DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
I have a forum attached to my blog where people from all over the world meet to discuss simple life. There are over 8000 forum members now so we have an enormous amount of good information about growing food, cooking from scratch, family, simple living, routines, budgeting, baking and much more. Please click on the image above to go there. Newcomers will have to register. It's free, friendly and we're waiting for you.

1 October 2014

The flexibility of simple life

Small changes are happening all around the Western world with more people realising that simple  life is not only better for us but better for the planet as well. (Did you know we've lost 50 percent of our wildlife in the past 40 years?)  Many people are being guided towards a simpler life by blogs and books, and it's wonderful to see community groups taking on the challenge and applying for funding to provide workshops on how to become more self-reliant while guiding their communities towards a more sustainable future.


I wish more people would give up on recreational shopping and comparing themselves to their neighbours. I know that change is difficult and starting any thing new is often so challenging that some folk stop in their tracks and decide to stay where they are. When change does come about and there are difficulties adjusting to new ways, or the work involved in daily life, often the temptation is to go back to your old life. It looks easier and it's so familiar. I don't often talk about the difficulties, not because there haven't been any for me but because I worked through most of my issues before I started blogging. I'm also at an age when I don't worry when things go wrong. When they do, I think about the problem and then start working on solutions. I can't be bothered with the drama now. I just get on with it.


But the truth is this way of living can be difficult, especially when you start. Bearing in mind that we all structure our lives differently, usually there is more work to be done living this way because you stop buying ready-made. When you make your own it takes more time and so many people are time-poor now. I think simple life is easier for people who have a more relaxed frame of mind and that perfectionists can struggle with it. But if you do struggle with the time aspect, just take one day at a time, take on one new task at a time and don't be hard on yourself if you have to make adjustments. I'd like it to be easier, but it's not. It is what it is. We all have to find our own ways of making it work.

Take cuttings, grow things from seed. I took eight blueberry cuttings last year and three of them took. In a few years, we'll have three more blueberry bushes that cost nothing but some effort, water and potting mix.



If you're just starting, start slowly, learn the skills you need, practise them, then move on to the next. Do your work and live every hour mindfully. Discover your own feelings about what you're doing. Look at your home and see what you can change there to help you become more productive. And I'm not talking about buying containers to help you organise yourself. I mean literally, change your home. Move saucepans to a better location, organise your pantry so it's an asset not a liability, make your work areas work for you. Mend things, take cuttings, collect seeds, look after what you already own, stop buying expensive cleaning chemicals and start making what you need to clean your home. It will be safer and cheaper. Try to do all the things that don't cost money. For me that's noticing I have calendula self-seedling in the garden and using those seedlings instead of buying another packet of seeds. It's taking cuttings of daisies from a neighbour instead of buying plants at the garden centre and growing avocado from seed instead of buying a plant. Yes, I know it might not work, but it might, and I've already wasted money on avocado trees and have them die on me - with self-grown seeds I feel free enough to experiment with planting and locations.

Look after what you own. These jumpers have been washed and dried flat in the shade. Now they'll be folded carefully and put away until next winter.

Our small solar system helps keep our bills down but we are also mindful of how we use electricity in our home.

Your main focus in your younger years is to not accumulate unnecessary debt, and as you grow older, to pay off the debt you have. To do that you'll need an armoury of frugal ideas to save money so you can pay off your debt. Solar power will help with the elecricity bills but if you can't afford to install it, work out ways to cut back your electricty usage. Do the same for water. It sounds difficult but when you get into it, it's quite easy. Hanno and I live on the same average water and electricity usage as one person. If you can save money on these utilities it's generally a great saving because they're bills that will keep coming as regular as clockwork.

Our solar hot water system.

We give up a lot of what is taken for granted in our modern world. For instance, I haven't flown anywhere for over ten years. It's something I felt strongly about - still do, but again, that decision is not for everyone and I don't expect anyone in my family to follow my lead. We spend most of our time here. We enjoy being here but we have to be here to look after our garden and chickens, to cook from scratch and to keep house the way I want to.  I would not be able to do what I do if we had frequent trips out. There are other things we've given up but I prefer to look at what we've gained. Personally, I love growing some of our food and being able to cook an entire meal from scratch, using the thrifty ideas more aligned with the 1950s than the 21st century.  Knowing I can do that gives me the confidence to continue to peel back the layers of modern life until I am left with what is plain and simple - never done to any particular plan or ideal, it's just ordinary life lived every day according to our values.


And I think that's the key to all this - a change of mindset and to think of this way of living as flexible and changeable. I certainly would not be working as I do today if I were a younger woman with children to care for. I have time now for entire days of cooking, gardening and knitting. You can still do it when you're young, but you'll be doing it differently. Even ten years ago I worked differently. So give yourself a break. Don't look at anyone, especially me, and think this is what you have to do. You should do what is needed in your home - whatever that is. And if you can't do all you want to do yet, accept that, get over it and get on with it. Because I will tell you one thing I know is true for all of us. If you live your life according to your values and beliefs, if you plan your time and do what you can, if you take one small step and then another, you will be enriched by it and have the strength and confidence to do it again tomorrow.

33 comments:

  1. So true, all the little changes add up. My husband and I have 3 primary school aged children. We have been living a simpler life since our first was born. We just received our electricity bill and for the 6th bill in a row we have the same power usage as a 1 person household! All the small changes add up!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Rhonda,

    you're right, it's not always easy. I don't always enjoy every task - for example, making curtains. But when it's done, there's nothing like the satisfaction I get when I stand back and look at the fruits of my labour. And the satisfaction of knowing I saved a fortune by doing it myself.

    I'm currently extending the vegetable garden by creating new no dig beds, and this involves moving 2 tonnes of soil and a lot of woodchips for new pathways. I'm doing it bit by bit, sometimes just in 20 minute increments, and then back inside to do whatever needs doing there. Ten years ago I would have knocked myself out trying to get the whole job done quickly, now I know better! I'm also painting one of the children's rooms and that involves filling all of the gaps in the lining boards. Again, I'm doing it bit by bit in between holiday appointments, and last night I asked my daughter to cook dinner so that I could keep working. I know she will be thrilled with her freshly painted room, and I will be thrilled that I did it myself using leftover paint and my own elbow grease :) (And she cooked a fantastic dinner!)

    Madeleine.x

    ReplyDelete
  3. What a wonderful post today Ronda, you are a very wise woman. Being of a similar age to yourself, I too have the luxury of slowing down and in doing so, I have also discovered other things too....little things, that give me pleasure everyday. For example, previously I would put everything in the dishwasher and although there are are only two of us, I used the dishwasher every day. And, I might add, would only use items that could be washed in the dishwasher. Now that we have downsized and live on the road in our caravan I find the simple act of washing up the dishes a pleasurable one....it means I have the time to do it .... to enjoy it and know that I am looking after our few possessions, ourselves and the small space that we call home. It also reminds me of the things we decided to keep when we downsized and connects me to who gave it to us. For instance, our dinner service was given to us by my parents as a wedding present and they are on longer with us. It is an expensive set and cannot go a dishwasher. Now, each day, as I lovingly wash and dry up the plates I connect with them...it is beautiful and, it is only one of the benefits of our new simple life. Thanks for the post today....and have a good day what ever you may be doing.

    ReplyDelete
  4. We live and learn dont we , i just wish i could have learnt everything about living a simple frugal life years ago , how much more are we enjoying our simple life now.x

    ReplyDelete
  5. Very good advice. We are trying to simplify and we are trying to sell our home to buy a smaller one. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  6. This is a great post Rhonda. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane

    ReplyDelete
  7. Getting away from keeping up with the neighbors has been a huge step for us. We simplified, but in a different way than you have. We sold our house and downsized to a smaller rental apartment. We use a lot of ready mades, but doing so is our way of keeping things simple. It gives us more time for adventures as a family. No matter what your approach, I think simplicity is better than the rampant consumerism that is unfortunately more common.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Little changes work, I know because that's how I started out on this journey. When recreational shopping and paid-for entertainment are cut out a lot more time becomes available allowing more simple living practices to become part of life.

    I need new clothes for work and I like to buy ethically and investment pieces. I did an hour of research online then bought online within five minutes. My choices satisfied all the requirements and I saved time, petrol and frustration. That time can go to other simple living actions.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I read 'Ishmael' some years back and, among other things, he talks about the 'taker' culture/mentality being so deeply embedded and pervasive that so many can't even see it any more. They might not be happy with the life they lead but 'happy' has been redefined so they keep chasing that consumerist version of it. Those of us who've found another way can struggle with why they can't 'see'. It would be great if more folks thought what I did was valuable instead of just 'quaint'.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can see it clearly because I grew up in a different time when most people were thrifty and credit cards were unheard of. Cassie, I think what you do is valuable. Sharing what you know about dairy cows is helping a new generation of milkers care for their cows in small farms where often there is no family connection to dairy traditions.

      Delete
    2. I see what you mean and think on this often. Many, many people think that expensive new phones and laptops are more important than relating to people and social skills are sadly declining; let alone living skills. Buying expensive items seems to be more important than ever; many people cannot even cook anymore. It is becoming a lost art, as a good friend of mine says. Even though others see what you do as quaint, which it can be, does not diminish it . You do these things for yourself and your family; so it does not matter what others think.

      Delete
  10. Just doing baby steps at our home. We're donating items & clearing out the clutter. Trying to make our space more useful. Not that I was a big shopper before, but I no longer shop mindlessly or when I'm bored. I bring a list & try and stay away from the temptations. I don't have a pension at work (I live in Canada) so I know my retirement years will be frugal, I only have a small RRSP at 49 years old, but hopefully I can save more in the next 15 or so years.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Rhonda - your last sentence is absolutely priceless! Thank you for this post.
    ~ Pru

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi Rhonda,
    I would love you to write a post expanding on your reasons for limiting your flying? It is always very interesting to read your opinions.
    In the last few years my eyes have been opened to a simpler way of living. I have stopped shopping for fun (don't miss it), and we have concentrated on saving money for the things that are important to us. We are in our 30s, with 2 school age children - but have paid off the house, and have a comfortable amount of savings. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sure KC. I'd be happy to. I'll do it next week.

      Delete
  13. What a wonderful post Rhonda & certainly helps to keep on track when regularly reading your advise. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  14. g'day rhonda & hanno
    great advice! your blogs should be written in a book!

    thanx!

    selina from kilkivan qld

    ReplyDelete
  15. I really liked reading this :) I'm toying with starting a blog of my own about being a single income family in today's world, with 2 kids and a mortgage etc, and what works for me and my family. I'm not sure I'd have much wisdom to impart yet, but I like the idea of sharing a bit more and taking notes (for my own resource!) on what works for me. I've had a few people as me how we 'do it'. I guess I just do what I can to keep us frugal, make sacrifices to offset me not being in paid work, and try and involve my kids when I can. It's only a small thing but yesterday we made breadcrumbs from left over bread for the first time, my 5 & 2 year old had a great time tearing up bits of bread and taking turns pushing the button on the food processor :) Love reading about your thoughts Rhonda!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Write your blog, Larissa. I think there are too few well written blogs by people writing honestly about what they do. There are a lot of blogs with a "formula" for simple life, written by "experts"; there are too many of those. I have found that writing it down forces me to think clearly about the whats and whys, and that made it easier for me

      Delete
  16. So very much what I needed to hear this week, as I'm once again adjusting to the time (and sleep!) deprived life with a newborn. I have to remind myself quite often that everything has its season, and that I'll have time again later to do more. Thanks, Rhonda, for writing this today. xo
    -Jaime

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jaime, when I was going through that time with my babies, I was so worn out I wondered when it would ever end. Now I look back and wonder why that time went to fast. Take care, love. xx

      Delete
  17. I think that time is a gift we give ourselves. When I take the time to do it right I am happier with the results, and I don't have to spend any time redoing or moaning about it, so I have given myself more time by taking my time! smile....circular reasoning at it's best!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I so love reading your posts like this one. Just that gentle daily reminder of the journey being more than the destination.
    kxx

    ReplyDelete
  19. Dear Rhonda ~ Another inspiring post, thank you.

    I really liked how you ended it.

    **If you live your life according to your values and beliefs, if you plan your time and do what you can, if you take one small step and then another, you will be enriched by it and have the strength and confidence to do it again tomorrow.**

    God bless you for the help and encouragement you give to so many.

    FlowerLady

    ReplyDelete
  20. Great post today Rhonda, although I always enjoy whatever you have to say.. I too live simply and have for awhile now; although we do owe a mortgage. We were lucky enough to even get a house ,as so many cannot afford them here. We do not use cell phones, however. Solar panels are a moot point for us, the family does not use much but we are thinking of putting in a gas fireplace. There are so many non burn days we might as well. Also it is cleaner. I have a garden and do some sewing. I cook my own food as well.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Your posts help me to be more mindful of why and how I do what I do and reinforce many of the traditions of my childhood years. A place for everything and everything in its place was a time honored adage in my childhood home. Working full time with a 2 hour daily commute and attempting to be “super mom and wife” left little time to keep my home organized during the last decade of my career.

    Retirement provided many opportunities. Getting organized was at the top of the list. I could not lead a simple life if I did not where items were when I needed them and I did not want to buy what I knew I already had – somewhere!!! Instead of purchasing organizers, sturdy shipping cardboard boxes from the supermarket have worked well. They can be labelled, stacked and recycled in the compost pile when their storage box life was complete has worked well. The box method has been easy to expand and contract as our needs change.

    Items that can be repurposed are not discarded, even if the repurposing does not happen “right now.” I have a vision, a plan and a tracking system/inventory that guides realistically purchasing (and using) needed items on sale, but need short term storage space. Some items are saved for longer periods of time before they find their use. I am currently using long saved clean glass bottles with plastic covers for gifts of home-made banana-papaya-pineapple fruit scrap vinegar. Clean feed bags (several boxfuls) were sewed into tarps to protect the windows from the intense summer sun that heats up the house and to collect blackberries/jambul.

    Organization has been invariably helpful in my walk toward and in a simpler and more mindful life. I enjoy being able to reuse and repurpose the items I do have for use in my own home or to share some of the bounty of my joyful endeavors.

    Thanks for your post and the closing sentence - so very true!

    ReplyDelete
  22. This post is filled with wisdom. The kind that one learns through mistakes and corrections. I just watched a video with the same thoughts. I was guided there because my blog is about this same idea. You put it much more eloquently than I ever could, but I have reached a few young women who want to embrace a change. You are much appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
  23. hello first time I am reading your blog... and I LOVE it! I too am a minimalist and I have blog... it was not easy and I have given up a lot.... but gained even more! And THAT is what really matters! I am now almost debt free and I can work part time doing a job I love instead of working in a dead end office job that sucks the life out of me! I am not quite where I'd like to be but almost... I will defenitely susbcribe to your blog and I am looking foward to reading more posts!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Thank you for the encouraging words, Rhonda. They are just what I needed, and so greatly appreciated!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Great tips Rhonda! I took a heap of blueberry cuttings this year. Desperately trying to replace some of the blueberries I lost last year when I was too busy with my new bub to keep up with the watering. Hope I can get some to take! Always looking for new ways to get free plants for the garden as well. :)

    ReplyDelete
  26. The knowledge and strength in your words gives me hope that my small changes will help me achieve the quiet peaceful life I crave. Just to stop rushing here and there and concentrating on what I can do is a start.
    Ruth-Western Australia

    ReplyDelete
  27. Another wise post with lots to ponder. I haven't flown since we went to Darwin 6 years ago, and before that it was about 20 years ago. I don't want to fly again, for several reasons, but fear is not one of the reasons.
    I have never been one to be swayed by advertising and the latest edition of anything, so I relate to most of what you write. Gardening is the only thing I can't do because of my physical limitations, but cooking and sewing is a big part of my life.
    Thanks to you and your readers, we now have Solar panels which we talked about for years, but didn't get around to doing until I read all the posts on your blog and the forum.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for your comment today. I love reading your opinions and thoughts. We have built up a wonderfully diverse community here that I'm very proud to be a part of.

A link to your blog will be automatically added to your comment. Please don't add another link to your blog in your comment. Those comments will not be published.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...