DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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1 December 2014

Younger folk are taking the lead in simple life

Hello everyone!  I'm still having problems with my computer and will probably have to take it back to the technician later today. I hope to carry on using Hanno's computer so my aim is to continue on tomorrow, as usual.

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I read this very interesting article in the UK Telegraph recently. It tells us that young people are not as inclined to drink or take drugs now, less inclined to cause trouble when they go out, and more inclined to knit, cook, go to bed early and take care of themselves. The young tend to be more conservative and are more helpful than we are, "we" being those in our older years. I love that they are more helpful and hope they learned from our mistakes, although my guess is that common sense and economic reasons have more to do with it.

This is a little kerosine lamp I bought while I was away. I came across a small antique shop in Glenn Innes, went in looked around, and there she was waiting for me. And the asking price? $25. :- )

The other thing I found really interesting was that yellow line in the data. There are more over 65s drinking, more than the under 34s! The age group 45 - 64 has the highest percentage of sexually transmitted disease!  Good grief.

We're the elders, we're supposed to be guiding and encouraging. We should be the ones handing on the stories and family history. Authentic family history and stories must be truthful and really reflect the history of the family. Elder duties are best served sober with the ability to answer questions, motivate and, hopefully, inspire. I'm not saying everyone over 60 should be sitting around knitting on the verandah (although I will be) but we should be doing something to help those younger than us live well. We should be role models.


From the linked article: We are increasingly polite: one government survey found that those born in the early 1990s are less rude and noisy in public than previous cohorts at the same age. We’re more likely than the over-55s to give to charity or volunteer.

While there is an element of the pendulum swinging back to the 40s and 50s in all this, which was something I expected would eventually happen, I didn't expect to see it happen this soon.


As the article indicates, the young are rebelling against rebelling. I majored in rebelling when I was in my teens and 20s. I had a good few years of doing, saying and being what I chose to be, regardless of the consequences. But then my children changed me. Of all the things I'd ever been, I was never a hypocrit or a liar so when Shane and Kerry were born, I turned the leaf over and started my life as a decent parent and (I hope) a good role model.


I don't see a reason for that to change now. I have grandchildren who will look to me for guidance - maybe not so much of the verbal kind but I certainly want to be a grandma they're all proud of. I want them to see me living the life I have chosen and not just talking (or writing) about it. I want them to look back and remember me as a kind and generous person who taught them about gardening and cooking and how to carry eggs, and to not be afraid of spiders. I want teach them there are good bugs and bad bugs, just as there are good and bad people, and help them develop the ability to tell the difference.


Young adults have found the contentment of knitting, cooking and being comfortable in their homes very early when it took my age group much longer to find that simple type of happiness. Instead of us being role models, maybe we should be looking at our younger folk and start wondering why they see the value in the quiet and slow and we don't. I hope they lead the way to a new kind of modern life, one in which shopping and debt don't play such a big role.  I know I have a lot of young readers because I get a lot of emails from them telling me what they're doing and the dreams they have for themselves. Maybe some of them will comment here today and tell us why it was easier than it was for the rest of us for them to choose simplicity over consumerism.


30 comments:

  1. I have always been comforted by the currency lads and lasses, that first generation of Australian-born, European descent children who were born of convict parents. They grew up to be responsible nation builders. Lads as young as 13 were taking bullock wagons across the Blue Mountains and bringing them back again.

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  2. That is an interesting article, Rhonda. We have some young mums who come to our simple living group who are living the simple life well and truly and it is so good to see. When you live as long as we have you tend to see things go full circle don't you?

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    1. Oh Chel, you're not in your dotage yet.....LOL...

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  3. I find it very encouraging that many of the youth of today are choosing the simple life over consumerism. And by encouraging I mean that hearing and reading stories of what the younger generation (those in their twenties and thirties), are doing encourages me to keep going on my journey. My primary school aged niece has recently began making plans for living on acreage or a farm and keeping livestock. She has actually put pen to paper and made a written plan. She has also done research on the productivity of different animals. Apparently they have been discussing ‘self-sufficiency’ in one of her classes at school and this idea has really appealed to her.

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    1. That sounds very hopeful. I'm pleased she's planning it out.

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  4. I think the roads to simple living are many and varied. I would say my journey was a combination of food intolerances (on the rise and especially prevalent in our generation) necessitating cooking from scratch, and environmental concern which made me want to avoid plastics, mass production, throw-away consumerism etc. I also detest driving in the city/suburbs and have always seen cars as a huge expense unless living remotely. Curiously none of my friends who grew up in Sydney (mostly the inner west) have cars. Everyone walks, rides, catches public transport, or car shares. I think this is also because no one sees owning a car as a status statement amongst my friends (when I look at the teenage boys I taught a few years ago this was still the case however, car = right of passage). Healthy living is fashionable and many of my friends don't drink because they are into clean foods and treat their body like a temple.

    I could go on and on but must go hang my modern cloth nappies on the line ;)

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    1. Ha! That has changed since I was a girl. As you know Alacoque, I grew up in Sydney too, born in Strathfield and later residing in Balmain for a long time and in Bondi for a short time. Most of my friends had cars - old bomb cars that we drove until they gave up. It's very heartening to know that has changed.

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  5. I'm 42, it's been made easier for me to choose simple living over consumerism because environmental education and awareness was being taught in high school in the 80's, it took me until I had children at 30 for all that information to resurface, but when it did I looked around and started finding a whole other community living this way. I want to leave this Earth knowing that I did what I could for my children and grandchildren, and for 7 generations to come! (native American Indian philosophy, their ancient beliefs dictate that any decision made today needs to be made with the thought of the impact it will have for 7 generations to come...can you imagine what a different planet we would live on if we all adopted that principle!)

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  6. I am one of the aforementioned young people. In part, I was born into the simple life, digging in the chook pen when the hens were larger than me, being able to name more plants than people, pulling up carrots with my father and making hot playdough with my mother. I tried consumerism, in the brief time I moved to the city from Tamworth, purchased clothes I would wear once, replaced electronics when they weren't in need of replacement, moved houses because I was bored, drank myself under the table with little encouragement.
    But one day, I realised I had no plants around me. Half a week later a package of plants from Diggers arrived and my first garden began, in a few milk crates on my third floor balcony. Now, returned to Tamworth, my friends call me 'Nanna' because I ferment, and tear up old clothes for rags, and grow most of my own vegetables, and won't clean with anything that isn't vinegar based, and provide recipes for kumquat marmalade and sauerkraut and give sourdough starters as gifts. My friends are still the same consumers as always, but they do take a serious interest in what I am doing, and at least now carry steel water bottles and have been taught to mend the small holes in clothes that would previously have been rubbish. Change is afoot for my generation, and I love seeing more and more of them appear at community garden events, swap meets and environmental education programs about town.

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  7. I'm over in the USA and am in my very early 30s. The way I see it, a lot of the simplicity movement among younger people is a matter of necessity. Student loans are a huge problem. Cost of housing is a huge problem. Worrying about college costs etc. for my very young children is a problem. It feels, at least to me, like opportunity has been shrinking. The cost of being a big spender right now seems so high, because real wages and real opportunities and real security from employers have been disappearing. I guess what I'm getting at is that to me, it seems like things are generally getting worse, at least around here. What I'm "supposed to do" is buy into this system anyway and dump hours and hours of my time into it. But the returns are so meager, and the supports for families so pathetic. And I don't see signs that this is going to turn around any time soon. Deciding to spend more time with my family and in my home, being more self-sufficient, being a little outside of the rat race, taking control of our family's health we don't get sucked into the vortex of the US's healthcare system over preventable things - it is a kind of rebellion. I'm not in love with being a homemaker, though there are definitely things I love about it. It's more that the alternatives suck more than cleaning the bathrooms and windows myself and having my baffled mother try to be supportive but still slip and call me "unemployed." My own choices have really been about watching my own back, and my family's.

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    1. I had a long comment typed but the internet ate it.

      In brief, I'm a 30 year old American and totally agree with Emily. But I also live in an area where many people are simplifying. Biking, canning, gardening, chickens, foraging, local shopping, even homeschooling are quite common and the local governments are even building infrastructure to support it.

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    2. Agreed with both posters above! I
      am a Gen X-er if you will so here are my thoughts.
      I do think it is interesting that there have been quite a few articles lately on how the younger generation are simplifying and not buying houses. It comes across as if they had quite a few options and that is simply not true. They can either overextend themselves or not. That is about all the choice they have. Unlike when I was in college and you could jump from job to job and even get on job training. Not anymore. Life here in the US has gotten more expensive as of late thanks to lack of raises even though the cost of living is going up, student loans and healthcare expenses. Thank goodness some of the younger folks have some sense not to get sucked into the overplayed "American Dream", but for those already in that dream, it is just as hard. I wish I had more sense when I was in my 20's to save more, learn more practical skills and not care if I wore new clothes all the time. I do not regret going clubbing though, dancing was fun! :)
      Where I live now in NJ used to be considered rural farm country so there was a lot of self sufficiency. It is still farm country, but they are farms that now make a very, very good living for their owners. Some are horse farms, some agricultural. There is also Big Pharma money in my area, thanks to Johnson & Johnson and Merck and others being based here. So for me, I see people with a lot of cash just spending and living large. There are homeowners with gardens and homeschooling has picked up in our area even with our excellent school systems, but I am not sure just how much simple living goes on here and it would be interesting to find out.

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    3. I am also in my early 30's. and it seems to be the same in Australia, but more so in Sydney and Melbourne, I found that when I lived in WA most young people were focusing on consumerism still, and I think that probably has to do with the mining, oil and gas industry over there I am hopeful that it will change in time.

      In the Eastern states, where we have increased populations and more knowledge workers with jobs that require them to commute to the CBD, people don't want to be travelling long distances to work, in a car or via sub-optimal public transport options, and so we are giving up cars and moving closer in to town.

      That is why I was a bit annoyed when a politician made a comment during the Victorian election on Saturday when the Green's looked likely to nab a few inner city seats- he said something along the lines of 'it's a bit ironic all these tree huggers live in the city, away from any trees'.

      Us who choose to live a simpler life, yet have occupations that keep us in the city want to be part of a community, so we shop local, grow what we can, get to know our neighbours and trade produce. I am more connected to my community now than when I grew up in the leafy eastern suburbs, and I value that highly. I want my kids to walk to school, and I want to continue to cycle to work and grab my supplies from the farmers market on a Saturday morning, picking up the few extras from the local deli, butcher and wholefoods supplier on the way home. I do all this less than 5 km from the Melbourne CBD- it certainly may be urban but it is a real community, with real people who own real shops, unlike the suburbs where major stores have taken over, and the need for a car is high!

      I also think it is self perpetuating- like most inner city houses, ours is older style and quite small and lacks huge amounts of storage and thus it is a motivator to keep less junk, and only buy what is truly needed.

      At this point in time we rent, because to own a house where we choose to live would involve a very large mortgage, and with the current housing market we aren't prepared to take that on with a potential to loose large amounts of money. Plus we would, ideally, like to make a tree change eventually, so we want ot be flexible. We invest the money we save in ethical investments, and this is quite common among our peer group, though it frightens people of our parents generation and our friends and family who are still in the 'spend to discard or accumulate' mindframe.

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  8. My career made me see it as necessary to live more simply. As a nurse, I have cared for the old and dying. They always have told me to enjoy the kids, my husband and the days I share with them. I have heard old ladies with dementia cry for their missing babies and watch as old men longed for a wife who passed years ago. In all the time I have been a nurse none of them have longed for their old cars or searched for their lost wallets. A quick look at my own relatives let me see that those who had everything early in life became those who were the loneliest and less satisfied later in life. While those who wanted nothing more than the simple things were still surrounded by loved ones and pleasures that they had tended to their whole life.

    I learned quickly through observation what seemed to really matter in life and chose to focus on those areas. Rather than go out every night I want to be home with my family who need and want me to be here just as much and I need and want them here. We try to enjoy the little things.

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  9. I'm 51 and when I was in my late teens anyone growing veggies, recycling and into veggie burgers were very different to me and they lived in Nimbin or Bryon (my perception). I certainly wasn't into these things nor did I ever want to be. I remember visiting my girlfriends day's place and he lived at Bribie and he had a big veggie garden and he would go out and catch fresh fish and we would visit and have fresh salad and fresh fish and I was so amazed how great it was. They lived very simply in a tiny house and it was lovely. After having kids and getting divorced I want to teach my kids about life relationships and health and simple living is very important to me now. I guess it comes full circle everything old is new again and with people wanting to eat healthy veggie gardens are part of that and chooks and cooking from scratch. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane

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  10. Hi Rhonda, as a 28 year old woman I am not sure if I am one of your younger readers? I'm sure there are some much younger than I! I sat and thought about your post for a while..I wonder if the difference comes from the generation before. For example, both my mother's and father's parents had little in the way of financial means and although my parents are not wildly weathy they are comfortable. I wonder if this is the same for other readers, perhaps being raised with little ( as my parents were) and then gaining the relative wealth that many of their same aged peers have is exciting and leads to more consumerisitic tendancies? On the other hand I was raised in comfort, that is not to say we were wealthy or I had everything I wanted but I always had everything I needed and some of the things I wanted which I actually do consider to be exceptionally wealthy. Therefore now that I am of the age where I am earning my own money, tending to a home and thinking to a future perhaps I am not as easily excited by material things as my parents may have been? I am sure there are many other factors in play but just one thought. As always, thank you Rhonda- Your Blackheath Budgeter
    (I couldn't help myself!)

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    1. My pursuit of living simply is related to my parents too but is different to what is described above. Part of the reasoning behind my choices is a reaction to my parents' use of money, I don't want to live a life keeping up with Jones' and being up to my eyeballs in debt.

      I'm 24 and recently married and my friends (and sometimes even my wife) don't understand the choices I make, my desire not to buy into the consumerist culture around me but I know it's worth it and my wife is starting to see that.

      My Christian faith is shaping those desires as well. It helps me out things into a much bigger perspective and gives me a desire to be a good steward of both my money and my time. Basically I want to spend less so I can ultimately work less (I am currently studying medicine) in the future and spend more time with my family, my friends, my church and broader community. Time is more valuable than stuff.

      Thanks Rhonda for all your posts. This is my first time commenting but just wanted you to know I appreciate it!

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    2. Hear hear on what you're both saying. Similar story in my family. To be fair, we're EXTREMELY fortunate in Australia to have such a high average income (even if housing prices in Sydney and Melbourne are pretty crazy) so that working fewer (paid) hours and being less career-driven is a real option.

      Although, the youth unemployment and underemployment rate (and forecasted trend) in Australia, particularly Victoria, SA and Tasmania, is also pretty scary. If people worked shorter hours and did more job-sharing (and took a pay cut), I would have thought it would also greatly help our young people around the world who face this predicament. And probably we'd all have much better mental health!

      "Basically I want to spend less so I can ultimately work less (I am currently studying medicine) in the future and spend more time with my family, my friends, my church and broader community. Time is more valuable than stuff." Amen to that!

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  11. I read somewhere that the hot new career choice for millennials in the eastern US is... wait for it... Farming! I almost jumped for joy when I read that.

    I think your comments about rebellion are very interesting, because even for me as a gen-ex'er (age 47) simplicity was the ultimate act of rebellion. My motivations were less about being wholesome and saving the planet then they were about telling society to go stick it.

    Growing my own food, earning my own money from a home-based business, not having to be employed by a big corporation - EVER, not owing anything to the banking industry, refusing to submit to "modern fashion", and just generally opting out of the consumer culture that sucks the life out of people... to me this is a much more profound rebellion than drinking oneself under the table or any of the other self-destructive behaviors that we often think of when we hear the word "rebel".

    I'm not sure if that is part of what's motivating younger generations or not, but my gut tells me it's at least part of it.

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  12. Now that I stop and think about it, there is certainly truth in that article. I can only speak for my 5 daughters none of whom choose to go clubbing etc but who hold down jobs and save up for experiences (like travel) rather than spending on possessions - interesting.

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  13. I think the world is changing , Rhonda. I am constantly amazed that every single family that visits our farm stay is a caring, loving family with old fashioned values and an interest in learning more about being self sufficient. i can't believe after 3 years I can say that there are some many, many wise young couples doing am amazing job with their kids, teaching them so many great values and good living. Since the world started coming here , I am inclined to say ....the world is wonderful, good,kind place.

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  14. Oh Rhonda!!!! I am now on the 40's end of my 30's, and I have never been one to do what was cool. I have always been interested in "Nanna craft" (I was a high school teen in the class with older ladies). I love learning skills that that are useful. I tell people what I do and things I learn, and they all say "I wish I could do that!!!" You can my friend, just take the step and learn!!! I miss the handing down from person to person, but in this day and age, what a fabulous resource the internet is!!!! Even if your grandmother couldn't knit, you can learn how!!!! I never fit in, I was the square peg who wouldn't fit in the round hole, and had no desire to. I still am!!!

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    1. I could have written this myself! I, too, miss the handing down from person to person, but that's where the internet is a great boon for the younger generation. If the interest was there in the past but the information was not - or maybe folks didn't even know all of the possibilities - then it would have been harder to get started learning self-sufficiency. Now, we can learn so much right at our fingertips. We can learn how to do things, but also, how many more things we can do than we may have ever dreamed. Glad to see this community growing.

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  15. The pictures today are lovely. I think our generation rebelled because it was needed at the time. We set an open road for women to succeed in any way they chose. But, I'm with you. I turned my leaf with my first child and have never looked back.

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    1. I agree with you, Angie. People our age were rebelling against the social norms of 1950s. The 60s was the decade that changed everything, when we all relaxed a bit and started doing what we wanted instead of what was expected of us.

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  16. I wonder if some of it has to do with spirituality. Not drinking, smoking, drugs, promiscuity etc are all parts and pieces that Christianity teaches. With news articles about ISIS n' terrorism looming around, I am sure that produces some fear of rebellion and early death because we couldn't stand for something real and true.

    In my 20-30 age group, yes we are aware of the after effects in the statistical department of "rebellion." We can sense some scorn in the older generation due to the former rebellion behavior but choose forgiveness as a means to solve the evils of this world and life.

    Simplicity has much to do with giving extra value to those people whom are near to us in family and close neighbors......

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    1. While I am glad your religion teaches you those things, don't fall into the trap of thinking that only those who are 'spiritual' are the only ones that hold those values.

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  17. This has been fascinating reading and I am heartened. When I read the article it made me think I was never the picture of a Gen X as illustrated in the article and always felt like a bit of a square because I wasn't keen on drugs, raves or staying out super late. It has taken me a while to reconcile who I am with my peers and my upbringing and the call to get a degree, a full time job, a house etc.
    There was also the wonderful strong influence of my mother who is a baby boomer and lived through a time of change in the opportunities available for women. But the story that was told 'You can do anything (and maybe everything) and you don't have to stay at home.' meant that if we did choose something different like staying at home, cooking, making bread and growing veggies, maybe we weren't living up to our full potential.
    Turning 40 was the best thing that happened to me, I stopped worrying about getting old and what I had or hadn't achieved compared with my high achieving family and friends, and just started living my life and being true to myself and the girl I remember from childhood.
    Thanks Rhonda, you have been part of that wonderful journey back to myself.
    kx

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  18. For Kin and I, it really mostly is that we like to have a lot of time together and for our enthusiasms. And that means that working full-time is something neither of us like to do. With two part-time workers in a house, you can maintain an acceptable income and have plenty of time for everything you like to do; IF you know how to manage your home and your money.

    For a while, though, I, and a lot of my female friends, had a period of rebelling against cooking, and knitting and all of the ancient and beautiful housekeeping skills, because the woman who taught those things at our school was so horrible! She sunk all of the arts something that was as unfriendly and banal as she was, and seemingly just as unaccepting of people who weren't exactly the same. It was an association that made us all want to run far, far away.I wonder if all of you were rebelling against her and all of the people like her, who refused to make a change or accept changes in others?

    Fortunately, she never managed to ruin gardening, so that was a love that stayed with me. And from the garden, it's very, very easy to gradually creep your way back into the house (bearing a few big bunches of basil and a lettuce or two, as you come in).

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  19. Dear Rhonda, Dear Readers,
    I am now 33 and moved to Ireland from sunny Italy when I was 25. My son was born here on the Emerald Isle and since he was born, I realized how much he would be missing by not being able to grow up near his grandparents. I decided I was going to give him the example of simple living myself. The Example, not the words. We do the gardening in our tiny back garden, we pick the strawberries and look after the pear and the cherry tree I planted for him.
    I love your blog because it gave me so much advice, I found here a second home when I cannot go to my mother's house for a coffee and a chat.
    My family always worked hard and farmed the land, raised animals and took care of most of the food that was put on the table, each and every day. I remember working on the Borlotti beans with my mum and grandma, picking the eggs with them, I remember making tomato sauce at the end of the summer with the whole family, I remember the first time I saw my father butcher a lamb and the feeling of pulling feathers from the dead chicken.
    For this reason, we do the gardening together. I love to see his hands in the dirt, the smile on his face when I let him dig here or there, the ever changing design of the tiny vegetable patch, I love to see his eyes wide open when he digs up the few potatoes we harvest every year.
    Nature is marvellous, the circle of life is marvellous. It is up to us to pass on the passion for it to our children and that is what I'm trying to do. Hopefully I will succeed.
    Thank you for all the good advice and for the wonderful company Rhonda.
    Thank you for the advice on paying off the mortgage early, it will work to our advantage without a doubt.
    Have a nice day, Vanessa

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