When I sat alone on my verandah all those years ago thinking about what I wanted my life to be and how I would be able to achieve my dream, many things were uncertain, but I knew one thing to be as clear as day - Hanno would not want to do it. He grew up in a time when everyone worked as hard as they could to buy everything a comfortable life would hold. In those days you worked your way up the ladder of quality and size - if you could afford a small house, that is what you bought. When you earned more money, you sold your small house and bought a bigger one. All the way you kept working towards more, bigger and better. I had never know a time when Hanno didn't work. Even when we moved back home to Australia after spending a couple of years in Germany, we stayed with my parents in Sydney for a while, and the day after we arrived home Hanno looked for a job. The day after that, he was working. He always worked for the good of our family, he always wanted us to have the best we could afford. Success, for both of us, was defined by what we owned and how little debt we carried.
We both know now that flimsy definition didn't come close to what success should mean.
So when I was thinking about how I should convince Hanno towards this life, I thought the best way was to just explain my vision to him. I thought that if I told him about living a greener and more frugal life he would immediately see how wonderful it could be and set about planning this new utopia with me. I had already closed my business down, I told him my thoughts and explained how we could live a free and easy life by him closing his shop and us both working to make and grow what we needed at home.
He listened closely and then asked me if I'd gone completely mad.
I realised then that my dream, the way I could see our lives, was not shared. It had been bubbling away in my head for a while, I'd been quietly doing a few frugal and green things for a few years and Hanno just didn't get it.
I didn't mention it again. I started doing all the things I wanted to do at home. I cooked everything from scratch, made everything I could at home, stopped shopping, started building a stockpile, enlarged the vegetable garden, bought more chickens and reduced our grocery shopping. After about six months he could actually see what I wanted - it was there before him, a real interpretation of what my dream was. He couldn't argue with that. He could see it worked, he could see I was happier than I had been in years, he could see this life had changed me for the better. I suppose it was another year or two before he actually closed the shop, knowing we would not only survive this life, but thrive in it.
Now, having said all that, it would be quite irresponsible of me to not warn you that life is ever-ready to throw you some unexpected curved balls. Doing what we did worked mainly because we have no debt and we are the age we are. Doing it earlier would have required that we set up a small business to run from home. We would have needed an income. Not much, but enough to pay our house rates, health insurance, electricity and gas bills etc. And you can live simply without giving up work. It really does rely on your stage of life. Look at how Bel is living with her lovely family. Bel and her husband with six children - they have fashioned a simply life that works well for them all. Bel's husband works and Bel homeschools the children and produces healthy food for them all.
Simple living has a lot to do with changing your mindset and how you see yourself and your actions. It's being independent and taking responsibility for what you do. And remember, simple living is not easy living. You work hard at times because you stop buying convenience. The convenience of ready made, or partially made, food, the convenience of buying a new car when the old one needs repairs, the convenience of plastic, and supermarket vegetables and a hundred other things.
So I guess my advice would be to just live your life the way you want to live it. Don't explain it to anyone, unless they ask. Your actions and commitment will speak much louder than what you have to say. Lead by example, others will follow. But if you're convinced you can make a go of this way of life, if you're willing to work hard and forsake the latest fashion in clothing, furnishings, houses and cars, if you can see that less is more and you want to work towards a healthier environment and a happier you, then go for it. The rewards are there for the taking.