Dee Williams: Dream big, live small

In 2004 Dee Williams designed and built a house that was roughly the size of an area rug.


Dee downsized from a 1,500 square foot house to an 84 square foot house.

1500 -> 84 square feetDeeWilliamsHouse

(a downsizing of 1,416 square feet)

Why downsize?

Dee’s motivations for downsizing include a trip to Guatemala, losing a close friend to cancer, and her own diagnosis of congestive heart failure at age 40. These events made Dee begin to question the time, energy, and money that her home required. She started dreaming. She dreamed of a bigger life in a smaller house.

While 84 square feet might seem ridicuously small on paper, her house feels much larger-like maybe 120 square feet. This magical expansion of what Dee calls her 6 X 7 “great room” is made possible by an 11 foot ceiling, a skylight, and some space saving ingenuity.

Here you can see Dee’s inspiring story and TED talk:

Twelve years after building her tiny house Dee still lives in it. Wow! Tiny house living is not a fad? At least not for Dee Williams. Downsizing, or maybe I should say rightsizing, gave Dee something that many Americans crave: more time, less busyness. A smaller home allowed Dee to exit the rat race.

(insert small sound of envy here)

Today, Dee works part time for the Department of Ecology, volunteers in her community, and spends time noticing the world around her (while I inhale a Starbucks muffin on my way to work).

Last year Dee wrote about her house building adventure in The Big Tiny, A Built-It-Myself Memoir. In this memoir, Dee describes her building project from the moment of inception til its completion. She also shares her thoughts on the benefits of slowing down, letting go of stuff, and connecting with nature and her community.


My favorite quote from Dee’s book:

“I discovered a new way of looking at the sky, the winter rain, the neighbors, and myself; and a different way of spending my time. Most important, I stumbled into a new sort of “happiness,” one that didn’t hinge on always getting what I want, but rather, on wanting what I have. It’s the kind of happiness that isn’t tied so tightly to being comfortable (or having money and property), but instead is linked to a deeper sense of satisfaction—to a sense of humility and gratitude, and a better understanding of who I am in my heart.”

In her TED talk, Dee asks us to think about the end of our lives and what it means to be human.

‘Gratitude, humility, grace’

Yes, the world needs more of this.

(and perhaps more tiny houses)

What do you think? Have you thought about downsizing/rightsizing? 



Giving thanks

A grateful heart is a happy heart. I’m counting my blessings today…

  • Clean drinking water
  • Warm and dry home
  • Amply stocked kitchen
  • Cup of coffee in hand
  • Plenty of books to read
  • 4 days off from work
  • Hot breakfast prepared by my daughter

There’s so much to be thankful for!

I need nothing.

Black Friday deals have no luster, when you take into account what you already have.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Quatchi having Thanksgiving breakfast
Quatchi likes pancakes

Happy people watch less tv


John Robinson, a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland, published a study that analyzed the activities of happy people. What do happy people do with their time?

The study found that happy people spent time socializing, going to church, visiting others and reading newspapers. And what did they not do? The study found that happy people engaged in one activity less often than unhappy people. Happy people watched less tv

Surprised? Well no Kate, we read the title of this blog. I wasn’t surprised either. And yet according to the latest Nielsen data, the average television viewer watches more than 151 hours of TV per month or 5 hours a day an all-time high. Yikes.

Common sense tells me that most people would be happier, if they watched less tv and spent more time strengthing their relationships, and doing whatever it is they’re passionate about. While watching tv is entertaining, it’s hard to imagine someone lying on their death bed thinking – “ya know, I really wish I’d watched more tv.” I binged (the MS version of googled) ‘death bed thoughts’ and found this same sentiment in a post called Deep Death Bed Thoughts (by Stephen Mills):

“Lying on my death bed, I probably won’t remember anything or think about anything from tens of thousands of hours I spent watching TV during my life.”

So true. What do you think? Could happiness be as simple as watching less tv and spending more time socializing? Please leave a Comment.

Speaking of happiness. I enjoy reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Gretchen researches happiness and writes about what works and what doesn’t. Her articles are definitely worth reading.

The inspiration for this post came from What Happy People Don’t Do by Roni Caryn Rabin.

Wanna be happy? Go outdoors every day

If I had a favorite season for gardening, spring might it. After winter I’m ready to get outside and reconnect with my plants. Time for me to trim remnants, marvel at new shoots, and weed, weed, weed – to the tune of Turn! Turn! Turn! by the Byrds.

Normally, my Hebes require zero maintenance. They quietly provide a splash of year-round green and require nothing from me. However, this year I found my Hebes in need of a haircut as my Mom calls it.  Each day as I waited for my garage door to open, my Hebe’s called me. “Kate?” And today I happily responded.

Before and after pictures


In 20 minutes time took something weathered and made it beautiful again. Gardens are amazing this way. With a little physical exertion, there is the possibility of making something beautiful. And in the process, I thrive.

Year and years ago before computers, the Internet, cell phones, social networking, and the elusive Joneses who simply can’t be caught (so why try?) – there was just nature and plenty of it. So take some time and go outdoors. Do it every day and you may notice a shift. A shift towards happiness. 

Here are some ideas for getting outside every day:

  • Do a small gardening task
  • Walk around your block and say hello to everyone you encounter
  • Take a 20 minute walk outside during work 
  • Eat outside whenever you can
  • Create a reading lounge outside
  • Take your kids, your dog, or just yourself to your neighborhood green space
  • What do you think? Could happiness be as simple as spending more time outside? Please leave a Comment.

    Speaking of happiness. I enjoy reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Gretchen researches happiness and writes about what works and what doesn’t. Her articles are definitely worth reading.