DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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16 January 2014

Simple life is its own reward

Most of you know there was a time when I didn't like being at home. I went to work, out shopping, socialising with friends and if there was nothing else, I'd go home. Things changed for me when I gave up work in my early 50s and although I didn't know it at the time I would never go back. I was about to turn my life on its head and to make the discovery of a lifetime. I was about to find a new world, right behind my front gate.

When I was here in my home in those early days, my kids were out at uni or working and Hanno was having fun in the shop he bought after he retired. I waved them goodbye in the morning and wondered what I would do. Well, to make a very long story short, we all know I ended up reskilling myself here. Domestic work and gardening changed me. I remembered how my mother and grandmother kept house and I modelled myself and my work on what they did. I already knew how to cook, grow vegetables, stockpile, sew and make various things but I'd buried the knowledge of those essential skills under too many Saturday morning shopping sprees and the increasing unhappiness and dissatisfaction I was feeling. I thought there was no cure for how I felt. I thought that was how life was.

 Partially sprouted beans and legumes for the bean and ham soup with bean sprouts, below.

But when I put on my apron and started making bread, and cooking wholesome food for dinner every night, I realised the benefits of not only cooking your own food but producing it as well. We already had a vegetable garden and chickens but I wanted to make the garden bigger and get more chooks. Instead of just having these things because we could, I wanted to make our backyard productive and supply our own food.  I wanted to see what was possible here, if we could move away from supermarkets and manufactured food and produce real food with our own hands. Over the following months that happened. New garden beds were added, fruit trees and vines planted and more chickens introduced into our little coop, and much more.


After a few weeks, I went to bed each night exhausted from the work I'd done but impatient for the new morning to break so I could do it all again. I had control over what I was doing and my self confidence was increasing daily. I was also feeling happy and content. What was going on!  People were supposed to be excited about going out and spending money, being out in the wide world and part of the hustle and bustle, and here I was being made whole again by planting saved seeds, washing up by hand and sitting in the shade of an elder tree.

My home mended my broken spirit.


Within the boundaries of this land we live on, I felt more alive than I'd felt in years. I made up for my lost income by working smarter and towards different goals, redefining what I wanted from life and what I believed success to be. To add to the abundance of fresh fruit, vegetables, herbs and eggs coming from our backyard, I shopped for groceries in a different way, stockpiled and learning to not waste food - not just once, but always.

It didn't take any extra cash, in fact it took less. I worked more but the work didn't feel like work - it was what I needed to do to live a better life and I was happy to do it. The house and yard work that both of us do now is fulfilling and enriching and it gives a flexible structure to our days. While initially being reluctant to join me, when he saw the difference in my attitude and that we didn't need the large amounts of money we used to spend, Hanno joined me and over the years he's simplified what he does too. I know I'm making it sound easy and quick, and it wasn't, but it wasn't difficult either.


The chickens exploring their yard after a tree was felled.

You can do what we did in your own way and in your own time. We can all define our borders and decide exactly what we'll have within them. We can create the world as we want it to be in our homes. We can walk around in 19th century dresses like Tasha Tudor if we wish to, or scarecrow clothes like I do; your version of simple living can look exactly how you want it to look. And we can provide ourselves with fresh organic vegetables from our own gardens or buy them from markets, we can keep bees for honey and hens for eggs, or barter for them; the choice is yours. We can bake, cook, sew, clean, read and work keeping our homes safe and comfortable. We can choose all that and mix it with as much of the outside world as we need to or want to. We can all do this, influenced only by the pattern of our own thoughts and values, oblivious to what goes on outside. And I have found that the more you make those decisions without that influence, the more self-reliant and independent you become. Think about that the next time you drive in your driveway or walk in your front door. It is your decision what happens in your home.


I don't think there are degrees of simple life - it's like being pregnant. You either are or you aren't.  It's the mindset of simplicity that makes the difference and when you have that, even in the very early stages, you're living simply. No one will ever be at the end point of it either. There is no glittering prize to collect when you have lived slow and simply for many years; there are always reassessments and adjustments to make and new ideas to explore. Your simple life is its own reward.

33 comments:

  1. Good morning Rhonda. The comment you are either pregnant or not is the best analogy ever.

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  2. What a wonderful post Rhonda. It is such an empowering thing to do, this simple living. And once you atart I found you just can't stop and you look to more and more ways to living more simply.

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  3. Hi Rhonda can you tell me the difference between cultured butter and normal butter that you make.'i've made butter from cream and would like to continue to do so however my daughter doesn't like the taste od it and I find I can't spread it on the bread for sandwiches. Would I be better having a go at making cultured butter. From memory reading your post on it you had to keep it at 25 degrees for quite a time... How is this done? I have thermoters etc. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane

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    1. Kathy, I've made a post on the forum about this. To make the butter softer, simply whip some olive oil into soft butter.

      http://simplelivingforums.com/forum/nourishment-our-moderators-are-megsan-and-teekay/favourite-home-cooked-recipes/homemade-dairy-products/390246-homemade-cultured-butter

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  4. What a perfectly lovely post on the simple life and its rewards! I sometimes am amazed at how content I am. Yes, some days I go to bed exhausted from the work ensuring our simple homefront is maintained. Yet, I anticipate each morn with energy and a smile!

    Thank you Rhonda for sharing your journey as it has brightened mine!

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  5. Hi Rhonda - I love this post and in particular these words, "My home mended my broken spirit". I'm going to be thinking of that today as I move around my home.

    I love your Pinterest boards and I am of course following you!!

    Sourdough333

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  6. Good Morning Rhonda! What an inspiring post! We are on the way to 'simply living' ...our small veggie patchis on the way and even though I have been home caring for our daughter for years it is all changing as my husband heads for retirement! More and more of your philosophies are creeping in and I can see how your home can be your Castle! Happy New Year to you and Hanno and Rhonda as I get more and more into Slow!

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  7. It's amazing how satisfying it is to do things for yourself with your own hands, isn't it? One of the best feelings I know.

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  8. Good morning, Rhonda. I just clicked on 'Follow me on Pinterest' so I can see I will have some interesting Pinterest roaming coming up. I read the instructions again for adding a 'Pin It' button last night but haven't taken the plunge yet. Will do soon though.

    Have a great day!

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  9. Thank you so much for those words. They were exactly what I needed today...to remind me why we live frugally, out of debt, without a lot of the trappings of modern society.

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  10. Hi Rhonda,
    When I was working for someone else I gave 150% and my employer got the benefit of my effort. Now I work at home and still give 150% but guess who is receiving the fruit of my labors! The satisfaction I feel from my work is tremendous and there are never enough hours in the day to get all my projects done. I never feel resentful for working over time! If you had told me while I was in college, preparing to conquer the world, that I would find my calling as a home maker I would never have believed you.
    Thank you for continuing to highlight the worth of the work that we do.
    Sue

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  11. That's so true Rhonda. I have made steps towards a simple life but I still work full time as well. On weekends I don't want to leave home and get up early to get things done. I keep thinking I am not totally there yet but you state that you either live simply or you don't. As there are no degrees then yes, I am doing it and when I reach retirement I will be so grateful that I started now. Thanks as always for the inspiration. Cheers, Tanya

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  12. Rhonda, my partner just dropped into my work with an icy drink for me (its hot day here in NSW) and read the last paragraph of your blog - off my computer screen. He said to me " I get to see a glittering prize everyday, there is a sparkle in your eye and your whole face glows when you show me, the produce you bring in from the garden, the latest project you have finished knitting or sewing or the two bags of pet poo a week you have saved from landfill because you can compost it. Your happiness in such simple things is almost magical and contagious that I feel blessed to be with you. I replied "Well, you can thank Rhonda and everyone who shares their simple living via Rhonda's blog for allowing me to embrace my true happiness and live a life of meaningful purpose". By the way Rhonda my partner loves your waffle weave knitted dish cloths. I used the pattern from your book, he says they are the best thing he has ever washed up with.

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  13. Love this post! It is hard work but you feel so proud of the things you can grow or make yourself. I am proud of what I do and proud to be home. Thank you for saying it so beautifully.

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  14. Wonderful thoughts and insights into life without unnecessary stuff. I've started my year being a little more self sufficient...provided I live on a diet of tomatoes and thyme I'll be ok. A good start though. Great post.

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  15. Dear Rhonda.. This is such a wonderful post.. I find it so simple but true and wish more younger ones could get a latch onto the concept.. I know there would be many more happier homes..
    God bless, my friend..

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  16. Retire at 50 wow one can't get a old age government pension until your 62 here in United States. Actual there raising it to 65 and that when I can get a retirement check.
    Not sounding to much like someone grumble about life it pretty bad when you to job and you don't want to be there.

    Coffee is on

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  17. Great pist. I am just beginning to embrace the simple life. Sometimes I falter, but posts like this help to get me back on track :-)

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  18. A wonderful post, Rhonda! Very inspiring and satisfying. You should be really proud, not only of the simple life you have created in your own family, but of the good and wise ways in which you have touched so many lives all around the world. Thank you.

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  19. I have been reading your wonderful and inspiring blog for a while, thank you! I work full time with 2 little boys at home and I absolutely love my job. I work as a horticulturist in one of the most beautiful gardens in the world, Kirstenbosch. I live as simply as possible and the struggle is trying to get the balance right between work and home. So while it is black or white about living a simple life for you, it is not for me. Yes i want to live a simple life but I have to compromise in certain areas as I do not have the time to make and do everything from scratch, although i want to! Thank you again for your wise words and inspiring creativity!

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  20. What a wonderfully uplifting post Rhonda - thank you. You've almost touched on something that I've been thinking for a while, people either "get" the idea of Living Simply, or they don't, I've lost count of the number of times I've said that we've made butter, or made soup from scratch, or set aside leftovers for use another night, and have been greeted with an utterly blank "Why?" To others though, Reducing waste & resources used makes perfect sense!

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  21. Rhonda, What do you mean when you say 'scarecrow your clothes'? I would guess it meant stuffing straw in your clothes to frighten birds, but it doesn't fit in the context where you wrote it. Might you write a post about clothes? it's a topic that occupies a great deal of my brain -probably more than it deserves! Thanks for writing your lovely blog.

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    1. I think you need to re-read the post...

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    2. Shelley, I mean that when I work at home I wear old clothes that a scarecrow would feel comfortable in and that it doesn't matter what you look like when you work, it's the work that matters.

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    3. Thanks, Rhonda. I did think that was perhaps what you meant. My attempt at humour about straw stuffing apparently didn't come across well. I do save my most comfortable, least presentable clothing to wear at home. That way I don't have to stop and change should inspiration strike and I want to tackle a messy job. Saves wear and tear on the nicer clothes for when I go out. I need to read here some more to find out if you sew your own clothes; I see you pinned a lovely dress on Pinterest. Looking forward to what else I learn! Thanks again.

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  22. Bravo Rhonda! You've put into words what I ought to be shouting from my rooftop! I'd love to condense this blog post into something I could have on a business card, so I could hand it to people who ask me what I do all day. :) Big hugs to you, love, Tina xxx

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  23. I beg your pardon Rhonda, but there is a glittering prize. A couple of instances - the new variety of carrots that I sowed last year, were the best I've ever tasted and then yesterday I made the best ever vegetable broth, all from my own veggies, both are keepers. In fact, in the last 18 months, I have found so many 'keepers' in this simple life and this makes me ridiculously happy!
    Jak x

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  24. I love this! I have worked out of my home only a couple of times and I feel like each time I came back I needed healing and mending. I love all of the encouragement you give in this.

    Blessings,
    Amy Jo

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  25. A fantastic and inspirational post!
    Thanks
    Mary

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  26. I love the way you see life and put it all into words. I feel the same when I read to the part "My home mended my broken spirit". Home is something very sacred to me. No matter where I go, it still takes me home eventually. Life is simple or not depends on how your perspective is. I view and adjust my life differently every day so that I still find the beauty of it in the most simple thing. Thanks for sharing such an inspiring post, Rhonda.

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  27. Inspiring post Rhonda. Our home is so important and couldn't agree more with 'It is your decision what happens in your home.'. It is easy to feel like so much is out of our control - but what we do in our homes is within our control. I aim for our home to be a nurturing creative space. Our home for the past year has been probably the 'homiest' home I have even lived in - and its only a simple shed. We moved from an extremely comfy three bedroom two living room home into a shed (on our own land - where we will eventually build) and it's made me realise that a 'house' doesn't need to me fancy or big to feel like a 'home'.

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  28. I love that 'your simple life is its own reward' Rhonda - so true. Your story is so empowering for those people who are inspired and yet perhaps overwhelmed at the prospect of 'more work' in order to live an ironically 'simpler' life. Overwhelmed by the changes involved. I love that you speak of it as a mindset and that from there, no matter if it is the simplest of baby steps, you are upholding a radiant example of your own version of the 'simple life'. Beautiful. x

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