Health scares can make people take stock of their lives and discover what's really important to them. For Dee Williams that involved downsizing from her three-bedroom home in Portland, Ore., to an 84-square-foot tiny house that she built on her own. 

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According to the Los Angeles Times, Williams suffered a heart attack in 2004 and was then diagnosed with a life-threatening heart condition. That diagnosis was the kick-start she needed to make her lifestyle change. While sitting in her doctor's office, she read an article that described a tiny house on wheels built by Jay Shafer. That article prompted her to examine whether her ailing heart wouldn't be better off in a smaller space. "When I first saw an image of Jay Shafer's little house, there was some sort of ancient DNA strand that clicked in and said everything is going to be OK," Williams told the L.A. Times.

Thus inspired,  she writes in her memoir excerpted in Slate about how she built her new house herself. With her tiny house in the backyard of friends Hugh O'Neill and Annie McManus, The New York Times records that both her expenses and her clutter are almost completely gone. CBS News reports that her utilities total less than $10 per month. In spite of  going tiny, Williams is not staring at four bare walls. As she told the L.A. Times, "I bought three pieces of artwork recently. I gave myself permission to bring them in."

Besides saving money, Williams' tiny house has created quite a stir with people wanting to see what she has done. Even though the tiny house is mobile and Williams could move anywhere to show it, she is anchored in Olympia, Wash., for the time being.  Instead of constantly moving her home so that others can view it, the traffic comes to her -- literally and figuratively. The Oregonian states that a virtual tour of her tiny house has attracted more than 20 million people. Williams' decision to go tiny has not only created a new way of life for her but has also opened up a new business opportunity for her as well. 

Now, Williams and her friend Joan Grimm have a business called Portland Alternative Dwellings. The company provides resources that help do-it-yourselfers build their own tiny houses. She's also written a book, "The Big Tiny: A Built-It-Myself Memoir," where she describes in more detail how she made her downsizing decision and what living in a tiny house is like. Living tiny is not for everyone, but as Williams told The New York Times, "Living in a little house made sense for me; it clicked. It gave me a chance to live close to my friends and be happy with the time that I have.”