life in a tiny apartment.

July 9, 2020

Tip #193: There’s always room.

The ways in which our world has shrunk in on itself since March sometimes makes me gasp for air while I’m loading the dishwasher. There are moments in the middle of the night when a small wave of panic washes over me; five heart beats in these two little rooms and I swear I can hear all of them at once.

But even in a tiny apartment in the middle of a global pandemic, there’s always room for more gratitude. So I’m squeezing it into corners and crannies, but also setting the table and dressing the beds with it. I’m displaying it on dressers and shelves and in tiny vases with flowers—doing my best to keep it from being crowded out by the suffocating clutter of uncertainty or worse, despair.

Another month has passed and we’ve managed to pay our rent. (The same isn’t true for other folks in our community who are staring down eviction notices and the end of unemployment benefits.) We’re still without childcare and school won’t be the same in the fall; my work has slowed to a trickle and grows more uncertain with every passing week, but for now there’s flexibility and against odds, the ability to distill whole work weeks into the few, odd hours. There’s a borrowed car for trips to the Rockaways, and a bucket for carrying home shells. There’s ice cream on the neighbors’ stoop after dinner.

I’m sitting on the stoop now. Silas is napping in the stroller in front of me. There’s a breeze and a woman who lives down the street pauses to say her distanced hello. It must be so hard for me to work, she says, all those babies in a small apartment.

Her husband is dead ten weeks now, unconfirmed Covid contracted in the midst of the worst of the pandemic. Upstairs, Calder is asleep in her crib. Faye is alternating between moping and building a robot from compostable berry boxes while James takes a work call. There’s a bowl full of stone fruit and cold water in the fridge. Room for gratitude abounds.



In an effort to look beyond the confines of this little space and to extend a hand to our friends and neighbors, here are two action items to help folks in need of refuge:

On June 15, the federal government proposed new regulations that would rewrite asylum law and threaten hundreds of thousands of persecuted families seeking refuge in the US. What can we do? Under the Administrative Procedures Act, the administration is required to review and give weight to every unique comment made regarding the proposed regulations. This means that the more comments folks flood them with, the more likely it will slow down the review process, possibly even preventing the regulations from taking effect altogether.

Action item: Submit a comment regarding the proposed regulations by July 15. Comments don’t need to be long, but they do need to be unique! Speak from personal experience as an advocate, asylee, neighbor, or friend. If you’re not sure where to start, The New Sanctuary Committee can offer lots of guidance.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has also announced that it is out of funding and has asked Congress for additional funds or it will furlough its workers from the beginning of August until the end of October. USCIS is the agency that gives people green cards, grants them asylum, and naturalizes people to citizenship. If it shuts down, it will cause harm to hundreds of thousands, even millions, of immigrants. We need Congress to fund the agency, and to ensure there is oversight and accountability.

Action item: Contact your senators and representatives by July 31 and ask that USCIS be funded with restrictions to ensure accountability.


Finally, if you haven’t had a chance, I’ll humbly suggest getting a pen and some paper and spending a few quiet minutes with the live Skillshare class I filmed back in May. The class is an exercise in figuring out what’s working in your space, and what’s not, and where there might be room for improvement, but also room for gratitude. If you’re able, please share the affiliate link widely: Every new sign up and every minute watched contributes to my continued work in this space and I’m so grateful for the support.

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  • Reply Ris July 9, 2020 at 12:40 pm

    Erin I don’t have the bandwidth for a Skillshare class right now but I’m wondering if there’s a way for me–and your other loyal readers–to put a bit of money in tip jar, so to speak. I’ve been reading your blog for the better part of a decade and always loved your words.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE July 9, 2020 at 1:16 pm

      Hi Ris! Thanks so much for such a kind offer. If you’d like, you can drop spare change into a virtual tip jar via Venmo or Paypal. Huge thanks for your support!

      • Reply C July 9, 2020 at 2:31 pm

        Hi, Erin — I’m sure you’ve considered it and decided against it for very good reasons, but maybe Patreon could be an interesting model too? I would sign up.

        • Reply Bethany July 9, 2020 at 5:25 pm

          Just adding my two cents to say I would be happy to contribute to the blog on a regular basis. I’m sure there’s lots to consider on your end, but if there were a way to automate payments from readers I’d definitely sign up.

          A longtime reader whose life has changed in subtle but meaningful ways because of your blog 🙂

        • Reply Kirsten July 10, 2020 at 9:57 am

          Just seconding this! I’d happily pay a subscription, and also don’t have bandwidth for a class 🙂

          • ERIN BOYLE July 10, 2020 at 12:33 pm

            Thanks so much! Really looking forward to rolling out some new options!

    • Reply cathy July 9, 2020 at 10:45 pm

      I special-ordered your book through my local indie bookstore. Was able to pick it up last Friday. Can’t wait to re-read it! Thanks for the info about tip jar and a reminder of your Skillshare video. Your words have been one of the keys to my sanity—always, but especially since March.

  • Reply Stephanie July 9, 2020 at 1:27 pm

    Left a comment and made the calls! Thank you for the call to action.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE July 9, 2020 at 1:34 pm

      Thanks so much, Stephanie!

  • Reply Lee July 9, 2020 at 3:18 pm

    I hadn’t even heard of the new proposed rules! Thanks for flagging that. I submitted a comment.

  • Reply Christie July 9, 2020 at 5:08 pm

    Thanks, Erin! You’re the best.

  • Reply Amy July 9, 2020 at 7:52 pm

    Comment submitted. Thanks for this! And for the reminder that gratitude can be found in tiny spaces.

  • Reply L July 9, 2020 at 9:56 pm

    Thank you for sharing! I also second or third a Patreon. Or a more side-banner visible tip jar near Skillshare so folks who won’t sign up for clases can also commit to this beautiful community (and social justice and sustainable work) you are so very commited to. Sustainability is a needed practice all around in these times.

  • Reply Lesley July 10, 2020 at 9:33 am

    I would love to financially contribute to the blog but I don’t use PayPal or Venmo. How about a PO box so we could send a check? I know this is probably awkward for you but you’ve helped to get me through these insane political times and now the pandemic. Your words are calming and beautifully written. Thank you for your efforts.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE July 10, 2020 at 9:37 am

      Hi Lesley, Thanks so much for your note! I’m so grateful for everyone’s support and am looking into some ways to allow folks to contribute more easily in the future! Stay tuned!

  • Reply Liz July 10, 2020 at 12:02 pm

    I don’t really know what to say; I’m in the UK and reading the news from the US is heartbreaking. In the midst of such awful times I am in awe of the strength, courage and hope people are showing. We have so much love for you. Stay well.

  • Reply Amy July 10, 2020 at 7:46 pm

    Wow, I needed this post today. Your ability to step back and see the good in your life when things feel overwhelming is a practice I learn from (and try to do myself) when I read your words. Purchasing your book as a gift for a friend now. ❤️

  • Reply Diana July 11, 2020 at 2:41 pm

    donated to the family in need and shared on fb, thanks for amplifying.

    • Reply Ella July 13, 2020 at 6:31 pm

      Hi Erin,
      I too would be so happy to subscribe to the blog or make monthly payments thru Patreon! I’ve gained so much from your blog, classes, and book. The community you created is so important. Here and ready to support you!

  • Reply Katie Dickson July 14, 2020 at 11:51 pm

    I use the affiliate links on your site constantly and would happily subscribe to a (paid) newsletter. Found your Skillshare class extremely relaxing and ideal nighttime viewing during these times–would happily pay for that kind of content regularly! Hoping this feedback is helpful. What a crazy time to pivot an already fairly diversified business model. I own a tiny restaurant and have two toddlers — I *feel* ya.

  • Reply Cornelia Westermann July 18, 2020 at 7:26 am

    Thanks for the post! Loving your beautiful photos, very inspiring 🙂

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