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14 December 2009

The true gauge of authenticity

Around our neck of the woods a typical day goes something like this. I rise at 4 and write until the dogs want to go outside, I let them out, feed them and the cat,  then go into the garden to let the chickens out to free range for the day. I count them all, check they have water, and encourage them to have a wonderful egg-filled day. "I will still love you if you don't give me an egg, but don't push your luck too far," I say.

Inside again, I finish off my writing and when Hanno gets up, I make breakfast. After we eat, I clean up the kitchen, put bread on to rise, make the bed, sweep the floor and get ready for whatever the day may hold. Hanno will work in the yard most of the day. He has his projects and the garden and he'll talk to the chooks, the dogs and our neighbours, and generally keep the place neat, tidy and in good working order. I will write, check the forum, and in between times, I'll do bits of housework, sewing, mending, knitting, baking or making soap or cleansers. It depends on what is needed in our home as to what I actually do.

Lunch comes along and usually it's fresh bread with salad from the garden or boiled eggs with soft golden yolks. After lunch we sometimes have a little nap and then I write again, or sew, or make household goods. Hanno will sometimes read the online newspaper or check out some of his German or news sites. It's an easy way to spend each day - our days are filled with our necessities but the pace is relaxed and gentle. Friends and family phone or call in, we have breaks when we want them. This is living how it should be - we are not stressed and we are productive.  One thing is for sure, it is never boring. It just gets better with each passing day, we are more settled, more grateful and closer to each other because of the time spent working towards our common goal - self reliance.

We are fortunate in that we have no debt. Hanno is on an old age pension and I still get paid for my writing. We are both pleased that I am able to earn that money from home. Of course, no simple life can be truly simple without making the decision to dramatically reduce the amount of money spent. The less we spend, the less we have to work and the more time we have for real living. There is an incredible sense of freedom that comes with not having to work. I still do my volunteering, that feeds my soul and I'd be a lessor person without it. The pay off for me is in feeling useful, being able to use my brain in interesting and innovative ways and meeting the wonderful people who walk through the door. I am enriched by the work I do there and I can say with certainty that it is one of the most rewarding things I've ever done. I can do that work because I'm not tied down to a job.

Even though there are many things to be done in each day, the practical day to day things are not the whole story of simplicity. Practicality and the work that goes with it is just one piece of the puzzle. You have to look inside yourself for the other pieces. Ask yourself if you're really living the life that will make you happy and fulfilled. Everyone's idea of happiness is different but if you're not even close to what you hoped for yourself and your family, you should start thinking about changes.

Most of us have made a real effort of get off the consumerism roller coaster, if you don't you're just playing at this. Spending is the one true gauge of authenticity. If you're still spending on non-essentials while you're paying off debt, you're not going to reach those simple life goals anytime soon.

You have to slow down too. This was the hardest thing for me. I was a chronic multi-tasker, I always had plenty of things on the go at the one time and often I felt overworked and unappreciated. Now that I've slowed myself, I can be busy without feeling like I'll never get it all done. I take my time with each part of what I'm doing and I concentrate on my job at hand and not on what will come later. It's made all the difference and eliminated those feelings of being rushed all the time.

One thing is for sure, simplifying will always give you more work to do, it is never the other way around. But this is a different kind of work. It's work that will fulfil you and make your life richer because what you're doing is building self-reliance into your life. Instead of relying on others to make what you need, instead of going to the store to buy your food, you will be able to do a lot of that yourself. That builds self-confidence which makes you believe you're capable of doing more and more.

You will never be in the ideal place to start living simply. Often the move towards it comes when things are really chaotic in your life, you might have lost your job, had a baby, become ill or maybe you're just fed up with life on the roller coaster. You don't have to move to another location, everyone can start simplifying right where they are now. All it requires is for you to stop spending, to re-evaluate your life and to clarify what it is you want from life. The only thing that will be handed to you on a silver platter will be the one size fits all notion that you can spend your way to success and that being is debt is "normal". Everything else requires thought and planning. I'm here to tell you it's confronting, difficult and challenging. But if you can change, if you decide to focus on quality of life rather than the quantity of stuff you own, if you can break out of the mould that mainstream society has encased you in, then you'll have the chance to live a life like no other. Is the time right for you?


  1. Thanks, as always, for another inspirational and timely post, Rhonda.It appeals to me that your days do not appear to be filled with any extraneous tasks and activities - things that we folk often feel compelled to fill our lives with. I have often felt that people seem to be in a competition to see who can be the "busiest". Everything seems so scheduled now. Including a simple cup of tea with a friend....
    My family and I were in your neck of the woods on Saturday. What a lovely township. I enjoyed visiting the markets at the Hall, too.
    Have a lovely day,
    Tracy (Brisbane)

  2. Thanks Rhonda for a really thought provoking post this morning. We are settling in to our new home and already we are having visits from neighbours and friends down from Sydney. I would have worried that everything was not perfect for them before, but now I just go with the flow and enjoy the visit. I am busy in this new lifestyle, but I am loving it and, like you, after lunch we often have a kip and recharge the batteries for the afternoons activities. Have a great day.
    Blessings Gail

  3. I loved your post -its true people don't quite understand simplicity that you still work-just a different sort of work. One that you like!

  4. While reading your article I found myself getting that 'I am ready' feeling again. I have started and quit so many times in the past.

    My life is very stressful right now and all I yearn for is that sense of peace you get from doing something that actually means something.
    To be able to look back each day and feel like I accomplished something and contribute in a way that just makes life more fulfilling.

    Thankyou for your words and your daily writing here.


  5. I enjoyed your post. I'm wondering, though, how much your slower more deliberate life is possible because your children are grown and gone? I have tried to be more deliberate in my life, but I have children and I teach them at home. It's certainly a challenge to take from your posts and apply them to my busy life, but I have learned from you and the others. What's really working for me is to take one change at a time. That was great advice.

  6. I have said it before,and I'll say it again....I come here because you make me think!! When I read your words,I ask myself the "hard questions" that need asking.Thank you for that...for urging us all to live our lives with intention and purpose!!

  7. Thanks for your post today, you always seem to have the answer to how I'm feeling that day (weird, hail to my guru), I start to feel that I should be doing more in my life (society makes you feel this)but I so believe as you live and your post gives me support to stay as I am and just enjoy the simple pleasures of each day.

  8. Thank you again for a wonderful, encouraging post about simplifying our lives. DH and I already live simply, but have had our finances reduced this year so have had to cut back on spending and reading your post inspires me to keep on and to simplify even more.

    Love and hugs ~ FlowerLady

  9. Hi Rhonda, I'm working on not multitasking, I've taken such pride in doing it for years that I am finding it difficult to be mindful. One of my goals for 2010.

  10. Oh, Rhonda. What a wonderful essay! Thank you for putting my thoughts into words. Although we are not as self sustaining as you two seem to be, we do what we can with where we are in our lives and what our goals are. And, isn't it fun?

    I too enjoy my volunteer activities. It is very rewarding.

    Let's all have a very peaceful, relaxed, but productive Monday. All right?

  11. Thank You for this post. Though we live simply, we simply need to learn more and I do that by reading your blog and initiating the suggestions that fit in with what else can we do with our life right now.
    Small Steps~~But we keep on walking forward, so I feel blessed.

  12. Another beautiful post Rhonda, and on a day when i need some inspiration desperately. Have been on my own with the newbub and ds(nearly)3 for a week, and the sleep deprivation, the constant need for ds to have attention and the realisation that my life is really not my own to do with as I like is starting to do my head in. Thanks for the grounding, and the down-time. Even if it is with ds as my side ripping me off the computer.

  13. You've driven me out of the lurkosphere with this beautifully written post, Rhonda. It is a lovely life you describe, and one that my husband and I are working towards, day by day. It's hard to fight desire, and the siren-call of consumerism, but the glimpses of our future are there. Every time I make our laundry liquid, wash a cloth nappy or patch a shirt, I feel a sense of connectedness and intimacy with the family. More and more, I feel like the small moments of happiness and satisfaction are what makes up the whole - not the striving towards some distant goal. Thanks for a wonderful, wise website.

  14. Hi Rhonda
    Thank you so much for your wise ponderings.
    My husband and I are similar to you and Hanno in ages - he is nearly 66 (and has just been approved for the pension) and I will be 60 next year. I've had a change in career direction - now working part-time in public library system and loving it!! I won't qualify for Centrelink Pension until I'm 65.
    Would your part-time voluntary job qualify you for Newstart Allowance? Don't mean to pry??
    Sue H from WA

  15. Really wonderful words... invigorating.

    Thank you for your kind words on my blog too!

  16. Hi Rhonda

    I have been reading your blog, but this is the first time I have commented. Thank you for your posts, I read them every day and find them very inspiring.

    I have moved to Australia from South Africa with my family where I went from full time employment to stay at home mom.

    It has taken me on the most incredible journey. I have come into myself, doing what I love, raising my children and working on simplifying our life as a family. The slower pace of my life has made me so much more relaxed and I am able to enjoy my husband, my children and my home.

    All the best,

  17. Thank you very much, blogs like yours are a real inspiration - and practical help. Many of us (who decided to live a more simple, peaceful life - or at least give it a try) don't have a flesh-and-blood role model right by our side, so it is very encouraging and helpful to peek over your virtual shoulder and watch how you are doing it.
    I think I am about halfway where you already are, and I enjoy every day. It's so true, we need to start right where we are, whith whatever resources we have at hand, or we will never do it. Thanks again and have a beautiful day.

  18. OUCH! This hurts. It hits right in the gut. We have cut back in many ways, but recently have gotten back on the consumerism band wagon. Thanks, Rhonda, for helping me to open my eyes to the WHY of why we aren't getting any further ahead.

  19. Rhonda, your post brought tears to my eyes. I have been laid off since August, and I found your blog in September. I thought, how wonderful, now is the time to simplify! Now 3 months later, I've been so tempted to try and work full time, something I haven't done since my daughter started school 6 years ago. I really want to be home with her, but I have some credit card debt and a car payment to pay off. My husband really wants me to work full time, he has the modern mentality that it takes two fulltime incomes to run a home.

  20. A very inspirational post. Such a great reminder to me too- sometimes I still get that urge to spend money on things I don't need but am "supposed to have". It's still hard to break out of it, especially when it's all around me. In my heart I know having the "top of the line" things won't make me truly happy, that is a myth. Thank you for the lovely post today.
    The Girl in the Pink Dress

  21. I gave up on multi tasking a few years ago, nothing was getting finished when I did.Now to organize an extra busy day I make a "To Do" list and only focus on the items on the list,one at a time.I don't beat myself up over not finishing the whole list I can always finish it the next day.Doing this has helped me slow down and focus.
    My husband and I have taken on extra work for pay to help us dig out from under a stack of medical bills.We so want to get rid of our debits.By our summer the stack should be paid off!
    I also meant to comment when you posted about brushes the other day.Why hadn't I thought of replacing my sponges with scrub brushes at the sinks? Thank you for the inspiration. I think I am going to like the brushes better,I always worry about how clean the sponges are or are not.With brushes I can sanitize them and not worry.

  22. I love your early morning chicken greeting ritual! =)


  23. Very good post! I linked to it on my Facebook. If that is not okay, I will remove it. But, I figured more people needed to read this! :-)

  24. What kind of trees were those with the fruits on them. I know they aren't coconuts.

  25. I have a better sense of your day now from this post.

  26. What a lovely post. I found the first few months that i had my baby I really slowed down and allowed myself the time to bond, nurture and be there for him at nay cost- letting go of any other "to dos" I would have normally associated with. It was really refreshing and although my pace has stepped up since he's gotten bigger, if I ever need to slow down for a day, I don't hesitate to stop and breathe and just be. xo m.

  27. Hello James. They are fox tail palms. They fruit for the first time after the tree has reached maturity at 12 years. This is the second year we have fruit on them. I'll do some research on them soon to see if the fruit are edible.

  28. Thank you for a thought-inspiring post. Your blog is a wonderful reminder to stay true to the path our family is trying to follow.

  29. Yes it is! And thank you só much for this writing. As always. Your stories are stimulating to me. And I know that I can also do it, it's just that I want it all in one day.

    You really inspire me to do it one step at a time, and I am sure willing to try.

    Dear Rhonda, I already said it a thousand times before (or so it feals), but thank you. Thank you for sharing your life.

    Want to wish you and your loved ones great holidays and if I don't "speak" to you before changing years: have a very happy and blessed 2010.

    Love from Holland, Mama Monique

  30. Thank you for your thoughtful and inspiring blog. I heard you on the ABC and then looked up the blog. I am currently deeply entrenched in the corporate world and find your words and example a breath of fresh air. It reminds me of the way I want to live and illustrates what is possible. Your comments about consumerism, authenticity and a rich and rewarding simple life really resonate. Thanks for sharing your authentic life and enabling us to recognise our own hopes in the process.

  31. Dearest Rhonda
    Your days sound much like mine. I've recently begun staying home, homeschooling and living simply. Up until this very moment (reading your post) I felt guilty about it. I am so happy with it all, and I felt guilty that I should be 'so lucky'. Thanks for this lovely post. I know feel that I'm doing what God HImself wants me to.

  32. Many years ago I read a piece in a homesteading magazine that spoke to my heart as yours has. In that life I knew there was no way I would ever achieve the kind of peace you live. I passed the magazine on so I would not have those words taunting me. Guess what? They have stayed in my heart and on my mind all this time. Again today when I read your words I am reminded of the life I am striving to live. I have printed your essay so it can be read over and over as I continue to pursue a gentle life. Thank you.

  33. A brilliant and inspiring post. I have been reading a lot of your posts and they gives me a lot of joy and comfort. It is fun to see the kitchen sinks of others around the globe. I am also learning from you as I too want to create a simple and peaceful life. I got very sick 3 years ago (actually it was the point at which I could no longer continue to work as if I wasn't sick) and since then have accumulated a lot of debt. I am now trying to simply, declutter, reorganize, pay down my debt and learn how to make the most of every dollar. Your blogs and the blogs of others who are on similar journeys give me the boost I need to do it! God bless you and happy writing.

  34. hi
    very well written
    I am a first time visitor but will surely visit again


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