Kellie O'Rourke

This spring marks three years living in my 150-square-foot apartment in Northwest Portland. While I could go on about how living at my means, reducing my carbon footprint, and generally adopting the minimalist lifestyle of every aesthetic blogger’s dreams, let’s be honest with each other – tiny living is really hard.

Behind the scenes of my own Tiny House Nation, I’ve suffered through enjoyed the continual process of evaluating my belongings and selling or donating whatever didn’t bring me joy or have regular utility. Sorry, Mom, that Christmas tea pot with the holly leaves didn’t make the cut.

Sometimes it feels like a whole team of Marie Kondos couldn’t dig me out of the clutter I’m in, especially after Christmas when every family member and friend (bless their hearts) buys me the biggest gifts they can possibly find that require the largest boxes with the most packing materials. Do cat shelters take donations of cardboard boxes? Asking for a friend.

The best part of this experience hasn’t been the lifestyle itself, but living in a way that expresses the values most important to me. A mentor from high school used to say the unhappiest person is not the person breaking the law, but the person living outside of their own values. I enjoy being able to live in a way that aligns with the ideals that I find important, and I enjoy finding ways to do that at Coates Kokes, too. I’m really fortunate that CK not only engages with its community, but encourages me to give back in ways that I find meaningful. As a group, we went to the Oregon Food Bank and divided up fresh produce into packages to send to families in Oregon, but I can choose my own small ways to give back that keep me active in a city I care about. So next time you see a Street Roots vendor with a cup of coffee, maybe it came from me.

P.S. My apartment is way less sad now.