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29 December 2009

From the archives - Just do it (April 2009)

I'm having a short break but I noticed there are a lot of readers visiting this morning. I've decided to occasionally feature popular posts from the archives so you have something to read when you visit.


Anna S by Carl Larsson from here.

I really enjoyed reading a comment from Elizabeth yesterday. She said, in part, “I have been reading your blog for some time but until last week I just read and wished but did not action in anyway. That is, until this last weekend when I thought 'just do it!' So, I have started knitting a cardigan, knitted three squares for a throw for this winter, and made a chicken soup using up a chicken carcass for the very first time!" It is obvious to me that Elizabeth has been thinking about how she wants to change her life for some time, and now she's just dived right in. Living deliberately, there is nothing like it.

When Thoreau wrote his book, Walden, he had left his job and set up in a small cabin to live alone in the woods. He wrote: "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience ..." I think that is one of the most profound pieces of writing I've ever read and since I discovered Walden, many years ago, I have tried to live to the spirit of what Thoreau wrote in that one passage.

So what exactly is living deliberately? I guess there may be several different interpretations but to me it means taking control of my life, thinking about what it is I want my life to be, knowing what I want to do every day, or what I have to do to achieve my goals, and then living that life. Very few people have their life planned out for them and handed over on a silver platter. But what many people do is to just react to life. They have no real plans, they live each day doing what is expected of them, then, when something out of the ordinary happens, they react to it. There is no real plan, no map to follow, just reactions to what life throws.

Deliberate living is deciding what you want your life to become, working out the steps you need to take to make that happen, then, as Elizabeth said, just do it. You will still get life throwing the unexpected at you, but when it happens, you work to solve the problem, then you get back on track.

Those three little words, just do it, are the best advice for anyone hovering on the edge of a simple life. You might be hovering because you don’t know what to do first, because you feel you can’t do it all so why bother with a little bit, or you’re waiting for just the right time – until you move, you get that pay rise, you retire, the kids move out – whatever the right time will be for you, let me tell you there will be no right time. The only right time is now.

The other thing Elizabeth said was that she feels renewed now when she wakes up. I feel that way too. Every day you continue along the path you’ve chosen, you feel you have purpose and you feel renewed.

I think the economic crisis will bring a lot more people to this way of living but living simply is much more than a financial strategy, it's more than your location, it's more than how you manage your home or plant your vegetables. It's about you, how you think about your life and how you express your values day by day. Anyone can learn to make yoghurt, budget, knit dishcloths and grow tomatoes, the real trick is for your actions to reflect how you think and how you want to live. What good is it to list the hundred things you've accomplished if you're not made happy by what you do, if you aren't renewed by it, and if you don't do it with grace, humility and generosity.

When you deliberately choose this way of life, you will be doing things that bypass the conveniences of your old life, there will be many things you'll do differently, but if you do it well, if you really throw yourself into your life, if you live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, not only will you be living deliberately, you will be changed by it. Just do it.


Combine the following dry ingredients in a bowl:
1 cup self raising flour OR one cup plain (all purpose) flour + 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup walnuts
½ cup brown sugar

Melt 125 grams butter (1 stick/4 ozs)
Add 1 lightly beaten egg

Mix the dry ingredients with the wet and press the dough into a slice tin. Firm it down before baking on 180C (350F) for about 2o minutes. Don't leave it in too long or the outer sides will be very hard. When cooked, cut into slices. You could substitute the walnuts for a cup of sultanas (golden raisins) or choc chips or any nuts you have on hand.


  1. I just discovered your blog and the nut slice recipe is a winner, thanks so much.
    I am also going through all your previous posts and am loving all the information on Stitching as I have just discovered it.

  2. Thank you, Rhonda, for reposting this. I am a relatively new reader and had not read this previously. Very poignant...and convicting. We've been living a more sustainable life, but not as much as we could or even disire. Some of that is my fault..."I have a brown thumb...If I touch that, it will job is to pick out the plants, have you garden them and then I will cook them." - You get the idea. But, now you have inspired me, as the new year dawns to, as the Nike commercial so expertly puts it, "Just do it!" No more excuses for me.

    Again, thank you so much!

  3. I visit your blog every morning, so I am really grateful for your posting something from the archives. And the reminder of "Just do it" is just what I needed today!

  4. A good start to the post-Christmas world. We all-too-easily persuade ourselves we can't do things, or haven't got time, but sometimes just launching yourself into something different is all the impetus you need to discover that actually, you CAN DO! I hope a few more ladies grasp the nettle.

  5. I have been reading your post now for about a year and I wish I could give you a hug and thank you because you have given me so much. This morning I woke up, had coffee and put bread dough to rise...Wholeflour ham and cream cheese and chives filled rolls. Your outlook on life has really hit the spot with me. I thank you for your valuable and kind hearted contribution. Thanks for the bottom of my heart and best wishes for a happy and prosperous 2010.
    Kristin & family

  6. Goodness gracious girl, you are reading my mind! I've just started reading "Walden". I'm living a simple life. I struggle with feeling guilty over the pleasures that my simple life affords me. I'm still working through that one. Your blog goes straight to the heart with me Rhonda. Bless you.

  7. I downloaded Waldon the other day and have been listening to it while I sew. What a wonderful and refreshing look at the world he offers. I am enjoying it immensely. Thank you for mentioning it in one of your earlier posts. I had not heard of it before - but am now very glad that I am able to listen to it. The simple life is taking over my household and we are all benefiting from it.

  8. Hi Rhonda - wonderful blog you have here and I enjoy reading it. I noticed that you have mentioned Waldon quite a few times and thought your readers would like to know they can read it online for free here:

    Have a wonderful 2010 :-)

  9. Nice to read this blog again. I know reading it before, but it helped me then, why wouldn't it help anyone now?

    Dear Rhonda, want to wish you and your loved ones a very happy and blessed new year.

    Love from the Netherlands!

  10. I needed to see this post too Rhonda Jean as I've just given up work outside the home to care better for sick members of the family. I am at peace with my decision and feel in control now I don't have the 'work stress'.Thankyou.

  11. HELP...
    what is a slice tin?
    I used a bread pan for the nut slice and it didn't cook through. It was tasty though.

  12. I just discovered your blog through a friend. I read that post and then I posted on my blog and came back to read more and found this post which goes along with my post about living my life with a purpose. You see right to my heart.

  13. Hi Rhonda,
    I discovered your blog from another site and just wanted to drop you a note to say thank you so much for sharing your extensive knowledge.
    I have asked a friend to teach me to knit so I can make my own waffle dishcloths.
    I found a post titled 'Re-evaluating and move forward' .... I have decided this will be my 2010 motto. I am so looking forward to progressing to a Simple Living lifestyle.
    Thank you again for an awesome blog.
    Manola xo
    Townsville, QLD

  14. Jen, don't know if you have comment notification on, but a slice pan is about the same size as a 13x9inch baking dish.. usually with slightly lower sides though :)

    For some reason (holidays maybe?) I haven't made it by here for a while..I'm glad I did :)


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