DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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18 February 2016

Just get on with it

I meant to tell you before now that I'm doing a monthly ABC radio program with David Curnow. The show comes out of ABC Brisbane 612 and is broadcast over all local ABCs in Queensland. The first program was on last night, you can listen to it here. I enjoyed talking to David, he's a good interviewer with relevant questions and an open mind. The next program will be on 15 March on your local Queensland ABC. I'll have the link the following day for everyone else.

I was going to post the itinerary for the book tour today but there are still a few places being finalised, so it will be up next week instead.


I'll take the opportunity today to answer an email I received last week from a reader. "Jackie" told me she started on her simple life journey last Easter but she is letting it all go because nothing she does is perfect and it takes too long to learn what she needs to know. I get the feeling from Jackie's email that she thinks Hanno and I live in a perfect world, that most things flow along nicely, nothing bad ever happens here and housework is quick and simple. I'll happily burst that "perfect" bubble right now Jackie, because like everyone else living in the real world, in my home things go wrong, cakes burn, plates are dropped, the washing machine breaks down, crops fail, I forget things and sometimes I'm the only one who thinks my ideas are brilliant (!). Few things are easy when you're learning how to do them.



Nothing is perfect, you just have to try your best on any given day. That is enough. To tell you the truth, I'd hate to live in a "perfect" world. I think tough times and mistakes are when we learn the best lessons; lessons that aren't forgotten. It's definitely that way for me. If I hadn't taken nearly three months to learn to bake a good loaf of bread - teaching myself every day by touching and smelling dough, then eating some of what I made - I wouldn't be able to easily make good bread now. If I hadn't unpicked hundreds of rows of knitting I wouldn't be knitting as I am now. If I'd stopped when I failed, I wouldn't be writing this and probably have ended up miserable and wondering why nothing ever went right and why life is so hard.

No matter how easy or difficult your life is, every day the sun comes up and that single event gives you the magnificent opportunity of a new day with new choices. Don't think of yourself as someone who has the family who doesn't get it, or the job that gets worse every week, or the children who never help. You cannot live everyone's life for them; live your own well and they might want to change themselves. Decide what's important to you, have a plan every day, learn from what goes wrong (or right), do your best and just get on with it. When you least expect it, things will fall into place, what you're trying to learn will make sense and you'll start thriving.  It's all small steps and it takes time.


40 comments:

  1. Oh thankyou for this post I so needed to read this today sometimes life seems hard and I get discouraged but when you write like this its like you have faith in us and I don't feel so alone, bless you - Tam

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  2. Nice words, Rhonda...and so true. Finding what we can do well enough is helpful...last week read 2 blog pieces with the message being "well enough". Some of my friends think I am an excellent cook...but that is only sometimes...the rest of the time I am just so ordinary!! And the same with other things I try to do...I think we are meant to learn so long as we have breathe in us...but here in the USA there is kind of a general thought that somehow we can attain the heights at some point and not need to learn more...tain't so! We want our brains to keep working...so tis a good thing to have things we are still working on learning...or so it seems to me.
    Elizabeth

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  3. Any skill requires persistence and patience to master it. I used to be like "Jackie," giving up prematurely because initial results were discouraging. Rather than trying to do everything at once, I prioritized a few skills that were the most fulfilling for me. If I just did a little at a time, my self confidence would grow and allow me to tackle more. Simple living is not a sprint. It's a marathon. Stick to it, keep trying and you will see results.

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  4. Great post, Rhonda! My husband is a pastor and when we move to a new church, we never can be sure of the type of house we will get. At this church, we came from a 5 bedroom, large home to a 3 bedroom, modular. I spent a few months whining about the lack of space (being honest here) and then decided I could whine forever about how hard it was to can and preserve and bake from scratch in a tiny kitchen or I could roll up my sleeves and get to work.

    Circumstances change, bad things happen, but you have to just keep moving forward! :-) This was such an encouraging post.

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  5. What a wonderful post, I love your last sentence, I shall write that down and read it often! I have ordered your "Down to Earth" book and so look forward to reading it.
    Sue

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  6. Hi Rhonda

    I just listened to your interview with David Curnow from 612abc and you were great as I expected. I'm really looking forward to the the next instalment.

    I wonder why Jackie thinks everything should be perfect. One of the things I take from living a simpler life is not worrying about what other people think. If she is trying to achieve perfection for herself she perhaps needs to focus on the positives she has achieved. It is really disappointing to put a lot of work into something and not get a great result but nobody can do everything perfectly. I certainly hope other family members haven't criticised her efforts and if they have - just keep going anyway!!

    I find that applies in the garden a lot but I know i just need to focus on what does grow well or do more research on what I am trying to grow.

    Also, if you're working full time like I am you can't do it all. I need to work now so we have retirement savings and no mortgage and don't have to work until we drop.

    Maybe Jackie just needs to let a few balls drop and just focus on a few things. Smart shopping and meal planning are the two I focus on. I sometimes wish I had more time to make stuff but I know I also need down time to offset the busyness of work. Although having said that I really enjoy making some things as a leisure activity. It's the house work that spoils the fun!!! But then I know when I have a routine that is more tolerable as well but perfection is not mandatory!!

    I know in the past I would go shopping to just look around and buy stuff I didn't really need. I don't miss that at all - instead I would rather pay off the mortgage faster and save to make improvements to our house to make it an even better home in the long term.

    I don't comment that often but I read ever post you write. In fact I 'm going to dig up your last book and read a few pages now for inspiration!

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  7. Words to live by! When your new book is published in March, will it be available in the US at that time?

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    1. Galestorm, the books are shipped over to the US and that takes a couple of months. I noticed Abe Books has a limited stock of Down to Earth, maybe they're order The Simple Home too. Otherwise, it will be on Amazon or available as an ebook.

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    2. I checked Amazon and the ebook is available for pre-order. I prefer the hard backed edition. Hopefully, they will have it eventually. I think I mentioned before I finally got a hard back copy of Down to Earth through Amazon.

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  8. So true! Very encouraging post...and your pantry is my dream pantry with all those whole foods in jars!

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  9. Don't give up Jackie, it's a lifestyle change, & you can't do it all @ once. Just try one thing @ a time, you will be amazed how good it makes you feel when it works & becomes part of your lifestyle, I started with the laundry detergent about 4 years ago & it quickly became a normal thing to do. Find something you would like to change & go for it , the more you do it the more normal it will become

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  10. I agree wit your comments to her. I have found that it takes years for change to happen in my life. It has been five years I have been working to spend less money and learn new skills. It is a long slog. But change does happen, just very slowly. ;)

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  11. Enjoyed your broadcast. Wish you well with your new book.

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  12. These were beautiful word Rhonda and so good to read. I recently purchased your Down To Earth book and am enjoying it so much. It was hard to get in America! You are always so encouraging. Your book is a treat for me when I am resting from my work with my children.

    To Jackie, just keep trying and trying until you get what you want. When I was first married I could hardly cook at all. Now, after many accidents and things that didn't turn out right, I am an excellent cook. But, even still, there are things I have left to master. I am working on croissants right now. Three batches of them have failed already. But, I will get it right. I find that this philosophy applies to all of life. I always try and learning something new. Right now I am learning French with my children and it is very funny how horrible we all are at it. But, with daily chunks of working on it, I am sure we will be able to speak it eventually. And it is such fun laughing at each other in the meantime. :)

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  13. I agree with your advice to Jackie, Rhonda. It takes time and practice and a deep belief in what you are doing. We are on a simple journey too and sometimes, it is frustrating and hard. When I am unpicking rows and rows of knitting because I've dropped a stitch or created a new one (magic!) I will feel defeated but I just put it away for another day when I have time to approach it again as a learning opportunity. And, I don't think the learning stops no matter what point you are at on the journey. There's always things to learn. I hope, Jackie, that you'll keep going too. Even if it's just one thing at a time:)

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  14. Great post Rhonda, I just got your book and can't put it down. Jackie - don't give up, simple life isn't always easy it usually means more work but also more satisfaction. Sometimes when you feel like giving up it helps to read other blogs (like Down to Earth)for some inspiration.

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  15. I can sympathize with "Jackie." If you are trying something new, trying a new way of life that a lot of society would scorn or find odd, it can be hard to carry on. And especially so if your own loved ones don't want a simple life, or like handmade things, or eat home made meals. Then a person has to really gather their strength to carry on! I'm looking forward to getting the new book, to bolster my reserve.

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  16. As a recovering perfectionist - my new mantra is this: Do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good! I find that it really helps when I get `stuck' - good luck Jackie x

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  17. well said as usual Rhonda , Jackie keep trying you might surprise yourself take all opps as a learning experience .

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  18. Rhonda I agree with your advice to Jackie. I always wonder why we, as adults, expect ourselves to be able to be perfect at new tasks immediately? We encourage all the baby steps our children and grandchildren take when learning something new, but don't afford ourselves such encouragement for our own baby steps. I'm a bit guilty of expecting better of myself. We think that because we have so much life experience, that we should understand all the nuances of a new project immediately. Mmm! Baby steps for EVERYONE. praise and encouragement for all.

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  19. I think it's important when starting a simpler life to know why you are following this path and what you want to get out of it. Is is health reasons, saving money, being more connected with your produce. Everyone has different motivations and therefore their sense of when they have made progress will differ. Also I feel that we must not romanticise the notion of homemaking. It isn't all cups of tea in the rose garden and chats with friends. It's a lot of hard work. But if you know the outcome your working for it will be worth it in the end. I agree with your past posts Rhonda where you encourage others to follow their own model of what simple living is rather than trying to recreate someone else ideas and goals. Anyway all the best with the tour Rhonda and I wish you all the best in your endeveours Jackie.

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  20. I really needed this post. Things have been amiss here for the past 6 weeks and I have hated every day. I get up and do what I need to do to get to eight or nine o'clock so I could just go to bed and sleep. It's all I want to do. Luckily, I have animals...horses, goats, chickens, geese, dogs, cats and last but not least fish who all need me to do for them. I HAVE to get up and take care of them. I took on that responsibility I have to do it. So day by day, I get up and do what I have to do. I was rewarded yesterday with two new baby goats. They lifted my spirits and I am reminded that with each day there is new. I just have to put one foot in front of the other and eventually I will make it back into my light.
    I too am not perfect, but I will never give up. I feel unworthy at times, but I cannot give up. Thank you for being here and saying what needs to be said.

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  21. Words of wisdom. Your advice is spot on. Perfection is an image and not reality.

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  22. awesome post Rhonda
    with simple living i don't think there is perfection, is there? plus who wants it anyway? i've given up on trying to get perfection & strive for the simplicity of things, it's far easier to accomplish.
    i too struggle with getting vegetables to grow, i will have a great crop the first time then failures the next, so i just fallow the bed & try again in a couple of months, this type of living takes a lifetime of living, it doesn't just happen, you're always, as Rhonda is saying, tweaking it as you go. so, don't give up, just slow down a bit more & try not to do so much in one go. good luck Jackie.
    thanx for sharing
    selina from kilkivan qld

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  23. You are speaking the truth. No one else has a perfect life either. If you walked into my house right now you would think I had a house keeper. But don't go into the "guest bedroom" or my sewing room. Don't try to use the shower in the spare bath. My guest bedroom is where all my daycare over flow goes. Into the bathroom tub too. (hew I don't waste space) I have ripped many a seam learning to sew. Now I can sew with the best of them. I dare say you would be hard pressed to tell a dress I made from a pattern from a dress someone paid big money for in a store. It did not come over night.
    Another thing, I believe in prayer. I ask the Lord to help me everyday. To give me the patience I need to take care of 4 babies 12 hours a day. Sometimes it is not easy and I know if the Lord did not help me I would be a screaming nut case. He blesses me everyday with more patience than the day before.

    I wish I could come to your book signing. I look forward to getting your book when it is for sale in the US.

    I got my Maggie Bunny today. This weekend I am going to have some fun. I plan to buy some more felt to make some sisters and brother rabbits. Mine will be Floppsie, Moppsie, Cotton Tail, and Peter Rabbit. My little one loves the Peter Rabbit books.

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  24. Thank you for this post! Exactly what I needed to read today and what I need to remember each and every single day.
    ~ Pru

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  25. Wabi-Sabi (I believe that is the spelling) is a beautiful expression that comes to mind when reading this post. The beauty i the imperfect, unfinished, incomplete. Perfect imperfection. Life as it really is. Viewing life this way has taught me a lot about not striving for perfection but finding contentment and peace in the every day. Pam in Norway

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    1. yes Pam, I agree. I wrote about Wabi Sabi last year here: http://down---to---earth.blogspot.com.au/2014/08/wabi-sabi-reminder.html

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  26. Rhonda, you are a very wise friend. Thank-you for sharing that wonderful wisdom. Jo

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  27. Nope, perfection is what you get - occasionally! I bake good cakes (says she modestly!) but sometimes I get it wrong - cook too long, forget to put the sugar in a muffin mix (really didn't work, mixing it with the milk and adding it last thing!!!) but that's life. I hope your reader truly DOESN'T give up trying, as practice makes perfect, and imperfect is OK. Like the Wabi-Sabi expression.

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  28. Hi, Rhonda!I have been reading your blog for quite a while now and really enjoy it. I think this is such an important post -- nobody is perfect, nobody's life is perfect and sometimes "good enough" is perfect enough. I find the simple life is when you are comfortable with what you are doing, not trying to follow a formula that works for another. I am 65 and I am just now hitting my stride -- learning, doing and accepting that works for others isn't necessarily my way but I am learning my way and I have to say I have never been happier! Your reader shouldn't give up, she should just keep tweaking until her life is her own and her own special kind of simple. It will happen if she just keep plugging along.

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  29. Lovely post and such a good reminder.

    It's funny that just this morning on my drive to work, I was thinking about how to talk to my kids and encourage them about "mistakes". As I grow older, I've learned to let go of perfection and enjoy process of learning.

    Fawn

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  30. Just wanted to say I loved listening to you on the radio. You speak so much sense.

    It's so easy in this world to be sad and give up when things don't run smoothly...but by hitting obstacles you find better ways to do things and you appreciate the results more.

    Life isn't perfect but the way we look at life makes all the difference

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  31. I always glean something from your posts...and I mean ALWAYS. This post reminded me of the saying that goes, "The only people who don't make mistakes are dead." So, so true. I truly hope Jackie will reconsider her feelings and dig in and try once more. It honestly will be worth it...I started to say "in the end", but the truth is that there is actually no end. We must keep learning every single day and hopefully we will not make the same mistakes time and time again and will be able to correct ourselves before we get completely discouraged.

    You've helped me immensely in years past to keep trying, even on those days when I fail time and time again.

    Thanks ever so much.

    Diane in North Carolina

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  32. I totally agree with all you have written today Rhonda. Sometimes something comes to hit you like a tsunami in your life and life is then not ever the same again. I had to laugh though when you wrote about how sometimes you are the only one who thinks some of your ideas are "brilliant" I can relate to that. I have family say to me " how did you think that " hahahahahaha. I say to them " cause I can" and we all laugh.

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  33. Love the wisdom in your last paragraph, helps puts my crazy week in perspective.Thanks Rhonda for your beautiful posts. Looking forward to your new book and will see you on your book tour.

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  34. Enjoyed your interview. You spoke very clearly and confidently. I was interested in the comment about spending to keep the economy growing. This fits in with prevailing
    wisdom that we can continue to grow indefinitely. We can't. We need to reframe our economy to fit present realities instead of using a model that has been around for a couple of hundred years and really emphasized in the last 70. Whenever the economy increases by $100 the top 5% get 90%, the middle bit gets 5% and the bottom layer gets the rest. (Numbers not dead accurate but you get my drift). This is why extreme poverty is so hard to shift.

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  35. Was talking to my husband the other day, telling him about the "simple" way of life, he told me it didn't sound so simple. No it's hard work living simply. Just take a little on at a time, trying to do it all at once will be overwhelming.

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  36. So true. I try to explain this week to my daughter (nearly 11 years old) that things have to be made step by step and that she had to take time to make each step. It's not easy for her to take time, I don't know why : she always wants to make things (including hobbies) as quickly as possible. The results are often disappointing but it seems she doesn't care! As she grow up, I hope she will find the pleasure to make things slowly but surely.

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  37. Rhonda - thank you for the link to your interview! It is so nice to put a voice to your face :) Great interview!

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