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When Things Don't Go As Planned

Converting a school bus into a tiny home for our family has taught us a lot about goal-setting, planning and flexibility.



For several years, my husband and I talked and dreamed about living in a tiny home. We wanted to live simply and intentionally together, but then we had kids and living with a family in a tiny home seemed impossible. Then, we found other families who lived in tiny homes, too! So, we bought a school bus. The bus seemed like the best first step into tiny living for us, a home on wheels that we could take anywhere!

At the time, buying the bus was a huge financial risk. We weren’t going to take out loans to build this home. We were going to use whatever extra funds we had. We planned to finish the bus within a year, and then, we hit wall after wall. We sold our only car to buy the bus because a family member gave us a car, but then their car broke down in a major way. We also didn’t do an amazing job of planning out the first steps of our build, so we invested too soon in the bigger aspects of the bus project like solar and plumbing before we had all of the lumber and insulation necessary to begin the build.

The floor was our first finished project! And it was so exciting to see it done, but afterwards, we didn’t have funds left to go any further. It was several more months before we could begin any other major project. Then, as we went further into the process of converting the bus, we discovered how big of a legal hassle it is to live in a tiny home. Though many people do it, we weren’t sure how we were going to be able to once it was finished. Skoolies (converted school buses) are even more of a legal hurdle than traditional tiny homes, and it was a bit of a mental drain to think that it could be impossible to live in it even after finishing the build.

Flash forward to today, and it’s been nearly two years since we bought the bus, and we’ve still not finished. It’s been a discouraging process in many ways because on the one hand, buying and building a bus home is risky and people have seen us take this crazy risk. In a way, it seems like our lack of immediate success supports the perspective that we’ve been foolish and irresponsible. On the other hand, we know the mistakes we’ve made during this process, as we’ve done pretty much everything ourselves. It’s been a huge learning curve, and we’ve second guessed ourselves multiple times. We ask ourselves often, “Will we ever finish the bus?”

Holding such a life-changing dream in our minds and seeing it continuously unfulfilled is difficult, especially because as the days and months pass with us being unable to work on it, the dream seems that much more unachievable. It’s hard to realize that sometimes the dreams you have are amazing, but the plans you make to achieve them aren’t. Or life sometimes gets in the way of your dreams. You make mistakes and things don’t go as planned.

Our response to this is to keep going! We’re still working on the bus, and we still plan to finish it. We have goals in mind, a date that we want to finish, but we also know now that things might not go as planned, so we’ve lowered our expectations and cut ourselves some slack. People will think we’re crazy even when the bus is finished, so we’ll not worry about that and continue to work hard to fulfill this dream of living in a tiny home as a family.

Actually, on a positive note, the more time this project has taken, the better it’s become. The design of our bus home has improved and continues to improve to meet our daily needs. The legal hurdles feel less like hurdles, and now, we actually know where we’ll be living for the first year of life in the bus. Sometimes when things don’t go as planned, plans change. Keep pursuing your dreams.

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About This Blog

Alana Jamison is in her final semester Goddard College’s MFA in creative writing program. Her story "What I Lost" is forthcoming in Flash: The International Short Short Story Magazine. As a stay-at-home mom of two toddlers and an aspiring homeschooler, she’s passionate about living simply for the sake of having an adventurous life. She and her husband Jeremiah are building their tiny home in a school bus, and she started http://thejamisons.blog and its accompanying YouTube channel to share about her family’s transition into tiny living. In her work she hopes to inspire others to live their “tiny” dreams. Find out more about Alana and her work at http://alanajamison.ink.  

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