About A Year in a Room

Carol Mitchell: I’m a former clinical psychologist also trained as a spiritual director. I’m out of the therapy business these days and instead lead retreats and meet with people individually for spiritual direction.

Bill Mitchell: I’m a journalist and teacher who has worked for various media organizations. I’m currently trying to string together enough odd jobs to avoid full-time employment.

Carol & Bill with granddaughter Leila (Photo by Kate Mitchell Balla)

Carol & Bill with granddaughter Leila (Photo by Kate Mitchell Balla)

Bill & Carol: We got married in 1970 as we approached our 22nd birthdays. That was 45 years ago, which gives you an idea which birthday we’ll be celebrating later this year. We have three grown children and five grandchildren.

In June 2013 we moved out of our 4 bedroom, 4 bath house on the water in St. Petersburg, FL. We arrived in Boston a week later and moved into an intentional community of 21 people at Beacon Hill Friends House, where we live in a 16 by 18 foot room with a shared bath down the hall. New residents are accepted for two years, with the possibility of two extensions of one year each. (Update: A year into this adventure, we moved from the third floor to the second floor of BHFH. We look out onto Chestnut Street from windows just above the street lamp on the left side of the winter wonderland photo below.)

We pay $647-a-month each for rent and $341 for food (as of July 2015), which includes Sunday-Thursday dinners and a fully stocked kitchen for us to prepare other meals on our own. At $1,976-a-month for the two of us, we feel like we’re getting a bargain. And while we supplement some of the house food with a small private stash in the resident fridge, we don’t miss the weekly grocery schlep.

A Year In a Room is our journal of a transition whose timeframe has already stretched beyond a year. We describe some of the challenges of downsizing, the joys and tensions of squeezing ourselves into a single room and the lessons we learn along the way about whatever grabs our attention.

screenshot-2015-02-10-12-12-02.pngIn the interest of heading off immediate eviction, we should make clear that this is an account of what the two of us are up to. We’ll respect the privacy of our housemates and will report the activities of other friends and family only with permission.

We serve as each other’s editor, with one of us editing the other’s post before publication. But it takes a village and we welcome your suggested edits — from typos to issues of larger consequence. When we spot an error shortly after posting, or when fixing typos, we simply make the change. For more substantial mistakes, we make the fix and append a correction explaining what we’ve done and why. We aggregate corrections here.

We also welcome your counsel and questions along the way.

7 thoughts on “About A Year in a Room

  1. At 57 and single, I’m yearning to downsize myself — sell house, shed furniture and other items — and move into a smaller place and repackage my life so that it’s filled with more that I want and need to do for myself. Thank you for the inspiration.

  2. Far too few people follow the true path of their lives to escape the traps they’ve built (houses, commitments, etc.). It takes courage to live and faith in yourself to take risks. I am 45 and sold my house to travel for a year to pursue something of true interest. Only 3 weeks in, and still have moments of doubt- thank you for this! It gives me strength!

  3. Hello to both of you! Your plan sounds very interesting! Every once in awhile I drive down Washington St. & think of you.
    I shall look forward to your writing.

  4. I live outside year round. If you have any questions I can answer them. Such as why and how. I saw your article in the Beacon Hill Times.

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