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18 October 2007

Two simple strategies

This is when your simple life starts. At this very minute. If you've decided you want to change the way you live and intend to make a plan to live simply, then I want you to think of yourself as living simply. Tell other people too; tell your family, friends and neighbours. Tell them: "I've changed how I live my life, I'm living simply now." You'll find that if you tell others and verbalise your changes, that the change itself will be easier. You'll feel like you've already made inroads on your new life and the change is underway.

I want to emphasise that simple living can be started at any time of your life, with each period having its own challenges and rewards. If you’re in your 50s or beyond, like me, it will put you on the path towards a healthy and ethically-based lifestyle that will allow you to do more good than harm. If you are in the period when you’re nurturing a young family and buying a home, I hope you’ll gain valuable insight into how to build a sustainable and fulfilling life. If you’re younger and just starting out, I hope you will use your simple values to build an ethical and secure base on which to build a fine future.

As soon as you finished reading this blog today, I have a task for you. Your first small step: sit down with a pen and notepad and think about the kind of life you want to live. Picture yourself in your ideal location doing what would make you happy. What is complicating your life? What do you need to change in your life to achieve what you want? Write down the points of change as you think of them. Write down how you believe you could achieve the changes you want. Write down what you’re prepared to give up to make the changes happen. List what you don’t like about your life now. List what is important to you.

Your list will show you what areas you need to focus on, and you can then work through your list point by point. If you’re like me, you’ll need to change a lot to achieve the life you want. Take a bit of time with this first exercise, think about what is important to you and your family and write it all down. It will be very interesting in the coming weeks and months to look at these points again to see how your path or your ideas change. Be aware it won't be all smooth sailing. You'll need to compromise on some of your wishes but maybe you can revisit them in coming months and move them closer to where you want to be.

When undertaking any major change in life you need to be organised to be able to cope with it and do it in the most efficient way. You will probably change a lot of small things to live simply, so organisation is vital. Each simple life is different as well, there is no fixed formula for what we're doing here. Your life will be different to mine, your plans will vary according to the stage of life you're at, if you're married or not, if you have children, if you're working at home or outside the home, there are many variables. You must plan your changes and keep all your information at hand.

I've written before about how to declutter and organise your home, but decluttering is only one part of this organisation. I am going to encourage you to start making lists. Shopping lists, stockpile lists, to do lists. Make up any sort of list that will help you achieve what you hope for. Use your lists to give yourself reminders during the day about what you should be focusing on. Use a calendar to mark important dates like birthdays, anniversaries and meetings. Keep a diary to record notes for yourself and to remind you of what you need to do.

This is your second small step. Start a simplicity journal in which you record new ways of doing things and new ideas you want to work on. The list of how you want your life to change should be the first thing in your journal. It will also hold the general information about your home like your To Do’s, your garden plan and a record of your harvests, when and what you preserve, and any new recipes you find for both food and cleaning. I hope you'll include some of my ebooks in your simplicity journal too.

I recycled one of those old cardboard covered three ring binders, covered it in a fabric and I use that for all my simple notes, recipes and reminders. My journal also contains letters people write to me, seeds that I've decided to plant but haven't planted yet, a calendar so I can mark down what I'm doing, my water meter card, seed and tree catalogues and many recipes.

If you find something online that will help you in your new life, download it and add it to your folder. It is important that you keep a folder to organise
your transition to simplicity, not only will it be the repository of all your notes and reminders, it will also document your journey to your new way of living. Keep this folder and your diary together so you always know where they are. You can put in some dividers and have sections for recipes, seed catalogues, ideas you want to try, stories from others who inspire you to be the best you can be. If you're trying to reduce your electricity and water consumption, keep your bills in your folder, along with your weekly meter readings. Tailor your journal to suit what you're doing and it will help you simplify. You'll have all your information in one place and you can add to it or read it easily.

Starting a simplicity journal might sound like an extra burden in a changing life, but being organised will focus you and keep you on track for all the good things that will become part of your simple life.


  1. Dear Rhonda-What a great way to live simply. I have a binder that I am keeping my grocery, cleaning, gardening,homeschooling lists in. I also love to live simply and uncluttered. I am teaching my daughters how to knit sweaters this fall and make up some quilts for the winter. We are using your patterns for pretty napkins and samplers. The girls love your patterns. I was hoping Jewel's would have sent you her napkins, but I have not seen them posted. I really miss her blog. I saw little jenny wrens Tashua Tudor shawl-my daughters and I made the same shawls about the time Rosie posted hers. We have the wooden shawl pins , also. I saw Jenny's shawl pins-they are very pretty. You are such an inspiration to me. Blessings, Rose in the U.S.A.

  2. Thanks Rhonda, Im in the progress of putting together a folder as well and organising my chores, jobs around the gardens and lists. My family has just left after 3 weeks and i decided that its time for a new beginning. Thanks for the inspiring words. Baby steps each day. Marlo

  3. Oh Rhonda, thank you so much for sharing your ideas w/ us! I have printed this out and am going to get right to work on your binder suggestion. I think decluttering will be a huge callenge for me but I'm ready to take it on! You are an inspiration to me as well!!!!

    Love, Debbie in central Illinois

  4. Oh Wow! I LOVE the idea of keeping some kind of journal/folder for my ideas. Some things I read about and would like to do but can't right now. Then I forget. This would be really helpful for me. I'm going to start this next week (few commitments at the moment).

    I've started compiling a list. It's interesting what comes out when you start writing things down.

    My biggest one is LESS STUFF. I used to be a shopaholic so we have too much stuff. Still struggle with shopping to cheer myself up but I'm doing better. I know if I had less stuff, I'd have more time for other things. Knowing and doing are 2 different things though aren't they.

    As for verbalising my intent to simplify - I've never told anyone in "real life". I only seem to be able to verbalise it online - where people "get me". If you know what I mean.

  5. This is for the first anonymous poster today. I too miss Jewel's blog. I am also making my own shawl like Rosie's. I remember looking at the shawl pins she had mentioned in that post, but I did not make a link to it. Did you order your shawl pins from this company Jewels posted about? If so, do you have the contact info for me. I'd love to peruse that site again. The shawl's about done and I need something to keep it on! Thanks from Minnesota, USA

  6. Thank you for such valuable information! I appreciate all you have to share. We are in the season of buying a home and raising children, and I am also trying to teach them to live more economically and be good stewards.
    It helps so much to have someone with such wisdom share it, thank you again!

  7. Rhonda - What a great post. I've been actually thinking about this on my own lately. The journal that it. I want to have a single place where I can go to reference all of the information and ideas that I have. Also, what you mentioned about listing ones actions and "what you are willing to give" in return for it is an oft missed part of the plan. We have to be willing to give something for the things that we want.
    again, great post.

  8. Hello Rose, thank you. Jewels send an email today and I have the photo of her swap partners napkins that I'll post tomorrow. Aaslag, Jewels' partner, will be sending me some photos of Jewels napkins soon, I hope. I'll ask Jewels about the shawl pins when I write back.

    Hello Marlo, new beginnings, how exciting. I bet you'll find the simplicity journal a real help.

    Hello Debbie, thank you dear. I hope your journal works well for you. Remember to tailor it to exactly suit what you're doing.

    Hi Lightening, I started my journal/folder becasue I kept forgetting too. It really helped me get my act together. Have you told your husband and family you're simplifying? If not, start with them. Hopefully they'll ask "why?" and you can verbalise even more. LOL

    Anon in Minnesota, I'll ask Jewels about the pins and try to get the contact details of the store for you.

    Hello Marlina dear. It makes me smile when I read about mothers teaching their children to live simply. It's such a fine thing to do and even if the children complain occasioanlly, what you teach them, and momdel in your own behaviour, will stand them in good stead when they're older. It may not feel like they're "getting it" but they do. Keep up the good work.

    Hi Patric, good to see you here again. The giving up part is often overlooked but it's a very important component of this way of living. It does us good to go without too. Gee, I sound like my mum now. ; )

  9. What wonderful ideas! I love the binder idea and am going to recycle something I have around here (I'm sure there will be something I can use/reuse)- I'm always reading ideas but quickly forget about them because I don't print them out and save. This will certainly help with being more organized and purposeful.

  10. I recently found your blog through 'Homespun Living', via the dishcloth boutique. So far I am loving it! I was wondering, though, if you have a link to the e-books you were talking about, or do you sell them? Thanks.

  11. I have all my notes etc very unorganized and all in a cupboard in my kitchen. I do know where the important things are like your bread recipe LOL!.

    Work is getting rid of some binders, I think that is a great place to start. So glad that you've given yet another great idea.

    Thanks, Paula

  12. Rhonda Jean,
    I cut and copied this post to Word and printed it out. I hope you don't mind. Thank you for giving me some direction. I will spend some time each day for the next while in quiet time with a pen and paper doing exactly as you have stated in this post. I did talk to my husband this morning and decided with his blessings to begin my shopping weekly instead of biweekly. I know that I have much more on hand then needed, know I spend too much on our groceries and also know that there is waste. This is the next step for me in regards to budgetting, frugal living and achieving our goals of wanting to be out of debt and living on a piece of land simply.

  13. Rhonda,

    We live a very simple some might say boring life We try not to live way above our income. We do have debt that we are now paying off. We hope to be debt free by the end of next year:)

    My question is: I struggle in the food area. We do great except when we are in a hurry and need a quick meal thats when we decided to just get take-out. Can you help me think of a way or (to prepare myself for this)to feed my family on days when we just need to fix something quick.

    Rhonda- living simple is wonderful!


    from Ky

  14. Rhonda, as I was reading this, I felt a tiny bit of satisfaction, for already practicing some of the things you mentioned: I have a similar binder, a daily planner, and make all sorts of lists - I'm lost without them!.. But I still have a long way to go. Visiting you was a pleasure, as always!

  15. When anyone asks me how they can downshift/live more simply/do better with what they've got I ALWAYS refer them to your blog. It has everything a starter-upper could want. Such a mine of information! Thanks Rhonda.

  16. Hi Rhonda-this is information for the gal from Minnesota,USA wh wanted to know where Rosie and Jewels bought their shawl pins. They went on-line to Knitting Notions and I have bought 5 shawl pins already-they are genuine walnut, cherry,mahogany etc.-hand carved. I ordered the one that Rosie had on her shawl for one of my daughters and my other daughters picked out different lenghths and colors-they cost 9.95 each and are well worth it. My girls wear their shawls every day. We really miss Jewels too. My daughters especially miss Rosie. Blessings, Rose from Conn, USA

  17. Thank you so much, Rose from Connecticuit, USA for the shawl pin information from Jewel's much missed blog. I am going to visit Knitting Notions now! If I get a gorgeous shawl pin ordered up perhaps that will give me the motivation to finish up my lovely cranberry colored shawl! ~Kelly in Minnesota

  18. I love the idea of a simplicity journal. What a perfect place to keep myself organized, but in a notebook, covered in fabric that I adore.

  19. Well, I don't know if you read old blog comments but I discovered your blog a few days ago and went back to the beginning. In writing my list I think the thing I discovered most is that I want to be useful and purposeful in how I spend my time and money. Right now, in the job I am at I waste a lot of time and am not allowed to do purposeful things. So, I decided I am going to use that time to learn gardening tips for my state and study hydroponics and some of the things I don't know how to do. I used to live much simpler than I do now and I would very much like to return to that. Thank you for the nudging in that direction!

  20. I am not sure if my comment posted. But I discovered your blog a few days ago and of course had to go back to the beginning. I used to lead a much simpler life but divorce and being a single mama to 8 kiddos required full time work and simple living left. Now I am much older, remarried and only have 2 of my kiddos still at home. I have moved back to Iowa and am ready to go back into a simpler (albeit harder working) life. I am using my wasted time at work (where I am not allowed to do non work related purposeful things but can just sit and do nothing) to learn about gardening (which I was never very good at), hydroponics and peruse your blog. Thank you for the nudge back in that direction!


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