From the Spring 2021 Edition: Meet 12 Tiny Things authors Heidi Barr & Ellie Roscher, interviewed by Wayfarer Editor Leslie M. Browning
LESLIE: We sit down with you a few months after the release of your new book, 12 Tiny Things. Are you allowed to tell us what the 12 tiny things are or does that give too much away?
HEIDI: One of the beautiful things about this book is that we didn’t take a “one size fits all” approach. So while we do offer a suggestion of a “tiny thing” to try at the end of each chapter, we also recognize that what works for one person may not work for someone else. For example, when we were just starting to think about ideas for what the tiny things might be for each chapter, when we got to the “food” chapter, I mentioned that baking bread once a week was my “tiny, intentional practice” when it comes to that subject. And Ellie just looked at me and said something along the lines of, “um, that sounds like a major undertaking.” What worked for me wasn’t going to work for her. And that’s fine! Part of what this book does is help the reader reflect on what truly would be a ‘tiny, meaningful, thing’ when it comes to a certain aspect of life.
ELLIE: Some examples include hand writing a letter, going outside to look up at the sky, or naming three things for which you are grateful. In identifying our tiny things, we wanted to make them truly tiny, and tiny practices that could be one beautiful thing that may naturally lead to the next beautiful thing. So, if I commit to taking three intentional breaths each day that is tiny, so tiny I have no excuse to skip it, but if I really practice this every day it may naturally lead to four then five breaths a day until I am living a more mindful, intentional life. Also, this book is an artifact of a much larger movement. The 12 Tiny Things community on Facebook and through our website (12tinythings.com), are the living, breathing heart of the idea. We are co-travelers, supporting each other and sharing ideas. We chose twelve aspects of our lives to focus on and re-root ourselves, one in each chapter, but the work continues well beyond the last page of the book.
LESLIE: How did the idea for the practice come about?
HEIDI: In 2016, we came together with three other women around the question “What is enough?” We applied the
question to work, screen time, activism, consumer culture and beyond. We each blogged from our personal experience
in grappling with this question. Writing about it helped us reflect deeper on what lives at our core and how we find
balance in a society constantly inviting us to aim for more. Writing also created a community around the questions.
Folks engaged with our thoughts, offered accountability and added richness to the conversation.
ELLIE: That blog eventually came to its natural end, but we continued to write about intentional living, and “12
Tiny Things” was born. We wanted to share tips and tricks we use to cultivate a more intentional life that decreases
clutter of all kinds so things like our creativity and joy can thrive. The foundational idea is change doesn’t have to
be huge to be impactful. Small things are big things when practiced with attention. It felt like an antidote to both
the paralyzing feeling of overwhelmedness and the often unrealistic and overwhelming desire to change everything
at once. We were hearing more and more in our personal and professional lives that people want to simplify, want to
prioritize, want to find ease, but aren’t sure where to start. An invitation to start small can be a joyful, accessible way
to stay awake to our lives.
LESLIE: Unlike some personal growth offerings that seem to preach to the readership, 12 Tiny Things strikes me as
authentic because you both strive to live the simple life of gratitude of which you write. What do you hope to impart to the reader with this offering?
HEIDI: Everyone, especially in this modern era of climate disruption to political tension, experiences anxiety, loss, and challenge. With our access to news and sense of global citizenship, there is a collective grieving and a communal despair that we are just starting to identify and address. Small intentional practices, like going outside daily or taking three intentional breaths, can be a real help in navigating those times of uncertainty. Practicing something tiny and attainable invites a small bit of stability into a life that might feel like it’s swirling out of control.
We hope readers feel unstuck, hopeful, empowered and actualized. We hope they engage with us joyfully on the ever-unfolding journey of self-reflection. We hope that the tiny things practice brings dignity and a sense of groundedness in a way that cultivates gratitude, presence and vitality. The rhythm of building tiny practices into our lives calms and sustains us, reminding us that we are alive, and inviting us to marvel at our place in the universe as creatures.
A tiny thing is a small action that you are pretty sure you can do. The idea is that the “things” are so small, they invite success in following through and build confidence/self-efficacy. In exploring twelve areas of our lives, we hope readers awaken dormant facets of their personality and come more in touch with their preciousness and belovedness. We hope this book is both a launching pad and a home base to return to.
Read the full interview in the Spring 2021 Edition – or subscribe today, and never miss an interview with our Wayfarers.
Learn more about 12 Tiny Things at 12tinythings.com, as well as explore all the free resources that have been developed, such as meditations, study guides, a kids bingo card, and more.