowded, you know, that like papers multiply and, and all that regular life that it’s just constant upkeep was decluttering for sure.
09:00 – Yeah. And I think that’s an interesting point because when I’ve talked about decluttering before, I’ve mentioned that decluttering is this journey. It’s not like this thing that you do and then it’s done. Like it’s this ongoing process that doesn’t seem to end because stuff multiplies. And like you said, you don’t always know where it comes from or how it does it. Yeah, exactly. Multiplies. And so decluttering is just kind of an ongoing thing that we have to keep on doing, but it’s good because it keeps us aware of what we have and what we use and we don’t need anymore. And just things like that.
09:40 – Absolutely. And there are times we did some today I went through a couple of cabinets cause I was putting something away and I was like, what is this? Why do we have it? It’s been two years and we haven’t used it, so why am I holding on to it, you know, that art supplies for kids, that kind of thing that is just, I just need and in some ways being in a small space is good because I can’t just shove it away somewhere and forget about it, that it’s, I’m going to see it at some point. And so it’s a constant reminder of needing to keep our amount of stuff down.
10:11- Yeah. When you have that limited amount of space, space is precious and you don’t want to take it up with things that you just aren’t using. So, and yeah, we’ve, since we’ve moved to where we’re at, I, I thought that I only packed the stuff that like we really needed cause we moved here in like a small trailer and that’s all we have, including our furniture. And I’m still, I’m just kind of slowly unpacking boxes. I’m not really that motivated to do it, but as I unpack things, I look at it and think why on earth did I decide that this was precious enough to take up space in my trailer? Yeah, absolutely.
10:48 – Thinking the other day about our storage unit, which for the most part we haven’t really touched in the two years that we’ve been in here. We’ve, you know, put some things away and I don’t like baby books and things that I want to hold on to, but maybe I don’t want to keep the storage space and we have stuff in there in boxes and we haven’t touched in two years. I really should just get rid of it. Cause at this point it really is important to us. You know, that we were just fine without it. But I think a lot of times when you have the space that you can kind of just forget about it. We had a box, our last apartment was 900 square feet. We had a box in there that we never unpacked in two years. That’s ridiculous. Like, why then I one, it’s a storage that’s even more ridiculous that just get rid of it, but there’s going to be so much emotional value that goes into stuff that sometimes it’s really hard to separate yourself from that.
11:40 – Yeah. And I think that sometimes we just don’t like mentally just don’t want to deal with it. Cause we’ve done the same thing where there have been boxes that we’ve moved from house to house and I’m just like, okay, I’ll deal with that later. I’m not ready to deal with it right now. Yeah. At the last house, I finally looked at a bunch of those boxes and it was like, okay, the time is now. You need to just sit down and deal with it. And I was so glad that I did, but it took years for me to just decide, okay, it’s time to do this now. But if there’s this mental like roadblock when it comes to especially, you know, the sentimental things and stuff like that that we just can’t let it go.
12:19 – Yeah, absolutely. I feel that way about my kids’ books that I have a really hard time letting go of kids’ books because we love books and we read all the time and that’s great, but at some point I have to like pack them up and realize that they’re not babies anymore and we don’t really need maybe books, but it’s the same thing. And I think it gets to the point where it’s almost overwhelming, you know, that like, you know, it’s gonna cost all this emotional energy and time and everything like that. And so you just keep putting it off cause yeah, putting it off seems easier.
12:50 – Yeah. I had the same struggle with when I went through and decided to get rid of the baby clothes because I was like, okay, I have all these memories attached to these and when the kids wore them and all this kind of stuff. And you know, that sadness that comes from, okay, nobody else is ever going to wear this. Yeah. but then I read something at some point that said that you know, what good is that stuff being stored away in my closet when someone else could actually use it. And I thought that’s so true. Why am I just keeping this in the closet? I’m never going to use it again. It’s just going to sit in there and collect dust or the elastic’s going to go bad. Or you know, whatever happens with clothes or some ways out there that they can actually use this.
13:35 – And then I thought, Oh, it’s almost kind of selfish of me in a way just to keep this stored in my closet. So I went through, I picked out the pieces that, you know, were really meaningful that I’ll pass onto the kids someday and, and then the rest of it I got rid of and you know, it was just a relief to finally have it out and, and then to think of, oh, somebody else is actually using this and they’re getting use out of it and yeah. Yeah. Instead of just sitting in a closet somewhere.
14:02 – Yeah. That’s a really good point. Yeah. But that’s what kind of helped me with some of that stuff that was, I didn’t want to deal with. It was hard to deal with.
14:12 – So I have a lot of listeners and readers that are considering downsizing or living in a smaller house or a tiny house or living in an RV. What advice would you give someone that is considering that kind of lifestyle?
14:27 – Get rid of all your debt. That like, number one, that has freed us up to be able to do so much. And it helps because we’re determined to be debt free. It helps us make decisions on a monthly basis and a day by day basis even to remain that way. So we’re not considering major or huge purchases we can’t afford which, you know, helps cut down on our stuff that we buy and everything else that, that really, I don’t know, it kinda seems like it doesn’t fit, but that for us has been the biggest thing that really has helped us prioritize everything else in our life that we’re gonna have less stuff because we don’t want to be in debt and we want to be able to travel and, and have the freedom in our life. And so that for us has been huge.
15:16 – For sure. I think that ties in perfectly. And make sense because when you’re considering downsizing or, you know, living in a smaller house or a tiny house or something, I mean, what you’re really considering is simplifying your life to an extreme. And I think that getting rid of debt, that’s a huge part of simplifying your life because it’s something that you don’t have to stress over anymore. So yeah, that makes sense to me. That’s what we did too. Yeah. and it is, it’s one of the most freeing things that I think we’ve ever done. You just like, you actually have the opportunity to go and do what you need to do once you’re free from that, the chains of debt.
15:58 – Yeah, absolutely. And just the opportunities that that opens up, it really feels like the whole world opens up before you go and you realize that you can do pretty much anything because there’s nothing tying you down to anything else, you know, in a good way. I mean, if you want to stay in the same place, that’s fine. But it’s really that freedom that it gives you to really reorganize and rethink your life and determine what’s most important.
16:27 – Yeah. So, and then kind of goes along with what we’ve been talking about with, I know that you said that you’ve always lived a little, you know, more minimalistically and smaller and things like that, but were there any particular resources that helped you when you, you know, made the big jump into living in an RV or anything that’s kind of helped along the way with that journey?
16:53 – There’s been a couple of Facebook groups that have been really helpful for us learning. I never lived in a camper, before. We had a pop up, but we had never had like a camper before we moved in it. And so we have learned a ton you know, maintenance wise, everything else. And so that there have been some Facebook groups that have been really great for learning about fulltime life and even tips about, you know, what different, where you can get different things that fit better into a camper and furniture and things like that. And so that’s been helpful. I don’t know, I think that’s the biggest thing that there is the fulltime families Facebook group is the one that comes to mind. But there’s been some great resources for there and just in relationships as well.
17:43 – Meeting other families that are doing what we do or had wanted to do. And seeing that it was possible was really helpful. Especially cause we had people just tell us that we were crazy for wanting to travel with kids. You’re not going to be able to do that once they get older and how are you going to do it when you’re in school and you know, like the questions that I’m sure to come from a place of love but are more frustrating at the time. And so that was really helpful to see what was possible for us as a family and how we are gonna make this work. Yeah.
18:14- Okay. So do you want to tell my listeners, how are you making the most with what you have right now?
18:23 – And so I think we chatted a little bit about this before we started about just everything everywhere that you are, everything that you have has, you know, pluses and minuses and just really spending time focusing on the good of where we’re at. Cause not everything is a great adventure. You know, sometimes it just looks like normal life somewhere else. And right now we’re in a community where pretty much everyone’s over 75 and I have young kids and so that can be hard, you know. But really making a determination that we’re just going to find the good where we are. And so whether that’s finding the libraries that are nearby or the playgrounds with parks or finding a church that we like attending, just wherever we’re at that we’re going to be intentional about really enjoying the things that are here for us at this moment.
19:15 – I love that.
19:16 – Thanks!
19:16 – So how can my listeners connect with you?
19:23 – Yeah, so we have a family Facebook page about our adventures, I guess you’d say, called finding God in America on Facebook.
19:33 – Okay. Sounds good. I’ll make sure that I put a link to that in the show notes too, just in case the listeners can’t find it. So it will be there if you want to follow Dara and her family and see where they go next or what they’re doing right now and just to keep up to date on their ministry. Thank you so much for doing this interview with me today. I think it was awesome, and I hope that the listeners are enjoying it as much as I have.
20:00 – Well, thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
20:02 – Thank you so much for joining me for this latest episode of the Little House Living show podcast. I hope that you enjoyed this interview with Dara and be sure to check out her Facebook page so that you can follow her family’s journey in living simpler, living smaller and her family’s ministry. Again, thank you for listening and I hope that you spend this week making the most with what you have.
Merissa — these are fabulous! Thanks so much for branching out into podcasts. Since I’ve been an adult (decades and decades, by now…) I’ve never had all that much space for stuff but never really lived “small” intentionally. The small town where I live in OR has a very strong sense of community and has several places to share the excess that we all seem to accumulate over the years/moves. And, I could so relate to Dara when she spoke of being happy that her no-longer-used things were being used and enjoyed by others. Looking forward to join you on your next podcast!
I am enjoying your podcast so much!! And your book is one I’ve been turning to a lot. For future podcasts, I’d love to hear your take on: how you manage your creative endeavors (particularly getting in writing time) while having small children and cooking from scratch, cleaning, etc. Also what homeschool curriculum or approach have you taken? And lastly, any tips of frugal, tasty and healthy meal planning would be great! I’m so happy to have found this community 🙂
Thank you for these ideas! I hope to be able to get the podcast going again soon.